I have finally managed to take a breather from 24/7 exploring and sit down to write a blog post. As I said this is mainly to remind myself of everything that happened whilst we were away but feel free to keep up to date with our antics if you fancy. It’s already been three weeks, but these three weeks have flown by, it feels like we only left a few days ago. Everyday has pretty much been jam packed with maybe slightly too much partying, but a lot of exploring too. I have been trying to make note of every single little detail I want to remember but some of them I have written in a language that doesn’t even exist so I have no idea what I was trying to remember to blog about. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the first post about our international adventure and you’ll be glad to know Hannah hasn’t killed me just yet.
Before I left for Bangkok I had so many people tell me how incredible our adverntures were going to be and how much fun we will have, how I will “discover more about myself” which so far has all been very true. However no one told you how sad it was going to be to say goodbye to everyone and that it can all get a little over whelming. Saying that, after a couple of hours into my day that I was leaving I was super excited and had forgotten about how sad I was to say goodbye. It is the same now I am out here, yes I miss lots of people but it feels like home life has been put on pause, ready to be picked up again when we return. It’s a super nice feeling to have no job or any sort of adult life commitments to worry about. The only worries left over are about what flight to book next and whether you want to spend £2 more a night to have air conditioning or not. (Deffo worth the £2).
I was super lucky to be personally chauffeured by my Dad to Bangkok (pros of having a pilot for a Dad). Even now 22 years on, it is still really exciting to have your parent fly you, it’s easy to feel very smug walking through the airport next to the captain and all his crew. standing out like a sore thumb in day to day clothes next to their smart BA uniforms. The crew were super friendly and we had a really fun flight which then escalated onto a wild night on the busy streets of Bangkok (more about that later). Even though I am a film student, flying is pretty much the only time I actually sit and watch films without falling asleep. I managed to catch up on all the latest movies that I should be paying an interest in and cruise through 4 whole movies. Moonlight (amazeballs), Lion (even more amazeballs), Hackshaw ridge (half amazeballs) and Moana (half amazeballs, I think frozen was better). I took a pause to catch the Himilayers at sunrise, it was a little too cloudy but we just about saw them.
I’d been told before that Bangkok is a mad city and it can be a little in your face so not to spend too much time there. I think we spent just the right amount of time there (3 nights, one with Dad 2 with Hannah; she arrived the day after). It was a great starting point to the Thai culture and atmosphere. It really is a mad city with more tuk tuks (small rickshaw like taxis) than people and a constant hustle and bustle, mainly made up of people trying to sell you stuff for a “special price”. During my first impressions, the thing that stood out to me the most is how crazy the electricity system is there, a weird thing I know, but it stands out as one of thailands details to remember. Their are about 30 cables attached to each pylon that run across in spaghetti mazes over your heads in the streets. It’s like anyone can just come along and hook a wire attached to a paper clip and grab themselves some free electricity for their house. When you’re walking along the streets you can here the electrical currents, that’s how many cables there are. Second to that, the overall lively atmosphere with so many different people (and bugs) making their way around the city. We stayed in an area called Nana, just off to the right of the official centre. These streets were made up of lots of different restaurants, street stalls and the massage parlours …. it became difficult to work out who was offering you what, standard Thai massages or the “happy ending” kind, which I didn’t realise was even a thing until I wondered round the roads of bangkok with a group of men who had every other Thai massage parlour coming up to them trying to sell them a happy ending. It was hard not to have your eyes widened by Bangkok’s sexual atmosphere… casually outside McDonald’s there are dildos being sold in various shapes and sizes, right next to a vegetable stall… bizarre but hilarious.
I spent the first couple of days with Dad and the flight crew waiting for Hannah to arrive. These days consisted mainly of drinking Singapore slings on my own whilst they all slept and swimming in the rooftop pool of the fancy 5* hotel the crew get to stay in. I was incredibly lucky to have my 24 hours of luxury before the next two months of semi luxurious events.
My first evening of Bangkok was hosted by the flight crew who had been to Bangkok multiple times and knew exactly where to go for a good time. I have never really experience a “night out” with my dad, only to discover he is the leader of the party train and I quote is apparently “the most fun captain they have ever had”. It’s not every day you end up sharing a bucket of extremely alcoholic cocktail in th middle of Bangkok with your dad and his work colleagues. After having some local Thai food and experiencing my first taste of morning glory ….. (some funky Thai broccoli type vegetable in oyster sauce) we departed to Khoasan road … bangkoks busiest “tourist” road. Essentially a road filled with market stalls, street food, laughing gas balloons, BBQ scorpions and strong strong strong cocktail buckets. It was a great place to have an introduction to haggling. It became a game of how many buckets can you convince them to give you for 200 baht (about £9). I think the best deal we got was 3 huge sharing buckets for 200 baht… SUPER CHEAP DRINKS. Obviously one huge plus side to Thailand and it’s conversion rate … also very concerning for our livers. It’s been possible to get a 2 pint bottle of Chang ( I can only really compare this to the equivalent of UKs most popular larger) for £1. We did a mini bar crawl all together, danced with some other travellers before searching for a Tuk Tuk to take us home. Tuk Tuks are Bangkok’s most entertaining form of transport, also quite terrifying. Thailand’s road laws are just, there are none. I don’t think I have seen a seatbelt since I have been there, and traffic lights- the read light means nothing. It has become a case of, just walk across a door there is a big enough gap for you to get to the other side. Anyway, tuk tuks, they’re small motorcycles with two wheels behind them that create a rickshaw type carriage. There seems to be an unspoken competition between tuk tuk drivers as to who can make their ride look the coolest with various body paint jobs and disco light attachments. We grabbed ourselves a good deal, a 20 minute tuk tuk ride for the equivalent of 50p each, which in the U.K. Is impossible, especially after midnight. So a great price and he even gave us his AUX cable so we could play our own music. I found this far more entertaining than it should have been, zooming through the late night streets of Bangkok with my head stuck outside of the tuk tuk. I think Bangkok is 10 times more beautiful at night time. The disco lights of the tuk tuks and neon sales lights mixed with reflections off brightly coloured taxis creates a crazy atmosphere, emphasised by the continuous sound of cars beeping through calm road rage.
