I never thought the day would come that I could say I would be walking through the streets of Bangkok, Thailand, but here I am. Saturday morning my five girlfriends and I woke up bright and early to catch our 9:30 A.M. flight to Bejing to transfer to our destination. We had been waiting in anticipation for this day to come for many months now and when arriving in Bangkok it felt so surreal that our plans had actually come to fruition. After almost 9 hours of traveling time we couldn’t wait to find our hostel and put down our heavy backpacks. Stepping out of the airport we were quickly ushered to a taxi and we were on our way. The first surprise to me was that here they drive on the opposite side of the road and the steering wheel is on the opposite side of the car. It was my first time riding in a country with cars that way. The second surprise was that the cab driver spoke pretty good English. And the third surprise was that Bangkok was a way more developed and beautiful city than I expected. Having been to only developing countries in Central America, I was expecting bumpy dirt roads and slums. Instead our taxi drive to our hostel was all on highways and once we got off the main roads we were surrounded by gorgeous Buddhist temples on every corner. I was so relieved to see that our hostel was fairly close to the major tourist attractions, but also right in the center of the happening nightlife. Our hostel was located right off of Khao San Road, which is a major tourist spot. After being in Korea for so long it was a little overwhelming to see so many foreigners, but it was also a breath of fresh air to see the diverse groups of people walking around. The weather was perfect. I had been frozen in Seoul for the past few months so it was nice to finally thaw out and relax. We checked into our hostel called Nap Park. The lobby was nicely decorated with authentic Thai style and many hippie foreigners were lounging about and welcoming us. We went up to our room, which was clean and consisted of three bunkbeds. There was five of us so we knew there would be one more person sharing the room with us. (I will get to that a little later)…. Anyways so after plopping our bags down we were ready to explore a little. Even though it was after 9 p.m. we all had a second wind and couldn’t wait to be in the middle of Bangkok nightlife. We walked through the main streets and were surrounded by friendly faces, great smells of food, and music. I was amazed by the diversity of people and the atmosphere. Everyone is so laid back here. Many of the tourists are young hippies and backpackers, but there is also a large population of older couples and families just enjoying the atmosphere. The majority of people are Europeans because I believe they have holiday around this time as well. We sat down at a nice Thai restaurant and enjoyed the yummy food and people watching.
Getting used to the currency is a challenge at first and the exchange rate was really bad, but everything is so cheap here it’s amazing. You can get a great meal and a drink for the equivalent of 4 USD. The first night out was really nice and I was happy that everything exceeded my expectations. As you know nothing can ever be perfect. After going to bed around midnight we were all woken up at about 5 a.m. by what sounded like a fire breathing dragon snoring in the bunk next to us. We all started making comments and asking each other who could be making such a horrendous noise and we found out it was none of us. Then his alarm clock started going off on his phone and instead of turning it off he kept pressing snooze for the next hour. It got to the point where one of us had to move his phone closer to his pillow and yell in his ear a few times. Nothing worked. So we had to deal with the noise for another 2 hours before getting up and out of there. Luckily we wanted to wake up early to get a head start on the day. We never found out who the perpetrator was but we were happy to see that he left the next day.
Bangkok Day 2:
We were only staying in Bangkok for one more day so we had to make the most of it and that we did. We walked to the closest Buddhist temples and started there. The temples are absolutely gorgeous. They are ornately decorated with gold, jewels, marble, and beautiful mosaic patterns. Even though I don’t know that much about the Buddhist religion it was a nice cultural experience to tour the temples.
We happened to meet a Thai man who was happy to give us some advice on how to make the most of our day. We trusted his advice and went for it. In Thailand there is a mode of transportation called a “Tuk Tuk” that can be fairly cheap. The tuk tuk is like a motorized bike with a roof that sits three in the back. The minute I got on the tuk tuk and started zooming in and out of traffic I felt like I was really in Thailand.
We started our day with a river tour on a traditional boat. On the river tour we saw the traditional homes of the Thai people and we saw some floating markets where people are selling fruits and other food out of small canoes.
The people’s backyards are basically the river so it was really cool to see. After the river tour we walked around and grabbed some food while window shopping. We took another tuk tuk around the city. This time we paid the driver 40 baht, which is about 1 USD to bring us to 3-4 specific destinations and he waited for us at each destination. We spent about 4 hours going from temple to temple and seeing all the sights. It’s so hard to believe that in 4 hours these drivers only made $1 from us but in Thailand 40 baht can buy a meal so that is a lot of money to them. After a full day of walking we were ready to take a nap. We rested for about an hour and then headed out to the streets again. We ate some more delicious Thai food and went to a nightclub that was completely empty but played good music so we had a drink and danced together. In Bangkok there are hundreds of people on the sides of the street with chairs waiting to give you massages. I opted out for the time being, but my friends all got foot massages for a half hour for about $2 each. I relaxed and did some people watching and socializing with some Europeans. It’s so interesting to be around so many different languages and people from so many different backgrounds. Most people speak English as a second language so it was great to make friends from all over the world. Bangkok was such a diverse, laid-back, and beautiful city. If you ever plan on traveling to Southeast Asia Thailand is a must!