Land of Elephants


The bus drops us off on Koh San Road around 7 am. The main tourist street in Bangkok is quiet for a moment, only briefly, for there are a few enjoying Singha beers for breakfast. By 9 am the street is bursting with life, vendors selling cotton pants, same-same t-shirts, embroidered bags, hippy paraphernalia. There are countless pad Thai carts with piles of noodles, bags of fruit cut in exotic shapes sold with spicy pink salt, smoothies, Thai tea, potted meat on sticks, places to get henna tattoos and more permanent markings, dreadlock and braiding stations, every type of massage imaginable.

I drop my backpack in the lobby of a hostel and head out to explore. It is sticky and humid already, the traffic increasing rapidly on the main streets. Thailand I love you so much but Bangkok, you are like an armpit. Not my favorite place to be. I hide in a blessed vegan café for a bit, enjoying some relatively expensive and delicious Western food. I indulge in kombucha, beer for yogis, until the travel agencies open to purchase a bus ticket to southern Thailand. Back-to-back night bus travel may be bad for circulation but great for saving on a place to crash. The ride will be another 12 or so hours.

So what does one do while killing time in Bangkok other than eating, perusing the markets, eating some more, and visiting Wats? Fish foot massage of course!

One sits on a cushioned bench as tiny little fish in tanks eat the dead skin off ones feet and ankles. It is totally strange feeling, somewhere in between being tickled consistently for 15 minutes and being nibbled by a cat. Or something like that. Hundreds of fish are crawling on me.

Unfortunately as I remove my legs I notice that my feet have ballooned double in size, my ankles like elephant trunks. I am either allergic to the fish or they are averse to my skin. It is not pretty and I pledge to stick to traditional massages in the future.

Alas I continue cruising the streets before heading to the bus area where I meet an awesome sister from Iceland, my first friend from this seemingly exotic location. She will too be heading to Bali at the end of the month. It seems like many of us are being called to there at the same time. Bali Spirit Festival at the end of March? Yes, please!

The bus is incredibly comfortable with blankets and TV. We watch the final Harry Potter before stopping a few times. The drivers, along with the majority of the passengers, love to smoke. Some strange behavior occurs during a few of the stops, bags shifting to locations they shouldn’t be, but I am so drowsy I mind not.

Beach, here I come!

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