A Weekend in Bangkok – Thai Hospitality

On Friday, I hopped on a van to Bangkok to meet up with Taylor and Liz. I’d also made plans with Kelsey and our Thai friend, Burm (a guy we met in Ko Samet that plays guitar), so it’d be the five of us hanging for the night.

There was a 100,000 person protest set to take place in Bangkok on Saturday morning and it was going to be around where we were staying on Friday night (Khao San). When Burm showed up, Kelsey and I asked him what the deal was and he explained that the Yellow Party (I doubt that’s their name, but he said that’s their color) was against the governmental policies of the Red Party (the current, reigning political party. Also probably a pseudonym). When the five of us were being taxi’d over to the first of Burm’s suggested hang out spots, we saw hundreds of police decked out and lining the streets, ready for the next day’s battle. The driver jokingly mentioned that there would be free food at the protest if we wanted to go. A shame I hadn’t packed any yellow shirts.

Or better yet…

The first place we went to was called the Saxophone Pub. I’d been there before on one of my earlier nights in Bangkok, but it was cool to be there again. It’s a pretty swingin’ place. We sat on the top floor this time, which had a pool table and was a bit less loud, allowing for more conversation.

Burm said he knew about a place that played hard rock, so we all immediately said that we wanted to check it out. My phone was out of battery, so I wasn’t able to get any pictures, but we walked in to a 5 person Thai band decked out like professional rockers, all with long hair and a grungy feel. Whereas Saxophone Pub is a pub with a stage for music, this place (I think it was simply called The Rock or something like that) was primarily a performance stage with a bar and seating nearby.

When we sat down, they were finishing a song. The lead singer then asked us if we had any requests. Burm had explained earlier that 80s bands the most typical on their musical menu, so we asked for anything Guns N’ Roses. They launched into a face-meltingly rocktastic rendition of Welcome to the Jungle. The singer’s voice actually had quite a bit more grit than Axel’s (his singing voice, anyway. His speaking voice sounded like Johnson & Johnson baby oil).

It would go from this to a lifelong chain smoker when he went from talking to singing. Incredible.

Night was boss from there. We sang along to more Guns N’ Roses, Rob Zombie, Bon Jovi, The Cranberries, AC/DC, and so many more. It was like one of those Now That’s What I Call Music infomercials. Highlight of the night had to be Livin’ on a Prayer. That song is even fun when some drunk, tone-deaf idiot slurs his way through it for karaoke, so you can imagine how awesome it was to have competent musicians rock out to it hard. Good times in a very culture-clashy way.

Saturday morning, the plan was to find another place to stay since the protest was going to be flaring up and would probably make getting around pretty difficult. Kelsey headed off to a museum, so me, Taylor and Liz went to watch Skyfall (Great movie. I laughed a lot. Not necessarily just because of the funny dialogue, but because some of the things that happened were so over-the-top fantastic that laughing was the only appropriate reaction. Komodo Dragon fit pit? Why not?). Liz departed after that, so Taylor and I went to find a hotel to chill at while we waited for other peeps to get in for Saturday night hanging out.

This is when the day took an interesting, unforseeable turn:

“Come with me if you want to live.”

The hotel I’d researched didn’t take phone reservations, so we had to actually go there. Ugh, I know. How primitive. Unfortunately, the directions the lady gave me over the phone didn’t jive with the map I had (in reality, I just have truly childish navigation skills), so we decided to go to another hotel. We stopped to ask a group of school girls if they could point us towards this new hotel and within seconds an English speaking Thai person came over and helped. He spent time reading the map, asking the girls and other passerbys, and making phone calls, and was able to figure the place out. He then called a cab and explained our destination to our driver.

The driver set off immediately in the wrong direction. Not really sure what happened, but something must have gotten lost while translating from Thai to Thai. We drove around Bangkok for 30 to 40 minutes to get to a place that was just a bit beyond walking distance from where we’d left.

And we weren’t even there. The driver dropped us off at the wrong place. When we DID finally find the place, their prices were ridiculous. Also, I left my Thai phone in the cab, because when it rains it pours. And when it pours, you lose important things.

They all had cell phones in their free hands until it started pouring.

We wandered for a while after that, but, honestly, I was in a pretty bad mood and was gonna suggest that we just go home and never return to Bangkok.

Suddenly, a wild Thai college student appeared! She must have seen us looking depressed, cause she just asked what we were looking for. We explained, then she thought for a bit and said that her apartment building sometimes had empty rooms and that her landlord might rent one to us. She said that we should follow her, then walked off down a rabbit hole.

We followed, but I was a little wary. She had just been standing out on the street, doing nothing. What, does she just hang out on corners all day and stare off into space, waiting for people to need help? Did she not have anywhere else to be or anything to do? When we went to her apartment building, no one was there. So she took us to the next one. That one had no rooms. Then she took us to another. Then another.

We eventually found an apartment that was open and ready to be rented out. It was also way cheaper than any other comparable room we’d looked at. I guess it wasn’t a trap after all. The girl had to go because apparently she’d been waiting to meet a friend to study, but had dropped everything to spend an hour finding us a place to sleep. I’m living in the country with the kindest people on earth.

Once settled, we collapsed from exhaustion and ended up not going out. Haha…mai pen rai.


What I’m Reading: The Once and Future King by T.H. White

What I’m Writing: The Lincoln Lions – 25%

What I’m Listening to: Home Again by Michael Kiwanuka


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