Our train arrived on time – a shocker for Thailand. 7 PM, after a few attempts we finally find a cab willing to use the meter and we head to Khaosan Road. We need to find a room before we can start making productive use of our time here.
We go straight to where we stayed last time. Even though the beds were rock-hard (enough to make your body numb), it was really clean and cheap. They’re full. We go towards the “new” Khaosan Road, basically just the extension of the street, which we hope would be quieter. Travis goes off to find a room and comes back with one after about 30 minutes. Straight away he downplays the room, or should I say, up sells the dodgyness of it. Apparently everything else was full… and this one is clean.
We get to “Mini Hotel” and my heart sinks. It looks beyond dodgy. This is what I picture when I think of rooms in India. I’m sure that I’m wrong about that assumption, but whatever. The place is in a dark back alley. The building looks made out of cheap plywood. The hallway to the rooms is right off the road, and looks like the kind of place where rats would go running. The shared washrooms and showers are repulsive. The toilets reek of urine and mothballs. The room is just a mattress on a crooked metal frame. The mattress is thin and hard, and isn’t straight: it bends at the waste, sort of like a hospital bed would. We have two windows, but might as well be a prison cell. It’s a jumble of wood. But it does look clean. And we have a fan.
We lock up the room with an extra padlock and head to dinner. Since our last time here we had been dreaming of good pizza, so we go to Ranee’s for some solid fare. It does not disappoint: the crust is think and crispy. The feta cheese and the spinach sings in our mouth. The addition of bacon is magical. Not a bite suffers from the law of diminishing return.
After the dinner we walk Khaosan. I had been wanting (needing) to buy a new bikini and a pair of pants, but I just don’t feel like shopping. I’m beat from the day and I know that I have two weeks to get the purchases done, so why get them banged-out in the first 4 hours in town? We stop by the used book store to trade-in some books and head back to the room.
Surprisingly I was able to fall asleep pretty quickly – I must have been successful in talking myself into believing that the room was bug-free enough. I wake up pretty early though, and by 5 AM I can no longer sleep. Trying to be kind to Travis, I stay in bed for another hour but at 6 AM, I loudly declare “I’m done”. Turns out Travis wasn’t asleep either, and I turned on the light. I was done because I was itchy, just so itchy. I could tell that I had 1 bite on my foot, 1 on the back of my knee and two on my upper arm. Not a crazy amount, but these were itchy, swollen bites. I checked the sheets for traces of bed bugs, and after not seeing any nor any blood stains, we decided that it must have been the mosquito we had just killed, swollen with our blood.
We killed some time by ironing-out our upcoming itinerary a little bit more, and planning out our day. As we were about to get out of bed to get breakfast, we spot a huge, slow moving bed bug in Travis’ silk bed sheet. DARN.
Reluctantly we head out for breakfast with our bags still in the room. Breakfast is a moody affair: we’ve both had little sleep and are both on edge from our creepy crawler discovery. We fight about everything for no reason whatsoever, but we realize it right away and stop. Travis has coffee and I find WiFi: all is better.
Just before noon we head to the room to grab our bags. We get a taxi to check in our new hotel.
Having not showered since Laos (4 days ago) we jump in the shower and scrub away the dirt. We get dressed in our nicer clothing, and decide to head to the embassy of Iran to apply for our visa. Unfortunately, we found three different addresses for the embassy, so we enlist the help of the concierge to locate the correct address. The phone numbers we had are also all out of service, but eventually we get through. As it turns out, one cannot simply show up to the embassy and get a visa: one must apply online and get a reference number first before applying for a visa at the embassy. With our plans foiled, we return to the room.
By now my bites are now clearly bed bug bites: they are starting to slightly blister and run. Resisting the urge to scratch requires meditation.
We locate the address of the Myanmar embassy and decide to head there instead. We hop in a taxi and slowly drive there through the Bangkok traffic. We arrive at 3:52 PM – the sign outside the embassy states that visa services close at 4 PM. The internet lied. I rush in while Travis waits for the taxi driver to find our change. I wait at the window, hoping that we can squeeze in before 4 PM, but no luck. The guy behind the counter give me a stern “we’re closed” but hands me the forms. At least there’s that.
Defeated and upset to have let our day go to waste, we walk back to our hotel. After all, it’s Friday and we will just have to wait until Monday to get anything visa-related done.
Many times during the walk I’m reminded that I don’t like Bangkok that much. Ever since we’ve been back, it’s been like an assault on my senses. It’s not that there are any particular reasons, but I just find the city oppressive. Even crossing the street feels more barbaric than in Vietnam. Khaosan Road got me again with culture shock and I miss tranquil Laos and friendly Cambodia. It feels like a zoo, and too modern. I know though that it’s just temporary, but right now it’s just abrasive.
I find comfort in our hotel, where we eat lunch. I then settle in our room, and start working. The next two weeks in Bangkok are all about work and catching up, but also about taking in the luxuries before heading West.