Wednesday, August 29, 2012


We’ve been living high on the hog in Bangkok, at least from a culinary perspective. The food here--and all over Thailand, for that matter--has been incredible. Even the stir-fried scorpions taste like something far better than you'd think a stir-fried scorpion would. We're particularly fond of the food stall across the street from our hotel. Everything (and we mean everything...soup, chicken, unrecognizeable meat) is cooked open-air by a skinny transvestite in one large wok over a propane tank burner (the food's in the wok...not the tranny chef).

About our hotel...we weren't sure where to stay in this city of 12 million that seems to go on forever. From the train station, we hopped a city subway to the infamous Sukumvit Road, which we thought would give us easy access to quality cuisine, crazy night life, lots of embassies, and hotels galore.

We hauled our packs from hotel to hotel…to hotel...looking for a cheap room that wasn't rentable by the hour. After a long haul, we find a spot called “The Miami.” This place is like an off-strip, run-down Vegas hotel, in the center of Bangkok. We booked a room with air-con, cable TV, and a rotary phone for less than $30 per night. Luxury, at least for us. The craziest part--everything is pink. Except the pool (yes, this place has a pool),which Kip was brave enough to venture into…one time.

After hearing where we're staying, a traveler we met said he’d read something about The Miami in a book about Bangkok. We found an excerpt from the book:

"Opened in 1963, the Miami hotel has always been popular, drawing in some guests for its tatty but atmospheric lobby, and others for its reputation as a “hooker friendly” fleapit.  The debaucherous Thermae coffee shop, once the dead centre of the city’s sex trade, was located right next door until its closure in 1996. More recently, the street corner outside has become popular with African drug dealers."

But hey, the price is right, and if we ever need a sleep aid for the long bus rides ahead, we know where to find some.

Our main reason for being here was to get our visas sorted out for the next few countries--Burma, China, Tibet, and Nepal. On our trek to the Chinese Embassy, we stepped into a coffee shop in a mall to wait for the embassy to open. We soon found ourselves with a front row seat to the alms giving for Buddhist Lent, similar to the ones we saw in Laos. The juxtaposition of a Starbucks, a "one-day free pretzel" sign, and a nearby highway, topped off by two lines of over 100 monks making their holy procession out front with shopping carts was an interesting sight to behold. 

Maybe monks love pretzels?
While the event proved scenic, it turns out it was a national holiday in Thailand, meaning the embassy didn’t actually open that day. Oops.
To celebrate our amazing knack for timing and advanced planning, we strolled back to our favorite food stall and stuffed ourselves with pad Thai, Panang curry, and fresh mango smoothies.
After a nap, we headed to Khao San Road, where we picked up two sweet hats that will look as good on our wall back home as they certainly look on our heads in this photo. Although the Nepali woman selling them assured us they were the genuine article, we're pretty sure these are not traditional Thai headwear. And we've learned our lesson not to sit at the table closest to the street in a restaurant. The street vendors know how much beer you've had, and when to make the sale...
We will be sad to leave Thailand, the Miami, and the incredible tranny-cooked food, but the mysteries of Burma (aka, Myanmar) await! We're looking forward to some views like the sunset below...though every day will likely be topped off with lots of rain, since it's the dead center of monsoon season. Good thing we look good in ponchos.

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