Tuesday, July 27
As I pried my eyes open this morning, the bus rolled into a giant tropical metropolis called Bangkok, Asia's own City of Angels. The nice girl who sat next to me for the whole trip looked at me studying my map of the city and asked where I was going. I told her the Banglamphu district, home of the cheap backpacker rooms. Unfortunately, we were heading for the Northern bus terminal, which is around eight miles away. For some weird reason, we didn't go to the Southern terminal, which serves Phuket and is only two miles away.
I was planning to hop on the Skytrain and ride it South five miles toward the city center and hopefully catch a bus the last two miles East to Banglamphu. The girl, whose name I never asked, offered to spilt a tuk-tuk, a three-wheeled covered motorcycle cab, with me, as she was heading to the Skytrain, as well, to go to her job at an accounting firm. Like the bus drivers in Java, this tuk-tuk driver had a deathwish as he snaked his way through the most hectic traffic at a breakneck pace, zipping one way then another.
A few minutes later, he dumped us off at the Skytrain stop, where I frantically put on my backpack as the girl started walking up a flight of stairs. After she helped me figure out a local travel plan, we parted ways at the info booth. It was sweet that she was so concerned that I would make it to my destination. The Skytrain reminded me of Singapore, as it was packed full of young, well-dressed Thais on their way to office jobs. A few stops later, a Skytrain security guard asked me where I was going and directed me to a number 15 bus. I descended to the steamy streets below and jumped on the clattery old 15 bound for Banglamphu.
Even though I consulted my map during the whole two-mile ride, I couldn't figure out exactly where to disembark. I said, "Banglamphu" twice to the driver, but he ignored me. Then an old lady walked up from behind and told me to get off at the next stop. I did, and quickly found my way into Banglamphu from there. As soon as I entered the area, a young woman tourist from Canada asked if I was looking for a room. I said yes, then she recommended a clean, quiet place called Donna's Guest House in an alley nearby, where I rented a room for seven dollars and crashed for a few hours as soon as my head hit the pillow.
When I woke up at 4:00 p.m., I thought it was funny how I was aided by a seemingly non-stop chain of helpful humanity this morning. I went out for a stroll to get some food. The first street I walked down, Thanon Khao San, was the most over-the-top touristy street this side of Patong, Phuket. Fortunately, I made it out of there quickly and found a food cart where I got cheap Pad Thai and spring rolls for two bucks. That fueled a quick photo mission up and down an incredible 12 lane wide avenue called Thanon Ratchadamnoen.