We have just returned home from “one night in Bangkok”. We had to go back into the city to visit the United States Embassy to get a few documents notarized for our visa extensions. We knew that simply driving there and back in a day would be difficult so we decided to make a venture of it and stay the night. It was an adventure to say the least which I will try to capture in this blog post.
Our journey began on Sunday morning around 10am, after a light breakfast. We all packed up and hopped in the car to make our way towards Bangkok. The ride into Bangkok from our home is about a two hour drive. Not even 45 minutes in we have to make a pit stop so our daughter could use the restroom. This was her first encounter with a squat toilet. It was hilarious!! She comes out from the bathroom telling me, “Daddy, I peed in a hole and flushed it by pouring a bucket of water in it.” I was first impressed that she tackled using the bathroom in such a new way until my wife informed me she basically missed the toilet completely.. haha.
After our break we got back on the road. We discussed our plans of things to do once in the city. Shopping, touring night markets, and visiting some nice restaurants we can’t come across near Pattaya were on the agenda. We were especially psyched to get some Mexican food as we had not had any since our arrival in Thailand (we ate Mexican one/two times a week back in Atlanta). I was able to locate a Mexican restaurant on google that seemed close to the hotel. We just needed to make it there first! I swear, the GPS will give you so many varying ways of getting to places in Thailand… to the point it can be a little confusing. Roads diverge and reconnect in odd ways and the road names listed on the GPS are almost never the same the road names you physically see when driving. You can easily miss a turn or exit and end up riding many more miles only to have to u-turn back to where you need to be. We ended up taking a wrong turn which actually was a good move because it still led to Bangkok, just under the shade of another road running parallel over our heads. In fact, the road ran the ENTIRE route to Bangkok. Our guess was that it was perhaps a toll road or something that you could use in the event of bad traffic.
As we drove into the city the roads do get very intense. You will find that people cut in and out from all directions, motorbikes swarming you from all sides, busses and tuk-tuks all come intimidatingly close to your vehicle.
I’ll admit our anxiety levels were a bit through the roof for those minutes before we found our hotel. Just a little after noon we arrived at the hotel and were excited to check in, put our things away, and get some long-awaited Mexican food just walking distance from the hotel. YESSS! Well, we checked in and looked outside to see that Bangkok was experiencing an INTENSE downpour! I’m talking HEAVY rain! We sat for a few minutes in hopes it would subside but instead took a taxi recommended by the hotel concierge. It was only a few blocks and cost about 40 baht (just over $1 USD) so it wasn’t that bad. We finally got to this Mexican restaurant and made our way inside. There were only 3 other people inside but we were welcomed out of the heavy rain by smiling faces ready to serve us. It looked nice! There was a salsa bar, tequilas on display, and American programming on the TVs. We sat and looked over the menu. We ordered some street tacos, chips & salsa, and some cheese dip. We were STOKED! About 10 minutes later this came out…
Now I’ve had amazing Mexican food in my lifetime and knew this would probably not match what I was used to but it was the closest thing I could get in Bangkok so I was excited. I took a bite and will say it was “ok”. It was a good attempt considering the ingredients available. I tend to set my expectations too high quite often. Suddenly I saw a small, quick streak of motion in my peripheral vision. Wha? I looked across the room and noticed an old european couple in the back of the restaurant intently staring at the floors. What are they looking at? When I looked down and around I noticed a HUGE roach running quickly across the floor…. then another… then another… then another. I’m not sure if it was from the rains outside pushing them in but the place I soon realized was INFESTED with cockroaches. The waitresses continually walked around us with brooms and mops, moving furniture and chairs to cause movement so they could kill them and sweep them out the door… all while smiling and checking in on us every few minutes. As I ate, I couldn’t help but scan the place visually back and forth, over and over again. Needless to say I still ate those tacos, however with a slight feeling of nausea and my hopes just a little squashed considering how much we pumped ourselves up over the idea of Mexican food. I think I’ll stick with Thai food while in Thailand.
When finished with lunch we flagged down a tuk-tuk to take us back to the hotel as it was still raining very hard. Tuk-tuks are pretty cool because they give you a very authentic Thai experience and also a much closer and intimate look at your surroundings albeit a little dangerous. For a minute I was concerned the tuk-tuk would not make it back to the hotel considering that the roads were so flooded that it almost submerged the tuk-tuk to our foot level. This is a pretty common occurrence with heavy rains there.
Shortly after arriving back at the hotel the rains finally stopped and we were able to tour around the Silom road area of Bangkok, just outside our hotel. Everywhere you go there are massage parlors with ladies yelling “massage!”, street food vendors with all sorts of kebabs and fruits and pastries, and merchandise vendors ready to haggle over wallets, watches, t-shirts, and more. We scored a few good items for fairly cheap at the Patpong Night Market and made our way back to the hotel to put our kids to bed.
The next morning we woke to tackle the reason we came to Bangkok, to go to the US Embassy. We knew were only about 1.5 miles away from the embassy so we gave ourselves about 45 minutes to get there in preparation of traffic. WHOO!! Maybe we should have left an hour early. First of all there is a lot of traffic at 10:00am in Bangkok on a Monday. Secondly, there are multiple one-way roads that run very closely side by side. We were in one of two roads going the same direction, separated by a concrete barrier. We soon realized we needed to be on the opposite side of the street. This was a challenge because we could not just cut over but rather had to go a full block around and come back. We BARELY made it to the embassy by our appointment time! Barely. However, the visit was a success and we were able to make our journey back home to the quieter side of Thailand, haha. I’ve decided I really do like Bangkok…. but I prefer it on foot. Driving is not for the faint of heart. You’ve got to have driving SKILLS… which is why my wife did most of the driving. To finish this post, I’ve included some random sights from around the city. Until next time!