Bangkok, Bangkok, and some more Bangkok

End of 1st Day
I still needed a place to stay for the next 3 nights so I walked around a bit. The places on/near Khao san Road were too expensive. True I found some guest houses for well under 3 dollars a night, but I want TV, A/C, a fridge, private bathroom/shower, and a private room. I figure I'll be sharing a room in India for almost 4 weeks, and will be in a dorm of 16 or so people for over a week when I'm in Ireland. I tried to walk to Silom Rd area, but got lost (of course). It was an 8 or so km walk (about 5.5 mile walk). I think I may have already posted this? The map that I have doesn't have all the roads and not all the roads I come across are labeled. Even fewer are in English. Well I finally found my way back to Khao san Road after 3+ hours of wandering. What a great exercises. I stopped for a Pepsi green, which was a greenish-clear Pepsi that tasted like a hybrid of Pepsi, 7-up, and cream soda. Quite good...and cheap. I finally chose this nice place that is a hostel, but is a very nice on at that. It's called the "Thai Cozy House", (pictures attaches). It is a restaurant, Tailor, tourist center and massage parlor all in this mini mall like structure that has one garage-sized entrance emptying into a street that is not 25 meters from Khao san Rd. I was able to talk them down to 600 baht (~$17 USD) per night for a private room, queen bed, writing desk, full sized mirror, fullsized closet, color cable TV, private shower and bathroom with hot/cold. I also have wireless in my room, which is a nice perc.

2nd Day in Bangkok
So my memory card for my camera is officially broken--it cannot be read and all the pictures on the card are lost. Good thing I obsesively backup my photos. I ended up only loosing pictures that I took while on the sleeper train from Chiang Mai to Bangkok and all the photos I took while in Bangkok the first day, I think I'll live. I walk around a bit in the mornging and decide it's just too damn hot, >94 degrees F with VERY high thank you. I catch a cab and go to the MBK, in the Siam Center, which cost me 80 baht (~2 USD) and way ~3 miles away. 3 Miles in Bangkok traffic took more than 20 minutes. I walk in and holy hell is this place huge. Here are just some of the facts about this Goliath:
  • 8 stories high
  • 2,500 shops
  • 330 meters (1,000 ft long)
  • 89,000 square meters (958,000,000 sq feet)
I walked the entirety, or as close at humanly possible, and bought myself a new memory card. I find the prices to be largely inflated, even for US standards. I finally found a smaller kiosk that I was able to bargain down the price to about half of that the others were asking (~$14 USD for a 4GB sony memory stick pro duo). I examined the product and tested it prior to buying it. Sure it worked, but I am sure it's bootleg. How could something like this bootleg you may ask. Well I noticed the gold platting of the contact pins were slightly matte, (NOT shiny at typical), and some specs of dust were visible. If this was a 'new' item this wouldn't be the case. They may have been used and sold as new, but must more plausible is that they took cheaper 3rd party 4GB memory stick ICs, that is integrated circuits, and inserted them into name brand Sony plastic cartridges. Ok enough of the computer science lesson...moving on! I was thinking about buying a phone to replace my last one... feel free to email me if you want to hear the story. I can't really write it since it involves my stay at Hanoi, Vietnam and since it's communist and GAP tours does business with it, I just want to be safe. I bargained one phone down to 500 baht that included the charger, which is only like $14.25 USD. This was pretty cheap when compared to her original offer of 900 baht + 50 baht for the charger ($25.75+ $1.5). I still passed. I got myself some coffee and doughnut holes at a Dunkin Doughnuts. Unfortunately NO ONE in Indochina has even heard of any type of artificial sugar, what a wake up call to second case of culture shock...HAHA! When I walked in there was a hostess holding a paper-covered tray and she handed me a pair of tongs. I was to select what I wanted along the right hand wall and place it onto the tray, at which point I would then arrive at the cashier to pay for my order. Their selection of treats surpassed ours, but they did only have one size for all their beverages. The MBK Center had SEVERAL KFCs, Starbucks, Dairy Queens, etc. The point is, it's so large that they have the same food shops in multiple locations throughout the mall. But let me make clear that despite the mall's immensity in shop redundancy there was still an enormous variety to choose from. I saw "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button", which was playing in the theater on the top floor I am not sure if traveling along does something to me, but I don't think there was a stretch of movie longer than 20 minutes where I did not find myself crying. One thing that stuck to me is 2 distinct forms of symbolism, quite different as they were. One was the name of the the tub boat, Caroline, but this was more of symbolic irony. The other was the name of his last name, Button...Unique as a button.

After the mall I tried to walk to Patpong Road. After an hour of getting myself lost and a kilogram of water weight accumulating on my shirt, in the form of sweat, I hailed a taxi. I like to walk and get lost mostly to just see the local scenery and not have to worry about getting to a destination, but soak in the experience of 'wandering' a foreign area. I had been debating whether or not to go to Patpong, but felt I would be more likely to regret going than regret having tried something and had a bad experience. I will not explain Patpong in detail for the sake of the younger readers, but I will be HAPPY to share with any of you that email me ( Suffice it to say, if it were not for me being a keen, witty, industrious, and a little cocky person I would have been ripped off to the nth power. I was able to talk my 1,300 baht extortion money down to 300 baht and a 650 bath taxi ride to a measly 100 bath. You ask for my technique, well here are some of the 'things' I used/used.
  1. Persistence
  2. Being on the offense, not defense
  3. Patience
  4. Confidence
  5. Persistence
  6. Threats (e.g. I said, "I'm going to see if this is correct, will you hold a minute while I phone the Tourist Police"? Man did that threat help, though I had no phone, when I reached into my pocket they had no idea, good thing they didn't call my bluff!)
  7. Having a reasonable goal (i.e. reasonable to both parties).
  8. Being well educated of the situation
After the "Ping Pong Show" I walked down the street and visited some kiosk selling bootleg LV, Gucci, ect. There were bootleg designer watches and ed hardy shirts. The place was marvelous with all the strip clubs, go-go bars, vendors, taxis... it was a free for all. Similar to Khao san Road, but w/ less drinking, more expensive and higher quality merchandise, and catered much less to the backpacker and MUCH more to the Japanese and Korean sex tourists.

As for today, I'll take it easy, perhaps buy my Lonely Planets for India and Ireland. I also need a cable lock to secure my luggage to my bunk while on the Indian sleeper train. I want another massage before I leave, at $8 it sure beats that $75+ I pay back home. I think I may go to the floating market tour tomorrow, but I'll let you know. This is Scottieb signing out...and please feel free to email me if you're intimidated by this posting blog system.