A month in Thailand – first days in Bangkok
2010 was a good year for me.
In February the decision was made, we will be going to Thailand. Plane tickets were bought and the long wait for the adventure of a lifetime started.
We applied and received out tourists visas in August, so all was ready for the departure in late September.
It was the first time I took a whole month off work to go on vacation, actually it was the first time I took a whole month off since I started working in 2000.
I was going to Thailand, and I didn’t know much about it, just what I heard or read from others. It was the land of smiles, where things were cheaper than in Europe and beaches were the stuff you see in movies. It was also the first time I was flying such a long way.
My other half suggested we buy backpacks for the occasion, which we did, and it was voted as best idea ever, we are still using them today and they will see many more foreign countries and airplane luggage compartments before they get retired.
We went to work the day we were leaving, ’cause it was an afternoon flight. The impatience and excitement of that day still linger.
After the long flight, swollen feet and awful food we were in Bangkok. We got outside and the humidity struck us at first, but you get used to it in about 15 minutes. It was raining by now. We found the bus that would take us to Khao San road, the Mecca of backpackers who come to Bangkok. The hotel was hard to find and directions were even harder to get. We eventually got there and couldn’t wait for a shower and clean clothes.
There is no rest for the wicked, we had to go and buy train tickets as we were planning to get to the island of Koh Tao in a couple of days. Finding the train station proved just as difficult as finding our hotel. Agencies will try to sell you the train tickets at a higher prices, but persevere and get to the train station. Here you can buy joint tickets for the train and boat to whichever island you’re going to.
While in the tourist area you are assaulted with offers, one sounding better than the other, once you get in the general population area you’re clear and safe to just meet the city. And what a city!
In Bangkok old and new live together in harmony and neither gets upset when the other takes over. People are just as varied as the seemingly chaotic architecture.
It gets dark at around 6pm in Thailand, all year round, about the same time, day and night have roughly the same length, we didn’t expect that and got caught by surprise. Darkness falls fast, there is practically no more than half an hour of twilight.
We got a taxi back to Khao San road from the train station. We were tired and starving, so walking back and getting lost again was really not an option at this point, also, taxis are not very expensive.
We bought a lot of street food as hunger needed to be addressed: pad thai (the traditional noodle dish), spring rolls, grilled corn on the cob and spicy beef skewers.
This was our first day in Thailand and I fell asleep like a baby.
We went to visit the Emerald Buddha Temple and the Grand Palace.
If you visit this area be careful as there are people who will try to scam you with food for doves and then take your money. Don’t accept anything they will try to give you and you’ll be ok.
The entrance to the temple and palace was 350 baht, if you are a tourist. Locals don’t pay for it. They will give you a shirt with sleeves if you are wearing a sleeveless garment, 200 baht are kept as insurance and they are returned to you when you give back the shirt which is clean and even ironed. Inside the temple there was a religious service and there are areas where you can not enter as a tourist.
The temple and palace are typical architecture and if you are in Bangkok for the first time it’s worth taking a visit.
By this time the humidity made my clothes stick to the skin and I was drinking water like a camel. I was still adjusting to the weather here.
After the visit we went to see the Chao Praya river, huge, deep and dirty, but revered among locals. People live by the river, off the river and even on the river. You will get assaulted with boat offers when you’re there so we moved on.
On the way back to our hotel we bought some Pad Thai, which was starting to rub on me. It’s simple, yet so tasty.
In the evening we went out on Khao San road and the food carts were in full swing. The adjacent streets are tiny and crowded but the local flavours are worth the visit.
I am a very sensible eater, if something doesn’t agree with me my stomach will protest immediately but, although I only ate street food my digestion was spot on. So go where you see the locals eating and you’ll be fine.
I needed sleep, so I woke up at 12 midday. This is the day we’re gonna leave for Koh Tao with the night train. We have sleeping car berths with fans as the air conditioning in Thailand must be set at 16 degrees Celsius in all places.
The Train Station is nothing grand; a huge waiting room with many chairs, a portrait of beloved King Bhumibol Adulyadej known as Rama IX and a small altar for prayers.