I've officially been in Bangkok for 24 days. Well, I haven't had as much time to write as I had hoped - this city can be rather overwhelming and my hotel where I was staying was on a loud, busy, and chaotic shopping street (Thanon Petchburi) and after negotiating traffic or walking through the streets, I was normally reluctant to head back out. I was also having trouble sleeping - what with the noise, the air conditioning, and the very high pillows that they had on offer. I also struggled a bit with the air quality here - there is a lot of smog and I had throat and chest problems for the first few weeks.
Finding an apartment here was much easier than it was in Amsterdam - there are estate agents who will find tons of places fro you and show you around - they are paid by the apartment buildings not you, so they are not as biased as the ones in Amsterdam (who wanted to charge you a month's rent to help you and therefore only wanted to show you the most expensive apartments around). So after about 4 days of apartment hunting - I narrowed it down to where I wanted to live. I wanted someplace quiet (that crazy street was getting to me) and I wanted someplace that was vibrant enough that I could walk outside and find street food, massages, bars, and grocery stores. Sukhumvit Soi 13 seems to be the place! I can take a tuk tuk or a motorcycle taxi or walk 15 minutes to the end of my street and there is the sky train (Nana stop) and everything you could want from Indian/Bangladeshi food, German beer halls, department stores, McDonald's, Starbucks, tailor shops, teak shops, Thai iced tea stands, fresh fruit vendors, Australian bars, the CHIC hotel, the Trendy hotel, Seven-Elevens, and an expat grocery store. Meanwhile at my end of the soi, the khlong goes past and I can cut through an abandonded building to the pier and catch the taxi up to the main shopping area where I used to live where I can also transfer to the boat to my office.
My apartment is huge - I'm going to install ceiling fans because although its temperate right now, it gets stuffy. I have humongous bedrooms with king sized beds and three bathrooms with showers and tubs all for less than my apartment in Amsterdam. I could have spent less but my job is reimbursing my housing so i won't pay anything for this apartment and I do love having houseguests.
So - some random things that have gone through my head since moving here:
- The beautiful wats (temples) are sprinkled throughout the city - gold is everywhere.
- It's surprisingly green but not green enough. The air quality would improve and the noise would improve if all of those skyscrapers and buildings were required to have green roofs. How lovely it would be.
- The food is fantastic - but yet you can still find bad food. The backpacker's paradise - Khao San road has the worst food I've tried yet. Its also more expensive than even the giant shopping malls.
- Thai culture probably has more to it than shopping and eating but I haven't discovered it yet.
- People are friendly and cheerful. It's a pleasant change from Amsterdam to walk down the street and greet and smile at people. Many of the working class people in Amsterdam were cheerful and friendly (all the market dudes and small shop keepers) but its hard to be cheerful and smile when you are cycling through hurricane force winds and rain to get to work in the dark.
- Tuk Tuks and motorcycle taxis tend to rip off foreigners - they are supposed to be cheaper than the air conditioned taxis but inevitably they end up quoting me much higher prices... so I take the taxis. But I'd rather take the motorcycle. That is until I remember my trip through Sri Lanka (see "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again")
- There are more english language books here than there were in Amsterdam... I am going to go to the Khao San Road tomorrow and stock up. The backpackers trade them in and I'm sure I can get some good deals.
- Its good to have friends visit you. I just had a fantastic Friday night and Sunday brunch with my friend Patrick and his partner. Awaiting my friend Olga to arrive at my apartment in an hour for dinner. I feel lonely sometimes but mostly happy to be still in touch with beautiful friends from around the world through the internet!