We had another great weekend in Bangkok, but this time it was even better because we were celebrating my birthday! I pretty much look forward to my birthday all year and get very excited when it starts to get close. For those of you that know me well, you know that I also try to extend my birthday as long as possible because really just one day is not enough.
One of the few areas we hadn’t explored in Bangkok yet was the Lumpini area, which is famous for the boxing matches at Lumpini Stadium. Our plan was to spend the night there and go to a boxing match Friday night for my birthday. We had booked a hotel earlier in the week – the first one we’ve found in Bangkok for less than $25 per night. We spent Friday morning checking emails and relaxing and then went on what’s becoming our usual route to the city. We took the free van from our campus to the Mega, the free bus from the Mega to the BTS, and then the BTS to the city. This time though, we had to switch from the BTS to the MRT to get to Lumpini (FYI, the BTS is above ground like the El in Chicago, while the MRT is below ground like the NYC subway – we have the best of both worlds here, I guess:).
We got to our hotel (which was very hidden, I’m actually surprised we were able to find it), dropped our bags off and then immediately headed out again to find Lumpini Stadium and buy our tickets for later that night. We had read online that the matches go from 5-8 and then again from 8:30-midnight. We decided that we wanted to go to the matches starting at 8:30 so we had some time to eat dinner and explore the area beforehand. When we arrived at the stadium though (at around 4:30), we were told that tonight, for one night only, there would only be one set of matches and they were starting at 6:30. Well, that kind of screwed up our whole plan! Things like this happen to us all the time in Thailand.
We decided we’d think for a little about what we wanted to do before buying the tickets. We headed over to Lumpini Park (probably the biggest park in Bangkok) and set off to explore. We quickly realized that it reminded us a lot of Central Park, especially the fact that there were so many runners (Uncle D and Uncle Mitch you’d love it!). We started walking around until we saw a big crowd of people standing around and taking pictures. We went to check out the situation and saw a huge lizard/dinosaur looking thing hanging out on the grass and chowing down on an equally huge fish. We joined all of the people taking photos before moving on.
Next, Dave found another one of his favorite outdoor gyms, but this one was more of a huge, outdoor weight room. He actually said that it was pretty much the best gym he’s ever seen – and the best part is that you can workout for free! He was in heaven. We spent about 45 minutes at the gym (Dave working out and me watching the huge Muay Thai fighters train) before continuing on.
The next thing we were searching for in the park was the big Night Bazaar and beer garden. We asked several people where to find it and they all told us it was closed. This was surprising because we had read about it in our Lonely Planet book from 2012, which is always very accurate. Everyone told us that the night bazaar had been closed for two years though. We were bummed, but all was not lost – the beer garden was still open! We found it and sat down for a couple of birthday beers while we discussed our plan for the night.
After much deliberation, we finally decided that we’d skip the Muay Thai fight and wait to go on a night when it started later. Instead, we would do something else that had been on our Bangkok to-do list for a while – see a sex show.
After we finished our beers, we headed back to our hostel, showered, changed and had a few drinks with the alcohol we’d purchased on our way back. Our hostel had a pretty nice rooftop, so we hung out and drank up there.
We decided we’d head to Soi Cowboy in Sukhumvit, which we had heard was famous for its sex shows. We were really excited to go out (other than the fact that with my cute skirt and tank top, I was rocking my tennis shoes – on our walk to our hostel earlier in the day, one of my flip flops broke and the only other shoes I had with me were my sneakers! Oh well. I made sure any pics that Dave took of me were only ankles and above!). We got to Soi Cowboy, did a lap up and down the street and then found a place to grab a bite for dinner. By the time we were done, we were ready to sex show it up. Only problem was that every time we stopped at a bar and asked for a “Ping Pong Show” (which is what the sex shows are called here), we were told they didn’t have any. I guess Soi Cowboy is more of a street filled with strip clubs, rather than sex shows. We had almost given up, but finally we found one and went inside. They told us the ping pong show would start in 20 minutes, so in the meantime, we (Dave) got to enjoy the girls dancing (wait… whose birthday celebration was this??). I had never been to a strip club though so it was pretty interesting. All I kept thinking was that I hoped none of my students were strippers, but the students at ABAC are generally all pretty well off, so I didn’t think I had to worry too much.
Finally, the ping pong girl came out and she did all of these crazy tricks with her…you know (I will censor in case there are any kids reading). First, she smoked two cigarettes out of it (at the same time), then she blew a horn out of it, then last and most impressively, she shot darts out of it and popped balloons that were hanging around the room. At one point, she even had some of the men in the audience hold a balloon and she shot them right out of their hands. It sounds pretty dangerous, but boy could this girl aim! It was very impressive.
