Well, it’s been a while friends. Like 242 days to be precise. Oops.
While in Australia, Carli and I started to plan a trip to go to Thailand and Vietnam for summer 2016. So after getting back home, I worked my ass off for eight months to save for summer! Obviously home life is never as exciting as traveling.. So I’ve been missing on here, but now I’m adventuring again! Which brings us to the title..
It is summer (yay!) and I’m blessed to say that I am currently in Thailand with my best friend, Carli! We have been here for fifteen days and we are already halfway done with Thailand! (Vietnam comes next, but we’re not there yet). Let me tell you what, Thailand is insane. I have never experienced such culture shock in the first fifteen minutes of being here as I have in entire trips elsewhere. We traveled from Milan, Italy to Bangkok, Thailand on June 20th. Our layover was in Amsterdam for two hours, which was not too horrible because the airport was insanely beautiful. I also found the most beautiful bathroom I have ever laid my eyes upon! Haha! Plus the airport is huge, so we had heaps of time to just roam around and check everything out. The flight from Amsterdam to Bangkok was eleven hours long.. To be honest, it was not the most enjoyable flight I’ve ever been on. We flew with KLM and the seats were so crammed, the food was pretty haggard, and the entertainment system was awful. I pretty much read a book the entire time and Carli watched like six movies. They didn’t even have somewhere to charge your electronics.. Which really sucks because we were landing in Bangkok at 9:00. So we were obviously going to need my phone for the day to get around. Overall it went by pretty quickly though and suddenly we were in THAILAND! Eek!
June 21st – The first thing to hit me was the humidity. That’s right, not the fact that I was in Asia.. But it was the humidity. My dear does it hit you. It is seriously like walking into a sauna and never getting to leave. Bangkok airport was actually really nice and we had no problems navigating leaving. We quickly found the exit and was hit hard with the humidity while looking for the taxi service. Wow! The taxi section is SO organized. I’m not kidding. Like we took a number and were put in a queue line to wait for our number. It was great! Especially after having to travel for eleven hours and getting zero minutes of sleep! The taxi driver understood very little English and I couldn’t understand him, so it was fair. Also, I guess I am back onto the left side of the road again! I didn’t realize Thailand drove on the left. When you get taxis here I was always warned to get a metered taxi so they don’t over charge you, but I am ninety percent sure that this guy managed to over charge us anyway. He used a meter taxi, but he seemed to take the longest way into Bangkok. I had my GPS going in the back and I was just watching him miss all the turns my phone was telling me to take. The hostel email said it should be shout 300-450 baht and it ended up being 740. Oh well.
We stayed at Niras Bangkok Cultural Hostel close to the famous Khao San Road. I seriously loved this hostel. It was a hostel with a full cafe downstairs. The iced lattes were bomb and the staff was even better. We checked in and they showed us to our room on the third floor. We were in a 6 female bedroom and it was so cozy. Sometimes you get hostels with heaps of beds all smashed together in a tiny room, but this one was great. There were 2 single toilets and 2 single showers and off in the corner was a shower and toilet mix. It was so clean too! I took top bunk and Carli took bottom and we showered and relaxed in our beds for a bit. (It was was like noon and we were dead). I think I got like a quick twenty minute nap in, but then hunger won and we went off to find some food.
Here comes the culture shock..
We walked outside and looked around. We didn’t know where anything was and the girl we asked at reception told us where to go, but we didn’t want what she suggested. We put the famous Khao San Road in my maps (luckily my phone works in this country) and we were off. We ended up going down this side road and wound up in some people’s houses and had to walk on a tiny ledge next to a canal to get to the other road. It was really smelly, there were rats and garbage was everywhere. This side road seriously hit us hard.. At this point we were pretty shocked and thinking “What have we done?”, “How will we survive 42 days in SEA (southeast Asia)?”. In our defense we hadn’t slept in over thirty hours and haven’t eaten a good meal in twenty. Hungry and tired are never a good mix. Don’t worry though, we eventually made it to Khao San. I found some mango sticky rice yum! We drank fresh juices for like 30 baht ($1) and finally were full. The food and fresh juice here is pretty much indescribable. I’ve never had such impeccable fresh mango off the street. We roamed around Khao San for a bit and shopped around. I found a cute surong for cheap and some flip flops for the showers here.
Did I mention traffic is insane here? Like people do not care if you’re on a crosswalk or not they keep going. Motorcycles bob and weave around everyone and it’s just crazy.
Back at the hostel we laid down for a while and eventually our new roommate came in! Her name was Kari and she’s from London, England! She seemed super nice and genuine! She went out for dinner and we did eventually too! We went back to familiarity on Khao San and I quickly found some delicious Pad Thai with chicken for 50 baht ($1.42) from a street cart! It was awesome because she cooked it fresh right in front of us! Wow, it was soooo good. Best pad Thai ever. I’ll probably eat it every meal and not feel guilty about it. We turned in for an early night for some much needed sleep. Of course I slept horribly though. We chatted with Kari for a bit and invited her to come with us to Ayutthaya (the ancient city filled with historical monuments about an hour north of Bangkok).
June 22nd – Since we all slept horribly, we ended up sleeping in and deciding not to go to Ayutthaya. Instead we went to the Grand Palace for the day! It was about a twenty minute walk and Kari joined us! We grabbed a latte from Niras and we were off! The walk was pleasant enough, but obviously very hot haha. Carli ended up slipping on this mud and when I tried to catch her I ended up burning myself on Kari’s cigarette. It was chaos and I didn’t even catch Carli, but she caught herself. We ended up laughing on the street for a solid ten minutes while Kari was apologizing profusely for burning me! It was such a time.
