Consumerism! Luxury! I’ve contradicted a few core assumptions about myself in Bangkok.
For one, I usually hate shopping. I’ve never liked the sanitized endless store choices found under hard white fluorescent lights at malls, and I bristle whenever I have to pay more than $20 for an item of clothing (seriously — I very rarely do this, and when I do, it’s painful for me). Ergo, I usually shop at my tried-and-true discount and thrift stores, or score free hand-me-downs from friends.
There are still endless choices in Bangkok, and yes, they too have fluorescent lights, but at places like MBK (our first stop after dropping our bags at our hotel, sweaty and warm) and the Chatuchak weekend market (our first activity on day two in Bangkok), there’s this chaotic organization to everything, and, when compared to USD, everything is cheap.
MBK contained hundreds of stalls/stores (I’m not sure what to call them) set up indoors, with narrow walkways for shoppers. When we ventured off the main drag, we had people soliciting us, trying to sell us an old iPhone 5 at a discounted rate. There were bright flashing lights and stacks on stacks of stuff, and it was somewhat easy to get lost if you weren’t paying attention; for us, it was frenetic and fun. While there were many options, we saw that many vendors were selling the same items for the same prices, so it became a matter of who spoke English (or who wanted to try to sell to English-speakers).
Did you ever see that episode of Community where the make the giant blanket fort? That’s immediately what came to mind at the Chatuchak weekend market. Again, it was easy to forget your relative position as we navigated the open-air narrow corridors between stalls. When we would want to venture off the the main streets, we’d turn to the other and say, “Let’s dive in here.” Dive in. That was the best way to describe it, side-stepping and pushing past the throngs of people to the relative calm inside the blanket fort-esque market (for the record, there was a roof — it was not a blanket). There was more variety there than at MBK, but I don’t think it was nearly as wild as we anticipated (we tried and failed several times to find where they sold the live animals). We had one traveller tell us that the Chatuchak market was too touristy and expensive, but I loved seeing beautiful jewelry and clothing for 100 baht (approximately $2.75 USD). And yes, I did buy myself a pair of Thailand tourist pants because I had always wanted a pair and it seemed like the thing to do.
Sampling a delicious coconut treat at the Chatuchak market
Secondly, I’ve never considered myself high-maintenance (and, as recent evidence of this, see the Bumdra Trek post). When booking a hotel, especially while traveling, I’m apt to say, “Don’t book anything nice; we won’t be spending much time in the hotel room anyway.”
Josh obviously didn’t do that with our first hotel in Bangkok, SO Sofitel.
Chilling in the lobby with our welcome drinks at check-in
Holy moly, was it fancy! And hip, too. They played this mellow techno music in the lobby, and perfumed it with lemongrass so that it hit you like a sweet-smelling club the moment you stepped off the elevator. The whole place touted a design theme of elements (earth, wood, water, and metal), and their claim was that no room looked the same. Lil’ old austere me was giddy.
Our first hotel room in SO Sofitel. I gleefully snapped and shared a pic the moment we arrived.
Unfortunately, this is where the shit happens. We came back after our first full day out and about (Chatuchak market) to find three dead/dying cockroaches in our room. Our bed was freshly made and our fridge stocked (they stock it with free bottled water), so we figured that the hotel had recently sprayed for cockroaches. They were cleaning the room next door to us, so when I asked one of the women to come over, she repeated, “I’m so sorry!” when she saw the roaches and hastily scooped them up with a trash bag. No harm, no foul. We were both shrugging, assuming that cockroaches were normal in a warm climate like Bangkok’s.
However, as we were getting ready for our dinner plans, a very much alive cockroach scurried out of the bathroom. As Josh attacked it with one of the hotel slippers, I ran downstairs to notify the front desk. They were absolutely horrified and told us that they would immediately move us to a new room.
New room on an even swankier floor — our windows overlooked Lumphini park
There were cool lights outside the door of our new hotel room — like a new media installation in the middle of our floor.
The next day is when shit didn’t happen. Tune out now if you’re squeamish about bodily functions .
Basically, I hadn’t pooped for 7 days and was starting to panic a little. When we were up on the mountain, I had taken some pills to stop some traveller’s diarrhea, and hadn’t had a BM since.
To help things along, Josh and I went for a humid run in Lumphini park. Then, I grabbed a grande hot coffee from Starbucks, and we lounged at the pool, drinking lots of water. On Instagram, I did a little social media makeover, posting a pic of me at the pool and saying that we were having a lazy day. In reality, we basically put one day in Bangkok on hold for my body to figure shit out.
Instagram is full of partial truths, amirite?
Great news: shit happened! I’d like to thank that hot, strong cuppa joe from corporate America.