Bangkok (vacation part II)

7:33 PM Jmo 0 Comments

(This is long but I didn't want to leave too many details out! Sorry. Grab your reading glasses and hold on!)

Thailand is a country that for as long as I can remember I've wanted to travel to. I've always felt drawn to it. I grew up eating Thai food with my Mom and Grandmother (slowly working up my spice tolerance in the process). I can remember being fascinated by Thai motifs in art ever since I was little, and 'dem elephants ain't so bad either. I even worked in a Thai restaurant! So when it came time to plan for a winter vacation; it was a no-brainer. South East Asia. Done.

 I can remember exactly how this trip came to be about too. In the most romantic of ways... Kate, Tony, and I went out for pizza. Tony was talking about his upcoming trip to the Philippines and I look over at Kate and say: "Hey. Wanna go to Thailand?" The rest just fell into place -week after week we booked one thing or another until it came time to board the plane. We choose Bangkok as our destination for a few different reasons: If you're going to be in Thailand for only three days proximity is key. If you've never been to a country before hit up it's main city. And, last but not least: it's Bangkok.
Landing in Bangkok was invigorating. Yes, we've been travelling all day, but instead of joining the usual somber immigration cue upon arrival we joined an international pre-party. We were surrounded by every walk of life imaginable. All excited. All ready to hit the Thai streets running. We made it through immigration no problem and made our way to the taxi cue. The taxis were pink: naturally. Zooming through downtown Bangkok to get to our hostel on Kao San Road was a shocker even by Korean standards. I don't know how people learn to drive in Asia. I really don't. We weaved in and out of traffic like our driver was on the way to the hospital to see his pregnant wife. Maybe he was! And he just needed to drop off his fare first...we will never know. haha

We arrived at our hostel which was nestled in a side street off of Kao San Road, dropped off our bags, layed down for 5 minutes, changed, and went out in search for some Thai nightlife. The search ended quickly. Kao San Road is a backpacking tourists dream. There was food vendors, shopping, music, massages, tattoos, suits to be custom made...anything and everything. Kate and I decided that regardless of who you were you could find something that catered to your vacation needs. Our vacation needs at the moment were Pad Thai. Authentic, savory, street-food, loveliness. We descended on a food vendor stall manned by a woman with a flower in her hair close to the outlet of the main drag. We became regulars for the time we were there. Pad Thai and a springroll on the street in Thailand: there's nothing quite like it. I would hop a plane back just for that fried tofu, peanut dusted, lovliness. Ahhh...and now I'm just torturing myself.

We walked around a bit more and I introduced Kate to Thai iced tea. "What have you done!?", she said as we left the vendors stall. Yes, I know. Delicious. I used to pour myself a Thai tea every once in a while in the freezer of the Thai restaurant. So walking down the street with one in hand was heaven. We made our way further down the street and decided to grab a Thai beer. We stopped off at this vendor whom we came to affectionately call "Mama". We needed to try the famous 'Chang' beer and she swooped in, opened our bottles, gave us tables and chairs, and then offered to take our picture. Too cute. We swore our loyalty to her as well. But, unfortunately we never made it back her way. Too many other places to check out! Speaking of...the pièce de résistance of the night was this little open air bar on our way back home. We were lured in by the live renditions of Pink Floyd and Red Hot Chili Peppers being blared from the deck. So we sat down, ordered a bucket of Chang, and posted up to end the night. As we sat there, there were vendors floating about carrying trays of bracelets, hats, and various other trinkets. There were also vendors carrying around trays of scorpions. To eat. So of course, Kate and I both agreed right then and there that by the end of this trip we were going to eat one. Fate crossed our path a little early and it ended up happening that night. As the Chang bucket lowered, the compulsion to eat a scorpion rose. Hey, it happens! When in a scorpion! So we called the man over and he presented us with the tray. The sizes ranged from 'Ah, that doesn't count..' to 'Holy hell! That one walked through a nuclear power plant!'. So Kate and I decided for middle of the road. A size impressive enough to look back on and say: "Hell yeah I ate a scorpion. Wanna fight?" So we cheers-ed and 3, 2, 1 ate them. They really weren't too bad. They were dry and flaky and had a smokey flavor. Nothing gag worthy. What happened next though was slightly more shocking... The man smiled and unzipped the fanny-pack around his waist. He then proceeded to pull out a real live scorpion for us to...I don't know, play around with?! At first we were taken aback; at least I was! But Kate, being the warrior-woman that she is, called the man back over and asked to hold it. She did, and proved her worth. But then...a truly 'only-in-Thailand' moment occurred. The man pulled out another scorpion and threw it at Kate! Yes, threw it! It clung to the middle part of her arm (roughly in the crease of her elbow) like a magnet and proceeded to climb up her arm! We were both screaming like little girls and caused a little tourist commotion. I'm sure that's exactly what the man intended because others were curious as to what was going on and I noticed people prodding each other to go next. Then, somehow after finishing our drinks, we ended up deciding that we brought too much money to Thailand. We came home with a bunch of accessories. Including a Yoda ring. It was a good night.

