Stage 1: Bangkok
Unlike the Beirut trip we didn't arrange a car service between the airport and the hotel, so we were at the mercy of the airport taxi/car service mercenaries. We came out of pocket 1300BHT ($45) for a 30 minute trip to our 1st hotel. Let's just say we got, got on our initial trip between the airport and the hotel.
Based upon a recommendation from one of Jay's colleagues, we booked our hotel in advance. With the recommendation we decided on one of the "guest house" style boutique hotels just outside of downtown Bangkok. Upon arrival, we quickly discovered the "guest house" style hotel and side of town was not for us! However we checked in, made an attempt to get settled, and even ventured out to see the area. We saw a couple of Buddha's, a few land marks and had lunch at an authentic Thai restaurant. All in all a cool experience, but we were far from impressed! Once we made it back to the hotel we decided that the "guest house" and the surrounding area wasn't going to work. Thankful for the previously mentioned 3G sim card we hopped online (www.agoda.com) and booked a hotel in the Silom area that was more to our liking, the Pullman G.
After rectifying our hotel situation it was time to explore! We caught a Tuk Tuk, which is an open air trike style taxi which is the primary form of transportation in Thailand. Unbeknownst to us the gov't was running some type of Tuk Tuk deal where if they take us to see certain places during our stay they receive free gasoline. Man... This Tuk Tuk driver must have had the plan to get as much free gas as possible because in between each site we stopped at more off the beaten path little shops selling everything from suits to souvenirs that I have ever been to in such a short period of time. After about 2 hours of the stop and go between sites, this fool went ghost, never to be seen again, leaving us in a random park district, by no means sketchy but, where taxis and Tuk Tuks weren't in abundance. That driver was light weight shady!
At that point we took to foot on the quest to find a taxi while at the same time trying to get closer to our hotel. We finally made it home after an hour of hunting for a ride This time it was a real taxi, if you can call any thing in Bangkok "real".
After our first day of hitting Bangkok and seeing more the off the beaten path stuff than we really wanted we decided to take it mainstream a little. Luckily our new hotel was situated within walking distance of just about everything and had an abundance of Tuk Tuks in the area for when we were being lazy, Agoda for the win! So back to the "mainstream" stuff.
We walked the streets which were lined with the most random street vendors, selling everything from sex toys to salad, literally if you can think of an item one of the street vendors had it. (Yeah, what ever just popped into your head when I said what ever, yes they had it, and I'm so SERIOUS). We wound up at a mall, which was about as nice as a typical american mall minus the big stores like Macy's or Bloomingdales but don't get me wrong it wasn't bombed out like Randall Mall in Cleveland or Regency mall in Jacksonville, it was nice but, as you could imagine totally RANDOM! We walked through about 5 of the 8 floors of the mall and decided to grab a snack. My wife has a sweet tooth so we wound up at a cupcake place that had green tea cupcakes! Although they weren't Caloria's cupcakes they were green tea and they were good. We also had green tea smoothies and a couple of other random things I can't vividly remember.
From the mall we exited back out in to the randomness which is Bangkok. It was getting a little later, so the atmosphere changed a little and so did the offerings from the street vendors. Never in my life have I ever been solicited so many times before, it was either weed, sex, or ping pong shows! It was entertaining the first 50 times but ping pong (sitting here laughing thinking about the way they say that shit), ping pong, ping pong? gets old quick! In the mist of all the solicitation my accompanying sweet tooth happened upon Mango Sticky Rice! I'm going to call it MSR from this point forward! What is MSR might you ask? Well if you don't feel like opening another tab to google it real quick, I'll tell you.
Mango Sticky Rice (MSR)
MSR is the only food group and quickly became the primary source of sustenance for Jay! It's basically rice made with coconut milk and sugar, served with sweet mangos and some type of liquid icing. Kinda like that icing that used to come with toaster strudel as a kid once it was warmed up. Jay literally at MSR 3-5x a day for the duration of the trip. Keep in mind this is supposed to be dessert, but since it was rice and fruit why not make it a meal, besides it was available on EVERY street corner and it was super inexpensive (30-40BHT).
After stopping for MSR 2x on the way home after the initial stop, we proceeded to hit the Hangover 2 hotel for drinks which, was only a short walk down from the hotel, we took a Tuk Tuk any way. The hotel was very nice, had a dope view and I understood why they used this location for a movie. However, they were very proud of their drinks because even by US standard a neat 12 year was almost $25! Needless to say we savored our one each while snapping photos of the amazing view and enjoying the atmosphere then made our exit to a more Thailand priced location!
