River cruise & ping pong shows!
After 15hrs on an overnight train from Trang I arrive in Bangkok @ Hua Lampong Station. Finding Stella (Austrian friend I met in Koh Lanta) in the crowd of people, we're off to find transport to our hotel she booked in city center. Stella was told from a local on the train not to pay more than B60 to city center by MBK which is across the street from hotel. We get to the tuk tuk's; instantly asked where we're going and pricing 3 times the required amount. Stella stuck to her guns - B60, that's it. Price went from B200 down to accepted B60, funny. Important to know prices but understand coming to a new location will usually pay more until one's educated. Always bargain with tuk tuk's or take a metered cab which are reasonably priced.
We're off to get our first taste of Bangkok traffic and busy during the morning rush, always busy so it seems. Our driver was quite chatty always looking back to talk without keeping eyes on road but got us to Muangphol Mansion without any issues. If shopping is on your list during your trip or before heading back home, this is a good location. Stella only had 3 days left before flying home to Austria after a 3 month trip so she needed to brave the crowds & shop. Muangphol Mansion was reasonably priced for location @ B980 for a/c & (sometimes) hot shower. Clean room with a view of MBK Center; shopping mecca for clothes & electronics - Ipads/phones in abundance. The Sky Train - National Station - is adjacent to hotel & MBK so easy to catch to various destinations and very efficient. First day we relax getting to know our surroundings, then off for supper around city center. After being on the islands & staying in beach bungalows for the past month, hard to adjust to 'city' life but do enjoy it's energy.
After a good night we wake to go our own ways. Stella to sort out some shopping, while I go apply for my Vietnam visa. Another advantage to city center is it's close to Vietnam Embassy. All can be done by SkyTrain - 3 stops from National station with a short walk. After getting lost for a short time (usually happens) and redirected by a security guard I found the embassy. The visa process is quite easy really; fill out paper work, one photo and hand them your passport. One thing I should've checked into further was entry date. I put in a specific date of entry & exit. But would've like to keep open just in case of travel plans changing as they do. I'm sure this is possible though didn't verify.
Being close to canal, I caught the local canal boat @ the next day. B10 for longest journey to end - fun. A walk around, was stopped by guy offering B10 for 'government' tuk tuk to take you anywhere, scam, beware.
Our last night we headed for night market @ Asiatique; very new, vegas feel and not traditional Thai market as hoped. Stayed for a bit and ran to catch last boat - 7pm -heading to Khoa San road, which was free for last boat of the night. Do the river @ night, lovely. Hop off & head to KS road. Cheap, cheap accommodation and travellers everywhere, busy. After a nice meal with Thai girls playing traditional music & dancing we (or more Stella) wanted to see a lady bar for her last night in Bangkok. Patpong Road it is!
Catch a taxi, dropped off & the craziness begins. Patpong is actually a night market with regular bars 'and' lady bars on either side. We find King's Corner for our first encounter. Walk in, pay the highly priced beer B145, watch the Go Go girls dance with numbers attached and who are very friendly. If interested, this is how it works. You pick a girl, she comes sits with you, buy her a overpriced drink or not, and chat. When (if) decision's made, agree to the prices/conditions listed and off you go for the night. We leave to watch a 'ping pong' show. Out the numerous guys offering, we decide to follow one up the stairs to a dark, small stage with a couple girls ready to show what they can do with there female anatomy. The list was long. We just wanted check out the place before agreeing to the B300 per person for the show (beer included) however, we shouldn't have open our beers - now committed ourselves to the show. Feeling uncomfortable we wanted to leave promptly. He comes over threatening us if we don't pay him the B600 he'll call the cops - now a 'really' uncomfortable situation. We decide to pay for the beers only and run out - which we did! It was a fun night; Patpong is quite the place with anything goes attitude, money's everything. More stories and leaving @ 3am we head back to normality of city center. Patpong's worth a visit - but be careful.
After a good night, I say farewell to Stella the next day - wishing her well. I stayed an extra day and caught a mini-bus back to Ban Chang (B160) to my friend Phil's place for a visit. Grab my laptop & sort out my belongings for the next adventure - Chiang Mai in the north.