I woke up late on my night train. My occupation of the bed had prevented the bunkbeds being converted into normal train seats, leaving the woman below me horizontal and therefore annoyed. I tried to apologise the best way I could, with exaggerated sympathetic expressions, but I don’t think it helped. After a few minutes of watching the rural countryside roll by, she seemed happy enough. There was still an hour or two till we got to Bangkok, so I watched as the view outside got more and more industrial, till at 10am I arrived in Hua-lumpong Central station.
My hostel was far from the touristy district around famous Kaosan Road. My tuktuk driver certainly appreciated this fact as he robbed me of most of the contents of my wallet. Not wanting to head straight out again, I wandered around the backstreets, all of which were covered in market stalls blocking the way. To be honest, I was getting a little tired of markets. Every place I’ve been to so far has a World Famous Market to visit, and they all turn out to be pretty much the same. I decided instead to meet up with a traveler from the internet – who turned out to be Peter the American. He was in Kaosan Road, so I sold another kidney, and took the next passing taxi.
We walked around the bookshops in the area – the first English language book shop I had seen so far. Peter found randomly a book written by a friend of his years ago about his travels through Laos. We wondered down a bit to a cafe where we had arranged to meet another traveler – Evita the Spaniard. We knelt on cushions drinking Kumbucha (a fermented tea drink that taste like white wine vinegar and sugar. We talked for a while, and then Peter suggested going to the cinema. I normally wouldn’t have gone – I’m not going to travel around the world to do something I could do back home – but I was slightly curious to see if they played the national anthem before every feature (someone had told me this previously). Turns out they do. We were asked to stand while an 80s ballad version of the anthem played, accompanied by sentimental and sometimes bizarre photos of the monarch (Rama IX). The devotion to the monarchy in Thailand borders on the cultish. Every street corner has a faded golden portrait of the king, or the princess. I heard, apocryphally, of a man who had a bank note fly away in the wind. He stamped down on it, only to be arrested soon after, since the sole of the feet is very insulting.
Anyway, we went to the cinema (Chronicle – was excellent), then to a bar (Alcohol – also excellent) and called it a night. More tomorrow.