Tips on surviving Bangkok~

Trip Start Jan 15, 2010
Trip End Feb 15, 2010

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

I have returned to Bangkok after successfully making it again on standby out of Ko Samui on a full flight...another wonderful gift given to me on this journey. I met another employee of Canada Airlines standing by as well, he was waiting in a special line and I joined behind him, and asked if he was flying standby as well, and asked if he was a pilot...he chuckled and said, I guess its that obvious? All of my airline friends out there know exactly what I'm talking about, you can pick them out a mile away, pilots that is....sorry its true. He was traveling for a  couple months by himself, got to give him credit for that, but he was not backpacking,,,,he was staying in style the whole way one of the reasons he came to Ko Samui for their nice resorts. We sat by each other on the flight and it was so interesting comparing stories and tales of our travels, and they couldn't be more different. Right away I noticed we had little in common in our travel styles when he wouldn't even eat the food from the cute little snack box that was served to us by Thai Airlines, saying that he didn't trust the freshness,,,,Hee, hee, boy would he be no fun being adventurous on a trip. Listening to his tales were enlightening, his budget was about $75- $100 a day, mine was around $35...I laughed inside listening to him talk about how he just couldn't get consistent service anywhere, and thought back on my rough bus ride and the hard wooden benches on the boat ride thru Laos...I know that everyone has different travel styles, and mine wouldn't suit many...but I wouldn't have mine any other way, and would have never experienced all the memorable things I did on this trip by staying in places that have room service. I'm glad though that everyone doesn't like traveling my way, because if they did, then my way would be so cheap, and it would be awfully crowded if everyone else was there as well.
Its always great coming back to Bangkok...this city definitely grows on you and there is so much to do, that it would take many visits to do it all. I seem to just need a break in the beginning , and the end, and sometimes in the middle as in this trip , just to relax, get a great massage ( or two) enjoy some great street food, and watch all the travelers pass by while enjoying a cold Chang Beer at a street cafe here off Khao San Road. I'm fascinated and intrigued by where they've been , where their off too, and wishing that my journeys weren't ending and I was traveling for longer.
Bangkok can be too much for many for very long, so I have some great Traveler tips for surviving Bangkok....

1. Its best to only stay for a few days , this city is loud and busy, and it can be overwhelming and too much after much more than that. There are so many great day trips right outside of Bangkok, don't limit yourself to just the city.
2. Bangkok is Hot, its always Hot, sometimes even hotter, especially in the summer, this is the place to splurge for air-conditioning, its a must...don't even think about wearing or bringing a pair of wont want to wear them.

3. Locals are sometimes nice, sometimes not, try to not take it personally, ( which is hard for me sometimes..) but they work ALOT, and they deal with us tourist alot...and sometimes were stupid,,,so give them a break if they aren't always smiling and so happy to see you.

4. Try the street food, its cheap and really good. It you feel unsure, try it in popular areas such as Khao San Road, go to carts that everyone else is going to, they probably now which ones are best, ( watch where the locals go) if in doubt of freshness, skip the meat, I order Pad Thai noodles with veggies and eggs for 25 baht ( about 75 cents) and you can get a beer for less than a dollar as well. Save your money for other things, once you eat cheap, its hard paying much more for food thats not as good in a restaurant!

5. Try riding public transportation, its cheap and a great way to mix with the locals and see different parts of the city. I went over to the other side of town today and rode the local boat back to my side of town for only 20 Baht! And saw some great local neighborhoods along the river, it was great.

6. The traffic here is crazy,,,,all the taxi and tuk- tuk drivers are just as crazy, I think they get a kick of trying to freak you out by driving fast. I had one say to me once as he slowed down briefly and blew thru a red light..." In Thailand, red lights are merely a suggestion..." Yikes!

7. When crossing the road, the cross walks mean nothing...the best advise is follow a local crossing, walk fast with conviction...don't ever stop and get scared, keep moving forward, they will stop for you, at least its worked for me so far.

8. This city has so much diversity, it has old and new, something for everyone, enjoy all that it is, its a great dose of reality for you to appreciate somewhere more quiet that your probably heading. There are very poor districts right next to the really nice ones, this is an important part of the life in Asia, everything isn't always "nice" its good to apperciate all that it is, its all part of visiting foreign countries, all the difference in how people live is good to see. It will make you never complain again about not having the latest addition of that new IPod at home.

So my last day in Bangkok, I decided to do something different, and with it being Chinese New Year, and a Monday, alot of Temples and popular tourist spots were closed, so I headed out to The Aquarium here in Bangkok, the largest one in all of Southeast Asia.
It was big, and luckily I got there early, because later it got really crowded. It had a glass tunnel that you could walk thru and large sharks swan all around you. They also had glass bottom boats that took you across the water of the large tanks. It was attached to a mall, and the largest food court I have ever seen in my life, simply amazing.
I also treated myself to a Fish Spa Massage. Its all the rage in Japan, and its popularity is spreading all over Asia. Its a spa that has a fish tank full of this little fish that are known for gently " "nibbling" all the dead skin off your feet and the bottom part of your legs that you place inside the tank and enjoy the sensation, that is suppose to be a massage, but it does tickle! It was the strangest feeling ever! I am not sure if my feet feel any cleaner, but the fish sure did seem to find alot to nibble on when I had my feet in their tank! I have been traveling for a while, the little fish must love Backpackers :)
After enjoying my local boat ride back to my part of town, I have a relaxing night planned of a nice hour Thai massage, some last shopping, and that Chang Beer on a street cafe, watching all the other travelers arrive wishing that I could be one of them, getting ready for the start of my adventure instead of mine coming to an end.

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Iris on

Hi Beth,
I am so glad you had a great trip. Thanks for sharing your adventures it sometimes made me feel like I was there with you. I have always done the backpacking and I as well would not have it any other way. Traveling like we do is such a different experience than the one "your pilot" had.
In Bangkok have you ever been to the Chatuchak Market? It's a great weekend market where you can really buy whatever you can imagine. If you have not been you should check it out next time. I love Bangkok as well and especially all the great street foods. I can't wait to go back.
I hope you had a great flight back to chilly Chicago; what a culture shock.

elizacass on

Hi Iris! Im so glad to have you following along, I wish I was there still traveling, next time I will try going for more than a month! I have been to the weekend Market, a couple of times, an amazing place to walk around. I will always include you in my travels, and love having you along. Take care :)

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