Bangkok | Cambodia | Vietnam | Laos
New York >> Miami | Portland >> Vancouver
Where To? Bangkok
How long? 3 days (don’t worry, I’ll be back)
Status: I’ve had two defining moments; the first, when I saw a cockroach and didn’t scream. The second, when I tried a green tea flavoured KitKat and actually enjoyed it!
13WoW – Bangkok
Day One: The Transport
On first arrival into Bangkok, my first impressions were “wow this is a big airport.”
My game plan for getting from the airport to the hostel was simply winging it. And that’s exactly what I did.
Having had a vague idea of how to get to the hostel by train I attempted to head for the correct line only to find it was closed and opened at 6am. So I sat on the floor along with a few other people waiting for 6am.
When it opened, I didn’t risk trying to get my own ticket at the ticket machines but instead attempted to pronounce the final destination to the ticket salesman. Showing him my instructions he seemed to recognise the stop and tried to tell me I had to change by pointing repeatedly to the completely foreign squiggles that supposedly spelled “Makkasan”.
It was 30BHT for my strange round ticket that resembled some sort of token but I didn’t realise that I would have to buy another ticket at Makkasan for the next leg. That was another 30BHT, so 60BHT in total which saved me over 300BHT compared to getting a taxi.
Getting to the hostel was little to no trouble at all as it was pretty much located directly outside of the Hua Lamphong metro. It was carrying my under 10 Kilo backpack that I struggled with, trying multiple combinations of fixing the straps. Still trying to figure that one out.
Day One: The Hostel
Arriving at the hostel, first impressions were very good.
Other than not being able to find the room because the key had the room number and locker number on it making me think it was 2703 not 270 – 3, I didn’t have any other trouble.
The room already had two people in it sleeping when I entered and it was a struggle to keep quiet as I tried to access the bits I needed from my backpack.
It was a mixed four bed dorm with handy curtains on the sides for your much needed privacy. It had a personal light and plug socket over each bed, a locker with a towel, shampoo and shower gel in it as well as a bed reservation sign.
The bed was clean and the aircon worked fine. It also had a shared bathroom with two toilets and two showers. A floor down was a communal chill area which I had a light doze in and on the ground floor were computers to check emails etc and a restaurant which I didn’t use but did borrow a bowl and fork from later that night!
It was here that I had my first defining moment, when I walked into the bathroom to see a big ass mother fluffing cockroach in the left shower. But I didn’t even scream! I just let him do his thing and I did my thing and I was like wow, living in peace with these creatures. I mean I never went in the left shower again but it’s a milestone.
It was also here that I tried a green tea flavoured KitKat! I think they just love tea here, white tea, green tea, yellow tea, any tea! It’s not up there on my all time favourite flavours but there were elements of enjoying it.
Day One: Hua Lamphong
After a couple of hours of napping, I forced myself up to explore Hua Lamphong.
Many people talk about the culture shock of visiting Asia, and how different it all is but strangely I felt at home as the smells, the people, the roads, shops and buildings all reminded me of Ghana, where I lived for four years of my life. It instantly put me at ease and felt like I knew how to handle myself in this environment.
As you walk down the road, the smells change quickly and drastically from “mmm I want to eat that now” to “I’m going to throw up” as you smell the amazing street food mixed with the litter clogged gutters.
The food is delicious but being careful not to just buy any street food, I chose the stalls that were cooking the food right in front of me. This is to prevent illness from insects landing on the food or dust from the road settling on it.
I tried a tasty Ramen style beef and rice noodle dish in a local cafe/restaurant where I sat on the end of a packed table opposite a teenage boy gobbling his up. The price for this dish was 45BHT equivalent of about £1.
On the way back I bought some mini crispy pancakes with some sort of sweet marshmallowy topping and what looked like caramelised grated carrot. OMG so tasty! That was only 25 BHT.
They sell all sorts of strange fruit along the road as well as lovely trinkets or your day to day necessities.
And then of course there are tuktuk drivers waiting along the roadside to pick up tourists like me.
TukTuks and Tours
One roadside tuktuk driver spotted me from amongst the crowd and could tell straight away that I was a tourist.
“Where are you going today?” He asked me, knowing full well he was about to tell me where to go.
I replied, “No where in particular, just having a look around”.
That’s when he whips out his little tour card and starts selling me a tour! After putting me on the phone to his two year old kid (don’t ask), he convinced me to go on an hour and a half boat tour for 1,600BHT, which was way overpriced. He agreed to take me there, wait for me and take me back for 30BHT. So I went! I knew it was a bad idea…
The journey was unique, having never experienced a tuktuk like that before, but it ended down a pretty dodgy alley where I was met by these men:
They insisted on having photos with me and who’s going to argue with a huge tatooed man with a pinky ring and a gold chain?! Pinky rings scream “Maffia” and gold chain shouts “Pimp”. I knew I was at high risk of being trafficked so I clutched my rape alarm.
Despite being intimidated by maffia man, I still haggled the price down but not very much and ended up as a sole passenger on this boat tour.
I would say, it was worth doing the boat tour but not for that price as I know for a fact that I could have had a 5hr day boat tour with stop offs for the same price. But it was still absolutely stunning and so peaceful as I felt the wind in my hair, my tatted and broken life jacket on, rape alarm in hand and mental preparations being made for all trafficking situations.
I admit, that I really did enjoy the trip and I’m glad I did it but there was a point where we had gone so far in one direction and I knew we were supposed to be turning back, that I thought “shit, I’m actually being trafficked to one of these run down metal barred buildings” and I tried to get wifi to send my location but failed. Thankfully it was a legit boat tour (or they just weren’t feeling very trafficky today) and I was returned safely to my tuktuk driver who was faithfully waiting for me!
Here are some of the stunning views along the river.
Day Two: G Adventures
On my second day, I slept in until around 10am, having been woken up in the night by new arrivals- one man who seemed keen to wake everyone up by coughing and yawning as loudly as possible!
After the success of using public transport the day before, and after being quoted 300BHT by a tuktuk driver who was definitely looking to make a quick buck, I decided to hop on the trains again to get to my check in location for the G adventures tour.
I got the route up on google maps which kindly did not have the English version of the station names on it and ended up back on the metro. I had to change in the same Makkasan location onto a new line and that’s where I spotted this barbie train!
Upon arrival, another tuktuk driver tried to charge me 30BHT to take me to my hotel but I knew it was only a 5 minute walk.
Crossing the roads in Asia is a skill learned from years and years of practice. So when I had a four lane road to cross with a backpack in front and behind, I had a bit of a problem. The solution? Follow a local!
I just found someone local and stood by them, when they crossed, I crossed! It’s magical, they just have a way of stopping cars with a wave of their hands.
After checking in and meeting a few of my roommates, me and another girl had a wander around Krung Thep Mahanakhon finding a huge shopping mall, buying some genie pants for 100BHT (equivalent of around £2) a scarf for 50BHT (£1 ish) and some street food on the way back for 50BHT (£1 ish).
Back at the guesthouse, I met my fellow travellers and more importantly our tour leader (or CEO as G calls them), Coco! What a babe!
Coco has definitely made the tour with his joke cracking, song singing, cheeky personality and his love for leading us astray as we got lost on the way to our first restaurant. But more on that later.
Next destination is… Cambodia!!