Monday, 21 July 2014

Bangkok

A 2 hour catamaran and an 8 hour bus ride and we arrived in Bangkok.  It was hot, muggy and polluted.

We had booked into a hotel on Khao San Road, the infamous backpackers street made famous in The Beach.  We had been concerned about the noise but had requested a room at the back of the hotel and it seemed to be fine.  The following two days were a different matter entirely with sleep interrupted by (randomly) a metal band and drunken neighbours shouting and playing guitar badly until 7.30am.



Khao San Road is buzzing.  Filled with 7/11s, massage parlours, restaurants, bars and market stalls, it's a hub of noisy activity with each establishment competing for your business.  Add to that taxi and tuktuk drivers trying to get your attention, dirty old men smacking their lips advertising Ping Pong shows, people selling deep fried scorpions and crickets and women in pointy hats selling bracelets and wooden frogs, it's a sensory overload.

We had a street food dinner of pad Thai and kebab sticks,  a quick wander round to get our bearings then off to bed.

Sunset from our hotel

Enjoying some £1.10 pad thai


The next day we went to the museum of forensic science and anatomy.  I want to point out that this was Amy's choice not mine!! To get there we navigated a maze of roads to the river, then paid 15baht (25p) for the boat bus to a few piers along.  We then had to ask several people for directions as the museums are in the main hospital buildings and not very well sign posted.

We stumbled upon the anatomy museum first.  It reminded me of Becky as her mum loves all this stuff and has dragged her round several similar establishments back in the UK. 

The museum consisted of collections of preserved babies and conjoined twins, dissections of human torsos, brains and genatalia, and whole skeletons of important people in Thai history.  The only way I got round the place was by repeating to myself "these aren't real, it's just plastic" but of course they were real.  Luckily they hadn't been preserved very well and so lots of things did resemble badly made dolls and models which helped me to convince myself they were models.  Reflecting on it, it's very sad to think what the mother's must have gone through giving birth to these dead babies with defects.  I think the saddest thing I saw was a dissection of a baby in the womb.  I do wonder who gives consent for that person to be used for science in their death.

Anyway I digress.  The next museum was just as disturbing.  It started with 2 exhibits in cancer and something else, it was all in Thai so we didn't send too long in there.  We did find a blood pressure machine so bad a play, both of ours were low with mine being something like 90/60.  I think I was feeling light headed after all the dead bodies!

We moved onto the next section which thankfully had annotations in English.  It started with a fairly interesting piece on the tsunami, focusing on the forensic identification of the bodies and how the process took place.  They had decided to recreate a scene with a life sized model of 3 forensic doctors leaning over a semi naked, injured dead fat woman lying alongside bodies in body bags.  Lovely.

The next bit was just a bizarre collection of the following:

  • Mummified bodies of three rape murderers including one who ate the heart and liver of his victims.  One of the corpses was just leaning against its glass case in a tray of slime.  All very pleasant!
  • Clothes from rape murder victims
  • Murder and suicide tools
  • More preserved babies
  • Crime scene photos of people who'd died in grotesque accidents or who'd been murdered.  

The final section was on parasitology and featured displays on different worms found in meats and other parasites.  It made me want to be a vegetarian - fun fact: the beef tapeworm can be anything from 4 to 42 metres long. There was a life sized model of a man with Filariasis, below.  This lovely affliction is caused by worms that are carried by mosquitoes finding a home in your lymphatic vessels.  Lymphatic dysfunction then causes lymphesema of the leg, scrotum, breast, penis, arm or leg. Those mozzies have a lot to answer for!!

Big balls

That evening we went for a few cocktails with the aim of meeting Alex and Caroline.  Unfortunately we peaked too early and they ended coming vroundbto our room with me already in bed!! Rock and roll...we started at the below place who apparently do very strong cocktails for 80 baht (£1.40) and never check ID as advertised in their sign and t shirts.  What they don't tell you is only your first cocktail is that price..cheeky.  We then went to Silk Bar.  They still don't have deep fried banana.



Boat bus
The following day we got another boat bus to 2 shopping centres.  The boat bus traverses the canals quickly and efficiently and I highly recommend.  The piers are often hard to find, located down little alleyways but they are cheap and quick.  A ticket collector walks up and down the side of the boat holding onto a bit of rope and leans into the boat to take your money and give you a ticket.  Our journey cost 10 baht to travel 4 stops.
Tuk tuk

 




Our first destination was the MRK centre which I wasn't blown away by, it reminded me of the Lucky Mall in Singapore.  We did however have a very cheap lunch of chicken steak with black pepper sauce, chips and salad for the grand total of 63baht (£1.15)

We then got the sky train (like the DLR) to Terminal 21 which was amazing.  Each floor was themed for a different city, so Rome had lots of columns and a statue, San Francisco had a golden gate bridge and a tram and London had a big red bus, a tube train and a beefeater! They also had AMAZING toilets (I only wanted to visit to experience them) which had a heated seat, a jet of water for your front and back bottom, a dryer and a deodoriser. Soooo cool.






After the shopping centres we got the train to the bus station, was roped off by a tuktuk and purchased tickets for the government bus to Cambodia.  On the way back we stopped off at Chatachuk weekend market - a sprawling mass of stalls selling everything from pashminas, clothes, giant garden ornaments, food and vintage items.  We had fun getting lost in the maze that was the market and eventually found our way back home.

Bangkok was the end of the Thai jaunt and though I have had fun, I haven't been blown away by Thailand.  The only place I wouldn't mind revisiting is Koh Tao, I would also like to return and do Chiang Mai as I think I would enjoy the scenery more.  Thailand was very geared for tourists.  I felt like a lot of people were only interested in your money and custom and not in giving good customer service.  I love getting off the beaten track and as we were too scared to hire scooters then maybe my feelings would be different if we had private transport at our disposal.  I probably would return, but I'm not in any rush.

Next stop: Cambodia!!

Places stayed: khaosan palace hotel.  Twin room. WiFi and AC which was extremely noisy.  Paper thin walls.  Roof top pool.  Would recommend staying just off khaosan road if you want good sleep.  900 baht a night (3 nights.


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