The next morning (Sunday) we planned to head to the weekend market. This was "the" famous market in Bangkok so we were well prepared to get our souvenir-on! But before we headed out we had to grab some breakfast. We wandered down the street and came upon a fruit stand. Living in Korea has made Kate and I fruit deprived. (Fruit in Korea is extremely expensive. I'm talking $10 for a case of strawberries and $30 for a mango!) So this was like walking into an oasis after being parched for 5 months. I decided on a  smoothie concoction of dragonfruit, mango, and coconut while I'm pretty sure Kate's had mango and pineapple in it (her two favorites).

Prior to heading to Thailand, Kate and I did a lot of research. One thing that we came across was the suggestion to take cabs instead of tuk tuks whilst in Bangkok. Cabs are apparently more "trustworthy". But the lure of the tuk tuk was so strong! For those unfamiliar with tuk tuks, they are essentially modern day rickshaws. Instead of being pulled by a runner, the carts are pulled along by motorcycles. So we decided to try and procure a tuk tuk for our ride to the market. Let's just say we didn't earn our tuk tuk wings until Cambodia... Walking down the street in Thailand you are constantly solicited to for rides to the temples, etc. by tuk tuks. So as we left the fruit stand to walk down the main stretch to hail a cab we were approached by tuk tuk driver after tuk tuk driver...and we finally looked at each, shrugged our shoulders, and said eh' let's try it! So we hopped in a tuk tuk and explained that we wanted to go to the weekend market. At first this didn't seem like an issue...until the man proceeded to tell us this story about how the government would give them free gas if we stopped over at this other destination first. At this other destination we had to walk around and find a "gas coupon" so that the tuk tuk could claim free gas from the government and then! (here's the best part) after we did that the tuk tuk driver would take us anywhere all day for 10 baht. To put that in perspective 100 baht was $3. Too good to be true? Yep. So we had to reason our way out of the tuk tuk and eventually had to slip our way out from underneath the driver's arm who was blocking our way out. A little unnerving? Yes. Could we handle it? Yes. Kate just tamed fanny-pack scorpions after all...

