You know what's on the menu tonight? moi! at least for all the mosquitoes in my room chowing down on my sticky sweet flesh.
Otherwise, no complaints for once. I arrived at this awesome guest house (Baan Num) last night around 1 a.m. Bangkok time (that's 12 hours behind New York) after a very long series of errands (post office), train riding (the A train to the AirTrain), flights (JFK to Hong Kong: 15 hours, 11 minutes + Hong Kong to BKK: 3 hours), and a terrifying cab ride (because the driver didn't speak English and clearly had no idea where I needed him to take me even though I gave him a map). The place is run by a lez couple who were very friendly, offered to pick me up at the airport via email (which I should have accepted), and left me in this house all by my lonesome (while only charging me 350 baht/night). I woke up at 4 a.m. to the pleasant rumblings of foreign creatures and the occasional moto (this is truly the city that never sleeps) and made my way outside around 5 a.m. to see a barefoot monk cross my path and a bustling food stall next to my front door.
Throughout this post I will detail how I entertained my mouth on my first day in Thailand and give you prices because I know many of you care about that sort of thing. One USD equals about 30 baht.
For breakfast, I chose my favorite snack sticky rice in a banana leaf and a bag of what I thought was fruit because they looked like kumquats but ended up being deliciously sweet yam balls (12 baht total). I walked over to the river and had coffee in a filthy cup for 5 baht. Then, I climbed the steps to the overpass and walked on the bridge sidewalk into the neighborhood most visitors stay called Khaosan Road. I strolled through a market and chose an exotic snack of what tasted like an odd combination of coconut milk and fried eggs but looked like a chocolateless mallowmar (10 baht). I tried to find my way over to The Grand Palace but bungled the directions a bit and by the time I got there I had entirely lost interest. I was 15 minutes early, anyway, so they wouldn't let me in until they opened to non-Thai at 8:30 a.m. plus I was wearing three-quarter length pants which are disrespectful and forbidden (rightly so). Instead, I spent a long time at Wat Pho, mostly because I arrived much earlier than the other tourists and had a nice and quiet experience. After looking at the incredible reclining Buddha, I indulged in an hour long thai massage (360 baht) at the famous massage school (that I just learned about today).
Little did I know how weird my day was about to get. I made my way back over to the river thinking I might take one of the boats down to Ancient City or at least check out more food stalls. I ended up in this nook by the Chang pier and decided on fried broad noodles with pork for lunch. And, then a Singha. And a cigarette. While trying to enjoy the peace of nothingness (yes, I watched Eat, Pray, Love on the flight so sue me), a dude from a nearby table came to sit with me. I was friendly as I am to most strangers, especially ones who are struggling with English. He could say a few choice words, like "I'm police" and "I'm friend" and "phone number" that really got the idea across. He insisted I sit and drink another beer that he bought me and laughed when I told him I was going to walk to Chinatown. He wanted to take me there instead of me venturing out on my own like the poor helpless hapless damsel in distress I must seem to so many men like this one and proceeded to grab my arm and yank me down the street past a few waiting tuk tuks and taxis. I was very confused because I thought he was suggesting we take a tuk tuk (pedicab) but then he pushed me into the Wat Pho grounds and tried to get me to take my shoes off to go back into the temple. I indicated that I had already been in there and that I had to get going to meet Kristy's friend up at chatumchak market but the only thing that seemed to make sense to him was when I was walking away. Then he grabbed a cab and kept saying "I pay" and "cost a lot" which is all relative really. The fare ended up at about 50 baht to Chinatown, but I was only interested in getting out of the car as he kept grabbing my hand and leaning all over me in the backseat while not being able to carry a conversation due to our language barrier. He tried to get me to sing along to the song on the radio, which might have been the worst part (kidding).
Long story short: he kept rubbing his stomach to say he wanted to stop and eat (although we had both just had huge meals only minutes earlier) and I was able to make a break for it. These Thais constantly eat. Constantly. It's amazing. I fit in really well.
I found a subway station and headed up to the market and found a payphone to call Kristy's friend Po. He came out to get me and took me back to his stall. He and his Australian friend Ryan (who very much resembles another Ryan I was OBSESSED with in college except with a bigger beard and even less ambition) are going to escort me on an overnight train/bus up to Chiang Mai to meet Kristy on Monday. We shot the shit until about 4 p.m. and then I took the SkyTrain down to Saphan Tak and transferred to an express boat to come back up to my guest house where I am now pounding out this blog post before my battery dies. More to report, obviously, as I am meeting them back in town at 9 p.m. for maybe some live music (by the way, I am always a little skeptical when someone tells me a town has great live music and then adds that Bangkok loves Reggae) and definitely dinner.