Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Food stalls, Cobras, Durians and other Bangkokian miracles...

If you guys already thought that I got kidnapped by reckless Bangkokian ladyboys, I can reassure you that luckily nothing whatsoever happened to me (yet). Rather I took the opportunity of the last two days to explore the urban jungle that Bangkok is.

What miracles may lay beyond the overcrowded immigration desks?
But first let's travel back through time for about 3 days from today. So after I enjoyed an awesome bar of camel milk chocolate in my first stopover in Doha, Qatar, I finally reached the Thai capital by Sunday at 6 PM local time, after a total flight time of about 11 hours and an additional latency of 8 hours in Doha. But of course my humble self can't be arsed with a few hours of travelling so I helped myself with a selection of awful Hollywood movies and deep naps. The Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport itself was huge though, much bigger than I expected. Crowds of Arabs, Indians, Asian and of course Western people overcrowded the waiting queues in front of the immigration desks. So here goes another 40 minutes of waiting, getting your backpack, withdrawing some Thai Bhat and calling a Taxi.

Food stalls in Chinatown, Bangkok
After finally getting to the Hostel and spending my first night there, it was finally time to explore the city. What stroke me immediately was how easy it was to get your hands on food in this megalopolis, in each corner you were looking at there were food stalls and people literally eating on the street. In fact a paradise for such a gourmet as me! It doesn't matter if you'd like traditional Thai food, Chinese, Indian, Western, whatsoever, you can have it all for a tiny fraction of the cost you would pay in Europe. Street food in Bangkok is actually pretty hygienic too, as these dishes are rapidly made with fresh ingredients, just on the spot. You can see these old ladies washing the vegetables and chopping them, absolutely transparent customer policy I'd say (something I can't always expect from a Western restaurant).

Isn't something fishy about this dinner? Actually yes, it's fish. And hell, it's delicious. And for about $1 it's cheap too.

Time for some healthy fast food!
Of course I didn't back off from eating some of the more exotic stuff out there. I mean how about some grasshoppers for example? They might turn off your appetite at the first glance, but they actually are really good! Imagine some crunchy chips (or crisps if you're a Brit) with a toothsome, greasy sauce and then you've got grasshoppers. OK, think away the long legs, the antennas and those cute eyes, but you get the idea. Next time I'll move on to those maggots, nothing as good as a little snack for on the go!

But so far nothing beats the awesomeness that Durians are, one of the most infamous fruits around this place. A Durian is basically a pineapple-looking and spike-covered husk with a delicious flesh inside. The Durian is widely spread, sold and eaten throughout South East Asia and is regarded by many people as the "King of Fruits". So if they're so good, why the notoriousness? Because those things stink like hell, disgusting Western People to their utter sickness. At this point I'd like to post a quote from Wikipedia:
«The smell evokes reactions from deep appreciation to intense disgust, and has been described variously as rotten onions, turpentine, and raw sewage. The persistence of its odour has led to the fruit's banishment from certain hotels and public transportation in Southeast Asia.»

"Why, just why do people hate me? Because of my spikes, my delicious flesh or... my fragrance?"
After savouring a few slices of Durian I can't understand how somebody in all worlds would drag the Durian's name through dirt. In any cases one of the most delicous, if not the most delicious fruits I've ever eaten!

Sightseeing didn't get the short end of the stick of course. During my two days here I've already wandered through the northern and southern parts, doing and seeing everything I want to. Again a huge advantage of travelling alone! On the ways through Bangkok I came across many monuments, funny people, temples, animals and of course food stalls (but I guess you already know that, don't you). One of the most memorable thing I did was to visit the Snake Farm of the Thai Red Cross. This facility's purpose is basically to not only exhibit snakes from Thailand and around the world, but also to educate the Thai people and their foreign friends about the danger and also the miracles of snakes and their venom. Visitors can observe those numerous cute reptiles in their compounds, and information signs spread all along the farm give insight into snake studies and the treatment of snake venom.

The highlight although was a little snake "show" where visitors were shown how to handle several harmless and highly dangerous snakes. At the end you were offered to take a Burmese Python over your shoulders, which was highly exciting of course (those things are actually pretty sticky to be honest). And that dude below grabbing that King Cobra bare-handed definitely deserves a prize for being an awesome lad!

Grabbing a King Cobra... like a boss!
 Of course I made shitloads of more photos, but I won't post all of them here. Expect to see some more in the next blog entry, probably with less text than this time.

Stay tuned for more!

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