So we made it to the market in a cab. The ride was surprisingly far but not surprisingly full of close-death encounters. (Driving in Asia...I swear!!) We got out of our pink cab and shopped. With 30,000 vendors, it was easy to see how someone could be here all day. Halfway through our shopping bender we stopped to eat. We decided on this little restaurant/cafe inside the market. We both had green curry. With real slivers of young coconut on top and spicy little capers mixed in. Paired with another thai iced tea it was heaven. And for dessert we grabbed coconut ice cream from a vendor deeper inside the market. It was served in a coconut shell, naturally, and was topped with more young coconut. It's hard to describe "young coconut". It's not like any coconut that you can find in the states, all dry and chewy for 3 days straight. No, this stuff has the fleshy consistency of actual fruit. So good. So refreshing. And, because Kate is a woman after my own heart (errr..stomach if you will), we walked a bit further and encountered a mango-sticky rice stand. This. Was. Ridiculously. GOOD! You could get mangoes. Or mangoes and sticky rice. Or mangoes and mango ice cream. Or a combo of all three. Because I have no shame...I got the combo. The sticky rice was sweet and drizzled with a coconut sauce that reminded me of the coconut syrup I had in Hawaii with my macadamia nut pancakes. My parents can attest to this weakness of mine. So we chowed down and shopped some more. I forgot to mention the bartering! In Thailand (more so than Korea) if you are offered a price on an item, offer lower. If they say 250 baht you say 150. Chances are you'll get it. I came home with a bag full of stuff and a full stomach to match.
We sauntered back to our hostel and crashed for a bit before heading out for the night. We went out to dinner at this amazing restaurant close by our hostel. It was an open air restaurant full of beautiful statues, ponds, and lighting that would make any interior designer drool. We took a seat in this little nook towards the back of the restaurant close by the towering statue that was no doubt the mascot of the establishment. We ordered satay, tom kha, curry, and of course more Chang. I was quickly checking off my 'must-eat-in-Thailand' list of foods. After dinner we walked down this street across from the area we've been hanging out in and entered a whole different scene to Kao San. A less touristy, more bohemian drifter-side. My kind of side. We stopped along the street at this bar that was...essentially a parked van, opened up and turned into a bohemian hookah bar. Uhm. Yes! So we sat down at a table and proceeded to introduce ourselves to an older couple sitting next to us. I don't really remember how the conversation started, but we ended up talking to them for 2-3 hours! They were incredible. They're now on my list of idols. They were a British couple living in Greece. She was a carefree, statuesque woman who owns a stationary store and he was a crazy, Rod Stewart lookalike, with a self-proclaimed drinking problem that lives off the Greek coast on an old WWII vessel. Oh! And did I mention they travel around the world together making ridicuous parody videos (In their latest film -still in post production, they ride around in tuk tuks dressed as Dolly Parton and Elvis). Here's one (Warning: NSFW): 
There names were Sue and Robbie. Robbie pretty much stole my heart. He was absolutely hilarious. Couldn't get enough of him. Cuttoff jean shorts and all. That night, under the suggestion of Sue and Robbie, we made our way to a district of town called SoiCowboy. Definitely an only-in-Thailand experience. Would I do it again? No. But I checked off another Bucket List item: I saw a lady-boy. (Think drag queen...but...more committed.)

