When you think of Bangkok, what do you picture in your mind? Ladyboys? The Hangover 2?
I did, too, to be honest, but that was before I actually came to Bangkok and saw it for myself.
When we landed in Bangkok, Matt and I navigated ourselves out of the airport, with some struggle of course, and found our driver (getting a free ride from our hotel was probably the most convenient thing ever). We followed him out of the airport and to his pickup truck in the airport garage. After loading our bags in the bed of the truck, we hopped in the backseat and took off.
The ride to our hotel was rather bland. We looked around us during our drive and didn’t seem to notice anything too earth-shattering, unfortunately. We only noticed that the billboards were significantly larger than those in America, everything was in Thai, and that everyone was driving on the left side of the road.
When we arrived to our hotel, we were ecstatic to finally be able to relax. Our driver helped us bring our luggage up to our room on the third floor using the tiny elevator that could only fit one person and two bags at a time.
After we dropped our bags off, we suddenly realized we were starving. Since the hotel didn’t have any food, we realized we had to go out and find somewhere to eat. So much for relaxation. We headed back downstairs and asked the front desk where we could get some food. Our driver walked us a block down the road and pointed us to a hole-in-the-wall with only a few shaky plastic chairs and tables and a small cart with a man cooking in it. Our driver spoke to him in Thai, then turned to us and said, “Spicy?”
Matt immediately nodded quickly since he loves spicy food, and I did the opposite. I hate spicy food. I think it’s awful. It just ruins all the flavor of the food and puts you in pain! It just ruins the entire eating experience.
Our driver spoke again to our cook and gestured for us to sit down at one of the tables inside. Looking around, we noticed this “restaurant” was actually partly a person’s home, probably the cook’s. There were only three more tables around us, but farther back in the small area was a young Thai boy, eating soup and watching some show on a small television with bunny ears. Beyond him were boxes of personal belongings (I saw some shirts and books poking out of one, but that was all I could really see), and a back room. The entire place was decorated with posters of the Thai King and Queen– and a few small geckos stuck to the walls. It turns out that there are a ton of places like this in Thailand, by the way. This isn’t rare.
When our food finally arrived, we noticed it was Thai soup, which looked a lot like the awesome Vietnamese “pho” soup. It’s a soup with a broth base, noodles, vegetables, and meat, usually either pork or chicken. I’m sure there’s some other random things in there too, but I’m no chef, so I’m not sure what they are. However, all I knew was that that soup was bangin’. I’ve tried pho before, but never Thai soup, and I was pleasantly surprised.
Matt, however, my spicy food lover, was struggling with his. Although he also thoroughly enjoyed his soup, he was dripping sweat and panting the entire meal. All he kept muttering between strenuous bites was, “I’ve had hot food before, but this is by far the spiciest food I’ve ever had.”
Good first impression of Thai food, I would say.
After we were finished eating and Matt’s head and shirt were drenched in sweat, we paid 70 baht (about $2.30) and went back to our hotel.
Of course, because of the lovely time change and jet lag, we slept a bit and woke up around 4 a.m.
A few hours later, we decided to explore Bangkok. After eating breakfast at the hotel (we only had eggs, toast, ham, which is just small hot dogs here, and fruit, which were all yummy), we asked the front desk attendant for help going about exploring the city. She handed us a map and told us where to go public transportation-wise.
First, we took the sky train that was less than a block away from us, which was awesome. The sky train in Bangkok is significantly more modern than you think it would be. Have you ever seen the subways in New York City? If you have, you know that they’re dirty, bumpy, loud, smelly, expensive, and difficult to navigate.
But the sky train in Bangkok? It’s the complete opposite. It’s above the streets, which automatically makes it cleaner and far less smelly because it’s not in the sewers like the subways in NYC. It’s really cheap (less than a dollar) to ride. The map is easy to follow and tells you the names of the stops, both in Thai and English. Inside the train is incredible, too. It’s air conditioned, it never smells and it’s always a smooth ride. They even have TVs!
Yes, so the sky train’s awesome. Anyway, we then got off and walked a block to the Chao Phraya River. We paid about 100 baht (about 3 dollars) each to take a small boat to the Grand Palace, or near it, at least. So, we sat on a small boat and waited about twenty minutes for other people to get on. That boat, by the way, was the shakiest boat I’d ever been on. I felt real nauseous until we finally made our way (slowly) across the river.
When we made it to the dock nearest the Palace, we got off and walked in the direction of the Palace. Not being able to locate it’s entrance, a tuk tuk (a small taxi with three wheels) driver said that he’d take us around the city for only 100 baht altogether (3 dollars)! Done and done. We hopped in and he took us to a few places around the city, including the Reclining Buddha, the Temple of the Bells (I think that’s what it’s called), and a regular Buddhist temple. He also pointed out other buildings, but we didn’t really understand what he was saying. Ah, well. He also took us to a tour place and Matt and I decided to go on an adventure two days later to pet baby tigers and see the floating market (don’t worry: I’ll post about that next time).
Temple of Bells (?) and view of Bangkok
Wat Pho (Reclining Buddha) lookin’ fine and some temples near it; Matt and I in a Buddhist Temple
He drove us around all day and we were so exhausted and did not want to take the same transportation back, so our tuk tuk driver agreed to take us back.
Did I mention that drivers in Thailand are absolutely terrifying? Yeah, they’re awful. They weave, cut each other off, inch in, and just overall suck. I’ve seen plenty of people driving on the wrong side of the road and on sidewalks just to beat traffic. And stop lights are oddities here, so that doesn’t help anything.
So, eventually we get back (at what time? No clue) and nap for a while. Then, we ended up waking up around eleven and staying awake until about 4 a.m. Thank you again, jet lag.
The following evening, we decided to treat ourselves to a nice dinner cruise. However, it didn’t turn out to be that nice. Although there was a buffet, it didn’t have any delicious food that we were hoping for (we were struggling to adjust to the Thailand menu). It all smelled awful, which we didn’t realize until a few weeks later was their chili sauce and that smell is literally everywhere, and made us lose our appetite. The ship also wasn’t as smooth of a ride as we had hoped and made us a bit sea sick. Plus, the singer for the evening continually sang “Happy Birthday” at least a hundred times. Overall, it sucked. Except for some of the views. Those were nice.
Our crummy cruise ship; some buildings on the river; Wat Arun temple; Rama VIII Bridge
The first three days were interesting, to say the least. Next post, however, will cover the very appalling and strange adventure to the Tiger Temple and the Floating Market. See you later, guys! Thanks for reading!