‘What is Thai for vegetarian?!’ – Auroraman, 7th October 2010. Bangkok, Thailand.

So here we are in Bangkok – currently in a 4 star hotel watching every episode of the American Office, breaking only for food and hospital visits, but more about that later.

On our arrival into Bangkok we were met by a taxi driver sent by our hotel to pick us up. A very friendly guy who called himself Jackie Chan, he had brought his wife along in the front seat to keep him company. They instantly won us over by calling Stannie beautiful and saying Raman looks like Keanu Reeves. Yes we are that easy to please.

Our first two nights were booked at Bansabai Hostel, a lovely quiet hostel about 30 minutes outside of Bangkok centre (www.bansabaihostel.com). We paid a bit extra for a Superior room, which was a large room on the top floor with a garden view. Raman found the idea of being located next to a garden very exciting as the moment our plane wheels touched the ground he has been on a hunt for dangerous creatures/insects. After a close examination of the area, he came to the conclusion that all we were going to see here were geckos and mosquitos, much to his disappointment.

The hostel provided a free taxi to the river for our first day, where we could catch a boat to the Grand Palace in Bangkok centre. The boat was public transport rather than a tourist ride, so it was a great introduction into the everyday life of those in Bangkok including an area at the back of the boat that only Monks can occupy.

Outside the Grand Palace, we treated ourselves to milk straight out of a coconut with a straw, like the tourists we are. Unfortunately we then found out we could not enter unless we had our elbows, knees and toes covered, as we were dressed in flip-flops, shots and t-shirts, we put the Grand Palace on hold and made our way to Koh San Road.

Koh San Road is often referred to as a backpacker’s paradise. It is a busy street made up with shops, hostels, bars and travel agents. Lined down both sides of the street are market stalls selling knock off designer clothes and jewellery, fake CDs and DVDs, and many Thai made tourist gifts. If that wasn’t cramped enough, down the middle of the street are food stalls with tuktuks weaving through. Day and night this street is cram-packed full of tourists – along with haggling for the slightest purchase, spending time here can be an exhausting experience.

The Thai people are very friendly, and haggling should be done with a smile on your face. They’ll try to catch you into conversing with them by asking you where you are from as you pass their stall. We found the answer “London” was usually met with their attempt of a cockney accent and a “corr blimey guvner!”. Not only that but they’re able to read when you are about to excuse yourself and they’d predict “just looking yeah?”

After a little while of browsing and trying to avoid buying all the tempting things on offer, we decided to make our way to the MBK Centre (a massive department store incorporating designer shops for everything you can think of, along with the same type of market stalls we saw on Koh San Road). We only went for a camera card reader, but I ended up buying some green contact lenses and Raman couldn’t resist a Lady Gaga t-shirt. Honestly.

We had planned on taking a bus and boat to Koh Tao in the morning, however Raman started to feel quite under the weather, so we delayed it by a day. We spent the next day in our hostel just resting while Raman recovered. I decided to pop out to a pharmacist for him, and ended up caught in a tropical downpour, with no coat or umbrella. As I walked home in the pouring rain, I was laughed at by all the locals sheltering in their doorways. This was the beginning of many incidents where we have been amusing to the Thais just by being ourselves.

Late afternoon when Raman was feeling a bit better, we went to the roof to check out the hostel’s infinity pool. It was such a lovely setting, and being the rainy season we could see a thunder storm over Bangkok in the distance. As the sun began to set, we wrapped up our handstand competitions and took in what we thought was going to be the last of our time in Bangkok as we were off to Koh Tao the next day.

S+R xxx