The morning of day three we were ...slightly hungover. But that didn't stop us from starting the day off right by hitting up that fabulous restaurant with the statues for breakfast before touring the temples. I had red curry (yes, for breakfast), a whole coconut, and Kate and I split these Chinese dumplings that left a little to be desired. It was a quiet breakfast. Somewhat reflective. As in: Wow, we've only been here two days? Why does it feel like a week?!
We caught a cab and headed to Wat Phra and Wat Pho. As we headed towards the entrance of Wat Phra, a man holding a huge boa constrictor called Kate over. He put the snake around her neck as Kate said "Oh, oh, ok! Uhm, ok!" Thailand just keeps throwing us curveballs...and creatures apparently! So Kate held the snake for a bit and asked his name (Wat Wat). Then I held the snake for a little bit. Then we both held the snake for a little bit. Then, oops, we owe this man 350 baht. Each! Yep. We were taken. But it was fun and definitely an experience that I wouldn't want to take back. Wat Wat was a cutie! He even gave me some kisses on my forearm. (Yes, I know snakes use their tongues to test the air temperature to seek out prey...but hey, I'll take all the lovin' I can get these days.)
Wat Phra was quite impressive. It was basically an entire city and we had free reign to explore it all. Everything was extremely ornate and beautiful. Golden buddhas filled corridors, frescoes and beautifully painted stucco covered the walls; everything had a detail. And perhaps the quintessential piece of Thai architecture, and the most impressive of all, were these large pyramid formations. They are steeper and more cone-like in shape that typical pyramids and once again, extremely ornate. Some buildings we entered we had to take off our shoes as a sign of respect. -Very surreal to be walking barefoot on a marble floor of a temple built in the 1700s. One temple building we entered we actually sat down amoungst others on the floor in silence. A beautiful experience. I could of wandered around forever taking photos. But I had a full day ahead of me and a camera battery that was giving me a heart attack.
Inside of Wat Phra is Wat Pho. Wat Pho houses the 'Reclining Buddha'. A massive golden golden buddha that stretches 43m (141 feet). To gain entrance to Wat Pho (or any other active Buddhist site) one must be dressed appropriately. Kate and I were not. I had a tank top on and Kate was wearing shorts. But! Thankfully enough, the tourist administration of the temple anticipated this and provided robes for those patrons who were unaware of such customs. So, Kate and I donned these fabulous, technicolor, green robes next to a 50 ft tall golden buddha. Niceuh. The base of the buddha was beautiful. It was covered in mother of pearl inlay depicting scenes of Buddha's life. Of course I was drawn to the mandalas and elephants, but it was all lovely. And along the side of the temple, opposite of the buddha, you could exchange 100 baht into coins and place one coin in each jar along the wall as a donation to the temple in exchange for good luck. The 'clang clang' of each coin ringing inside the base of the jars added to the aesthetic of the temple experience. That, combined with incense and the optical stimuli provided by the artwork covering the walls, made this a total sensory experience.
We left Wat Pho and Wat Phra ready for a snack and our next adventure. The outside of the temple was surrounded by vendors, which made finding a snack easy, but eating it in peace was another story. Just like we were taken by Wat Wat's owner, others were on the prowl for a quick tourist buck. It took us a while but with Kate's cold shoulder and my eye out for anything "not right" we managed to shake a couple people who...I'm sure didn't have our best interests in mind. It also took us a while to grab a cab to our next destination. In Thailand we never asked a cab to run the meter. We simply told them where we were going and asked for a flate rate for fear of being run all over the city. So we finally hopped in a cab and headed to Wat Arun: The Temple of Dawn. Wat Arun was my favorite temple in Thailand by far. It was located in a local part of town, on the river, surrounded by schools, shops, and modern world meets village like streets. Kate and I, once again, were deemed inappropriate to enter so we had to "rent" attire to wear before entering the temple grounds. But like I said, Wat Arun was incredible. It was composed of 5 pyramids ascending steep into the sky. And one of them you could climb. Now, I never used to be afraid of heights, but for some reason (maybe it's my old age!) some things get me now. This was one of those things. Once again, I'll blame in part on my outfit: long skirt and flip flops, but climbing up to the first landing my legs were a little shaky. Making it to the first landing and looking out onto to river front of Bangkok was...strange. I wasn't sure what to make of the skyline. It didn't seem familiar to me at all nor did it seem like I was in Thailand. I'm not quite sure the feeling it gave me. Anyways, Kate carried on to the second landing by herself. The second part of the climb was...incredibly, incredibly, steep! So steep in fact that I wouldn't even call what you had to place your foot on in order to get up "stairs". Rather, notches in a wall more or less. Along the sides were ropes meant to aide in your ascension. Crazy. I couldn't do it. I was Kate's photographer. That was my job. I could handle that.
After yet another brush with death, we made our way back to Kao San for *cough*morepadthai*cough* and *cough*morecoconuticecream*cough* before taking....a nap. Yep. A nap. Our running around climbing temples in the hot sun finally caught up to us. So we crawled into our hostel bungalo for a couple hours before, what else, hitting the streets yet again. We ate on the street at the same place we had the scorpion a couple days before just to listen to the live music again. I had a plate of steamed mussels with thai chili sauce (chili sauce: the last item on my Thai food must-have list) and a mango smoothie. We walked about our favorite streets until we encountered a durian cart. I love watching the travel channel (no surprise). And two of my favorite shows are Anthoney Bourdain: No Reservations and Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern. For those of you unfamiliar...Andrew Zimmern eats EVERYTHING. Goat testicles, gelatinous blood cubes, everything... But! Ironically enough, out of everything he's eaten over his long and varied career, he met his match when it came to a fruit: the durian. So, of course, upon seeing (and smelling! woof) this cart of durian I had to stop and ask Kate to try. As we stood there contemplating what could be our last meal, a man at the same cart exclaimed "Are you going to try durian!? Here! Let's try it together! It's my favorite!" So, long story short, we made a new friend. His name is Heinkie and he works for the Department of Defense in Holland. He grew up eating durian with his mother and has been obsessed ever since. He even told us a story about his mother having Alzheimer's and the one thing that he could bring her to eat was durian. And for that short moment she was eating it, he felt like he had had her back for a few moments. Amazing. So, we sat on the sidewalk eating it together. I felt like such an awesome, backpacker, hippie it was ridiculous. One step closer to my true form. haha

