It took me a long time to realise that I was actually leaving home. My friends, my family, my job and everything ‘normal’ that comes with it. All that time spent researching the cities I want to explore, the numerous Amazon orders for bits and bobs I learned would be useful, the strenuous task of finding a suitable backpack (very important, more on this in a later post), the dreaming and the conversations I would have about my future adventure all made it seem like my journey was in the far distant future.
It didn’t truly hit me until my parents dropped me off at the airport! There is something about airports that brings out the inner child within us. Maybe it’s the sense of adventure, freedom and knowing that you’re pretty much at the point of no return (putting aside flight cancellations and any other annoyances) which shifts all the planning and dreaming you’ve done into an exhilarated reality. A few selfies and “stay safe” conversations later, I was ready to board my one way flight to Bangkok! Excitement overload…
Those who know me, know that I like to express my expectations on levels of standard. Err what? Some may call it complaining… but I assure you, it’s just me expressing my opinion. And I feel the need to express myself after flying with Eurowings, powered by Germanwings. Yes, the flight was cheap but extremely far from cheerful. Budget airline or not, an 11 hour flight should consist of at least one hot meal included in the ticket fare. Think we can all agree that’s not asking too much? Hot meals came at an astounding price of 15 Euros! Magda (lovely Polish girl I sat next to on the flight) and I eagerly awaited for the air hosts to make their dinner rounds as we were pretty hungry. When they finally got to us we were very bluntly informed that the hot food had run out. Run out where? Just try and picture my face at this very moment; unamused, tired, hungry and with the new found knowledge that I won’t be remotely close to any hot food, for at least another 10 hours, was not an Instagram moment I tell ya!
After some sleep, a movie, a couple of (cold) sandwiches and hours of giddy conversation we were finally in Bangkok! Whilst waiting in line at immigration, Magda introduced me to Troy whom she had met just before boarding our flight. He happened to be staying at the same hostel as me, woop taxi share! Saving money already (the backpacker mentality one MUST adopt). Immigration moved quite swiftly, I just had to hand over the arrival card which I had filled out on the plane and hold onto the departure card for when leaving the country. Just needed to collect our luggage and be on our way, but as I had feared, my bag hadn’t arrived. Luckily I was prepared for this and had packed a spare change of clothes and some toiletries in my hand luggage (top tip). I usually get excited when I see my name on a poster, but not this time [insert image]. The same thing had happened on my flight out to Buenos Aires a few months prior, which I was definitely not prepared for! I have such wonderful luck it’s unfair really.
I’d advise everyone to research the average cost of services and products before they travel anywhere, as you will most certainly get ripped off. The taxi journey from our airport to our hostel was expected to be around 400-500 Baht which is about 9-11 GBP (includes an airport surcharge and toll), our driver tried to tell us that since we are in a ‘bigger’ car (looked like a regular 5 seater to me) it would be 600 Baht. We handed him 500. People all over the world chat the most utter bullshit, from your family and friends to the strangest strangers. Just pretend you know everything and that you’ve been to the same place before and quote how much you paid last time. It (kinda) works.
We arrived at NapPark hostel at Khao San Road – where the parties at! I hadn’t stayed in many hostels up until this point, but NapPark is definitely one of the best I have stayed in. Cheap, great location, clean (no shoes allowed inside) and extra privacy with blinds separating the bunk beds. They also have a cute little mirror just above the beds.
The main thing that stood out for me in on my first visit to Bangkok is most definitely the street food. Pad thai, pad thai, pad thai everywhere! I couldn’t get enough, I think I ate pad thai for 3 days straight. Oh and did I mention how ridiculously cheap it is? Around 30 Baht (75 pence) for an egg pad thai – delicious for my tummy and my bank account. I have to admit I wasn’t too cultural on this Bangkok visit, as I was in no rush and assumed I would be coming back. One day we were approaching a temple close to our hostel when a man claiming to be a policeman approached us and informed us that the royal family are in town and that the temple is closed due to a special ceremony being held for them (Emm ok). He showed us something on his belt when he claimed to be a policeman, but I couldn’t quite see what it was. He kept on talking about the royal family and told us it was the Queen’s birthday soon (which was true) and that the government were subsidising tuk tuk drivers by paying for their petrol and food so renting one for the day would be super cheap! Only 20 Baht to be taken to 5 different site seeing locations. Wow, we thought, that’s so amazing! Before we know it he calls over a tuk tuk to take us around. You know that niggling thought in the back of your mind that’s saying.. hmm something doesn’t add up, surely this was planned? Well why in hell do we choose to ignore this!? Being British means we are too polite, and we like to believe the best in people, right? Luckily, our tuk tuk driver was amazing. In fact we are now Facebook friends now. He told us that in order for him to get a couple of stamps for food and petrol we just had to look around a couple of stores and tourist travel agencies but we weren’t obligated to buy anything. We appreciated his honesty and wanted to help the guy too. We visited a couple of small temples and spent quite a lot of time asking questions at the agencies, I wasn’t really looking to book anything anyway and luckily Troy wasn’t too tempted either. Mega rip offs were being offered and we weren’t having any of it. They were quoting around 350 GBP for travel to the north of Thailand, the islands and accommodation for around 2 weeks. Do your own research, book everything yourself individually and your pockets will remain much heavier. Even though most places would say the tuk tuk ride is a scam, it worked out pretty well for us.
After an extremely heavy night partying on Khao San road, where I discovered that pad thai tastes exactly same in the reverse (sorry, not sorry) I spent my 2nd night chilling in my hostel watching a movie with a delicious bag of seafood soup. Most things are provided in clear bags when getting a takeaway. I saw someone purchase a bag of coke at a juice stand – that’s coca cola poured into a clear plastic bag.
Day 3 and one of my besties Olivia’s here! We stayed in the Casa Nithra hotel for 3 nights. Roof top pool, excellent service, lovely food and only a 10 minute walk from the mayhem – living the life!
We finally managed to visit the grand palace which was spectacular! Remember to wear (or take with you) a t-shirt and trousers/long skirt that covers your knees. Olivia had to queue up to rent a t-shirt which bit into a large chunk of our time. Being British, we couldn’t stand the humidity so one site was enough for us for the day, so we headed straight back to the pool to prepare for dinner and a cray night out! Oh and our tuk tuk driver who drove us to the palace and was meant to wait for us had disappeared. Again this was going to be at a low price of 30 Baht with a few different locations. They will leave if you take too long, so arrange a time for when you will come back. We hadn’t paid him anything so again was a win for us!
Even in the midst of the craziness that is Bangkok, the Thai people seem happy and stress free, something I am truly envious of. Only one city in and I could feel myself falling; falling deep into the magic that is South East Asia.