Bangkok is always great fun. We landed about 1.30am and jumped a taxi straight to Rambruttri, the backpacker ghetto area which includes the famous Th Khao San Road. Not so much a ghetto, more like an adult playground with neon lit bars, restaurants, hawker food stalls, clothe stalls, in fact everything you need to fill your boots with all the life support structures you will need after a month on the road. Time to chill, regroup and consider the next options. And, it is so hot and sticky, that you just cannot really move without feeling fatigued and lethargic. We all love it.
The problem with Bangkok, if there is a problem, is that temptation is always around the corner. This is especially true when you stay at Mama’s place, and other random traveller’s hang around on the benches just outside and in the alley, relaxing over a beer or two away from all the action. You always end up meeting some new acquaintances here, swapping tales and deciding at some stage in the evening, that it is time for a change of scenery, usually meaning a hit on the bright lights of the Ghetto.
When we arrived in the quiet alley and found Mama’s place in complete darkness, you would be forgiven for thinking there was no rooms at the inn at this time of night. However, since we had been before, I knew that Dan, Mama’s 54 year old ex kick boxing champion son, a hulking gentle giant, who you would never want to mess with or meet in an alley on a very dark night … would be snoring his head off in a bed in the main reception area. A simple whisper of his name was all that was required to awaken this lumbering beast from his slumber, and within 5 minutes we had dumped our bags and were on our way out for nightcap or two.
We were all tired but buzzing slightly, you could instantly feel the heat even at this late hour, and a couple of beers would be enough to knock us over, ready to crash and have a very long lie in the following morning.
Next morning, we got reacquainted with Dan, his son Job, and of course Mama, where they would ask what we had been up to the last few months since leaving the place. It felt like we had only left the place a couple of weeks back, as the time had flown by, with Dad meeting us in late January for Cambodia, and then meeting up with Stacey and Mark in Vietnam the following month. The other good news was that Sofie and Carina from Holland would be meeting up with us for a final party before they would have to fly back home and get reacquainted with real life again. What was even better, was that Michael from Frankfurt had turned up, and also Denis from Hamburg. It felt like a family reunion.
For the first week, we have been partying hard and Mark and Stacey love the place, with live music in just about every bar, and any type of food that takes’s your fancy – it is hard not like the place.
But we have been chilling out this past few days. You really do need some time to take stock, and Michelle in particular has been feeling a bit weary and “travelled out”. I don’t really care for being continually on the move either these days, but fortunately, the decision to stay put for a few days was the right one. Songkran is a festival celebrating Thai New Year. The original plan was to go up north to Chaing Mai, as this is seemingly the best place for this. However, all the buses, trains, and flights were almost fully booked, and those seats that were left had serious premium prices attached.
So that was it, stuck in Bangkok until all the celebrations died down. This seemed like a bit of a disaster for us, especially with Mark and Stacey being on a tight schedule to pack as much in. In actual fact, we have never had so much fun for as long as I can remember. I am talking serious fits of the giggles. You see, what happens, is that the stalls and streets suddenly become full of plastic water pistols, rifles and canons. We knew something was going down, but had no idea how crazy this party was going to be. Basically for the last 2 days, and the next 2 days, the whole country has turned into one major water war. Not water fight, water war. Everyone, and I mean everyone in the city is strolling about soaked to the skin, from young kids to granny’s and granddads, and the place is absolutely buzzing. It so addictive, you can only leave the hotel for 5 minutes before becoming a target and getting completely saturated. I had to laugh when we walked through the streets on the first night of the festival, and could here Michelle screaming behind me. She was getting a thorough soaking from some water troops, and looked like a drowned rat.
There is no point going back to get changed, as it will just happen again. Fortunately it is nice and warm here, so you never feel too miserable when soaked to the skin.
There are young teenagers in TukTuks’s firing water from the roads, there are water stations at the side of the road with “water troops” attacking anyone in sight, and this means freezing cold buckets of water and powerful hoses. It is absolutely mental, but seriously good fun – we are having an absolute ball. The good thing is, everyone is up for it, and you are killing yourself laughing from the minute you land on the streets.
It looks like we will probably head up north once this all calms down, and enter Laos from the top and work down, re-entering Thailand at Pakse. I think Mark and Stacey are considering Cambodia, and in particular the Angkor complex. Michelle and I have already done this, but you know what, I don’t think we would really mind doing this again.
Now, time to reload my weapon, and get back to war !