Bustling Bangkok - Thai Adventure
By Eshan Shah
Last updated: 1st August 2014
Holy humidity. After a solid 21 hour flight from Canada, I’ve finally landed in Bangkok, Thailand! Navigating Suvarnabhumi Airport and registering with the nearest taxi stand (still inside the building) is really simple (the bill should be about 1200 Baht for an A/C Toyota Camry.) Dealing with waves of heat and noise at 1AM while trying to find the guesthouse on Khao San Road is a different matter completely. I’d strongly recommend booking a flight that’s compatible with the gap360 airport pickup times!
Thankfully at Orientation the next morning, I finally got to meet the familiar faces that I’d stalked on Facebook for the past week. We also met our guide for the next 3 action-packed weeks as he took us through a detailed breakdown of the trip and taught us some basic Thai phrases. With that knowledge and a glass of fresh guava juice, we were on our way.
Our first adventure started off in style with a long tailed boat ride along the cities waterways. This offered some much needed shade from the boiling Bangkok heat, and gave us our first look at life in Thailand. The houses we passed were built on stilts by the riverside and displayed various living conditions, most of which involved poor infrastructure and self-sustaining lifestyles. The journey was definitely still light and fun as we bumped into kids washing in the river and a bunch of local women selling various fruits off of their boats. It was exactly how I pictured Thailand.
We arrived at our first temple of many and got a short rundown of it’s history from JJ (our guide.) The ‘Temple of Dawn’ was beautiful and offered amazing views of the city (if you could manage the climb up the steep steps, which some women were actually doing in heels :o.) We followed this up with a visit to ‘Wat Po’ (wat meaning temple), which housed the largest Thai Massage school in Thailand! The main attraction at these temples has to be the various attitudes of Buddha placed around the enclosure, some of which are worth millions of dollars.
The style of architecture is much more resplendent than what I’m used to, and I’m awed by the amount of detail put into all the temple facades. Watch out though, the Thai are extremely strict about clothing in some locations, so make sure you leave the leggings behind and opt for a floor length skirt/pants and a tee shirt that covers your shoulders.
I also got my first taste of Thai food by the river (which is the most affordable!) with a delicious version of a veggie pad thai. The food here tends to be especially mild around tourist areas, so don’t be too worried about handling the heat (I even add chilli flakes to the food.)
We came back to the guesthouse in tuk tuks and spent some time getting to know each other before it was time to head out for the night. First on our list was the infamous lady boy show, a significantly more PG and much preferred alternative to a ‘Pingpong show.’ Thailand is well known for it’s cross dressing culture and although it may be a new concept for some, it’s an opportunity for you to expand your horizons and have some fun.
The show itself is basically a cabaret act performed by men and transgender women, and was honestly mildly entertaining for the price (a little steep.) After that we came back to the completely transformed mecca for backpackers that is Khao San Road. Gone were the quiet street vendors, and in were hundreds of street shops, clubs, pubs, and crazy/in your face marketers. The street is so filled with life and there’s something new happening every two feet, making it the perfect environment for pickpockets. Be wary of people bumping into you by ‘mistake,’ or those who try to distract you with their merchandise.
We definitely had a crazy first night filled with deep house tunes in amazing island style clubs packed with tourists, locals, and shirtless male models haha. Our stay in Bangkok was topped off with the perfect rest day to nurse our hangovers in airconned rooms before we were off on our very own private night bus (which was actually quite comfortable to sleep in) to the real adventure in Chiang Mai.