Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Bangkok - 7-11 Country

It was Monday in Bangkok. There was a field of yellow everywhere you look. Bangkok residents usually wear yellow to show their love to their royalty.

I didn't know I slept later than planned. It was 9AM! After making myself presentable, I went down and paid for my 2 day accommodation (1,400 baht). When I stepped outside, the eerie alleyway turned into an avenue of frenetic activities, vendors all around, traffic on the street. I walked and realized I have been here before. I saw
Indra Regent Hotel. I've stayed at the Indra 3x in the past! No wonder it felt like dejavu. So walked towards Pratunam Center not sure what to do first. My stomach was grumbling BUT i wanted to finish one task first before stuffing myself. The McDonalds at the Indra Mall was a take-out counter. It didn't have tables and chairs. I wanted to sit down and think. It was still too early for the malls to open although in 5 minutes, they would let people in.

7-11 stores are ubiquitous all over Thailand. They are the most convenient turn-to's for basic necessities like water, phone cards, batteries, snacks, toiletries, even dvd's, pocketbooks and magazines. They have also become salient points for direction to sights, hotels, etc. Most importantly, they're open 24-7. This photo only courtesy of swhayden of www.travbuddy.com.


Looking disappointed, a woman on a store uniform came up to me. She told me that all shops open after 10. She was friendly but I felt I needed to be careful. Some people will get friendly in exchange for something. I was receptive but careful.

Her name is
Nut, a mother of two, who works at the Pratunam Plaza. She was waiting for the mall to open. She began talking, a welcome respite from traveling alone. It was a Q&A. She asked and I replied. She suggested I should visit Wat Tapan. I've never heard of it before. She got a pen and wrote something on a blank paper. It was my lucky day. Wat Tapan will be open today. Only today! It opens one day a month. Anyone who is able to visit is considered lucky. I should go. She started taking me to the nearby tuktuk telling me I'd pay only 20 baht (cheap actually) for a return. She will negotiate with the driver for me. But I am wary of tuktuks. 99% of the time, they will first take you to a gem shop - where they can get gas coupon from these shops - before taking you to your desired destination. I've had it with gem shops in Bangkok. You are almost blackmailed to buying something from them. I never liked the feeling of being somewhere you didn't wanna be.


I refused. I told her I will go to Wat Tapan later in the day but I have to go elsewhere first. To show her i was sincere, I gave her my name, email address (she doesn't have one), and phone number; and that she should contact me if she finds herself in Manila. I bade goodbye and started to wait for a taxi.

Fifteen minutes later, I was out of luck. Most of these drivers refused or didn't know where Lamphu House is, which is located in the heart of the backpacker's area in
Banglamphu. Having read earlier to avoid the yellow-and-green taxis (rigged meters allegedly), I had to take my chance. A driver approached me, and I finally agreed, keeping my fingers crossed. He said he knew where I wanted to go.

Heavy traffic (10:35AM), and I was getting paranoid. I was ready to part with a huge taxi bill, and my heart lurched everythime the meter moved.

I finally saw the street sign:
Khao San Road. Got off though I didn't see Lamphu House. I figured I'd be nearby. I'll find it. It wasn't bad. I paid 80 baht. I later realized I was at the wrong street. I should have emphasized Soi Rambutrri, not Khao San Road. I found the place after a good hike. Just another adventure in 7-11 country.

This is the Eye in the Sky!

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