We said goodbye to Heinkie because he had a flight to catch and we're off to check another thing off our "Thai-List": Thai massage. Walking along the Kao San area it was hard not to walk 10 feet without being asked if you "Want a massage lady?" So how does one go about picking an establishment? We walked towards our favorite part of the district and one place just happened to ask at the right time. We wanted a back massage (no foot massage for us, yuck!) so next thing we knew we're being led up a flight of stairs into a dark room. Wait, let me back up for a second...Two things: In the beginning of the trip, Kate and I decided that we needed to establish a code phrase in case one of us felt like we were in danger. We decided on "Have you talked to Dan?" (Dan = danger. Get it? haha) And secondly, literally 5 minutes prior to this, Heinkie told us to never go upstairs for a massage. It's just...not a good idea he said. So! As we're being led up this dark corridor Kate keeps turning around to say to me "Have you talked to Dan? Have you talked to Dan!?" And I reply back "I don't know! Should I talk to to Dan!?" haha, I'll save you the suspense. Obviously we survived. But not without a funny story or two to take with us of course. I'm followed in by a small, 70 something year old, Thai man. Of course he's my masseuse. I lay down face first and turn my head to Kate: "Of course, I get the only guy!" As I'm saying this I simultaneously notice Kate's masseuse, a very large Thai woman (which makes me laugh since Kate's so small!), as my guy crawls onto my back. (Yep, I use the word "crawl" intentionally. I've got a thesaurus here people...)
I've never been one for massages. I can't relax. I always stay tense. And this one was no exception. It's hard to relax when you feel like your shoulder blades are being displaced as you're simultaneously having your butt grabbed by a 70 year old. And, oh!, what's that? Your bare feet are caressing my thighs? haha, no problem. All part of the experience. We walked away feeling beat up. Kate actually had bruises on her temples the next day! haha, damn Thailand. We drank a well deserved Thai tea after that massacre.

