Friday, 29 March 2013

"3 weeks in Bangkok? Are you insane?"

Welcome to Bangkok,
population: everyone
Between leaving New Zealand and arriving safely back in the UK, I've got a 3 week stop in Bangkok. Not Thailand. Bangkok, Thailand's dirty, noisy capital city.

And this is not okay with anyone.

The baffled, sometimes violent denials have been like this:

"What do you mean 3 weeks in Bangkok? Why? Are you stupid?"
"But Bangkok's so DIRTY and NOISY and STRESSFUL. And UGLY! Did I mention UGLY?"
"Go to Chiang Mai, just do it, I'm not even going to entertain this idea"
"Yah sure, fly IN and OUT of Bangkok, but spend 2 weeks down south on a beach and de-stress"

The incomprehension has been so consistent, so hysterical, you'd think I was trying to force THEM to spend 3 weeks in Bangkok.

I'm not sure how many are aware that I've actually been to Thailand before, and have spent a little time in the south (well, Koh Phangan), Bangkok and Chiang Mai/the north as well. So while I haven't been to the East or West of the country, it's not like a totally new country I'd be missing out on.

And don't get me wrong. I'm not saying Bangkok is a more preferable place to stay than Chiang Mai, or even little villages like Pai (which has probably expanded vastly since my visit in 2003).

Bangkok is indeed big, dirty, noisy, stressful, and yes ugly.

I've got 2 reasons for staying there:

  1. I'm moving, I will have all the valuable things in my life that I can carry, and I don't want to drag them around the country with me.
  2. I'm not travelling. Sure most people who visit Thailand are travelling, and there is so much beautiful country outside of the capital city to see. But I want to relax, and that means not worrying about travel arrangements and accommodation. And it's even going to be "real life" for me, a bit - sometimes I'll be staying indoors and working! (Well, "working" doing T-shirt designs)

For those opposed to Bangkok, point 1 is easy. "Just store your luggage, it's easy, then get the overnight train to Chiang Mai, let me tell you about it..." Yes, I took that train, I know about it! And you know, it's not that easy to feel comfortable leaving a lot of my most valuable things in storage in another city altogether. It'll be weird enough leaving them in my hostel room.

Point 2 is less easy to counter, partly because it just confuses people more. It's like when people say on sunny days, "Oh it's SO nice today, it'd be a crime to stay indoors! LITERALLY A CRIME". (Never mind that people say this in Wellington on sunny days that are still freezing cold.) People are confused about me staying in Bangkok for 3 weeks because when you're in Thailand, you want to get the most out of your holiday and get outside every day and do things do lots of things every day every day!!!

Well, I plan to spend some entire mornings or afternoons mooching around in the hostel, or even just in my room. And "indoors" often looks kinda the same wherever you are. Yes it's a crime, come and arrest me if you like.

The thing is, I've got a lot of travel coming up in the next 12 months. And it's hopefully the start of more travel in the next few years - visiting different countries, doing gigs in strange cities. But while "travel" in the sense of adventures, trekking, sky diving, scuba diving, guided tours, horse riding, etc. etc. etc. is a lot of fun, I can't do that all the time. It's draining and exhausting, never mind expensive.

I might be seeing lots of different places, but I won't be actively in "tourist mode", I'll be having "normal life". Kind of, anyway. Being in foreign countries (especially where they don't speak much English) will be challenging enough, and interesting enough.

So, aside from the fact that big cities have hospitals and embassies and important things like that, those are my feelings about my 3 weeks in Bangkok. I wanted a break before getting back to Britain, a chance to spend some time in Asia. And hey, I might still take a visit or two out of the big city! We'll see what happens.

But Bangkok is home to 8 million people. They LIVE there. Like, all year round - including a whole bunch of ex-pats. So assuming that they are not all crying out, Thais and farangs* alike, to get out of This Accursed Hellhole They Named Bangkok, I will assume there are many things to see and do to keep me occupied for a mere 3 weeks.

We'll find out either way I guess!
Jezo Kempo

* Thai word for white person, and/or foreigner.

1 comment:

  1. I know, I know...I was one of those people who urged you to get out of Bangkok (having never been to Thailand). But you'll be fine. Although really -- I hope you're getting a private hostel room, and not sharing, if indeed all your stuff will be with you!