Originally we had envisioned this weekend to be a quiet getaway in the small town of Kampot, Cambodia, near Kep. However, massive floods due to raining and the local dam being released, meant our quaint little bungalows near the river were not quite ready for visitors. BUT, we weren’t about to let that stop us from a weekend of new adventures. With less than 12 hours to takeoff, we booked flights to Bangkok. In our giddy travel excitement though, we forgot that Jax had given our passports to a travel company in order to get our Vietnam visas for an October trip. Whoopsies! As soon as we realized this, we ran down the street to the travel company. Our hearts sank a bit as we learned they had closed 20 minutes earlier. With some quick thinking, Jax found the ticket from earlier in the day and we called them to see about getting our passports back. The owner let us know that they were already at the Vietnamese embassy and it closed at 5:30pm – it was 5:35pm. Shoot! We asked a few questions about getting them back but he explained that we could not get them until they opened around 9:30am the next morning (our flight was scheduled to leave at 8:20am). With some more brainstorming and gypsy thinking, we called them back again. Jax explained that we did not need it processed yet and that we would be willing to pay someone cash to go get them for us. Cha Ching! Apparently those were the magic words… He called us back 5 minutes later and let us know that someone was willing to go into the embassy after it had already closed, search through the passports that were waiting for visas AND come deliver it to us for the whopping price of 10 dollars. We jumped up and down while on the phone with him and told him we would happily pay the ransom fee. (Around 7:30 at night at this point.) So, with that, we finalized our Bangkok trip with about ten hours to spare.
We also tried to finagle a cute score of a place in the hip new neighborhood of Ari that we had heard about from a fellow phnom penhn-er. We thought we had this locked in but then an instant-booker on Airbnb swooped in and snagged it before we could confirm. After a bit of an exhausting hour of online scouring Tripadviser for places to stay and being overwhelmed (it is a HUGE city compared to our wee little Phnom Penh), we decided to wing it the next day. Jax was super excited as she had done a month long trip in SE Asia about 4.5 years ago right before she had met Adam and Thailand was by far her favorite country!
With yet again a much smoother and painless check-in process in the Cambodian airport than the U.S., (in the sweet newly constructed international wing) we were on our way. At least in our region, Asian airports and airlines have the great benefit of not being very crowded. The check-in process is smooth and quick, airline employees and flight attendants are friendly and relaxed, and the flights are half empty. The best part is that a short 1-2 hour flight will take you to an extraordinarily new place – Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Philippines, and China. It’s a nice break from the US airline experience these days.
Once we touched down in Bangkok, we hopped on the public transport bus – a welcome change from PP’s stressful tuk tuk scene. From the bus, we got off at the Mo Chit BTS SkyTrain stop and made our way to the Nana station. Did I mention they have AC on the SkyTrain?!!?!?
Pad Thai and Thai tea seemed to be the natural choice for breakfast so we stumbled upon Sukhumvit Soi 11 (which is apparently “Bangkok’s premier party street”). The spot was a bit of a greasy spoon, Asian style, but decent for a couple bucks. And the nice, friendly Thai lady who brought back all my (Jaxs) memories of one of my favorite backpacking trips.
The next couple hours were a bit of a blur with lots of walking, tripadvisor-ing, looking at hotels and being exasperated with the daunting task of picking the “perfect weekend home” in the sprawling metropolis of Bangkok. We ended up doing a bit of a circle and came back to one of the first spots we had found, Hotel Indigo. Once we looked at the hotel a little more, we realized how silly we had been in not sticking with this one in the first place. It was PERFECTLY JaxAdam style – not too large that it felt cold, heaps of character and artsy tidbits, a welcome Thai tea drink, super clean, awesome service, a deal on the price for low season and an AMAZING bed. Hotel Indigo felt like we were at the Four Seasons but paying Santa Barbara Motel 8 prices.
After dinner at a yummy family run Thai place (get the green curry if you go!) down a few back alleys from our hotel, we got ready for the infamous Khao San Road. Jax had pretty vivid memories of this place and felt compelled to take Adam for his “first time.” Adam was of course curious about this legendary street with vendors selling things that would make any sane person blush. We landed on Khao San and within 3 minutes Adam had a large Chang beer in his hands for 90 baht (~$2.5), so far so good. It was still a little early but the place was bumping. Backpackers spilling out of high rise hotels, live music, beer, coconut ice cream, street food, and fried insect vendors lined the street. Not to mention hundreds of clothing vendors with the obligatory “I Heart Bangkok” tank top and random guys selling “ping pong shows”… Jax found a cheap coconut ice cream stand that literally sold their (lactose-free) ice cream in coconuts – a glorious treat in the Bangkok heat. With street food, ice cream and beer in our bellies, the next logical stop was a street massage. No funny business, these people are efficient with their loud speakers like you’re ordering at In-N-Out, “30 minute foot massage!”, “1-hour head and neck rub” and masseuses came out of nowhere to swoop you onto a street chair and start the treatment. Naturally, we ordered another round of drinks as we lounged in the massage chairs and watched the tourists and vendors on the street do their thing. In true monsoon season fashion though, the rains came down out of nowhere, HARD, and we escaped back to the hotel in a Bangkok taxi.
Since Jax was hoping to get her hands on a Tathata convertible work bag and we were wanting a few more things to make our new home feel homier, Saturday consisted of a jumbo Asian style mall, aka Chatuchak Weekend Market, which has over 15,000 vendors and is the world’s largest outdoor market. Think Etsy on crack…. It was filled with absolutely every thing imaginable from used Thai army gear to fancy schmancy handcrafted leather kicks to Turkish handmade beaded bags. Jax, of course, could not resist the latter and we both couldn’t pull ourselves away from a CARPE sign.
After the long day of shopping, the rooftop pool was pure heaven and a great spot to wind down from the madness of bartering and walking all day.
Saturday night we went back to the Nana stop and rocked the public transport like we were pros. We ate at a overpriced Thai place with Lady Gaga serenading our dinner. However, we did manage to stumble upon some good cocktails which were topped off with two random free shots of caramel vodka (usually hate vodka but no so with this kind…where has this been all my life?).
Sunday was pretty lazy with lots of schnuggling in our comfy bed and stuffing all our new purchases into our bags. A good thing to note is on AirAsia we expected to pay another fee for checking a bag (since we now had three) and they said we could take it for free if we carried it on. In other words, do not pay the extra “carry-on” fee with them when you buy the tickets. They did not check our bags to see if we were over the 7 kilo limit and let us take three bags for no extra fee.
Oh and P.S. – Breakfasts at Hotel Indigo were incredible. DO NOT miss out on the banana pancakes at this hotel. They are one of the BEST breakfasts we have ever had and are worth the 3 crossfit seshs to make up for it 😉
Lesson Learned #6: In ginormous cities like Bangkok, do your research on neighborhoods and areas you want to be in first before picking a place. Lesson Learned #7: Public transportation is a modern convenience we easily take for granted but miss terribly when we don’t have it. Lesson Learned #8: I (Jax) do not regret leaving my “perfect” job. This experience is worth it. Lesson Learned #9: Comfirmed – Bangkok is the perfect weekend getaway from PP.
“If you are brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello.” -Paulo Coelho