|I landed in Bangkok's international airport and after Kolkata everything was amazingly clean and modern. I met up with the Scottish group that I had met at Kolkata airport, along with an Israeli guy and together we shared two taxis into the city center. Well Kohsan road anyway, which is the tourist city center. It was truly amazing leaving the airport. There was an organised queue of taxis, no hassling at all and then a large modern motorway that passed by modern tower blocks and skyscrapers on its way into the city. Even when we reached Kohsan road it still seemed relatively clean and hassle free! This was a particular surprise to me as I had been to Bangkok before back in early January and at the time found it to be quite dirty and sleazy. My perceptions had definitely changed!
We had managed to lose the second taxi of people temporarily and so I checked into a room with Martin & Stewert at a slightly out of the way guesthouse just down from Kohsan road, that was still close enough to the action to be 1 minutes walk, but at the same time avoided some of the noise. Anyway we dropped our bags, headed down to a nearby bar/restaurant, had some amazingly good quality food and then started drinking. It was midday.
After a little while Stewert went off to bed and I headed to a different bar with Martin where we had a bucket each. The buckets are famous in Thailand and generally consist of a half bottle of spirits, one Thai red bull and a can of soft drink, served over ice in a small bucket with a number of straws. The thing that really gets you as well is that the Thai red bull contains a small amount of amphetamines and so when drunk with the spirits you get quite active as well as drunk. The day was rapidly going downhill and it was only about 3pm.
It was at about this time that we saw the Israeli guy wandering down the street so after some yelling to come over he joined us. Amazingly he did not like Bangkok as it was so westernised and so had already booked a bus ticket to Cambodia, which left the following day! He seemed confused as to why we liked it so much and we tried to explain to him that while India was nice it was also good to be in a party place with creature comforts for a while as well, but he did not really get it and after a couple of drinks headed off again.
After a while we met up with Stewert again before heading out. We had still not tracked down Steve and Emma (the other members of the group) and were destined not to see them for the rest of the evening, despite Emma apparently spending a couple of hours wandering up and down Kohsan road trying to find everyone. As I am sure you can imagine anyway the rest of the night just became very drunken. Me, Martin and Stewert headed off to a rooftop bar that played live music, chatted to some random Danish guys and then some Irish guys for a while, before heading off to a cheap club and did some dancing on the tables and avoided the Thai women and ladyboys who were trying to pull us. Eventually we lost each other and I met some random English guy who had apparently been in Thailand every year for 10 years or something crazy like that and I headed off with him to grab some food. When the food actually arrived I realised that I was too drunk to even consider eating it and then it was definitely time to go to bed. I was home at 4am and had been partying for about 16 hours.
Extremely annoyingly I had to get up relatively early the following morning at 10am as I had to try and get my new Indian visa sorted. The visa situation was quite complicated as I had just arrived from India but wanted to go back for October to Goa, before going home. Problem was that I wanted to spend most of my time on the islands and you cannot apply for the visa there and my 30th birthday was at the end of August and I had a flight to Japan on the 3rd September and the new Indian visa would take a week to get, but I wanted to spend my 30th birthday on a tropical island instead of in Bangkok. Anyway I hired a tuk tuk still quite drunk from the previous nights craziness, went right across town to the visa application center, then was referred to the embassy where I had to have an interview as I had only just arrived from India. The embassy official told me that at best he would only issue me with a 3 month visa which would be useless to me as I would leave India for the UK in about three and a half months. (You cannot extend the visa in India) So it was that I found myself in the tuk tuk back still feeling drunk/hung-over and having accomplished little. Naturally Stewert and Martin were still sleeping when I got back in and so I fell into bed for another hour, but could not sleep.
The rest of the daytime was spent shopping on Kohsan road and on the internet. Then we all met up in the evening for an excellent meal at a seafood restaurant before the drinking started again in earnest. We headed off to the rooftop bar and eventually found ourselves in a nightclub where we met some really, really tall Americans. He was 6 foot 10, she was 6 foot 2 (same as me!) and then there was Martin from my group who was 6 foot 6. It was like a convention of tall people or something. The American woman though, while being very friendly had a strange intensity about her and seemed to be constantly starting at stuff. Anyway eventually the club closed and we wound up at the center point bar, which is open 24/7 for another couple of drinks before finally calling it a night.
We all woke up after only about 5 hours sleep - surely something to do with the redbull and then went shopping on Kohsan road. I also did some research, trying to find a solution to my new Indian visa problem. I eventually realised that I could leave my Irish passport with an agency in Bangkok while I travelled with my British passport to Japan and the collect it on my return. It would have to be that way round as my Thai visa was in my British passport and although there was an element of risk as it might mean my Irish passport getting lost, the agency would only have to keep it safe for two weeks before I returned. In some ways as well it was good that things had worked out like this as it meant that I could travel with the group down to Koh Phangan for the Full Moon Party, whereas otherwise I would have been waiting for a few days extra in Bangkok.
