Bangkrupt in Bangkok (but so much fun)

On Thursday I sent a text to my travel girlfriend “BKK for NYE”?! and on Sunday  I was hauling my butt as fast as I could to the airport. Because I was under the impression that our Scoot flight was at 7pm. Damn you, 24 hour format. 17:45hrs is not  7:45pm. Normally, I’d be more alert. But when you factor in my 3 hours of sleep over two days, you’ll understand why everything was a blur. On Friday I had told my friend the flight is at 5:45pm. On Sunday, I kept telling myself just be there by 5:45pm. Pffft. Luckily my friend sent a text an hour earlier to ask my whereabouts because she couldn’t find me.

But I reached the airport without having to pull my hair (or the taxi driver’s); he pretty much channelled his inner Fernando Alonso. I remember sending a prayer up on the expressway. The rest of the ride was a blur.

As our plane was taxiing to the runway, my friend and I were discussing about the riots going on in Bangkok. A mutual friend who just returned from Bangkok told us that the media was hyping things up as usual, as he didn’t see anything major. They didn’t invade the shopping and touristy places of Bangkok like they did previously.

I was sitting beside another girl, and after a while we got to talking. My friend was watching a movie on her phone; I was taking a break from reading. She’s a Singaporean who lives in Australia and was traveling to Bangkok to meet her boyfriend. Her boyfriend’s family are Australians and run two restaurants in Bangkok – an Italian and Thai restaurant.  Bravassimo.  She started speaking with a funny accent, but an hour later she was speaking Singlish. What gives. But she was a decent girl, friendly and all. She said every time she visits Singapore, she feels bigger (and she’s bloody skinny) because the girls here get thinner. I told her it’s the skinny epidemic; especially amongst the Chinese! My friend took this chance to quip “not us, we’re still maintaining our sizes, we like our thighs without gaps”. Did I mention we met at the gym. Thanks, Fitness First!

Bangkok has undergone many changes from my last trip in 2007. Back then I felt like a giant and their medium sized clothes were small for me.  But when affluence expands so does girth, and in my case, shopping. For one who hardly shops, I spent almost everything on the 2nd day at Platinum mall. When almost everything every top/dress is 200 baht (roughly 8SGD), you can merrily kiss logic goodbye. And they have shopping centers that can shame Ion. Firstly Central World is back bigger and brighter. The last riot in 2010 almost destroyed Central World. I remember seeing parts of the building charred and crumbling to the ground. Siam was our holy grail to some of the best shopping centers in Bangkok, but unless you’re willing to spend a few hundreds on a bag, put your wallets away, and just window shop. Siam Paragon was massive and we got lost inside trying to find Fitness First. Siam Center is a concept shopping mall, and caters to the younger generation so the prices aren’t too steep. 

Some highlights of NYE 2013  in Bangkok.

  •  Authentic Thai body massage and foot massage almost every other day. S$15 for 2 hours.  That would cost about S$130 in Singapore.
  • Meeting my dear friends in Bangkok and celebrating NYE with them at Bangkok’s gay district.
  • Desserts at a whimsical concept café at Siam Center called Mr Jones’ Orphanage. The décor in the cafe makes up for the less than spectacular desserts, but the Chocolate Soufflé was pretty good.   
  • Getting a taxi driver from Khaosan who insisted on 200 baht back to our hotel and when we demanded he use the meter, brought us on a merry go round through seedy dark alleys, speeding at breakneck speed and ensuring the meter reached at least 150 baht. I hope his taxi gets stuck in mire.
  • Delicious street food, tom yum soup, and Thailand Ice Tea. 

Because it was only a 4 days trip to Bangkok, I didn’t take many pictures and I forgot to bring my phone out on NYE – smart move. It was a great trip, my friend and I are travel-soul mates, so the trip was filled with so much laughter. I ended 2013 and greeted 2014 with glitters, balloons and hot gay men and close friends. How can one complain when the year ended with glitters!

 

7 days to my solo Japan trip

Life has a way of always keeping us on our toes. Just like the ever capricious weather, and if you’re not prepared, let me quote Game of Throne: a storm is coming. What initially started out as two girls venturing out to Japan has now turned to 1 girl’s solo trip to Japan. I would be lying if I said I’m not worried, but I’m more excited about it now than I was about the trip earlier. My friend backing out last minute means I get travel alone. I was looking for an adventure, but I guess it found me first. Well played, Adventure, well played.

These few nights my thoughts have been mutinously terrorised by vivid images taken right out of a Japanese thriller; Japanese police finding my cold, lifeless body on the freakishly clean road, turning into a Japbo (like hobo) because of frivolous stationery shopping, or losing my way in their massive labyrinth of a subway that is actually the Arena of the Hunger Games, and because I’m handicapped (keyword: suck at map-reading) with maps, I’ll never be able to find the Cornucopia, and finally my emaciated body will be collected by a Hovercraft. Every night brings new and exciting scenarios, my heart rate fires up and I can only hope that I’m at least burning some calories while I hyperventilate.

Apart from all the dramatic endings of my abridged existence, I’m really excited about my trip now than I was before. My friend backing out last minute means I get travel alone, and may I just say this “OMG I’M GOING TO JAPAN AND I’M FLYING SOLO THIS TIME!!!!!” Ok, now that I’ve gotten that off my pulsating (that sounds wrong) chest, I shall try to maintain some composure.

Initially, the plan was to travel further up north to Kamikawa from Sapporo, but because I’ll be traveling alone now I decided to drop that plan. I mean if someone had to find my body, I rather not have it decomposed beyond recognition and Kamikawa gives the impression that lost things will remain…lost. Honestly, I was looking towards a bit of trekking, but I’ve never been to Sapporo before this, and 4 days will allow me to explore the biggest city in Hokkaido. After that it’s back to Tokyo and Osaka, cities created for peregrination.

Any country that you’ve visited before in the company of people becomes an unchartered territory full of mysteries when you brave it alone. When you travel alone, you’re free from distractions presented by your company. You pay scant attention to the country’s personality when you’re with a group. The quirks of its people and its stray animals, the graffiti on the walls, the roads and the cars and everything else that is imbued within the country is lost when you’re busy discoursing on a cultural hype you walked by. I was going to say Gangnam Style. I stopped to berate myself. Something as shitty as that in Japan? The Japanese will sooner choke on kimchi! Wait… hmm. This is something I’m definitely looking forward to. I cannot wait to stumble upon hidden cafes, old curio shops and meandering alleyways.

As one of the leaders and pioneers in Innovation and Technology, Japan is undoubtedly a powerhouse of R&D. It is the only country in the world that relies heavily on industrial robot workers. But I’ll be remiss if I did not mention that what drives them to this prestigious rank is steeped in tradition. The Shinto followers believe that any object, animate or inanimate possesses a living soul or spirit. Tradition, culture, heritage, religion permeate everything we see in Japan. I love how philosophical this is as well. One cannot co-exist without another. I’ll stop this drivel before I digress into my love of science and belief in God!

So 7 more days into the land of the rising sun, the heart of Ghibli (which I’m desperately trying to get tickets now), yummy ramen and calorie-laden desserts.