What I learned my first day in Thailand…
In August of 2017 I had the wonderful opportunity to visit Thailand and Indonesia. 2 places that had been on my bucket list FOREVER. I went with one of my oldest friends and we tried to book everything and pay for as much as we could before leaving. It’s my standard plan so I don’t come home and have to spend the next few months paying off the trip. So we headed off on July 27 on Etihad Airlines. I’m a frequent traveler so I feel confident saying that Etihad does things RIGHT. Larger seats, great in flight entertainment, and the best airline food I’ve had (it’s still airline food, but nothing to do about that). I highly recommend. My layover was in Abu Dhabi for a few hours, then on to Bangkok!
Yay! We’ve Arrived!
We pulled in about mid morning on Saturday. By the time we landed I was feeling pretty queasy. Too many hours in transit, jet lag, not to mention the fact that Bangkok does not make a very nice first impression. The taxi driver who picked up up from the airport tried to convince us that paying a flat fee would be far less expensive than running the meter. A common scam in Thailand, but one we had been warned about. Some arguing later, he ran the meter and what do you know?? It was half the price as the flat fee. You are responsible for paying tolls and fees associated with leaving the airport. That’s a standard policy. They’re not lying when they tell you that. It was 90 and sunny. We couldn’t check in to our hostel, so we dropped our luggage off and went exploring. We saw a lot of people, a lot of traffic, and a lot of garbage lining the streets. The air smelled terrible. Every breath was like inhaling hot garbage. We tried to visit the Grand Palace but there was a mourning ceremony happening for the late king. Thousands of tourists and locals alike dressed all in black were filing into the Palace. Not wanting to be disrespectful, we headed down the street instead to Wat Pho. PS- speaking negatively about the royal family can land you in jail. You do not want to end up in a Thai prison. Just keep your mouth shut. But, What Pho- A beautiful and HUGE complex of Buddhist Temples. It hurt my heart to see so many disrespectful tourists blatantly refusing to abide by the conservative dress code, and climbing all over the statues. I wish I had been feeling better so I could appreciate and explore more. As it were, I did a quick breeze through while Mikki was exploring and then sat on a shaded bench next to a napping kitten. We crossed the street to eat a light lunch at a Thai-Italian restaurant. I could do little more than nibble on the table bread. Next to us sat an Asian man who was American; Californian actually. He was so nice and friendly. What is it about traveling that makes us eager to connect with people?? He rightly warned us that our plan of exploring the city was far too ambitious for our first day. And the best thing we could do was rest. It was no hardship to take his advice and head back to our hostel for a 5 hour nap (oops!) where we finally started feeling like ourselves again. We stayed in D Hostel. A wonderfully modern looking building tucked in the middle of a bustling part of the city. A rule that was taking some getting used to was removing shoes before entering the building. You needed to do it for every residence, and religious building. The only downside? Our room was 4 floors up so we would definitely be getting some exercise. The ground floor had a large table with games, and some smaller comfy sitting areas. There was even a pool table. The second floor had a mini kitchen, and an eating area. There was a continental breakfast included. It was nothing fancy but was certainly enough. There was this wonderful glassed in room with pillows and poofs spread across the floor with a tv and bookshelves full of books. Our room held 4 people, and we took over a bunk bed. Mikki on bottom and me on top. The other two beds were empty while we were there. They had lockers in the hall to keep all your valuables.
Um, I definitely came to Thailand for the Pad Thai, So cliche.
Revitalized and STARVING we hunted down what’s said to be the BEST Pad Thai in the city at Thipsamai. Well, it turns out that’s not such a unique state of mind in Thailand because we joined a line of about 100 other people. The line stretched all the way down the street, but it really only took us about 45 minutes to snag a little outside table. So delicious!! It was shrimp pad Thai cooked in shrimp oil and wrapped in a scrambled egg. They also have a to go line that is much shorter. If you see a great long line, walk up to the hostess where there will probably be a much shorter line and just put in an order to go. Lesson Learned! Afterwards we took a Tuk Tuk ( a kind of motorized bike with a cart on the back) to a flower market that flourishes only late at night. It was massive and chaotic and I loved it! I love taking the tub tuk’s. The breeze blows away all the noxious smells of the city even though I’m sure we’re paying 100% too much for them. The difference is only about 2 or 3 American dollars. Now it’s about midnight and we’re taking a ferry tomorrow to the floating market. Stay tuned for our floating market adventure, Chatuchak Weekend Market and how we almost were stranded on the wrong side of the city at midnight because we were too stubborn to knowingly be scammed. Oh! Can’t forget how we ended up realizing we were staying in the middle of a Thai prostitution neughborhood. Sheesh
So to sum up what I learned:
1.) Fly Etihad! (ps- I don’t receive any money from them I was just a really pleased customer.)
2.) When you get there, JUST REST. You’ll have plenty of time to do everything else.
3.) It may be cliche, but you still have to get Pad Thai. But don’t wait on the long line, get it to go!
4.) You’re going to pay too much for taxi’s. Just accept it. That being said, you should still try to get them to run the meter. When you’re getting frustrated because you know you’re being scammed, just remember, It’s likely only 2 or 3 dollars to you. To this persons family, It could be the difference between eating and not.