Dave had gone to a sex show when he was in Thailand years ago and he had actually seen two people having sex. We think they’ve done away with that here, but we did see two girls going at it, which I guess was close enough. Again, whose birthday were we celebrating??
We woke up in the morning and once again were very hungover. This weekend, however, we were somehow able to get ourselves up and together and go for a nice run in Lumpini Park (unlike last weekend where all we could do was find two of the biggest omelets and eat our hangovers away). We had a nice run (and Dave had another nice workout at the gym), grabbed a coffee and a snack and then waited for our friend “The Prince” to call us.
Cristian was on a layover in Bangkok on his way back from Australia and we met him for lunch in the Silom area where he was staying. He greeted us with big hugs and a bottle of wine that he’d brought all the way back from Australia – Yellow Tail. We were very thankful because wine is one of the only expensive things in Thailand, so we haven’t had very much of it. It was so much fun spending the day with Cristian. After lunch, we headed to Khaosan Rd. (again) to run an errand with him and then we all came back to Siam because Cristian had never seen the amazing malls there. Dubai is probably the only place in the world with bigger malls than Bangkok (and he’s a prince) so he wasn’t very impressed. By the end of the day when we said our goodbyes, we were already talking about the next time we could see each other. Dave and I both confirmed how much we liked Cristian, how happy we were that he wasn’t a robber (as I had originally thought), and we both said that we think he’s someone we will likely be seeing and traveling with for years to come.
We took the van back to ABAC from Siam and had a great/relaxing wine/pizza/movie night (wine courtesy of Christian and pizza from the Pizza Company and their amazing 2 for 1 promotion running through November, and the movie courtesy of the Bangkok street markets). Unfortunately, I fell asleep during the movie but I think it’s just because I was so excited to wake up the next morning on my birthday.
Ah, November 3. My favorite day of the year! I woke up to a nice little birthday song from Dave and then called my parents so that they could wish me a happy birthday too (it’s weird that I now have to call people on my own birthday and also weird that it was still Nov 2 for them when I called).
We relaxed in the morning, went swimming and then got ready to head to the Mega for the day. The Mega is the huge mall about half way between our school and the city. Since we had spent Friday and Saturday in Bangkok, we decided to stay a little closer to home for my birthday. Dave told me I could pick any restaurant I wanted for my bday dinner (well, actually, it was a bday Linner because the van back to our school stops running at 8 and we had to do some grocery shopping before we came home, so we decided to do a combo meal and eat at 3:30. Another reason we did this – well probably the main reason – is because they don’t sell alcohol in Thailand between 2 and 5pm. Since about half of our grocery list was alcohol, we had to wait until 5 to go get it, again hence the linner).
Anyway, after scoping out all our options, I picked an awesome buffet for my bday linner (buffets are very big in Bangkok, we see them everywhere!). They had everything from salad to sushi to meat to pasta to thai food to dessert and more. We used up our entire allotted 90 minutes for our meal and made 5 trips to the buffet. Our courses went as follows:
1. Salad bar, sushi and sashimi
2. Pumpkin soup, fresh seafood (calamari, shrimp, mussels and fish), Thai apps (pork buns and gyoza)
3. Ribs, steak, pasta carbonara, beef stroganof and more fish
4. More ribs, pasta arrabiata and a sample of all the main Thai dishes that we pretty much skipped bc we eat Thai food all the time (eg, curry, etc)
5. Dessert (tiramisu and pineapple)
When we were finished (and by finished I mean we had to leave because our time was up) we were stuffed. It was such a great meal! But, before heading to the grocery store, we stopped and picked up a couple of cupcakes to bring home with us for dessert (red velvet and carrot cake plus a candle).
We did our grocery shopping, headed home, and then spent the rest of the night video chatting with our family. It was such a great birthday treat to get to see everyone. I guess we were a little too excited though because while we were talking to Tracy and Chris, our older Thai neighbor knocked on our door and told us to shut down the party. I tried to explain to him that we definitely were not having a party, it was my birthday and we were video chatting with our family from America. He didn’t really care what we were doing though, he just wanted us to shut it down. Oh well!
It was a great birthday weekend in Bangkok. It was a little weird to be celebrating while it was still November 2 for everyone at home, but luckily I got to talk to my family on my actual bday, and even more, I had Dave to make it a very special day for me. And best of all, he even said that we could celebrate on Nov 4 too because that’s when it would be my birthday at home (either that or the fact that he thought Nov 4 was actually my bday for about a year:). Either way, can’t complain about having 2 days of birthdays!