Just like that, Niamh and I decided to head to Bangkok last Thursday. Pretty much all weekends until the end of July are already somehow booked up, meaning there really was little choice.
A quick run to the train station meant we had one of the last few lower bunks on the train to The City of Angels. No, not Los Angeles.
The full, ceremonial, name of the city, given by King Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke, and later edited by King Mongkut, is Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit, which roughly translates to The city of angels, the great city, the eternal jewel city, the impregnable city of God Indra, the grand capital of the world endowed with nine precious gems, the happy city, abounding in an enormous Royal Palace that resembles the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated god, a city given by Indra and built by Vishnukarm. Vishnukam, in case you're wondering, is the Hindu presiding deity of all craftsmen and architects.
Friday was spent as proper tourists, visiting the Grand Palace, the next door Wat Pho and, across the river, the 82m high Wat Arun.
Saturday, after an evening out with, amongst others, Greg and Frika, as well as unreasonably expensive beers at a tapas bar on Bangkok's gay party strip, we took it easy and 'did' four malls and the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, before heading out with the same crowd again, in honor of Mikael, Frika's dude, his birthday.
At the tapas bar, the cheapest beers were going for 170 baht, about 3.75 euros. The same go in Chiang Mai for about 40 baht, under a euro.
On Sunday, before heading out by train, back to Chiang Mai, we visited the Italian renaissance style Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall as well as the next door zoo, where the Kenya Boys were giving an indigenous African acrobatics show.
I've now been to Bangkok a dozen times or so and I'm slowly starting to like the city. At first, I wasn't too impressed: It's noisy, busy, sprawling, relatively expensive, has no functioning downtown area. However, with each visit, I get into my comfort zone a bit more. I've got a favorite place to stay, enjoy the Art and Culture Centre, like strolling around in some of the malls and now know at least one place where it's good drinking.
If you know your way, it's easy to relax in the city. However, the city of angels also easily overwhelms.
MBK had the new rhythm game Technika, or DJ Max Technika, in one of their arcade areas. With some similarities to Tap Tap Revolution, you have a multitouch screen to tap with your fingers, following the beat of the current song. Indeed, in a way a DDR for your fingers.
I played only one game, there was a queue of young Thai schoolboys enjoying my performance but really waiting to play, and enjoyed it. There's a series of videos of the game over on YouTube.
Apparently, there's a port about to happen for the DS. Yum.