So I’m here!
17 1/2 hour flight, ridiculously easy time clearing customs (balanced out by the ridiculously complicated search for a guesthouse/hostel). Wandered around the airport following signs and taking advantage of any tout that tried to sell me something by asking for directions – and then following those directions before I could be given the sales pitch. Buying a bus ticket took a bit of work and I ended up on the air-conditioned airport shuttle (airport shuttles look identical the world over – Milan, Dar es Salaam, and Bangkok).
I’m on Khao San Rd – the infamous backpacker ghetto. It has yet to live up to its reputation (this might have something to do with the fact that I arrived and wandered around at 7am). I’d earmarked three hostels in Lonely Planet (”earmarked” = “wrote the names on my palm”) but couldn’t find any of them – well, I found a place by the name of one, but it was a bakery with no hostel attached, and I found a sign for another but couldn’t find the building. After the first painful, flushed, sweating thirty minutes of wandering around I found a cafe to set my bag at and went comparison shopping. I spent an hour or two peeking into practically identical rooms and quibbling over the 100 baht variation; I finally realized that, since I didn’t even know the exchange rate, it was a little ridiculous. I’ve got a double room for 180 baht because there weren’t any singles left to be found and it was still the best deal. Two cots, a working light, and a fan. Bathroom down the hall, only cold water – and it was a wonderful cold shower! – and its actually above the cafe where I first left my bag. (Turns out the exchange rate is something like 33 baht to 1 USD so I haven’t broken my budget yet.)
I’ve got some errands to run over the next day or two… I’ve got a SIM card for my mobile for emergencies, I need to get a train ticket to Chiang Mai, and pick up a few things I forgot to pack (like underwear – obsessive color-coded packing check list or not, I managed not to pack a single pair).
Bangkok isn’t half as foreign as I’d expected. The only difference that has hit me over the head (so far – not that I’ve been here long) is the color. There is just so much color. The plane was pink and purple. Everything inside it, from the seats and the blankets, the dim sleep lighting, and even the walls matched the color scheme. Taxis are either lime green or magenta. There is color – bright, intense, saturated, and almost exclusively neon – everywhere. It makes even Tanzania look faded in comparison.