Well as you can probably imagine that night was another big night out. After being starved of partying in India we were definitely making up for it!! First we all headed out to the rooftop bar where we ended up sitting near to the live music and then making ourselves horse trying to make ourselves heard. After a while we headed off to the center point bar, got some more buckets in, met the Americans from the previous night, met some Irish lads, a different Irish group as well and some others that I dont remember now. I was later told about speaking to some people and I honestly had drawn a complete blank, which is unusual for me. Anyway after the bar me, Steve, Emma and Martin headed back to Steve & Emmas and had a two hour conversation in loud voices. In retrospect I felt really sorry for the neighbours. I finally came back to my room at 8am but then had a hard time getting in as Stewert was asleep and had locked the door. As I was to discover Stewert sleeping after a couple of beers is almost impossible to wake and I almost had to kick the door in and wake up everyone on the corridor before he finally answered the door!
I woke up at midday with almost no voice after all of the shouted conversations of the previous night and then headed off to buy a travel pass for Japan. There is a travel pass you can buy which gives you unlimited travel on buses, trains, boats, metros, ect for about 290 quid for a three week period. Apparently this is very good value and it can only be purchased by tourists before they arrive into Japan so I had a list of places that sold the tickets (you had to go to a specialised agency) and then approached a tuk tuk driver.
I was very hung over again naturally, but not quite as badly as when I had to go off for the Indian visa thankfully and so I managed to deal with the taxi driver not knowing where the place was that i had printed out and we were driving around for about an hour before we finally found it. It was on the 4 floor of an obscure shopping mall in a suburb! Anyway I went there and was told that for the travel pass I could only pay cash, which was crazy when it cost 290 quid. Thankfully I had my cards on me and managed to withdraw a load more money, which I later found out made my bank put a stop on my card as it looked like a suspicious transaction. Then on the way back to Kohsan road I got railroaded into stopping off at a tailors, however it was clearly too expensive and so I walked out again. Back on Kohsan road I did some more shopping and then it was time to go out again! Naturally it was another large drunken night.
The following day I was up again after just a few hours sleep as we had to move rooms and then I headed off to buy a suit. I managed to find an excellent small place where I got one suit with an extra pair of trousers for just 4,000 Baht (about 60 quid) and arranged to come back for fittings over the following days. Apparently as well they will keep my measurements and I can order more suits by email or phone and have them posted to London or Dublin! No more off the peg suits for me... :)
That night, Friday night, was the biggest night out yet. It was starting to get ridiculous as this was our fifth night out in a row, but somehow we still had the energy. I blame the redbull. Anyway we headed straight out to the centerpoint bar and met loads of people. At one point we headed out with some others to find a ping pong show, only to discover that it was in fact 4am and so they had all finished long ago. To compensate we had some corn on the cob from a street vendor and then headed back to the bar. Later on with us there was a really nice French couple called Arno & Lauren, some Irish girls, Americans, a very drunk English guy who had a plane to catch in a few hours time and then a ladyboy that befriended Emma and according to Emma had very realistic breasts (he showed her in the bathroom). We all sat at a big table and chatted for ages until people started drifting off and it was just me, Steve, Emma and Martin. Eventually the dawn broke and we were actually in the bar until 9.40am. It was really strange as people started coming in for breakfast and, being in a strange drunken mood, I went over to them and tried to get them involved in drinking! In a nice way of course... It was definitely time to go to bed.
After another four hours sleep I had to get up for a suit fitting and then was awake again due to effects of the red bull. I had partied for so long the previous night I was still actually a little drunk. I ended up at Emma and Steves and heard that Stewert had headed off a different bar by himself the previous night and some Thai guy had taken an uppercut punch to him for no obvious reason. It didnt start a fight as Stewert just laughed at him, but amusingly when Martin tried to demonstrate the terrible punch in the room he managed to hit the fan. Hard! It was exactly the sort of stupid injury that I would normally get!
Anyway all of us were finally wiped out from our 5 days of non stop partying and little sleep. I did a little more shopping and then headed off to the post office, although I got lost trying to find it and took about 25 minutes to get there when it was a 5 minute walk. In the end I had bought 27 t-shirts and one suit on Kohsan road, along with a few other bits and pieces. Stewert however went shopping crazy and bought 9 three piece suits in the tailors along with 1 winter coat, 2 leather jackets and 2 casual jackets and that was just in the tailors! He sent home 100 kgs of shopping in the end!!
We headed out for some food and literally just a couple of beers before calling it an early night and then spent most of Sunday pottering around doing bits and pieces before meeting up in the evening for heading down to Koh Phangan. Martin and Stewert were on a different bus/boat and so it was just me Emma and Steve. In true Asian style however things were not completely easy as we turned up at the agency with our stuff, but were then directed to another agency, which we had difficulties finding and then had to take our stuff to a large roundabout (?) where we had different coloured stickers and then got on some large luxury buses.
Bangkok had proved to be an amazingly crazy, hectic drunken time. I was so glad though that I met the group at Kolkata airport as they definitely made everything great fun. I was to be with partying for another two weeks to come...