Bangkok.A charming city filled with engine exhaust, construction, noise everywhere, lady boys charming you on the corners, and delicious (although sometimes iffy) street food everywhere. Oh, what an exciting place it is!
My first taste of Thailand started off as I got off of my plane and proceeded towards customs. There were no lines, only people standing in one noisy and crazy mess. I looked around at all of the signs, one saying to check in before customs, another saying customs. Where do I go? What do I do? Which line? Where is the line? I thought to myself, wishing that my friend whom I was meeting there later was already with me. My normally cool and calm nerves getting more and more anxious as the amount of people around me grew thicker.
I walked around looking lost for a few minutes before seeing someone with blonde hair and fair skin. I know, I know, how dare I seek out the westerner but after trying to talk to someone who didn’t know a lick of English, and my Thai not much better, it was better than nothing.
“Excuse me, do you speak English?” I said, hoping that he knew at least some. “Yes I do.” He said with a smile. He definitely had an accent but it was a good sign! “Oh, good!” I exclaimed. “Do you know where we’re supposed to go? I saw a sign back there that looked like we needed to go there but then there’s this sign with nobody here but it says custom…” I said gesturing in front of us, feeling just as lost as I looked. I normally hate looking like a totally lost person but he seemed trustworthy, another young backpacker.
“This is the right gate.” He said laughing a bit at my hopelessness. “First time in Bangkok?” “Yes”. I said, thankful he was only laughing at me. We chatted a bit as we went through customs, where are you from, where are you going, etc. then we were off on our separate ways. One of my favorite things about travel, meeting kind people in your times of need. At least most of the time.
Not wanting to deal with public transport and get lost, I got a taxi and headed off to my hotel. A cute little place with gorgeous rooms, sitting in the middle of what looked like a not so great neighborhood. The contrast between inside and outside was baffling.
Kids played barefoot outside in dirty streets, cracked pavement, weeds and bushes growing wild as they please, trash lay all around, the buildings looking shabby, while inside the hotel it was modern, clean, and very westernized. I suppose they had their target audience.
There are a few things I learned about Bangkok:
- Never get in a taxi without the driver turning on the meter.
- Never let people tell you about shortcuts by way of someone driving you via taxi, boat, etc. It’s a scam.
- Basically, people scam you a lot.
Now I’m not saying it is like this everywhere but never have I been anywhere in which people scammed me so freaking much. Perhaps I am just a fool, a western fool, but hey, it got old fast.
But DO NOT let that deter you. Bangkok is unique in its own way. It may be a little dirty, a little rough around the edges, but it’s that dirt and grunge that give it it’s charm. Take a tuk-tuk through the streets and fall in love with the way your hair blows in the wind as you weave in and out of traffic. Go to a restaurant or try some street food that absolutely blows your mind. You won’t find quality food like that most places. Go to one the markets and find all sorts of clothes, trinkets, souvenirs, for super cheap and be amazed at how much there is. Go to a temple and be in awe at how breathtaking it is and how well respected they are. Get some coconut milk ice cream and indulge in its sweet delicious refreshing flavor.
There is so much to Bangkok and I only got a taste. A few days is not enough. One day I’ll be back to explore it some more, until then, I can only reminisce.
How did you like Bangkok? Let me know in the comments below and until next time happy travels everyone!