Getting to know the seedier part of Bangkok is a rite of passage when visiting Thailand. The red light district in Bangkok is one of the places you need to experience. We had been to a few places already with our friend Kish we met in Vientiane, Laos at the embassy. The next day after arriving in Bangkok, we headed out to our friend Kish's to pick up our bikes we had left at his house while in Koh Samui for Christmas. Thanks again Kish!
Bangkok At Night
Navigating Bangkok Traffic
After leaving Kish's we headed to our hotel and got ready to go out that night. We were in Bangkok and figured we would ride around town and take in the city. We rode around town Shelly on her bike and me on mine. It was nice for her to learn how to ride in traffic. There is art to just about every aspect of riding, and she learned how to maneuver traffic in one of busiest cities on earth! I was extremely proud of her. It's one thing to be riding through the mountains and highways of Southeast Asia, quite another to ride in the congested slow moving traffic of Hanoi, but to ride a motorbike in Bangkok down the main roads, you need to have some experience.
Soi Nana - Red Light District in Bangkok
Soi Nana - And The Red Light District
We stopped off at a bar near Soi NaNa (Sukhumvit and Soi 4) which has a strip mall.... Literally.... a mall of strip clubs. We sat outside the mall and people watched for about an hour and saw lady-boys everywhere walking up and down the street. Evidently Bangkok has a large trans-sexual/transgender community called LadyBoys. Some of these ladyboys are surprisingly convincing as women. Fake breasts, long hair, and if it wasn't for the Adam's apple, (some have them shaved off) you would never know. We sat there a while watching un-suspecting (or maybe suspecting) men try to schmooze the ladyboys and get all bashful when they come on to them.
Shelly and I would joke... because they looked better than most of the real women walking around. A lot of women don't shave their legs, and we would joke that you can tell a real woman for a ladyboy by the perfectly smooth legs. Soi NaNa was a "cultural experience" we will never forget and are glad that we were able to see this slice of culture that is singular to Bangkok. We sat around for a couple hours debating if the girls we saw were boys or girls then headed back to our hotel after riding around town some more and eating street food.
Rachetewi SkyTrain Station
The SkyTrain and MBK
The next day we relaxed and decided to take the sky-train to the local mall called MBK. The SkyTrain is the elevated subway train that goes around Bangkok. It's an extremely clean train and very efficient way of getting around, and the Ratchathewi station was only a block away. We hoped the train for the National Stadium stop where MBK is located, after switching trains at Siam Square. MBK stands for Mah Boon Krong.(Boon KrongMall). Its a huge 5 or 6 story U.S. Style mall with everything you could possibly want to buy and many things you don't. A kind of indoor bizarre of sorts with stall selling clothes, baggage, shoes, gold, jewelry and everything else you can think of with decent prices.
It was great going to the mall! Busy, and packed but fun! We got some western food and a Starbucks coffee and hopped the train again and took it to the end of the Silom line. There are two lines on the Skytrain, the Sukhumvit line and the Shilom line. We loved sitting on the train people watching and watching the world go by. We got to the end of the line at sunset and took a spectacular picture of a smoggy sunset over rush-hour traffic and hopped back on and headed back to the hotel. Our plans were to go home then go out and get something to eat on the bikes.
Getting Pulled Over and Flexing Our Name Dropping Muscles
On our way out to eat we apparently rode down the wrong street and got pulled over by the police. Bangkok is very confusing to maneuver at times. The main road we were riding is one way some of the time of the day, and two ways other times of the day. Sometimes its down to one lane one way and 6 another, depending on the time of day. Apparently we got it wrong despite the mass of cars going the same the way we were going.
I met a guy in Laos that was motorbiking around with someof his buddies from Thailand who is in the special forces division of the Thailand Army. He gave me his number in Vang Vieng , Laos and said if we ever have any problems in Thailand to call him. The officer that pulled us over along with about 10 more congregating as we sat there, said we needed to pay a fine. I called my special forces buddy named Tar, and he asked that I hand the phone to the cop.
They spoke with each other a while, and then the officer handed me back my license and waved us off. We couldn't believe it!!! Scott free! The cop looked surprised we called Tar, or even know him, and was a little upset he got trumped on his traffic stop and possible extra pocket money he would have extorted from us. We then headed out to Cabo Grill and had some incredibly authentic Mexican food in Thailand! Awesome food!!!!
Out On the Town Again
Soi Cowboy - Another Red Light District in Bangkok
After diner we went back to the hotel and dropped off the bikes and then took a cab to a place called Soi Cowboy, which is one of the Red Light Districts in Bangkok. Soi Cowboy is another seedy place in Bangkok that is a walking street of neon lights, go-go bars and of course lady boys. Shelly and I love to people watch and we ordered a beer and gazed out at the Soi (street) watching the drunks, pervs and hookers socialize. Everyone has an agenda in a place like this and ours was to people watch... our favorite pastime. We sat at a non-strip club bar at a round table to people watch under the fluorescent neon street. It was weird and fun. A watch salesman tried to sell me a fake expensive watch, and as I tried to put it on, the strap broke. Needless to say, I didn't buy it!
Disco Dancing with Kish and His Date
Suddenly, Kish show's up out of nowhere. He was in the neighborhood, and walking by to meet a girlfriend and saw us. He invited us to a disco with them that evening. Our intentions were to eat then go home and get a good night's sleep to go to Pattaya the next day , but we decided to join Kish and his date at the disco instead. We stayed out and danced and enjoyed each other's company until around 1:30 or 2am, then took a cab to the hotel and packed for the next day. Thanks again Kish for another great night on the town!