Our final day we headed out on a 7am excursion to the famous Khlong floating market about and hour and a half outside of Bangkok. We took a tour van booked through our hostel and picked up others along the way. The drive was a sleepy one. But if you managed to keep your eyes open you got to see some pretty non-touristy Thai countryside. The get to our final destination, the floating market, we needed to take a speed boat along a narrow river. Our tour guide was pretty forceful and just started directing people to hop in boats based on size. Kate got stuck in a boat by herself and was taken away right before my very eyes. She slowly raised her hand to wave goodbye as if it were the last time I was ever going to see her again (Very well could've been!) and I couldn't help but laugh. Welp, bye Kate! It was fun. I stood there for a little while longer waiting for my turn and finally the woman turns to me to ask how many are in my party. haha My mouth drops and I slowly raise my hand to point in Kate's direction but then I just went with it and said "Uhm, I'm alone." I got sat next to this French Canadian man wearing a safari hat who ended up being pretty interesting. Another world traveller that I can look up to.
The speed boat trip to the market was beautiful. We passed by villages that hovered above the water on stilts and locals tending to their boats. It was relaxing and the fresh air away from the city was amazing. I hopped off the boat and rejoined Kate. Our eyes met with a look of 'Oh hey, glad you're alive.'
Next it was time to buy a ticket and hop on a boat to tour the floating market. Once again, I use the word "tour" pretty deliberately because it was pretty touristy. You buy a ticket and hop into a gondola, the gondolas pass by various boats with vendors selling various goods. Half are full of touristy souvenirs while the other half are full of somewhat overpriced food. It was pretty funny though. As our boat passed by vendor's boats the vendors would throw out hooks to snare our boat and bring it over so that we would buy something. Nice tactic. I ended up buying a plate of sliced mango from a lady who hooked our boat. After our wee tour through the market we had some time to kill before we had to meet up with our tour van. We walked along the sides of the market and ending up taking a seat along the river to watch the boats go by. We sat by a quieter part of the market, a more authentic part, and ended up buying some snacks from a couple boats near by. We bought Chinese chive dumplings from this lady that looked to be 110 years old and supremely deep fried spring rolls from the lady next to her who could've been her daughter. I later grabbed a whole young coconut from this woman who docked her boat near where we were sitting. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon: eating dumplings and spring rolls with a coconut to drink. I could get used to this. Thailand! I'll see you again in retirement!
The ride back to the hostel exhausted what little energy we had left from the past couple days so we when we got back we napped yet again. But it was our last day in Bangkok! We couldn't spend it in bed! So next it was up to go have dinner by a waterfall.

The last thing on our 'Thai-List' was to see a Muy-Thai boxing match. This might be the best Thai story of them all...

