We didn’t want to leave the island paradise of Don Det, and it was bitter sweet to head back to Bangkok. This time we were seated on the top of a double-decker bus with comfortable seats and refreshments. Avi wished that she were back on the sleeper bus, but I was much happier to have a real seat. The highlight of the journey was the rest stop at a huge bus station about 5 hours outside of Bangkok. In the midst of traditional Thai cuisine we spotted something amazing, a Dunkin Donuts! Prior to this trip I thought that Dunkin Donuts was only a New England thing, not even reaching across the continental US. But, here in Bangkok we have spotted dozens of them. Chocolate donuts were a great treat, and the highways in Thailand are far less windy than the nausea inducing roads of Laos.
Back in Bangkok we checked back in at Lub.d. Despite sleeping on the bus, it was amazing to get back to a proper bed in an air-conditioned room. Don Det did not have any hot water at all, so a proper shower was also in order. We spent the afternoon walking through the endless stalls of the world’s largest weekend market. We bought lots of gifts, and ate a lot of tasty street food. I found garlic bread on a skewer that was absolutely incredible. You can get almost anything at the market, in fact I got a really sweet bamboo
tattoo chopstick set!
Suits and Scorpions
The following day we went back to the market, and in addition to buying gifts for other people I splurged and bought myself some suits. Custom tailoring is a big market here in Bangkok, and during the planning stages of the trip I was thrilled that I would be able to get some custom made clothing without breaking the bank. We found a reputable tailor shop and the three of us walked into an experience that was reminiscent of buying a car. The salesmen were very nice, but clearly well practiced at their craft. They gave us all free cokes, which was probably the easiest way to win Tory’s trust. I ended up buying two suits and three shirts, which also came with two ties and a belt. All of this came in at an unheard of price in the US. The next day I went in for a fitting, which was also a very cool experience, as I have never had clothing made for me before. Instead of simply adjusting the seams of a ready-made suite or jacket, I gave feedback to the tailor who carefully chalked and pinned the half made suit. Yesterday they were delivered to the hostel, I was a bit nervous about the quality and fit given the price. The suits were perfect, fit great and looked sharp! Tory has a few pictures of the fitting, so I will be sure to post those later.
That night we went to the infamous Khaosan Road and had a pretty crazy night. I won’t go into detail, but Tory did eat a scorpion on a stick. That was the least crazy part of the evening. The rest of it was kind of like this. Photographic evidence:
When we booked our trip, the start and end dates did not line up perfectly. Tory got to Bangkok a few days before us, and she left two days ago. After our good-byes, Avi and I headed to the Royal Palace to see the awe inspiring buildings and sculptures. Seeing an entire city block filled with palaces, thrones and temples was reminiscent of Washington DC, although clearly the architecture couldn’t be more different.
Afterward we walked through the amulet market, a long corridor of merchants selling thousands of Buddhas and lots of jewelry. It was very interesting to walk down the corridor and see old men hunched over gemstones and pouring over them with a loupe.
With a bit of daylight left we went to the unreal Paragon Mall in the heart of Bangkok. There is no mall like this in the US, it is 7 stories tall and packed with only the most expensive luxury brands and beautifully designed. There are interactive plasma screens on each wall, and floor 3 is home to a variety of super-car dealers including Lamborghini and Rolls Royce. The top floor of the mall was the best part, with a movie theater that makes Fenway theater look rundown and shabby by comparison. We all watched Despicable Me 2, and it was hysterical. Later we went back for bowling, and then downstairs to the aquarium which unfortunately was closed for the evening.
Our Last Day and the Long Way Home
Today is the last full day of the trip. We are hanging out at our fantastic hostel for most of the morning, and then heading to a Thai cooking class this afternoon. We are very excited, and maybe I will cook something edible! In our last few hours here we will see if we have time for one more bowl of duck soup, and maybe our last $5 massage (we have had 7, this will be a major loss when we go home).
The next morning we are taking the Bangkok Sky Train to the airport and flying to Moscow. After a 16 hour layover in Moscow we finally board the plane back to NYC and then a bus home. It is going to be exhausting, but after such an amazing trip it might be nice to have some time to digest and reflect back on the whole thing.