Sunday, May 3, 2009

Bangkok Was... Interesting

We quickly realized that it was not just a typical weekend in Bangkok.  After being doused in water multiple times while attempting to find our hostel, we soon learned that it was Songkran, the Thai New Year.  To celebrate the new year, the Thai line the streets with water buckets, water bottles, water guns, and any other imaginable container that holds water.  They then douse anyone and anything that passes them with the water.  In addition, some kids had a curious colorful clay substance that they wiped all over the face and arms of any unsuspecting victim.  We finally found our hostel, changed into dry clothes (a futile action, we realized), and decided to go to the one thing that looked familiar to us: Subway.  After we indulged in some delicious Subway sandwiches, we headed to the MBK, a popular shopping center in Bangkok.  We had to barter hard for a tuk tuk, a three-wheeled motorized open-backed vehicle used as a taxi in SE Asia.  It was frustrating to us knowing that the drivers charged us WAY more than the locals for a ride. 

It was on our way to the shopping center that we saw our first communist demonstrations.  We didn’t think much of it until we were on our way home from the mall and the tuk tuk driver said we’d have to go the long way around the city back to Koh Sahn Rd. because the communists had basically taken over all of Bangkok’s major roads.  I was honestly pretty freaked out riding in the back of an open-aired vehicle on the dark side streets of Bangkok knowing there were communist demonstrations going on all around the city.  (But no worries Mum, I survived!)  We were planning on staying two nights in Thailand before we headed to Laos, but because it was Songkran, many of the sightseeing attractions around the city were closed, and the communist demonstrations made transportation around the city a difficulty.  Additionally, negative press and warnings about the communists made our decision to get the heck out of Bangkok very easy!  We booked an overnight bus ride from Bangkok to Laos for the evening and spent the day getting soaked, eating Thai food, and chilling on Koh Sahn Rd. before our bus headed out.  While we waited, we also checked out a really cool bar that was 3 stories up from the street.  We were able to try some genuine Thai beer, watch and laugh at the people down on the street getting wet, and listen to a very talented musician (he was on the first season of American Idol!) play some live music for us.

Before we headed out on our 20-hour bus trek from Bangkok to Laos, we decided to try out some really cheap Thai whiskey for the ride.  Needless to say, it was absolutely disgusting, but it made the ride go a bit more quickly!  We arrived at the border crossing between Thailand and Laos in the morning, bought our Laotian visas, and hopped on another bus to Vientiane, the capitol of Laos.  From Vientiane, we took another bus to Vang Vieng, a fun backpacker town about 4 hours away from Vientiane.

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