Bangkok Street View from a Backpacker Guest House

Exploring Bangkok: From Busy Streets to Best View in Town



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A few afternoons of wandering around Bangkok will usually result in some truly odd discoveries. For example, I’m really not sure who is in the market for a set of Joshua Tree era U2 bowling pins painted to resemble the band. Or I wonder who wants a eat a turtle with a side of wriggling eels for dinner? Obviously I’m just a novice when it comes to Bangkok, but this section is my attempt to document some of the interesting, funny and unusual sights that Steve, Alex and I came across when touring the city.

  • Bangkok: Sights around the city - October 2004

    Bangkok: Sights around the city - October 2004
    I stepped off my flight from Manila to Bangkok and headed, as many travelers do, to the famous (in my mind, infamous) Khao San Road. It's kind of a self contained capsule of stylized western life that was awash with tottering drunk adventure seekers when I arrived. The only reason I didn't catch the nearest cab to a quieter part of town was that Steve and I had chosen Khao San as an easy place to meet up with each other.

  • Bangkok: Sights around the city - October 2004

    Bangkok: Sights around the city - October 2004
    In addition to the food stalls, the market had all the raw ingredients for any kind of dish, including ones we didn't want to try. These turtles aren't for sale as pets.

  • Bangkok: Sights around the city - October 2004

    Bangkok: Sights around the city - October 2004
    It was a little harder to feel sorry for these eels writhing and slithering over each other in this bright blue tub.

  • Bangkok: Sights around the city - October 2004

    Bangkok: Sights around the city - October 2004
    This old fellow seemed to be attempting a jail break, but the shop keeper was keeping a wary eye on her live inventory.

  • Bangkok: Sights around the city - October 2004

    Bangkok: Sights around the city - October 2004
    These peppers were sun drying in a small rattan pan. No doubt they would be used as ingredients for the spicy dishes Thailand is so famous for.

  • Bangkok: Sights around the city - October 2004

    Bangkok: Sights around the city - October 2004
    You can find pretty much anything you might want to buy in Bangkok, including a few that made me wonder how they ended up as products for sale. This set of Joshua Tree era U2 bowling pins are an example. I've never seen U2 wearing these black bowling shirts with the little "U2" logo on them.

  • Bangkok: Sights around the city - October 2004

    Bangkok: Sights around the city - October 2004
    Another one from the "who's buying this junk?" category: a hat made of old Sprite cans. not exactly comfortable and dubiously stylish. We didn't see anyone sporting these around town or anywhere else for that matter. Photo by Steve Iams.

  • Bangkok: Sights around the city - October 2004

    Bangkok: Sights around the city - October 2004
    People definitely do like to buy the fabrics here though, especially stuff made of silk.

  • Bangkok: Sights around the city - October 2004

    Bangkok: Sights around the city - October 2004
    You don't have to walk too far in Bangkok to find some rambutans or other fresh fruit for sale.

  • Bangkok: Sights around the city - October 2004

    Bangkok: Sights around the city - October 2004
    Judging by the t-shirts and the visibility of the logo, Bangkok seems to have adopted Red Bull as its official drink. Not sure what M-150 is, but it's probably just an imitator!

  • Bangkok: Sights around the city - October 2004

    Bangkok: Sights around the city - October 2004
    The water taxis on the Chao Phraya River leave from these little waterfront cafes that have nice decks overlooking the bustling river traffic and historic buddhist temples (wats) (click here for a close up view of this photo).

  • Bangkok: Sights around the city - October 2004

    Bangkok: Sights around the city - October 2004
    In defense of Khao San Road, it was a little quieter in the morning, but still bore some telltale scars from the night before. Nothing a little incense or a few "Same Same, but Different" t-shirts from a hawker's stall couldn't cover up though.

  • Bangkok: Sights around the city - October 2004

    Bangkok: Sights around the city - October 2004
    There may be few things more hard on the ears than a diggereedoo jam session! I guess I'm not really sure what constitutes a good player, but these guys were producing a droning racket that seemed to have everyone else mesmerized. I couldn't bring myself to chip in a tip for them as this woman is in the photo.

  • Bangkok: Sights around the city - October 2004

    Bangkok: Sights around the city - October 2004
    To get above the diggereedoos and other petty annoyances of Bangkok, we caught an elevator to the top of one of the taller buildings in town to watch the sunset.

  • Bangkok: Sights around the city - October 2004

    Bangkok: Sights around the city - October 2004
    The famous Bangkok pollution made it kind of hard to see much.

  • Bangkok: Sights around the city - October 2004

    Bangkok: Sights around the city - October 2004
    Before heading back down to the street, Steve, Alex and I went up to the observation deck of the building. For some reason, they decided to install a creaking, merry go round style platform that slowly spun around. Loudspeakers played an ethereal "space" themed song that sounded sort of like a 1950's futuristic ditty. And it played constantly on a loop!

  • Bangkok: Sights around the city - October 2004

    Bangkok: Sights around the city - October 2004
    Since the floor was wobbling and spinning slowly, it was tough to get a sharp photo of the streets below.

  • Bangkok: Sights around the city - October 2004

    Bangkok: Sights around the city - October 2004
    Maybe this started out as a clover leaf and became a set of intestines?

  • Bangkok: Sights around the city - October 2004

    Bangkok: Sights around the city - October 2004
    After Steve and I had some Burger King for lunch, we decided we'd had enough of Khao San's charms. We headed to a quiet pension house near the Chao Phraya River named the Taewez Guesthouse. In place of drunk tourists, we were happy to find quiet buddhist monks, and the Burger King was replaced with awsome food stalls selling cheap and excellent Thai food. <

  • Bangkok: Sights around the city - October 2004

    Bangkok: Sights around the city - October 2004
    At the Taewez we ended up renting out the dorm which normally has four people in it, but because Alex was flying in we talked them in to letting us have the whole place. This is the view from the dorm window, we were able to look out on the clattering tuk tuk's and the buzzing market across the street.

  • Bangkok: Sights around the city - October 2004

    Bangkok: Sights around the city - October 2004
    Our neighbors across the alleyway could look right into the room if they really wanted to.

  • Bangkok: Sights around the city - October 2004

    Bangkok: Sights around the city - October 2004
    At all times of the day, buddhist monks came and went from the nearby temples (wats) surrounding the Taewez Guesthouse.

  • Bangkok: Sights around the city - October 2004

    Bangkok: Sights around the city - October 2004
    Steve and I stopped by the Atlanta Hotel, where we stayed in 2001 when we first visited Bangkok. It's a great place to stay, but was booked pretty much solid and the older, much more distinctive rooms were full. All they had open was a newer room that looked like a shabby version of a 60's Holiday Inn. Nothing at all like the older rooms that make you feel like Humphrey Bogart might stop by for a gin and tonic.

  • Bangkok: Sights around the city - October 2004

    Bangkok: Sights around the city - October 2004
    At the top of the budget scale, the Siam City Hotel. Steve and the rest of his Peace Corps Nepal program stayed here after their program was evacuated. Once the Peace Corps stopped paying for the rooms, the Siam City staff were nice enough to let Steve and the other Nepal PCV's store their baggage while they were traveling.

  • Bangkok: Sights around the city - October 2004

    Bangkok: Sights around the city - October 2004
    After touring the other places to stay, it was nice to return to the Taewez neighborhood. The market and surrounding streets were full of great food stalls for cheap and excellent authentic Thai food. (click here for a close up view of this panoramic photo).