Thailand: Shopping in Bangkok

I had a very well deserved sleep in a real bed, which I haven’t had the luxury of doing in a couple days, unless you count the slanted mattress in Koh Sok as a bed. I personally do not.

Ilona checks her Facebook, and finds that Carrie has sent us a message letting us know that she is in Bangkok after deciding to stay here another couple nights instead of going to Cambodia right away! We obviously meet up with her as soon as we are ready to begin our day, but not before I take a nice, very long, hot shower. I have not been anywhere close to truly clean in days, and it’s getting out of hand.
We all go for breakfast on Khosan just down the street from where we are staying and catch up on what we’ve all been doing in the last…3 days. We need to do a little bit of shopping, and go back out into the madness that is Khosan Road after a delicious breakfast. We are instantly bombarded with people yelling at us to come into their shops, men in the streets telling me that I need to buy a suit, fortune tellers saying that they know the name of my (non-existent) boyfriend, and street food stalls blocking any sort of path that we try to follow. After having been down in the islands for so long I feel like I have lost my immunity to such pestering, but all it takes is stopping in a couple stores before I get my barrier back up, and have my haggling skills at the ready. They do haggle in the islands, but not like they do in Bangkok. Here for example, I can be quoted 900 baht for an item, and walk away having only paid 500 by the end of it. Sometimes you really have to fight them on it, too. In the islands I would save a maximum of 100 baht if I was lucky, and sometimes not even get them to budge at all. It’s an adjustment to be back, but this is where I find the most fun anyway. I was born for busy cities.

After buying a billion tank tops and a few other Khosan items we all walk out to the main street to find a cab to take us to the Siam mall, which is a big shopping centre in Bangkok. I haven’t been to a mall in months, so if we’re being honest, I’m excited, but we’re only going so that we can look into getting Ilona’s phone fixed.
We arrive at the fancy, clean, and beautiful shopping centre which is still just as over populated as Khosan Road, but with more locals instead of backpacking tourists. Backpackers can’t afford to come here. Shoppers are wearing high heels, which I haven’t seen unless they were on the feet of a lady boy, since I left Toronto. I do not count the two inch wedges that the women from Beijing wore into the jungle. That was weird, but the ladies at this mall are wearing proper HEELS… in an appropriate environment. I see people walking around with Coach, Zara, and other American brand shopping bags. I use an escalator for the first time in a long time. I walk into actual stores, with set prices, different sized items, and real fitting rooms. Of course, I can’t even come close to being able to afford any of these things, it’s just nice to look around. The absolute best part about this mall is the food court, where they have a Subway!! They have some asian variations on the menu, but for the most part it looks just like what we have at home. I go all out and get a chicken bacon ranch sandwich with lettuce, tomato, black olives, and pickles. It’s heaven in my mouth and I almost die I’m so happy. I genuinely do enjoy Thai food, but I cannot deny nor suppress my extreme love for subway sandwiches. There is nothing that compares.

We eat after we’ve dropped Ilona’s phone off at a mock Apple Store. I was surprised to find that there is no Apple Store in all of Thailand, but this shop looks almost exactly the same, it’s only missing those signature immaculate white walls, floor, and ceiling. We need to leave Ilona’s phone with them for half an hour, which gives me just enough time to fully enjoy my Subway.
When we return to the electronics store, Ilona’s phone has been entirely restored and almost looks brand new. She receives it back free of charge which is the most incredible part, considering that this isn’t even a real Apple Store. How is that even possible? We’re not complaining, though. She is so happy, that we decide to celebrate by doing more shopping. Not in the mall of course, but there is a market outside on the main street of the mall, where they don’t just sell t-shirts and tank tops like on Khosan. The sidewalk is absolutely packed, to the point where I can barely get past some stalls because the volume of people is simply too high. There are numerous shoe stalls, where I find lots of cute and cheap flats that I could use in Australia, but all of the vendors look at me like I have two heads when I ask them for a size 40. The curse of being a tall white woman in Asia.
The market is packed with such a variety of things and my ADD kicks in instantly. I can’t help but be distracted by a sparkly top over there, and a fun spikey purse over here, while trying to dart through the crowd from stall to stall. I’m loving the change of scenery. I liked shopping on Khosan road but every tourist buys the same things. Here, it’s more genuinely where the locals go when they want a cheap top. No “I heart Thailand” white t-shirts here.
It’s like Kensington market… but not. Same same but different, really.

I love exploring different parts of Bangkok, because I’ve been here three times now but haven’t really had the chance to leave Khosan road. As much as I know that going to the mall is silly because I can’t afford it, it’s still a major part of what Bangkok is really like. It’s not all street markets and monks, and I enjoy reminding myself of that by venturing into the real city, not just roaming what they have sectioned off for backpacking tourists.

The traffic is absolute insanity, and finding a tuk tuk is easy but getting home takes forever. I’m happy we chose to take a tuk tuk instead of a taxi though, because this way I can still fully absorb the sights and sounds of Bangkok. One of their main roads is decked out in beautiful sparkling lights hanging from every tree and lamppost, which we assume was for the celebration of the King’s birthday just a few days ago. We try to ask our driver, but he doesn’t understand and gets extremely stressed out about our question so we just give up. I don’t really care why they are there, I’m just happy that they are. I try to take a picture from within the tuk tuk and fail miserably, but I’ll still post it.

When we get back to our hotel we do my favourite thing to do after a day of shopping, which is go through all the wonderful things you bought. Carrie goes home early because she’s tired and wants to have energy for tomorrow night, which will be Ilona’s last night in Thailand (for now), and Ilona and I get ready to go out on Khosan road for the third time.

We have loads of fun, and run into our friend Jake who we met on the slow boat to Laos, which is awesome. I love reunions! But I can’t help but feel like I don’t know what to do when I’m out and have no beach to go to after the bar. What will we do? It’s a weird feeling to know that I will be going to bars on Khosan Road, and staying there for the night. Another island-to-city adjustment, but one that I don’t mind making because Bangkok always brings on a good time.

Oh yeah, and I meet someone with a Mike Tyson face tattoo. Classic.

 

 

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