Well! I just got back from one of the most amazing trips of my life. For the past 2 weeks, I’ve been hanging out in Thailand with monkeys, elephants, and pigs. I saw beautiful sunsets on beautiful beaches. I swam with fish. I froze my butt off under a waterfall. I met incredible people from all around the world.
Before I moved to Korea, a trip to Thailand was at the top of my list of places I wanted to visit. Because I didn’t want to go alone on my first trip since the big move, I decided to sign up for Thailand on a Shoestring with G Adventures. This was one of their YOLO trips — a trip designed for the younger crowd. A lot of people warned me that I’d spend more money by signing up for an organized trip versus going to Thailand alone, but I didn’t care. And I don’t regret signing up. I thought this was a good way to ease into solo travel. Plus, I had a great group to hang out with whenever I wanted.
In honor of this trip, and to preserve my own memory of it, I thought I’d write and post pictures about it for the next coming weeks. I would rather not overwhelm everyone with 16 days worth of pictures, so I’m going to take it day by day. So many things happened within a 24 hour period that I can only begin at hour 1. Here goes . . .
The first day was spent traveling. I left Seoul around 11 am and arrived in Bangkok around 7 pm. I was a little worried I wasn’t going to make my flight because of a delay in Korea. Fortunately, my layover in Taiwan also had a delay so I was good to go!
My first thought upon arriving in Bangkok was, “This place is soooo different from Korea!” The people were very relaxed. There were actual colors in the airport and on people’s clothes. People wore tank tops and shorts. The temperature was warm. Trash littered the streets. I can only describe the environment as exotic.
I was also somewhat lost upon arriving. The train I was supposed to get on was broken down so I just went on a random one and hoped for the best. However, I soon discovered that navigating the subway station is SO EASY in Bangkok. There are only 3 lines, compared to Korea’s million.
I arrived to the Bangkok Centre Hotel around 8 pm, where my tour leader picked me up to bring me to dinner with my group. I was surprised to learn that I was the only American! I’m so used to being around Americans here in Korea that it was strange to meet people from places like Sweden.
The dinner was a little disappointing, as I heard many good things about Thai food. It was just okay to be honest. But, I stayed hopeful.
After eating, and though everyone was jetlagged, we went on our first ever tuk tuk!
Our destination was a place called Khao San Road, otherwise known as “Backpackers Ghetto.” This place was ghetto indeed. It was lined with bars, nightclubs, street vendors, and cheap tattoo parlors. People danced on the streets. Sketchy signs highlighted exotic dancers and other risque entertainment. It was exactly what I imagined when I thought of going out at night in Bangkok.
My group stayed at a bar, but I wanted to explore. Thankfully, some other girls wanted to walk around with me. After walking the street for a few minutes, we ran into a vendor selling bugs . . . to eat. I jumped at this opportunity and bought a scorpion. The “food” was absolutely not tasty, though not gross either. It was just . . . eh.
The rest of the group got excited over this as well and had a bite.
After hanging in this area for a few more minutes, I decided to leave with some girls in my group (on a tuk tuk of course) and head to bed.
The morning allowed us an almost full day of entertainment in Bangkok. Because of jet lag, I woke up at 6 am and couldn’t sleep after this. So I got dressed, ate breakfast, and walked around the neighborhood for a bit.
Walking around alone was scary at first because I literally had no idea what was around me. I didn’t know if there were scary neighborhoods in my area or if everything was perfectly safe. It didn’t help that nobody else was walking around so early in the morning. I was pretty much alone on the streets.
Traffic is also insane in Bangkok. It seemed like traffic lights were virtually nonexistent in my area.
After walking around, I went back to hotel and had a second breakfast (that’s right . . . I had TWO breakfasts). This time, some of my group was awake for a tour that was going to start at 9.
We ate together and followed our guide around the neighborhood. The streets were super interesting to look at! I loved the colors! Korea can often look the same everywhere. There are mostly only tall buildings in beige. Bangkok was a welcome change from this.
While we were walking, we saw many people celebrating the Lunar New Year by burning incense and fireworks.
After our short tour, we went on a khlong river boat. These boats are very long and thin. I sat in the front, which felt like the prime seat. Our boat also stopped in the middle of the river for a short time to feed the fish. I’m not sure if it was healthy to give them bread, but we did so anyway.
Our boat arrived at another dock, where we got out and explored a little more. Bangkok is close to heaven when it comes to street food. Everywhere we went, there were more street vendors selling food for super cheap. Did I mention Thailand is inexpensive? Because it’s ridiculously so.
The dock we arrived at was in a very touristy neighborhood. This was perfect for us, as some in our group decided to visit Wat Pho, one of the more famous temples in Bangkok.
This temple was phenomenal! They even had a huge reclining Buddha inside one of the buildings. I had a great time walking through the temple. Because of the new year, there were also a lot of people and a lot of activities going on. I have never seen a temple so crowded!
There is also a school at the temple!
It grew hot after a while though, and some of us started to get hungry, so we left after an hour or two.
Our group walked around for about an hour trying to find a good place to eat, but ended up walking aimlessly in the flower district. While interesting, this place wasn’t exactly food mecca. Two of the boys in our group decided to eat street food while us girls chose a restaurant next to the river. I thought the restaurant was going to be expensive, but even though it was pricey for Thailand, the meal only came out at a whopping $5. Coming from a Western country, you can live like royalty here.
After lunch, we decided to head back to the hotel to shower up and get ready for our night train to Chiang Mai.
This was to be our first of many night trains. Unfortunately, our train was delayed for about an hour and had us sitting in the terminal, tired and waiting. But lo and behold, another American arrived (super late, might I add) and joined our group. So I guess it was good that our train was delayed.
Our train was NOT like in Harry Potter, although from the looks of The Orient Express, these trains do exist. Instead of being grand, our train mostly consisted of bunk beds and tight corners to walk through. The bathrooms were also interesting. When you “flush” the toilet, you can see your junk drop straight onto the railroad tracks. Our guide also told us to not go to the restroom when the train is stopped.
Overall, the train was okay. I’d much rather choose a train over a night bus. It also gave our group lots of uninterrupted bonding time.
Can you believe all this happened within a 24 hour period? My goodness! But there are so many more adventures to come!