Upon finally arriving in Bangkok I crashed and slept for several hours. My first 4 days I am staying at the Best Western Klassique for $27 night. It's crazy deal and had a pretty hight TripAdvisor rating (I highly recommend TripAdvisor or you could find yourself next a run down hotel with 1970's shag carpet, peeling walls and a bucket like contraption for a toilet as I did in Wellington a couple years ago!) , the hotel also provided free breakfast and WIFI which makes it a stellar deal. I have no window in my room but this actually worked out well as I could sleep or nap anytime of the day and could not hear any traffic or protests. After waking up from my coma state sleep I went to explore. The hotel offers a Tuk Tuk service (see super crazy good deal!) from the property to the closest Sky Train Station. Although traffic is a nightmare in Bangkok, the transit system is suburb and can get most of the main areas with it. Day pass is $4 and it runs to midnight. I have pretty much been using it exclusively unless I come back after 12 AM. First stop was to get a massage, massages parlours are everywhere and can cost as little as $5 for an hour massage, but they are usually seedy and for a good tip can end in a good time, not my thing and with the help of TripAdvisor found a great spa that for $40 offers a 2 hour massage and body scrub. Simply Heaven! The food choices are endless here, and ridiculously cheap. There are vendors everywhere offering anytype of food imaginable on the street for $1-$2. It smells great, but I am not sure if my stomach is up to the challenge. A regular meal at a restaurant is around $5 and $10-$15 at a more high end hotel/ restaurant. I love food as most of you know so I have been trying a lot of different restaurants, on the first day I had a delicious Japanese rice bowl and for dessert I went crazy at McDonalds as they have McFlurry buffet- which is essentially whatever you want on your $0.85 McFlurry, including corn flakes (?!) and "McBubbles" similar to bubble tea.
The Tuk Tuk at the hotel that takes guests to the skytrain (for the life of me I can not get this photo to rotate!)
Bangkok is by far the largest city I have ever visited. The population is around 14 million in the area, and as far as you can see there is skyscapers. It just goes on and on and on, and the contrast between the wealthy and the poor is everywhere. You can have an amazing building like the Four Seasons Bangkok next to a run down slum. However, what I like about this city is they have temples and parks everywhere. As I found out on the first day, it is possible to read a book at a park in the heart of downtown and not realize your in Bangkok, actually quite peaceful. The weather is fantastic, no rain in the forecast this week and the temperature is anywhere from 28C-34C and sunny.
One thing that apparent is the city is in turmoil politically and the day before the city was shut down by protests with tens of thousands of people participating. When I landed in Tokyo I had an email from the Canadian consulate advising citizens to consider altering their plans and to stay indoors. The day I arrived was actually the second day of the protests, and while they were not as big, but there were still thousands of people participating with streets shutdown, street vendors and stages setup with lighting and sound systems on these 4 lane main arteries causing havoc on traffic! After visiting the park I walked by and was surprised at how festive the protests were. More of a carnival theme than felt safe, and very organized- very little violence has occurred so far.
drinking my coconut water and watching the protest spectacle
there are several sites across this city with protesters
Later that evening I checked out the gay district which is massive in Bangkok, met a nice guy from Vancouver that organizes trips with people from around the world. He was just wrapping up a 10 day tour with a group of people and arranges around 10-14 trips a year around the world, Essentially he has my dream job. He was nice enough to give me some great tips and advice for the next 16 days in Thailand.