I had been looking forward to my friend from home, Leslie’s, arrival for a while, and as she finally arrived in Bangkok, I was ready to just ditch the last day of camp and head down to meet her. I endured the grueling last presentations where activity teams gave their final presentations – ours was a song about our environmentally friendly house model. “If you want to save the world use solar power” sung to the tune of “if you’re happy and you know it” all the while describing the attributes of the model they created, complete with a water powered electrical plant, solar powered house and solar powered car.
I say endured, but in reality the last week had been an epic week full of fun and laughter and arts and crafts. I had a lot of fun and was really proud while the kids were coming up with their own ideas for the model based on the lessons throughout the week.
Once the kids had been picked up by their parents, it was time to head home for a quick meal (SUPER quick – literally take a bite, straighten my hair, take a bite, change my clothes) before heading to the bus that would eventually take me to Leslie.
I had forgotten how overwhelmed with Bangkok I was when I first got there. If I remember correctly, Khao San completely scared me away. I don’t really like Bangkok, initially I was completely appalled; Leslie, I think, was the same. While we are both city girls through and through, I watched her watch the streets and people passing literally wide-eyed trying to take everything in.
She had made it to the Grand Palace in her first day, so after a night out on Khao San with some of my teacher friends, we braved the rain for a visit to the John Thompson house. It wasn’t really what I was expecting, but is literally in all the travel books as a place to visit. John Thompson was an American who built up the Thai Silk industry to what it is today by endorsing it and establishing world-wide trade. However, his home isn’t really as much a history of the silk industry as it is a museum of Chinese collectables that he accumulated over time. After a brief wander around his beautiful Thai / Western Style home, we headed to the real China town just in time for everything to shut down, and for us to get lost trying to find the ferry docks. We were hoping for a moonlit ride down the river, (how romantic) only to miss the last boat by mere minutes.
The next day we attacked the markets at Chattuchak. Chattuchak (or the Thai name for it, JJ) has become my new favourite place because of the endless maze of amusement and things that anyone can convince themselves they need – especially when they’re so cheap. Clothing, jewellery, furniture, trinkets, pets, bedding, the list goes on; whatever you could possibly need – if you can find it. After taking the long way home just to incorporate the ferry ride down the river, and a quick stop at MBK to check out the electronics section and buy a couple things I’ve been lacking in my life, I think it’s safe to say that I had Bangkok’ed her out and it was time to head to the beach.
Despite my frequent visits to Bangkok, I still can’t seem to stand the city for more than a couple days. I can completely understand how people could love it, but I wanted to move to Thailand to experience Thailand, not a watered down Western version of it. Which is the same in many tourist places throughout the country, but it is ever present in Bangkok. Despite that, it is a good place to visit to ease into the culture, and acknowledge the differences before heading out to greener (or bluer) pastures.