On our first full day in Bangkok, we finally rolled out of our hostel sometime after 12 in search of something to eat and to find a currency exchange. As soon as we cleared the back alley and came face to face with a road we were lost. Out came the map and blank stares in every direction. If our ethnicity didn’t scream tourist, this sure did. In 20 seconds flat a man in a tuk-tuk pulled up asking where we wanted to go. We told him this noodle place we heard of, but before we could even finish he said ‘no, no, I bring you somewhere Thai’. Eager to eat, we just went along with it and hopped on.
Weaving through traffic that has a mind of its own, our tuk-tuk driver dropped us off at a fresh seafood place. You pick out what you want to eat and they cook it for you, pretty neat. One lobster, a couple of prawns and one crab was on the bill to fill our tummy’s. What was supposed to be an “authentic Thai hangout” was an overly apparent tourist trap as we saw tuk-tuk after tuk-tuk dropping tourists off. In fact we don’t think their was even one Thai person in that place, but the food was still pretty good, price not so much.
After our seafood feast, we jumped back in with our tuk-tuk guy to head to the Jim Thompson House. However, he dropped this little bomb on us ‘can you come to this store for 10 minute so I get commission?’ Thanks Jess…(what did I do?!) so off we went. I had in mind some dingy nick-knack store, but he brought us to a custom tailor ran by some wannabe Russel Peters meets Steve Bushimi. Him and Jess started talking about custom blouses and pants, but the two couldn’t come to a price point. No middle ground between free and the world I’m afraid. We exited the tailor shop right after then continued onto our original destination.
The Jim Thompson House, is a house built by an American Designer/Architect, named… You guessed it! Jim Thompson. He enlisted in the army during WWII and was stationed in Thailand for a bit. When he exited the army he loved Thailand so much he moved to Bangkok and started building this house in the 50’s. By taking old South Eastern Asian houses and combining them into one cohesive home while still using Thai rituals and traditions. As well he collected Thai art, before it became world recognized and sought after, some of the pieces in this home are ‘classics’. To fund this project, Thompson worked in the Thai silk industry and pretty much revitalized the whole silk industry in the country, bringing some wealth back in and recognition by the rest of the world to the Thai silk market. The home he was building was located on a canal right across from the silk trade market. So every day he’d go across the canal to work.
The house was completed in the late 1950’s and soon became the buzz of Bangkok. Thompson then soon opened it up to the public and gave all proceeds to charity. The major twist on this story is Thompson disappeared on a trip in Malaysia and was never found. It’s a very interesting story and worth the read on Wikipedia.
We closed the book on day one after the Jim Thompson House and went back to the hostel to plan out our time in Thailand. Which didn’t go to well because we fell asleep instead, oh well. The following day we got out of the hostel at a better time and hopped in a cab to the train station to find something to eat, exchange money and book some way out of Bangkok. This time we went three for three, got pretty much all our travel for the 5 weeks in Thailand, had a bite to eat and changed our money over. Pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good.
Our itinerary looks a little like this:
September 23rd to 28th – Chang Mai, Pai
September 29th to October 2 – Siem Reap/Angkor Wat
October 3rd to 9th – Island hopping
October 10th to 14th – Ko Phangnan
October 14th to 21st – Island hopping
October 22nd to 24th – Bangkok
To cap the day off we went to Siam Ocean World, a fairly big aquarium in a posh mall. It was an enjoyable 3-4 hours looking at all the different species of salt water fish and the coolest part the sharks. The aquarium is home to a bunch of different species of barrier reef sharks and hammerhead sharks! Overall it was a really cool place to end our day.