The moment I walked out of the airport, I had to stop and take a deep breath. Not just because Thai air seems to have more hydrogen than oxygen, but also because I got smacked across the face by a thought, “I am completely alone, in a strange city of 8 million people, at the other end of the world, where I don’t understand the language and have no clue where to go.”

That’s how I found myself across from a bus stop but couldn’t cross the street to get to it, because of the non-stop maniacal traffic. As I stepped on and off the zebra crossing, threatened by angry honking, I found exactly what I needed – Tom and Tara. They turned out to be going in the same direction as me, and so I made my first friends in Thailand.

The Victory of Catching a Bus

Buses in Thailand seem to stop more wherever they feel like, rather than at the designated bus stops. So, it took us a while, but we finally managed to get one, arrive at our respective hostels, right across from each other, and treat our taste buds do Pad Thai – a mixture of several kinds of noodles, along with vegetables, eggs, or meat. A makeshift table, local beer, delicious food, and good company – the perfect beginning in any new city.

Red Lights Districts in Bangkok

 We wanted to start the exploration of Bangkok with something completely new and unusual, so we headed toward one of the 3 red lights districts in the city – Patpong. The idea was to attend one of the notorious ping-pong shows (no paddles involved here) but we got discouraged by the online reviews. Apparently, it’s common to be extorted for ridiculous amounts of money, after the show is over and you are trying to leave.

In Patpong, every few meters some vendor leans over and gushes and invitation to a ping-pong show. This made my newly acquired travel buddies wary, and I certainly didn’t want to go alone.

Through the open doors of bars, we could see go-go dancers and strippers, but most of them looked so sad and bored, that they completely dissolved what little enthusiasm we had for such forms of entertainment. At least there is no discrimination here – while on one street girls offer their services, the next is boy territory.

You’ll find groups of ladies, squatting on plastic chairs, waiting for their Prince Charming. Each group has their own, distinctive uniform, but shoes are a world of anarchy – from clear heels to flip-flops and sneakers.

Some of the love traders looked well underage, which might be something you want to be careful with, if you have your heart set on experiencing this type of Bangkokian tradition. If it’s not a must in your itinerary, then you can always buy some shiny knickknack, or the ever so popular tourist elephant pants, off of the night market in Patpong.

The Parties on Khaosan Road

Whenever I decide that I am going out for just an hour, or no more than two beers, I inevitably end up staying all night. This night was no exception.

Khaosan Road attracts backpackers like moths to a flame, because the entire place is one huge party and lots of deliciously fried food. Imagine the sleaziest bunch of bars you’ve ever seen, on steroids. Then add some fried scorpions on a stick, and sweet looking ladies, selling bracelets with mantras like “I love pussy salad” and “Rape me lady boy”. 

I’m a bit embarrassed to admit it, but I actually had a great time on Khaosan Road, even though it certainly lives up to its terrible reputation.

In truth, Khaosan Road has many layers. At first you just see happy tourists, dancing the night away with buckets of vodka cocktails in hand, the famous lady boys, free love, and light drug dalliances. However, if you peel the onion a bit more, you might reach a rotten center – child labor, locals who are humiliating themselves, and not-so-voluntary prostitution. It’s up to you what you will focus on and vote for with your money.

In spite of my prejudices, I did not remain indifferent to Khaosan’s pleasures and ended my first day in Bangkok with a smile on my face, dancing to a bizarre mix of One Direction and techno.

As it turns out, flirting with Bangkok gives you butterflies and terrifies you ever so slightly – just as I had hoped.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column]