Brushing the hangover away with a morning swim dad and I hit up the local markets to pass time for when we needed to go and collect Hannah. The markets here are nuts. From every direction you have someone trying to sell you something that you definelty don’t need, but they try their up most hardest to convince you why this spinning hat for your phone will actually change your life. Saying that, you can also find some great deals and weird bargains. I managed to get myself a fish eye lens for my phone and a boom pole for my go pro for a couple of pounds. The markets in Bangkok are a great place to pick up some bargain clothing, shoes, gadgets and local garments. It’s also a a great place to get anything hand made and tailored to your size. Dad landed himself a great deal and got three shirts tailored to fit and delivered to the hotel for just shy of £30. We also tried some local street food, not the adventurous kind just yet, just some pthing tame to start off with. I was saving my adventurous palette for when Hannah arrived.
Our first travelling challenge was navigating Hannah from the airport a fair distance out of the city into the centre of bangkok with no form of communication unless she found wifi. Somehow it worked out and we found a very sleepy grumpy Hannah at a local train station. We had a goodbye dinner with Dad and then set off into the wild streets of Bangkok, crossing some cockroaches on our way to start the real adventure!!! This was the first dreaded feeling of oh I wish I had packed lighter. Just the fifteen minute walk across bangkok to our hostel was a mission, our brains rapidly thinking about what items we could ditch on the way. So a tip to future travellers, pack lightly. It will cost you less on flights and less of a workout on short distance walks in the 36 degree humidity.
Our first hostel was awesome. It has a nice rooftop garden and was also a cooking school. This meant we had to taste loads of different traditional Thai dishes over the first couple of days as our host was always cooking and keen for us to learn which was amazing. It really does hit your tummy with a shock however as you end up having curry type dishes for breakfast lunch and dinner. Our host Aliz and Hom hostel was a fountain of Thai knowledge and taught us lots about some Thai traditions and the passing of the most recent Thai king. It was amazing to hear about how much one person had effected and touched emotionally so many lives. The country is still currently in its year long period of mourning and you can really tell just by looking around how much they cared for and looked up to their king. Every shop and train station has a grand picture of him. People place food and drink at the memorial spots (A tradition I am still to learn about in the Thai culture) and have extended their period of how long they are to wear black as a sign of respect to the King. Aliz also helped us book some accomdation for our future stops and pick out an ethical place to meet the elephants. We spent our first evening in the hostel. Getting used to the time zone, which was super hard in the morning as it feels like you’re forcing your body out of bed at 3 in the morning, which you basically are whilst you are still jet lagged. The time difference is plus 6 hours here. Even so, we got ourselves out of bed and set out to explore bangkok. We had been reccomended a cheap transportation method that we were determined to find. The locals use the long boats to get around bangkok up and down the river. You can buy a ticket for 15 baht which is minimal pennies ad you get to see all of the touristy attractions for free from the river, including the grand palace. We got that near to Khoasan road and did some exploring around the city before naturally finding a place to get an alcoholic beverage after melting in the sun. It is fascinating walking around a different city during the day time off out of the centre. I love watching how other cultures go about their daily routine and releasing just how different we are. The thai people are so friendly, we had at least three people come up to us out of the blue (we clearly looked lost) asking where we were from and about our travels. We walked through a park where there was an outside gym which was a slightly odd thing to come across. It was jam packed with muscly Thai men clearly posing for the women hanging around the park. We also came across an outdoor gym dance class which was being held in the middle of a city square. Just these small things are so interesting to come across and discover different ways of living. One small thing I also found fascinating was the way they queue for the train doors to open. Somehow a whole wild city has learnt how to queue in dead straight lines split into four at the platform, but queuing in shops isn’t a thing at all. We were wondering why we got funny looks when we were standing ready to get on the way we would on the London tube, quickly to discover arrows on the floor telling you where to stand.
Another night on Khaosan road begun and Hannah found her first holiday romance in a rooftop bar. She wooed him by beating him at pool and somehow despite the German language barrier found a short term boyfriend for the trip called Jan. Or as she calls him … yummy Jan. We also met some Canadians who were knowledgable travellers, teaching us tricks of the haggling trade and secrets to get by getting cheap drinks in 7/11. 7/11 is the equivalent of the co op here except it also does the weirdest toasties and microwave meals for you as well. It’s the travellers dream for cheap snacks and drinks. The whole night involved us getting enticed into ping ping or lady boy shows or to eat scorpions and take laughing gas, you’ll be glad to low all were turned down apart from the scorpions. Our Canadian friend Chelsea gave one a go and said it was just like eating burnt toast. A successful first night partying in Thailand was completed with a cracking hangover for the day after. Hannah slept on the floor of the hostel all day whilst I watched Disney movies in Thai. Luckily out hostel was situated within a shopping mall (strange location) so we could run down the hall for hangover remedies. There was a Starbucks downstairs so I also got to see what my name looks like written in Thai.
Clearing out the hangover we had to get ready for our next chapter of our adventure. We were getting an overnight bus down to Koh samui… an interesting experience I will write about in the next blog :).
Congratulations for reading this far, apologies for the lengthy post, there is so much to remember!!!