We wound up catching up with one of Jay's work people and their friends at this little hole in the wall place that featured a menu of drinks that were about $1 a piece! By the time we met up with them, we were about 5 drinks behind but, at those prices I couldn't blame them for being well on their way. We played a little catch up and just as we started to feel ourselves a random guy (I'll name him Rando) who was in the group but, we didn't know suggest we head to the red light district. I'm no place near prudish but red light districts aren't really my cup of tea but, since we've been getting it in for about 2 hours, we figured why not!
We commandeered several Tuk Tuks and motorcaded to the red light district! The same super turnt dude, Rando, that suggested the red light district talked a Tuk Tuk driver in to letting him drive. Let's just say Tuk Tuk drivers don't give 2 fux! Rando was obviously on his way toward being hammered but the driver let him have his way on the Tuk Tuk, racing, running lights and riding on the side walk all the way to the district. I'm pretty sure the driver never made that ill advised mistake again.
As Rando stumbled off the Tuk Tuk he lead us down the neon lit adult theme park where the main attraction was a variety of women, lady boys and other various sexual orientated people were dancing partially nude in the window of the bars, swinging on swings and dancing on bars. I've been to some wild places but this one was tops! Rando proceeded to lead us to a spot the was called Wongs (I think that was the name). Wongs, was essentially (remember this word) essentially a strip club the size of your 2 bedroom college apartment. This place had stadium seating, a stage and a bar with servers hustling like flies around shit taking orders. We ordered another round of drinks, as if we really needed them, and Rando started to talk about his girlfriend and how in love he was. The conversation seemed a little out of the blue, but it was heartfelt, so we went with it. As soon as we felt like we knew his girl who, was back home somewhere, the fresh round of dancers came out! Rando's attention immediately went from the love of his girlfriend to the string of nude strippers who were just lead on the stage. At that point we officially lost Rando for the evening! Remember I said the servers were bouncing around the club like flies on shit, well it turns out they weren't only taking orders for drinks, people were putting in stripper orders too! Rando went from calm to Tasmanian devil in 2 seconds focused on the stripper wearing a blue #35 button attached to a garter around her thigh. For a drunk white dude he had decent taste, she was an asian chick with a cute face, sizable perky breast (almost looked fake but done very well) and a slim body completely shaved. She probably could have been a model anywhere else in the world, especially these days with the whole Instagram model movement, however in Bangkok she was just another random "stripper". Rando quickly hailed the woman who had been taking our drink orders and proceeded to order #35. After a small bit of negotiation away he went, never to be seen again! We sat there a little confused as to what just happened! Unbeknownst to us this was less of a strip club, although you could get a dance, and more of a Carry-Out Brothel. Drink a little, survey the merchandise, take your order and go...
After that experience we sat around with the remaining members of our group and laughed at Rando's fiasco! After a few more rounds of strippers, if you can call them that, and as our group (mostly males mixed with a couple of couples) started to thin, due to strategically placed "bathroom" trips which were really incog "Rando Orders", we exited Wongs. After exiting Wongs and reaching the end of the red light district we found ourself back in the mix of Bangkok randomness. Street vendors selling fried insects, more ping pong shows, sexually exploitive shirts, sex toys, and other randomness, in the mist of a NYC time square type crowd. Being a little buzzed (bigger than bumble bees) I attempted to hail a ride back to the hotel! Let's just say the combination of the drinks and my american mind didn't make that an easy process! Tuk Tuk drivers wanted to charge 350BHT to get back to the hotel but I wasn't having it, I only wanted to pay 300BHT. I was foolishly arguing over and passing up rides for what was equal to less than $2, not to mention I probably had close to 20,000BHT in my pocket. We walked 500 yards then proceeded to find a Tuk Tuk for 400BHT to take us to the hotel. (What a dumb ass!)
The next morning we woke up, still a little jet lagged and still feeling last nights drinks, with a magnificent 38 floor view of the city and a beautiful sunrise. We had breakfast at the hotel then it was back in to the randomness. We hit Siam mall which was essentially the Thailand Lenox (ATL) or a baby version of MOE (DXB). This place had the dopest food court I've ever seen! The genius that came up with this foodcourt concept basically took all of the sketchy street food, including the insects, and put them in an environment that was clean, well organized and labeled so you know what you're eating! Let's just say we blew a lot of time and money eating in that food court (no bugs though), which prepped us to eat more street food on the actual street.
To summarize the rest of the time in Bangkok we went to this massive flea market that was like the street vendors on steroids, minus the solicitation for ping pong and sex. We got Thai massages, the PG type, Jay ate more MSR, we bought souvenirs, I got sneered at by an old Thai beggar after tossing him a few coins, and the next after noon we jumped on Air Asia headed to Phuket! Phuket, I do Phuket to day too! LOL!