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Day 3: Adventures with Roxanne Begin

Bangkok, Thailand


Where to start, where to start? So much has happened in the last 24 hours.

I napped for four straight hours yesterday afternoon. That was the longest consecutive amount of sleep I've had in days, so I would definitely think that's a good place to begin. I woke up to the arrival of Roxanne!!! as she texted me from the airport. Rejuvenated and happy, I ran down the stairs to greet her at the hostel desk an hour later. She made it! We were finally in Bangkok together!

It took all of 30 minutes for her to drop off her backpack and for us to grab food. Per recommendation of a drunk guy staying in our 14-person hostel room, we went to a small restaurant a few feet down the street. It had multicolored walls and a hostess with a bright smile, which made up for the dark lighting. With such a cheery atmosphere, we were excited to eat our first official Thai meal.

We sat down, ordered some good ole' green curry, and talked with the 62-year-old hostess. She made jokes about everything, constantly flashing that grin and revealing her several missing teeth. When our food came, she also brought out additional beers the size of our heads, smiling brightly with the gift (which we, of course, were expected to still pay for).

Roxanne and I ate and caught up, and the woman joined our conversation near the end of the meal. At first full of laughter, we somehow delved into her life story. The mood changed quickly, as she suddenly brought up a history of abuse. She was very open about it, but I won't go into detail to respect her privacy. It was just crazy how she was so cheerful but had such a painful past. I know you can't ever make assumptions about people's lives, but it's always a harsh reality to face. What a strong woman.

We left the restaurant with two free waters and more cheerful smiles and laughs from the woman, but we both were still in a quiet awe. It was strange to move from that to our next destination, Khao San Road.

To put it in perspective, the first thing we saw was a young guy literally rolling around on the pavement, ready to vomit any second. And this was not a unique sight. The road was filled with young, drunk tourists and locals selling everything imaginable. When not stepping around large groups of people, someone would put a sign advertising laughing gas or scorpions on a stick in front of our faces. Neon lights flashed all around us; again, definitely different from the little nook of a restaurant.

It was fun to people watch, as Roxanne and I happily walked in circles by bars and pretty lanterns and stands selling clothing until the dense crowd thinned. It was not fun, however, to avoid creepy men.

This leads me to a very important note: If you are a guy, don't try to grab girls on the street! It's such a simple thing!!! I don't care how drunk you are, do not reach for our arms or our breasts or any other part of us. It happened here and happens way too much. I know everyone says they'll never do it, but I've seen these promises broken. Don't. Do. It.

Our entire night wasn't made up solely of interactions with sexual predators, and we still enjoyed our time on the crazy, Summerfest-like road aside from the creeps. We left around 1:30 a.m. and went to sleep immediately.


We made friends bright and early this morning! Right at breakfast, we ate with other backpackers from Canada, the U.S., and Holland. Roxanne and I were planning on seeing Chinatown today, and two guys from the U.S. were also planning on going, so we quickly decided to go together. This is an example of one of my favorite parts of traveling, as it is so easy (and so socially acceptable!) to hang out with new people. The guys were grad students Parks and Malcolm, and together we embarked on an adventure.

First to Chinatown, the four of us pitched in for a windy tuk tuk ride across the city. After what appeared to be several near-collisions to my Western eyes (the best way to describe it is by saying Bangkok drivers are very good at what they do, but would probably fail their driver's tests due to speed and rapid lane changes), we wandered through streets for hours. 

This, again, is a hectic, beautiful place. Vendors sell everything imaginable, although I didn't see any laughing gas this time around. I did instead see extension chords and shoes that were just slightly glorified blocks of wood. It was fun hanging out and making jokes with fellow explorers, eating fresh fruit along the way.

The same drunk guy that recommended last night's restaurant told us of a hotel pool and bar with a two-for-one happy hour from 2 until 8 p.m. As we eventually learned, the only thing he did during his visit was go out drinking, ignoring any cultural landmarks during his stay, so we trusted his opinion on this type of establishment. Yet he still exceeded our expectations.

The pool had a view of the entire Bangkok skyline. It was glamorous and refreshing and for hotel-guests only, but that's a small detail we ignored. We hung out at the pool until our shoulders became a little sunburned, feeling much richer than in reality.

With grumbling stomachs we went in search of food around 4:00, ate some incredible street curries -- I don't think I'll ever eat a dish in Thailand I dont adore -- and went back to the hostel to rest our sore feet. That's where we currently are now, and maybe we'll go to the rooftop of Warm White Hostel to hang out, or maybe we'll go to Khao San to be a little more reckless... We'll see.

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