If I pick up where I left off, a group of us went to the mall to go shopping. We crammed into a hot rickety bus and sped over the river to a shopping center. It seemed more Western to me than I anticipated for some reason. I didn't see the same stores that are in a typical American shopping mall, but the place seemed include the Asian equivalent of American stores. For example, there was an eyewear store that reminded me of Sunglass Hut, and the department/grocery store looked like an Asian Target store. I guess I expected more of a culture shock with unfamiliar stores in a foreign language, but many of the stores had signs and advertisements in English. So, I bought my little cell phone and some clothes hangers because I didn't want to carry too much on the bus going back to campus. I should go back and get a laundry basket and toilet paper... Anyway, we were all feeling pretty tired at this point and most of us wanted to get back to campus and sleep before dinner, but it was already near 6pm when we left the mall.
We showered up and walked to a Thai restaurant close to the school. One of the American teachers here was nice enough to guide us to both the mall and to dinner, so that was a big help with communication. I can't remember exactly what we ordered, but I recall a few rice dishes, a noodle dish I recognized that has wide, flat rice noodles in a thicker soy sauce, and a pork dish that I believe was marinaded in lime and spice. Overall, I enjoyed the authentic Thai dinner. It was very different than the Americanized version, as I knew it would be. I'm looking forward to trying new food!
After dinner the group stopped by a 7-11 to pick up beer for pre-gaming. I accidentally bought a bottle of wine instead of beer because I couldn't read the label. It was sold right next to the beer in a similar capped glass bottle. When we got back to campus we went to the rooftop of the dorm to drink outside for a while. The weather was perfectly cool and the skyline of the city was visible through the haze. It was one of those moments when you really take it all in and realize how fortunate you are to have this kind of experience. It was great to talk to the other people in the group and know a little more about them. I can tell that some close friendships will be made in our time here.
We gathered around 11pm to travel to the most popular part of Bangkok to go out to the bars. Although it was far, the destination was within walking distance, so I decide to trek with a few people to get a feel for the streets. The sidewalks were devoid of people, but we encountered some interesting creatures like a giant unknown bug, a gecko, and a few boney stray cats. The city suddenly came alive as we neared the famous street we were looking for; Khao San Road. It felt like everyone in the entire city was gathering there. I can't compare the hustle and bustle to NYC, but the energy was incredible. The street was lined with clubs and restaurants, all overflowing into the road with people, many of whom I thought to be American, but soon realized that they were actually European. I really enjoyed being the minority there. It felt overwhelming at times because of the language barrier and the fact that most Asians at the bar or club are shy, but very fun and nice people when you get to know them. More on this soon. So of all the myriad places to go to on Khao San Road, in Bangkok, Thailand, we go to an Irish Pub. I don't know why and I initially objected, but we ended up having a great time.
The place was full of Thai people anyway, I just wanted more of a unique experience at a local place. I think I still got what I asked for because I found a new appreciation for Karaoke. First, a note on Karaoke - Americans typically think that Karaoke is lame. They should. American Karaoke is usually just a teleprompter with lyrics accompanied by a simple melody of the song. So, people feel like they have to sing awful power ballads like Creed to inspire other people to sing along and improve the experience. I heard that Karaoke was great in Asia, and I was totally blown away by the talent I heard. Back to the story. There wasn't open Karaoke for the patrons of the bar, but there were live performances of cover bands that I want to call Karaoke cover bands. I don't know if that's a proper title because they had obviously rehearsed the songs and played them very well, but the band members had the music sheets and lyrics in front of them as they played. Maybe just a cover band. Anyway, they were spot on and we had a blast singing to Lady Gaga and Beyonce. After many drinks we rallied to hit up The Club. That was actually the name of the club. We only stopped by for a few minutes, so I need to go back there again. It was dark, packed full of people dancing, and played great electronic music. That was the last stop on our night in Bangkok, which leads me to the appropriately titled post you are currently reading. I had a headache when I started writing this morning that slowed me down. Probably the aftermath of that wine. I think I will be fully recovered by the time I see the Hangover Thailand movie today.
As I finish this post I should mention the source of my rejuvenation. There is an adorable old lady who sells bite size pancakes at her skillet cart outside the gate of the school. She melts a bit of orange icing into the pancakes and serves them on a wooden skewer. I could probably eat those every morning for a year. They cost 10 baht for five or six of them. 100 baht equals about $3 USD, so I'll let you do the math. It is still strange dealing with this new currency. Every time I hand someone a 20 baht bill, I feel like I'm handing them a $20 U.S. bill. Maybe this is a good thing so I don't spend too freely. But I can't deny that I feel like a rich man for the first time ever!
Song of the Day:
I chose this song to express the energy of the city.
Thievery Corporation - 'Warning Shots'