To get into the Palace we had to cover our legs and shoulders, so we bought skirts to put on and I rented a haggard shirt to cover my shoulders. I looked very fashionable. The Palace was beautiful and huge. It took us a solid 2 hours to get through and the weather was insanely humid and hot. The walls were shining and the statues were incredible. Such history and culture in one giant area. We got lucky because the sun was out and it made it that much better.
After the Palace we walked to the river so we could catch a river boat. We got some coconut ice cream from a street cart and it was delectable. It was coconut ice cream inside a fresh coconut, topped with coconut milk and peanuts. I died. I could seriously eat that all the time too! We were trying to figure out the boat situation for a while and it was so confusing. There were a million boats and no English. Eventually we found a boat that was going to Khao San, and hopped aboard. The river was huge and muddy. There were boats everywhere and I was amazed that no one was crashing. It’s worse than car traffic. We got off at the next stop thinking it was Khao San, but it wasn’t. Oops. We ended up right back by the palace and had to walk like twenty minutes to get the Khao San. Once we got there I got more pad Thai from the same nice lady! It’s seriously so good.
Back at the hostel we hung out for a while and relaxed after all our walking. We got a new roommate, Emmanuelle, from Australia (who has lived in Paris for the last fourteen years). She’s really awesome too! We also got two New Yorkers, Janet and Meena. They’re awesome too! We’ve lucked out so far!
For dinner i took a TUK TUK to China town with Kari, Carli and Emmanuelle! It was insane! He drove all over the place and I was on the ground! I loved it! For those who don’t know, a TUK TUK is like a cart on wheels with a bench in the back. Fastest way to get around Bangkok. Just make sure you come up with a price before getting in. We roamed around the streets and all got different varieties of food. I couldn’t find coconut ice cream so I didn’t get anything until later. We ended up at a SKYBAR called Grand a China. It was crazy! It was like the 25th floor and it literally rotated in the sky. We enjoyed a drink and looked at the crazy view of Bangkok. It took about 1 hour to almost get all the way around! Meena and Janet joined us about halfway through and we all just hungout! I bought some mango sticky rice before heading back to the hostel. We took a taxi back to Niras (all 6 of us in one taxi) and our driver was hilarious. He was singing and yelling pad Thai over and over again! Back at the hostel we got ready for bed and passed out for the night.
So far Bangkok was really awesome. At first it was a bit of a shock, but getting around and becoming comfortable was not a problem! It was fun getting to know people from our room and learning ways around Bangkok. There was this one girl at the hostel who literally helped us with everything. She was always writing stuff down in Thai for us and giving us directions.
June 23rd- Our supposed last day in Bangkok, we said our goodbyes to Kari. It was sad, but she’s going to come visit us in Manchester in the fall! We took a minivan to Ayutthaya (ancient city) and rented a TUK TUK to drive us around the city to see all the monuments. He was really nice and had a postcard to show us what place he was going to take us next. The ancient temples and city walls were crazy! So old and still standing. The laying down Buddah was HUGE and there was a Thai guy trying to sell us flowers to give to Buddah. When I politely declined he then called me Vietnamese? It was strange. We also saw the biggest Buddah in a temple in Thailand reaching at 9 meters. He was huge and very gold. At one of the buildings I tried to climb up the stairs, but had to quickly abort because it seriously smelled like dead people. It was awful. Carli was dying laughing at me. We said goodbye to our driver and rode back to Bangkok. It took us a while to find a TUK TUK driver who wasn’t going to charge us 400 baht because of rush hour. We finally found a guy to do it for 250. He was really awesome. He was singing and pretending to be a race car. Eventually it started to down pour on us and the driver was just laughing at us at we all three for soaked. At the hostel I showered and got into some dry clothes and went downstairs to enjoy an iced latte. They gave me a hot latte instead, but I didn’t want to have them remake so I just drank it. Come to find out, it wasn’t my latte. Oops! So I got a hot and iced one and they remade the girls hot one. For dinner Carli, Emmanuelle and I went to Khao San for some pad Thai and spring rolls. We went to a vegan place for Carli and met some weird French Canadian old dude who chatted us up for a bit. He was really nice but wouldn’t stop talking to us even when we tried to leave! I bought a new rhomper and Carli got a dress! Emmanuelle and I were on a hunt for coconut ice cream with the coconut milk on top, but no one had it. We had to settle for plain old coconut ice cream, but it was still amazing. Of course it started to pour on us while walking back to Niras and I got my toms soaked! When I got back to the hostel, I tried on my rhomper and found a giant hole down the seam.. Ugh. (Don’t worry though, I closed the hole with my handy sewing kit.. Only to find out it didn’t even fit).
June 24th – Today we were supposed to go to Lopburi, but we changed plans and ended up deciding to just head straight to Chiang Mai. We slept beautifully until 11:30, and checked out of our hostel. The nice girl (wish I knew her name) called the train station for us to make sure there were tickets left for us. Luckily there was because usually you have to book a few days in advance! Eek! We took a TUK TUK to the station, bought our tickets and headed to Khao San for one last meal! Our usual pad Thai lady wasn’t there so I just got some spring rolls instead and sat with Carli at her vegan place. I got some mango juice too! Fresh juice here is so good. We hung out at the hostel for a while relaxing and drinking coffee. I actually ordered an Oreo shake thing and it was so yummy! At around 17:00 we took a TUK TUK to the train station for our 14 hour night train to Chiang Mai.
I really liked Bangkok. At first I was a little skeptical because you never know with big cities, but once we kind of got a sense of direction and where to go it was fine! We met some really awesome people there and had bomb food! We have to go back to Bangkok one night before flying to Vietnam and we will definitely be staying at Niras again. It was one of my favorite hostels so far.
Trying to write in a journal, keep my family updated and do a blog is a lot of work. But I am going to try and be better about it because people kept asking me when I was going to write.