What we did in Bangkok:
– Loi Krathong festival
This is celebrated in certain parts of Thailand. In Bangkok people put lotus-shaped boats made out of banana trees, banana leaves, and flowers into the river. It is to symbolise letting go of any past negativity. In Chiang Mai it is celebrated by sending lighted paper lanterns into the sky. We bought them for between fifty cent and one euro twenty-five off ladies selling them near the river. They were beautifully handmade. We lit the candles and incense and a man put them into the river for us. It all seems lovely but we did have trouble keeping the candles lit and as soon as they hit the water they went under the dock we were standing on and didn’t drift out until I couldn’t see them any more as I had originally imagined.
– Got a tuk tuk
We avoided the first tuk-tuk driver as he said he’d do the journey for thirty baht (seventy-five cent) with just one stop off on the way (this is so they can bring you to a scamming gem market). Our other tuk-tuk journeys were crazy. They weaved in and out of traffic and wiggled across the road to play up to our screams of delight (fear). Some came with disco lights and rain covers, on others you just got wet.
– Attempted to go to the Grand Palace
Myself and my two travel buddies, along with our Ozzie friend, Odette, headed to the river to get a boat up to the Grand Palace. The boat journey was a boat journey. We walked around the entire walls of the palace to get to the entrance and put on our temple attire (scarfs, long trousers, shirts) only to find that it was closing at 1pm on this particular Friday. So that was that.
Instead we sat out of the oncoming rain in a cafe across the road and sang along with the radio (the owner delightedly filmed us).
– Koh San road market
Against what other backpackers originally told us, we didn’t stay on the touristy Koh San road. Instead we chose the Suhkumvit area (we followed the well-travelled Odette to here). We were happy with that decision. Koh San road is busy and jam packed with people and shops and stalls and hostels. We just browsed the market and added to our trinket collections.
– Got hit with water three times in one day (just me)
First was from a completely ignorant ‘farang’ who threw water over me from a moving tuk-tuk. Second was from a monk who was blessing people from a truck. I got the secondary splash of the water dong. Third was from a drain or something.
– Said a teary goodbye to Aisling
After a month of travelling with Aisling we had to say goodbye to her so she could go back to Amsterdam to start her new job. Naturally we spent our last night in a hotel with free water, tea and coffee, a lovely hot shower, and big soft beds. Not before having dinner in a German restaurant with Odette and a few glasses of wine.
– Public transport is easy to do in certain parts. Beats the crazy back log of traffic in the evening.
– Scooter taxis are mad. The ladies sit crossways on the back, don’t hold on, and lean over with their phone and bag in hand. You will also see entire families on the same scooter. Toddler standing at the front, father driving, child jammed in the middle, and mother at the back.
– It can be hard to walk around Bangkok with lanes coming in all the directions. Asking people on the street doesn’t work either. They either don’t speak English (and don’t understand that you want to go to the place you are pointing at on the map) or they want to send you to some other place. Some fella was trying to send us to a government building!
Having never been to Asia before this trip, I wasn’t quite sure what I was expecting from Bangkok. Probably something more like what you’d find in India–dusty streets, crazy traffic, and lots of hassle.
I’d been told that no one would really want to stay longer than two days and the list of scams and tips to getting around was quite long. As a result, I was pretty nervous about hitting Bangkok.
The first thing I remember was coming along the outskirts of the city, after being woken at crazy o’clock on the night train, and seeing crowds of people at train stations and lots of cars whizzing about before 6 am. The next were the backs of shanty tin houses and shops with satellite dishes attached!!
It turns out I wasn’t as overwhelmed by Bangkok as I thought I would be. I guess it just depends on what you do, where you stay, and how you travel around.
I got a random hug and kiss from a smiling Thai man on Koh San road.
It can’t be all bad.