I took the bus from Pattaya back to Bangkok which takes two hours and cost 124 baht (about 2GBP). Once back in Bangkok I wanted to go to one of the big shopping malls, MBK, to see if I could find a new laptop battery, so I took myself on the BTS (my new way of getting around) from On Nut to Siam as I knew I could walk the rest of the way to MBK. So one of the reasons I wanted to go by BTS is because I did not want to find myself in the middle of a political demonstration, which had been going on in Bangkok for quite some time. So, of course, once off the BTS I found myself smack bang in the middle of a demonstration. The whole of the main roads were cordoned off and people had set up stalls selling stuff. Directly outside one of the entrances to MBK a stage had been erected and there was peaceful talks going on, with the supporters camped out everywhere you looked.
Just a few weeks ago there was a bomb set off in a busy shopping district killing two and injuring quite a few more, so I didn’t want to be in the wrong place at the wrong time but as I walked through the swarm of people I didn’t feel threatened or unsafe. Their cause is not with foreigners but you still wouldn’t want to get involved.
Having only used the BTS once before I am on a mission to explore Bangkok (BKK) by this method of transport. Once you know what you are doing- get change for a ticket, choose where you are going, and put the correct money in and hey presto your ticket comes out- easy really- it is so cheap (42 baht from On Nut to Mor Chit (takes about 30-40 minutes), taxis or tuk-tuks would be so much more expensive and they would take so much longer.
So on the way back to my hotel I decided to get off at Nana and go in search of a beer or two. On the way along Sukhumvit Road a guy walked passed me and said “hi”. I said “hi” back and carried on walking, I looked back and he started to follow me. Eventually I stopped and we chatted and agreed to meet later in the evening. He was an airline steward for Sri Lankan airlines and, although I don’t make a habit of meeting random guys, we ended up having a good night. (I was recently sent a book to give feedback on and one of the things throughout the book was the guy wanted to say “yes” more to experience more things than if he had said “no” and gone with his “I want to but I dare not” side). So this was my “say yes more” and I am glad I did because, like I said, I had a great time and I dare say a new friend has been made.
On the way back to my hotel I had missed the last sky-train so I walked to the end of the soi and tried to get a taxi, but no one wanted to take me because Sukhumvit Road between sois 19 and 23 had been taken over by some of the protesters, and my hotel was quite a long way away. Eventually I found one but no sooner had he taken a turn into soi 19 he said he didn’t want to go and could I get out. So I walked a couple of sois and eventually found a motor bike taxi to take me the rest of the way. I gave in and paid the over-priced (150 baht) fare home because I just wanted to get home. There are so many people around at that time of night, a few of them drunk, I didn’t feel unsafe but you just need to keep your wits about you- like anywhere. Needless to say I was happy to get back to the hotel.
The next day I went for lunch and afterwards I wandered around seeing places I recognized and new places that I hadn’t seen before in the two years I have been gone. One thing I love about Bangkok is it is so diverse-modern, high rise hotels and apartment blocks; run down shops and houses; bars and restaurants; locals, tourists and stall holders amongst a whole host of other things.
And even though Bangkok is quite a dirty, smog filled city there are trees, plants and flowers planted along the sois making it look relatively pretty- especially at night when all the little fairy lights come on.
When I first came to Thailand in 2008 the place I knew the most was the Khao San Road area, in Banglampu but a friend introduced me to Sukhumvit and I am slowly getting my bearings in that area as well. Whereas KS Road attracts a lot of backpackers and a younger crowd, Sukhumvit has an older crowd and there are some very nice, albeit more expensive, drinking holes and places to stay. I will get to know the whole of Bangkok before I am done, but it is so big it might just take me a while but I am not planning on going anywhere anytime soon so I have plenty of time to explore this City of Angels.