After nearly six hours of a delay in Istanbul, we were certainly happy to arrive in Bangkok.
We swiftly moved through immigration and collected our rucksacks, withdrew some Thai Baht and purchased a SIM card from AIS for 950 baht (for one months unlimited internet access – Skype even works on the phone, the connection is brilliant.) Although we could have opted for a bus to the Khao San Road, the cost of a taxi and the benefit of arriving sooner rather than later in our exhausted state seemed by far the best option. I had not read however, that the customer in transit pays any toll/highway fees – which cost marginally less than the cab ride itself. We did just want to get to the hotel and drop our things – and have a shower!
Of course, after checking in at Rikka Inn, 256 Khao San Road, we went straight into the room, dropped all our things and started unpacking – and then realised that we hadn’t ‘unboxed’ the room. So, in our zombie-like state, heaved all the bags, cables, electronic devices etc into the bathroom, turned off the lights, walked out of the room with Video camera in hand and proceeded to (as we should have done originally) ‘unbox’ our room. Now we had really arrived.
After reviving ourselves with a shower we headed out to explore. WOW! The Khao San is an assault on your senses. Heat, noise, smells emanating from so many carts, enticing you with every step you take. Want a tattoo? A Massage? A bucket of alcohol? (yes – as in a seaside bucket and spade), Scorpions on a stick? Its crazy – in the best way possible. After stopping for Phad Thai, Ash ordered with chicken (50 baht) and I with egg (30 baht), so our evening meal cost the equivalent of 2 Euros – freshly cooked in front of our eyes. Of course, wanting to get stuck right in, I sprinkled a little of everything on it; nuts, dried shrimp, HOT ground chilli with seeds (nicknamed gunpowder and I can see why!), pickled chilli and sugar – the best way to start the trip.
After a wander up and down, we decided to stop at a place called The Golf Bar. Ashley was relieved to find, as per the huge neon sign that they do not check ID ;) We pulled up our plastic stools, ordered a Chang beer and a Mai-tai cocktail and sat amongst the chaos with the biggest grins on our faces, mine still burning from the chilli.
After a short while we started chatting to a gentleman sat next to us, who introduced himself as Sunil. A very well traveled and interesting man. A few more beers (under advisement changed from Chang to Singha) and cocktails later, he invited us to join him at his favourite club in Sukhumvit Soi 11, Climax. An amazing live music venue. Sunil as a regular was treated very well and in turn so were we. We sat in the front row of the club, smiling, laughing, singing and drinking lots of vodka, Redbull and soda (Sunil had purchased a bottle of vodka for the table – the staff continuously topped us up, they were certainly efficient.) I must re-iterate just how great the live bands were, they worked with the crowd, just full of energy. We were able to watch three bands and by that time it was around 5 am….time to head back to the Khao San Road, where it would have been rude to not finish off the evening and have ‘one for the Khao San Road’.
The following day, Wednesday 5th Feb, we arranged to meet Sunil again, and this time walked down from the main Khao San to another slightly calmer area to find the most amazing restaurant with an equally amazing host, Max the Magician. He recommended various dishes and we ate ‘tapas’ style, having a taste of each dish. We were served Chicken with pac choi and spring onions, whole Red Snapper with ginger, chilli and garlic, prawns served whole covered in fresh diced chilli and spring onions served with a tangy sweet and sour style dipping sauce and sticky rice. Max berated us for not eating the flesh from the head, so after a quick lesson in prawn decapitation, we followed his lead and wow was it special! Just for kicks after people have eaten Max puts on a great magic show using cards and coins – certainly worth a visit, I was amazed, in fact we are going again for dinner tonight.