In December, I was lucky enough to spend almost a month in one of the most magical places I’ve ever been. The trip was truly life-changing, and I recommend anyone interested in traveling to add Thailand to your list of places to visit.
Here is how my trip went:
2 days in Bangkok–> 2.5 days in Phi Phi (with a night in Phuket)–> 2.5 days in Chiang Mai–> 2 weeks in volunteering in Chiang Rai- ->2 days in Chiang Mai–> Home for the holidays!
Part one- Bangkok- where the world’s your oyster.
After 20 hours of traveling, I arrived in Bangkok around midnight. I went to my hotel, and after getting situated, finally went to sleep around 2am. Since this was my first time traveling to Asia, I was traveling alone, and I didn’t know the language, I decided to hire a personal tour guide from a company called Tour with Tong. To have a personal tour guide for the day and get around using public transportation, it was $40 plus the cost of her/my transportation. Lou Lou was my guide, and she showed up at my hotel just after 8am. We spent the day taking Bangkok by storm. We started off going to Wat Pho Temple which ended up being across from my hotel. It was beautiful with almost 400 buddhas, including the reclining buddha. The grounds were very peaceful and calming, and Lou Lou taught me a lot about the buddhist beliefs and way of life and the history of Thailand. At one point, I purchased some coins, made a wish, and put them into the 108 bronze bowls along the wall- the 108 stands for the number of positive actions and symbols that brought buddha to perfection. We also went to visit the Grand Palace, which was pretty spectacular, and some other temples across the river and in Chinatown. We then went to the Sukhumvit neighborhood and I got to see one of the famous malls that was huge!! People that live in Bangkok spend lots of time in indoor malls since it’s so hot out. We ended the day at the famous Chatuchak market, which made for an amazing shopping experience, then I somehow found my way back to my hotel riding a bus (was definitely by luck that I found my way back).
The next morning I woke up and had the day to myself. I walked to Wat Pho and had my first Thai massage. They are known for being one of the leading Thai massage schools in Thailand- it was great and painful at the same time. I then hopped in a metered cab and headed downtown to go see the Jim Thompson mansion. He is known for bringing the silk industry to life in Thailand. My cab driver ended up dropping me off at the wrong place even though I had the address written in Thai by my hotel. After asking several “security guards”, students, and other passerbyers on the street, I hopped on the train and finally found the Jim Thompson House down an alley. We got to tour his house and learn about his mysterious disappearance. It was cool to see the Thai designs and beautiful gardens he created right in the middle of town. I then went to the MBK mall and walked around a bit, then headed to Lumpini Park which is kind of like Central Park- very relaxing and beautiful. After all of the hassle getting around, I decided to head back to by my hotel to get ready for my night out. This is when things got interesting. I hopped in a tuk tuk- showed him on a map where I was going and we negotiated a price of 70 baht which is what I had paid the taxi to get there. I hopped in and after about 5 minutes he stopped and said we were there. I knew we were still far from my hotel, so he was lying to me. I tried telling him it isn’t where I was going, but with the language barrier we were having trouble communicating. Another tuk tuk driver came up who spoke better English, and said that there was too much traffic for him to take me at the price we negotiated. I ended up walking away and getting in a cab. The cab driver told me he wouldn’t take me either because of traffic, so I was SOL. I walked to a hotel and asked someone there what my options would be. They told me to walk to a water taxi to take home. After walking for what felt like an hour in the sweltering heat in the direction I was pointed, I saw no water taxi. I saw one of the “security guards” on the street and asked him. He told me to hop on his bike and that he’d help me. Riding on the back of his bike might have been one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. He was weaving in and out of traffic, and there were several near crashes. He took me to a “water taxi” that said it would cost 1500 baht to get home. I didn’t have that kind of money on me since everything was so cheap in Bangkok, and it was the end of my day. At this point I was almost in tears and just wanted to get back. I told the “security guard” I needed public transportation and something cheap. He ended up then taking me to the real public water taxi which cost 40 baht, and demanded I give him 40 baht. Needless to say, I ended up making it back to my hotel and taking the water taxi to go out on the infamous Khao San Road for a bit that night before I had to leave in the morning for my next destination. I loved Bangkok, and I’m happy I went, but it would be much better with a little less swindling..
Pad Thai and fried rice for breakfast- I can get used to this!
Touring around with Lou Lou
Wat Pho Buddhas, temples, putting coins in buckets for good luck, and Grand Palace
Animals for sale at the Chatuchak Market
The Jim Thompson House was beautiful- MBK mall
Guy passed out in Lumpini park with a huge lizard crawling on him
My face after an afternoon of getting swindled
Ending the Bangkok leg of the trip with Khaosan Road
Overall I really enjoyed Bangkok. I had the opportunity to learn a lot about the way Thai people live, and how mindful they are. The city was hopping and there was tons to do. After an afternoon of struggling to get around, I was ready after two days to head to the Phi Phi Islands for a few days of relaxation!