Bangkok: A city on the Edge | James Rae

It was nine o’clock at night when we arrived in Bangkok after a gruelling 14 hour bus journey from Cambodia. The sky line of the city was illuminated like something from a science fiction film, endless columns of steel spiralling vertically into oblivion and chaos.

There is a serene beauty to Bangkok’s city centre at night that is a far cry from the hustle and bustle of the never ending tuk tuks, vendors and lady boys that made up the destination we were heading for – the legendary Koh Sahn Road in Bangkok’s Banglumpoo district. Koh Sahn has been made world famous as a rest stop for backpackers providing cheap hostels and a dazzling array of nightlife. The street itself is very long with a labyrinth of side streets (sois) where a lot of cheap guesthouses and hostels are available. Revellers are treated to makeshift bars that adorn the streets after nine o’clock, with offers of cheap beer and buckets. The latter of which consists of a quarter bottle of Sam Song (a local rum that is 80% proof) two bottles of red bull and soft drink of your choice.

If you survive the buckets there is plenty to do, clubs adorn the street, ranging from pumping drum and bass to singer songwriter live performances. In terms of eating street vendors are perfect, everything is cheap and you see it being cooked in front of you. If you are looking for something a bit closer to home it is easy enough to find fast food outlets like McDonalds and Burger King.

In terms of shopping everything goes for sale on Koh Sahn, be sure to check merchandise before you buy as it may be a bit dodgy, I had a necklace explode into a thousand pieces around my neck. Apart from Koh Sahn Bangkok has a lot to offer. The shopping in the centre of town is pretty cool, the MBK centre has an eclectic mix of stores and stalls and if you’re sick of haggling you can go and pay for what you see in retail outlets.

If you like temples try and see the grand palace and the temple of the jade Buddha, it’s awesome. One thing I can’t emphasise enough is to check the country’s political climate on the foreign office website: www.fco.gov.uk. We were in Bangkok during the latest spate of protests against the now ousted PM Samak Sundaravej. By and large the protests where focused on government buildings which are far detached from the main
tourist areas. Although protests can spill onto the streets, we encountered one by the democracy monument but everything was conducted peacefully. I spoke with an Australian girl who was involved in the protests said she didn’t see any signs of violence despite media reports. The best thing to do is to stay away from protests if at all possible, the Thai authorities are ruthless and will bang you up for next to nothing.

Apart from the occasional protest and the like, Bangkok is an amazing city full of great sights and a brilliant nightlife, with hedonism rivalling the likes of Amsterdam and Vegas. Anything goes in Bangkok except drugs so don’t be a fool and get caught in possession of anything, you will get a fine or do hard time.
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BANGKOK SURVIVAL TIPS

Drink bottled water… for the sake of your insides.

Keep your wallet on a belt.

Haggle Haggle Haggle.

Don’t take tuk tuk tours that offer temple tours – they will try and rip you off.

Don’t get involved in political protests however fun they
might look… and if you do don’t get caught!!

Throw away the lonely planet guide. Everyone goes to the places they suggest which means they will more than likely be booked up.

Bring padlocks for your rucksacks or luggage and keep your keys with you at all times

Ping Pong shows are a lot more insane than you think. All I’m saying is razor blades!!

Use local buses… at night you can sometimes get them for free.

If it has an Adams apple and a penis it is a man not a
seemingly beautiful girl!

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