We asked our hostel the approximate price of cab to the boxing stadium to avoid being ripped off. "Oh, boxing match?", they said, "We will book you ring side seats." That would've been great aside from the fact that it was our last day, we lived in Thailand like kings, and now we only had enough money for 3rd tier seats. We told our hostel this and they looked around at each other with worried looks on their faces. "Uhh, foreigners usually sit ringside. Because it's safer." Hmm. Ok, so we had a couple decisions to make here. What to do on our last night? Both of us still really wanted to go see a match. We are in Thailand! We HAVE to do this. So we figured we would go a little early, check out our surroundings, and if we didn't feel comfortable we would catch the next cab out of there and go Chang for Chang in some Kao San bar.
So we take a cab downtown. The stadium was a decent drive away and Kate and I started to get a little nervous. It was pretty far away from the touristy jungle-like area of Kao San and was essentially in the heart of Bangkok. High rise buildings and all. We were in locals-only territory. We got out of the cab and we were immediately whisked away by event staff. I really don't know how she spotted us so quickly. She looked to be about 15, braces and all, and immidiately asked us, "Ok, so you're here for ringside." Kate and I looked at each other. Nope. Not enough money. She was sweet and tried to negotiate a deal for us. She got the priced knocked down twice by her manager but we still couldn't afford it. So, we had to ask: "Is it dangerous?" She was concerned for us because the tickets we could afford put us amoungst the local gamblers. Haha I will never forget this...when we asked if it was dangerous she looked at us, smiled with her braces, and said: "I can't lie to you. They will fight." Ha! Kate and I looked at each other and we weighed our options. We decided to go in and check it out. If we felt uncomfortable we would leave. We walked over to buy our third tier tickets and the girl gave us one last bit of parting advice: "Stay away from the Thai people." Hahaha
We walked down the corridor the the 3rd section entrance and were greeted by glares and confused looks from locals and smiles from security guards. All of them were questioning what we were doing there, just in their own way. We made our way to the standing room only section that we could afford and were greeted by more puzzled looks. Kate and I couldn't help but flash nervous smiles as we looked around for a friendly face. Shortly after standing for what seemed like forever, but was realistically only about 5-10 minutes, an older man came up to us and pointed to a section close by. "Sit! Sit!", he said. Really I think the Thai people were trying to look out for us. From the event staff, to the security guards, to this old man: they were curious and amused by us, but still wanted to keep us safe. We followed the man's directions and walked over on to the most rickety bleachers I've ever walked on. Calling them bleachers is generous. It looked like a shanty-town built for feet. Anyhoo, the shanty-town bleachers began to fill up. At first we were truly surrounded by locals but then a couple foreigner groups began to pepper throughout the crowd. Which brings me to my next story. The crowd started to get a little more heated up as the night went on and the matches became more and more intense and higher profile. There was a particular rowdy crowd of gambling men directly in front of us to the right that Kate and I had fun watching. Every time a boxer was hit they would exclaim "Eeee!" instead of the Western "Ohh!" or "Ughh!". But soon we noticed they were getting a little rowdy for the wrong reasons... Two foreigner girls decided it would be a good idea to stand in the very front of the third tier balcony, directly blocking the view of the group of men gambling. The longer they stayed planted there the more disgruntled the men became. They started yelling, talking and gesturing amoungst themselves, and a few men even grabbed the arms of the girls to get their attention. (I just kept thinking what that young event staff girl told us before we entered the arena: "I cant lie to you. They will fight.") I can't really put it lightly: These girls were dumb. They couldn't take a hint. The men were just getting more and more angry. So I lean over to Kate and tell her I'm about to go down there and say something. Not only could this situation turn bad for these girls, it could also reflect bad on us. After a couple minutes debating whether or not to get involved I go down there. I reach the bottom of the deck and I can feel myself being eyed over and over by the gamblers. I touch one of the girls shoulders, because Lord knows they weren't paying attention to their surroundings enough to notice me, and say, "You know, you might want to go sit down. You're standing right in front of a group of men who are gambling on this fight and they're getting pretty upset." The girl turns to me and says in a nasally voice, "Oohh, is that what's going on?" Haha yes. Yes, that's what's going on. Now go sit down before your short-shorts get thrown off the balcony. The girls walk away and I turn around to face the group of Thai men. I smile, give them an awkward thumbs up, and begin to walk away. My awkward gesture was returned with applause, a couple "Ok! Ok!"s, and even a few thumbs up. I go back up to Kate who is laughing at me. She couldn't believe I did it. But hey, I figured now if anything goes down...I have a whole gang of locals ready to protect us. Right? haha Survival logic.

We left the fight a little early because we didn't want to stick around for any bet claiming discrepancies and caught our last cab in Thailand. We offered a cab driver 200 baht to take us back to Kao San and when we stated the price he said "Oooh! Good for you. Good for me!" Which means we've been overcharged our entire trip, haha. The cab ride to the stadium was our longest yet and we've been paying base fares of 200 baht practically everywhere we went. But that's ok. It was still incredibly cheap. So we hop in this cab and it turned out to be another adorable encounter. Our cab driver immediately turns on some music for us, Katy Perry's Teenage Dream to be exact, and Kate and I start laughing. He assumed that's what we wanted to listen to but we said "Oh no, no. That's ok. What do you like to listen to? We want to listen to that." He said he liked Thai music and switched over the radio station. Some crazy song came over the speakers and he asked if we knew it. Haha of course we didn't but we jammed along anyhow. He asked where we were from, and started asking us about English, and became really excited when he found out we were English teachers. Like, really excited. So excited in fact that he started to explain to us how he self taught himself English inside his cab pulling out his English book, placing it across his steering wheel, and reading it as he was driving! At first Kate and I thought he was joking. But nope. He started reading off phrases and showing us the Thai phonetic equivilent. We survived. And we will never forget our adorable Thai cabbie, Dang.

We wern't exactly hungry...but Kate and I made it a point to eat Pad Thai everyday day that we were in Thailand. So we headed back to our faithful, flower wearing, Pad Thai goddess for one last plate. Pad Thai garnished with tears. We were going to miss our nights on Kao San but a whole new adventure in Siem Reap awaited!

To be continued... :)


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