17 April 2014

Conquering the Ghost Tower of Bangkok // Sathorn Unique

After a horrendously long 14 hours bus trip from Krabi to Bangkok my new friend Mikkel and I arrived at 5 in the morning by the side of the road in a (at this hour) quite calm Bangkok city. Our hostel hadn't opened yet so we left our bags there and went for a little early morning exploring of the city. We saw lots and lots of skyscrapers when walking along one of the main roads but one stood out to us: the abandoned one that goes under the name Ghost Tower. It's actual name is Sathorn Unique, it's 49 stories high and apparently the construction of it didn't stop till they were 80 % finished in 1997 and the financial crisis hit Thailand. Since then it's pretty much been left alone - I guess partly because some believe it to be haunted by ghosts.

It might be because we only had one hour of sleep that night, but we were both pretty pumped to get up there to watch the city from above, so we ventured towards it only to find that the entire bottom floor had been fenced off. Luckily we found a hole in the fence and made our way onto the first floor which seemed like a place where people lived. We didn't think any further about this and went up two old, broken down escalators to the next floor. While it was a bit creepy it was also super fascinating walking around this concrete building, exploring what was supposed to have been a super fancy hotel with a really nice location as well.

Eventually we decided to explore the next floor but found that all the stairs had been completely bolted shut as well as any other possible way up there. Back on the first floor we noticed a man sitting next to a really feverishly looking woman on a bed, so we slowly made our way over there to ask for help getting further up the building. The thing is, though, they had absolutely no intentions in showing us the way. Instead the man got up and furiously started yelled "Get out, get out!" over and over, while following us to chase us out. I have to admit that I was a bit scared at this point and definitely just wanted to get out of there!

Still determined to get up there we searched for any kind of entrance only to find that we'd have to cross the roof of a 7 meters metal bridge approximately 20 meters above the ground from the, also decayed, car park next to Sathorn Unique. We made our way up to the bridge, and I think that's when it hit us how incredibly dangerous it would be to climb over. We took turns attempting but neither of us ever let go of the railing, and after about an hour contemplating whether or not to do it we decided to head back home, super bummed that we weren't even close to reaching the top.

After a quick nap at the hostel and some food we suddenly decided that we were going to give it another go. We simply couldn't leave Bangkok without having risked our lives just a little, so we went back there and the first thing we saw was a French guy on the way down from the top poking his head out the balcony from around 7th floor. He yelled at us to ask whether we wanted to get up there as well, so we told him yes and hoped he had a better entrance than over the bridge thing. Unfortunately he didn't, but seeing him walking across the bridge with ease gave the both of us the courage to give it a try ourselves. Pretty soon we found ourselves on the right side on the bridge, adrenaline pumping and ready to conquer the 49 floors to the top!
After a very sweaty trip up (mid day in Thailand just is a sweaty affair) we finally reached the top, and after just a bit more climbing we reached a platform from where the view over Bangkok city was no less than absolutely amazing!

7 April 2014

Tiger Temple Turning Monkey Temple

Back in Thailand I'd just been to an island called Koh Lanta and now found myself back on the mainland in Krabi. I'd just woken up and decided to spend an extra day there, and without putting on my shoes I stumbled down the stairs to the reception to book an extra night. The receptionist was busy with his phone and a handsome guy was waiting for him to finish. We chatted for a bit in English before the receptionist put his phone away and turned his attention to us. It turned out that guy, Mikkel, was actually from Denmark as well as myself, and we decided to go have some breakfast.

I found out that he was planning on going to Bangkok the day after, and as I had the same plans we decided to spend the day together and then go to Bangkok the following day. We didn't really know what to get up to in Krabi as it was quite a small town, and decided to follow the advice we'd been given by the receptionist: to visit the Tiger Temple just outside of town. Though we would have to climb 1236 steps, he promised us that the view would be worth it.

We were told that there would be monkeys, so upon arrival we bought a bag of dried bananas to bring along. We didn't have to climb more than a few hundred steps before we met the first couple of cheeky monkeys. It started out with them being all cute and eating one slice of banana at a time, but then this one little shit grabbed the entire bag and ran off and sat a few meters behind a short fence looking all victorious. At first we didn't say a word - just pure shock that such an innocent looking creature could be so mischievous - then followed hysterical laughter and then determination: we were going to get those bananas back! We quickly constructed a plan where I would distract the monkey by crumbling a piece of plastic inside a bag to trick it into coming over. I easily overpowered the monkey's intelligence, as it dropped the bag of bananas and came to check out what I had (all while Mikkel sprinted to grab the bananas). Though the monkey did get quite a firm hold of the bag we managed to save ourselves and continued our battle up the mountain with beating hearts (not sure whether that was caused by the escape route up the steep steps or the horrible danger we'd just been in).

We nearly held more pauses than we took steps, but eventually we did reach the top and when our lungs started functioning normally again we were able to enjoy the spectacular view.
It really was quite something so we took seats on a hard concrete platform and waited for the sunset. We'd expected the sun to set behind one of the many mountains in the distance, and while it decided to set behind a huge cloud instead it was still really beautiful! But when the sun has set it gets dark really quickly so we started making our way down where we were greeted by hundreds of monkeys! This distracted us so much that we as the only two people there missed the bus back to town. We hung around the monkeys for nearly an hour and didn't really realise that other people left right away instead, but with the help of a local guy and his truck we made it back home - all good.