Day 2 : Bangkok, Thailand

After a total of 28 ½ hours, 4 descent movies, 2 unknown Asian movies, 3 mediocre meals and many, many Bloody Mary's we finally landed in Bangkok at 11pm local time. With all the time changes the body does not know what the hell is going on. Too jacked-up and can’t sleep, so I am writing. We cruised through Customs which was a non-event. The stamp heard around the world was nothing short of a library book being checked out. Thump. "Thank you, Sa-wah Di Kah - welcome to Thailand".  I waited for a bigger event to ensue. What, no balloons, no confetti, no news interview? The only person who congratulated me on my first passport stamp was Brian – God love him.
Now, what no one tells you about (and what you get use to over time) is the circus that awaits you upon exiting customs and baggage: the room full of taxi drivers, tour guides and Hotel pushers. Picture the “Day after Christmas Sale” in the shoe department at Macy’s, only in reverse and with little foreign men shaking pamphlets at you and grabbing at any lose clothing, luggage strap or free appendage you have. There is no escape for the tall, the pale and the blond.
Bypassing the aggressive taxi services that promise you "the best deal", we opted for the taxi line. For a 30 foot long line, it moved surprisingly fast. The comic nature of our next hour and a half cannot even be put into words. “Bangkok Rama Place” I said in my clearest slowest English.
“Where is this Bangkok Llama Place?” he asked. (It’s Rama, not Llama mind you)..
Heck if I knew. Heck if Brian knew. 

The only cabbie in Bangkok that did not know where our Hotel was, and we got him. Not only him, but no one knew. Not the other cabbies he pulled over to ask, not the noodle vendors or the noodle eaters, not the security guard or the guy at the motorcycle rental stand…. Not even the gas station attendant he asked when we pulled to re-fuel. No one had ever heard of “Bangkok Llama Place” - we drove for so long , we had to stop for gas. Brian leaned over to me and whispered, “I wonder if the fact that they are pronouncing 'Rama’ like ‘Llama’ is the problem”.  We both laughed, maybe to shield our obvious anxiety with the situation.

What should have been a 20 minute ride from the airport to the hotel turned into an epic journey; a two hour game of Ask-The-Local. Groups gathered around our reservation and debated over the accuracy of the given address. Maps were brought out and phone calls were made, but to no avail; we were still sitting in our Cab at 2:00am. Every time we heard “llama” Brian and I broke out into fits of giggles like Pavlov’s dog
Tour books tell you that patience is a must in Thailand, always smile and never loose your cool. Well, our faces hurt a little today. The consolation prize of our free tour of Bangkok is that we got a free tour of Bangkok. I am not sure a midnight romp around the city is offered in any of the tour company brochures.
Bangkok: "Good time City", officially the city that never sleeps. A great city. People everywhere, traffic...noise. On our drive from the airport to our Hotel we saw people out, having food...going in and out of clubs...and even soccer and volleyball games...all at 2am .

Right now it's Bri and I, then Soon to join us is Our Friend Ryan Johnston (Denver) and his pals Bob and Moe (Ryan's college buddies). Not sure how computer service will be out of Bangkok, but we'll try and stay in touch.

The grounds of Our Hotel: Bangkok "Llama" Place. It was a blessing to be at a Hotel on the outskirts of Bangkok, quieter, less smog - and a feakin' POOL!!
City Life in Bangkok. A vender selling pineapples out of wheelbarrow sized basket.
Koh San Road: Bangkok Back Packer's mecca. It’s a silly little scene of drinking and socializing - Hippies with credit cards and Thais every inch of the way hounding them to be used. Knock-off merchandise is born here.
Off Koh San Road: Sometimes the best parts of a city are found by simply exploring. We later found ourselves wondering through the side streets and back alleys of Khoa San Road. The best fresh Banana Smoothie EVER, maybe it's the rum....
All of Thailand is Buddhist. You see evidence of it everywhere as it influences all segments of society. And understanding this gets you closer to understanding Thailand. Buddhist as they are, Thais do not let religion disturb their love of life and lightheartedness.
White knuckle grip on the back of a tuk-tuk. Thai Lesson #1: The Tuk-Tuk – or “How much can your nerves handle while crammed into 3 cubic feet?” Tuk-Tuks are small 3-wheeled brightly painted moto-taxis. A black-cloud spitting, motorized rickshaw the size of a toaster oven complete with paper-thin tin sides and roll bar – as if it would help. They speed through traffic at death defying proximities to other larger, faster vehicles.
Mmmmm , Green Tea. Brian getting his green tea fix under control at a trendy little spot in Downtown Bangkok.
Koh San Road. A mini vegas, Thai style. The stretch of road on Khoa San is about 5 blocks long and is lined with knock-off brand merchandise, bars, restaurants, street performers and noodle carts. Amongst local fare is a Starbucks, a 7-11 and at the end of the street, a tragically placed Burger King.
Watt Traimit – Temple of the golden Buddha. First 40' Buddha we've ever seen.....We climbed into a Tuk-Tuk after a scam attempt and were taken to our first temple with its very own 40 foot tall gold-leaf covered Buddha. (Brian): “You really do not see enough of these”
Well, Johnston finally showed up. Bri and Ry at our pretty much private pool. We seemed to be the only ones interested in cooling off.
Wat Po: Marisha and Ry. There are a bewildering number of mini temples, rock gardens and statuary at this complex.
So Bob and Moe arrived and found us on the street no problem. It didn’t take long for our full group to mesh and get comfortable with our travel party. Bob and Moe are both Iowa football players. The group on ko San Road having beers with other travelers we met earlier.
Wat Po. (Wat = Temple). To kill some time before Bob and Moe arrive, Ryan, Brian and I visited Wat Pho. I now have a plethora of ridiculous pictures featuring the guys posing with a variety of statues, some publishable on our travel blog, others not so much. This is the only normal one.
Wat Pho is often called the Temple of the Reclining Buddha and so named because it houses a gigantic 46 meters (150 foot) Buddha in the rear courtyard.
One night in Bangkok The guys stayed behind in BAngkok for 1 night so they coul dcheck it out. The stories that camer out of this place involved ping pong balls, scarves, whoo-haas, and flying bananas....don't even ask.

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