It’s been a whirlwind few days, what with my (almost) 24 hour journey from London to Bangkok (via Mumbai), our mad few days in the city and our last minute change of plans that sees us reversing our planned itinerary and heading for northern Thailand right now and then Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia before going south to the Thai Islands, Malaysia and finally Singapore. This is mainly due to the fact that we/I overlooked that when you enter Thailand by land you only get a 15-day visa, whereas right now we have a 30-day visa (as we entered by plane), so we decided that we should take advantage of these extra days and stay in Thailand for a bit longer. The new plan also means we can go pretty much straight to the islands when we re-enter Thailand in about a month, giving us more time to lie on the beach and chill before we’ll need to head to Singapore.
But enough about that. I know you all just want to know about Bangkok and my first impressions upon starting this epic journey. Maritza and I arrived fairly late on Sunday night, managing to navigate the rail system from the airport quite well…it was only when we got out of the station at our final destination, Sala Daeng, directions to the hostel in hand, that we got a teeny weeny bit lost, definitely not helped by the heavy bags on our bags and the Night Market stalls lining every square inch of pavement. But somehow we eventually got to the Smile Society Boutique Hostel and found Rosa asleep in our lovely little room.
After a quick catch up we headed out for some food and found a delicious noodle place just down the road. We weren’t staying in the most popular of tourist areas, but there was plenty to see and do, especially at night time, when it really comes alive with locals and (a few more) tourists alike.
The next morning was mostly spent wandering around a little aimlessly, as we were prettyconfident we would be able to walk to the Grand Palace and Khao San Road, but after quite a while and a trip through Chinatown and a pretty incredible street market, we realized that we had further to go than we thought. So we jumped in a tuk tuk (an experience in itself, what the price haggling and leaning to one side so the thing doesn’t tip over at every corner) and set off for the Grand Palace, an attraction that definitely lives up to its name. It’s a stunning piece of architecture, immaculate and beautiful, down to every last detail, with glimmering mirrors and bells that chime in the wind.
Our next port of call was the ever popular tourist strip of the Khao San Road, full of market stalls, bars and restaurants and an endless number of hostels and hotels specially catered for the backpacker. It was pretty hectic, with taxis and motorbikes, tourists, locals and many a stray dog crowding the street, but in actual fact I quite liked that hustle and bustle of it all, to be able to sit and people watch, soaking up the fact that I really was there, in this place that I’ve only ever seen in movies.
We decided that we wanted to chill a bit yesterday so had a lazy morning in before making our way to Hua Lamphong train station to buy our tickets for the train to Chiang Mai. Unfortunately the train was completely fully booked so we had to settle for the bus (which is actually faster than the train)…we’ll be boarding our bus today and arriving in Chiang Mai 9 hours later, coveniently just in time for this big festival that’s going to be happening there. With tickets sorted we headed over to the shopping/financial district of Silom, where there are countless malls and restaurants to suit every mood. Every mood except ours apparently…it was all so westernized and HUGE, and in our mucky traveling state, we felt pretty out of place and underdressed, and to be honest it just wasn’t where we felt like being – I could have been in England or the USA! So back to Sala Daeng we went in a tuk tuk, for food and fun strolling around the markets (and avoiding the many touts trying to get us into their club’s sex shows!) on our final night this crazy city.
We had about two and half days in Bangkok, and although we definitely didn’t see and do everything on offer, I do feel that we got a good overall experience of what this city is like. It’s not somewhere I could stay in for a long period of time but it was definitely a great place to kick off our adventure…and the Thai massage we got on our last morning was to die for!