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Bangkok: Third Time is a Charm

 “What happened last night?!” Concisely? A Dutch gallery owner happened last night.

The last time I posted about Bangkok I was not a happy glamper. Because we amended our travel itinerary thus finishing in northern Vietnam, and were unable to change our outgoing flight, we were forced to return to Bangkok. Begrudgingly we flew from Hanoi to BKK for our final evening in SEA. We resolved that we would not stay on Khao San Road, but closer to the central shopping district on Sukhumvit. This choice ultimately lead us to a very redeeming evening in the Siamese capital.

G, GTO and I first hit up MBK which is essentially a mall composed of 2,000+ stalls. The ambiance screams outdoor-market-packed-into-a-six-level-mall. Haggle on, shopper. We even took a tuk-tuk there for 80 baht and gasp, he took us directly there!  Tuk-tuk for the win? I never anticipated I would ever say that! That evening we headed back to MBK and watched Total Recall. A nice quiet evening in Bangkok right? Exiting the metro station I spied Soi Cowboy, lit up in neon lights.

Soi Cowboy. Now it’s common knowledge that Bangkok has a couple gritty personalities and I had heard of Soi Cowboy before. My gross misconception was that Soi Cowboy was the name of a flesh bar.

Passively I suggested to the boys that we drop by the bar as it was on the way back to our hotel. Holla! Soi Cowboy is a flesh bar street. With our expectations blown out of the water we decided a beer or two was in order. We took up a perch and not-so-subtly stared at the sex workers and their patrons. Girls in sailor suits, girls dressed as French maids and girls simply dressed skimply milled about the patios, casting their proverbial nets into the street. Businessmen, middle-aged men, handicap men, families with their children and other backpackers made up Soi Cowboy’s foot traffic.

With GTO feeling sick (for two weeks now and while it wasn’t apparent at the time he was suffering from malaria) and G extremely tired from the morning’s flight, we ordered a second beer and resolved to head home. That would have been the plan if a Dutch gallery owner hadn’t have sat down, struck up a conversation and befriended us. And bought us a round of beer. And then another. And then another.  Apparently we had been seated at the bar most notorious for fellatio. Go figure. And then he took us to another flesh bar, one with a live band. And then we took the party to what is best described as a bar on a cart. And then we tuk-tuk’ed to a different neighbourhood where the live band indulged me by dueting Sweet Child o’Mine (which went horribly). And then we pulled up some stools at a pink VW Westphalia that had been converted to a bar. At this point we needed to pack things in. We woke up the next morning having not spent a single baht all night and decisively still drunk. “What happened last night?!” Concisely? A Dutch gallery owner happened last night. The characters you meet on the road…

That was our last night in Bangkok, one we won’t soon forget. We spent our last day hunting out a McDonald’s. In doing such, we discovered Terminal 21.

I was a little confused when we first arrived at Terminal 21. It appeared to be a mall, connected to the metro station. I was able to conclude that it was indeed a mall, six  or seven stories tall. What confused me most were the check-in monitors, arrivals and departures board and signage on each level. ‘This way to Paris’ indicated a large posting. Is there a train station at the bottom of this? (Hungover reasoning?) After a while it became apparent that each floor of the mall is themed as a destination. The ground floor was the Caribbean followed by Paris, Tokyo, Istanbul, San Francisco (the food floor) and Hollywood (cinema floor). Each floor was designed and styled in the essence of the city. My favorite was shopping for jewelry in Istanbul. To kill time during the day (our flight was at 1:00am) we watched Batman again, which was a good thing because I missed a lot when I watched it the first time (in Vietnam, with those obnoxious kids nattering away). Anyway, I recommend one visits Terminal 21 for novelty sake alone.


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