Our time is up in Amsterdam and we are heading off to Japan. We are real excited about our visit to Japan as both Barbie and I have never been there. With all the crazy war game news and missile launches going on in North Korea, we are hoping we do not find ourselves on the direct path of the next world war. If we do get nuked during our stay in Japan because of the imbecile in the White House, I guess it would be an epic ending to our Round the World journey. If the end does come, I am just hoping the apocalypse occurs after eating the most kick ass sushi dinner of my life in Tokyo.
The flight from Amsterdam to Tokyo was just too long when you take into account the two (2) connections. We did a marathon two (2) connection flight last year from Israel to Brisbane (with connections in Frankfurt and Singapore) and found ourselves landing in Australia like walking zombies. Therefore, instead of arriving into Tokyo completely shattered, we elected to stopover in Bangkok for four (4) nights to break up the trip and indulge in the nonstop action that Bangkok has on tap. So glad we did, as the flight to Bangkok alone wiped out Barbie with some serious jet lag which took her few days to recover from.
We stayed in one of the upscale high rise condos in the heart of the action located on Soi 13, Sukhumvit. Airbnb delivered the goods again for only $75 per night which was just tremendous value. One of the things I love about arriving into Southeast Asia is the value we get for our dollar. A condo like this in any other major city in the world would probably go for over $300 – $400 per night. No Thai temples or any sort of cultural stuff for us tired hombres this time around in Bangkok. We basically slept our asses off and when we did venture out into the scorching Bangkok heat, it was to one of the many air-conditioned malls, each having their own massive ‘over the top’ international food court. We are talking serous chowdowns in these mall food courts, unlike the crappy food American malls have on offer. One of the things it seems all Asian countries have perfected, is the massive modern malls. It is where all the action takes place and where locals flock to because its just too fucking hot to walk around outside. The top malls include: Terminal 21 and the Emporium in the Sukhumvit area and Siam Paragon, Siam Center, Central Plaza, Central Chidlom in the Siam Square area.
We did pay our obligatory visit one evening to Khao San Road for dinner, an $8 per hr. massage and a wander around the amazing night time scene just when the surreal action gears up. Khao San Road is the epicenter for ‘off the grid’ backpackers and travelers spanning the entire world. It is an absolute circus that will make you stare in amazement. To get away from the chaos of Khao San Rd., a visit to the adjacent street of Rambuttri Alley is a must for live music and a quieter dinner atmosphere at one of the many outdoor seafood restaurants lining the street. If you enjoy pure ‘fun’, a visit here on any evening is a ‘must’.
Another evening, we made it to the Patpong Road night market. It is basically a night market with adult entertainment adjacent to it. Maybe it was low season but this area did not have the same frenzied vibe that we have enjoyed in years past. It is possible that the naughty boy adult action nowadays are centered in Nana Plaza and Soi Cowboy? Along the center of the Patpong Market, vendors are selling all sorts of crap. On the sides of the market are the girlie joints and upstairs are where the famed raunchy sex shows are performed. There are aggressive Thai touts along the road showing off sexually explicit menus listing all the circus acts performed upstairs. If your life long desire is to see all sorts of objects (ping pong balls, darts, bananas…..etc.) shoot out of a girls private parts than these shows are for you.
THRU THE BINOCS –
I am having troubles talking negatively about Thailand as it was once my favorite country in the world. I have visited Thailand about a dozen times now and covered just about all the major cities/towns in addition to the many islands down south. I still love all the chaos and noise and smells of Bangkok, and it was great to return to that amazing sprawling mess of a city as it never gets old for me in Bangkok. However, Barbie has very mixed feelings about Thailand as she feels mass tourism has spoiled this once charming country. She feels that the ‘Land of Smiles’, is gone from the country.
I have to agree with her perspective as it is very difficult for me to give up Thailand as my favorite country status. After reflecting back on our month in Thailand last year and this visit, the following are my thoughts.
I kinda feel that Thailand now gives the impression of a tired and irritated nation and simply jaded by all the tourists. I really believe that as a viable tourist destination Thailand is basically shot in all but the remotest places of the country. Thirty million tourist arrivals a year made this happen.
If you go to any of Thailand’s popular tourist locations – Samui, Phuket, Phi Phi, Railay, Ko Lipe, Ko Tao, Krabi, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, and even parts of the Mae Hong Son area (Pai) – you’ll find crowds in abundance. Especially a rapid increase in the arrival numbers of the Chinese tour hordes infiltrating many Southeast Asian countries. They have demonstrated to me, to be loud and obnoxious and simply do not respect the travel destinations they visit.
Everywhere in Thailand, except for the most remote areas is packed full of tourists. The word has been out about Thailand, it’s no longer “off the beaten track” and is rapidly becoming an expensive, mainstream, conveyor belt tourist destination devoid of any real sense of adventure. It is my opinion that mainstream tourism in Thailand is about as artificial and touristy as one may find in any mainstream tourist location in the world. Regardless of where you go in Thailand, the formula is always the same; massage shops, beer bars, tattoo shops, 7 Elevens, hawker’s carts, trinket sellers, ripoff taxis, and westernized Thai food all lumped into a bunch of narrow, grubby little streets.
Our time is up in Bangkok, it is now off to Japan, away from the tourist masses for an extended stint and we hope to cover a majority of the country.