Sept 5 – Departure Date
…or should I say D-Day? Just kidding, but I can assure you that I was very nervous when I woke up this morning. I went to the gym one last time before my dad and Carl (my pup) picked me up to go to the airport. We picked up Mom from the city before heading out to SFO. It was after I said goodbye to my parents when the feeling really hit me that I wasn’t going to see them for 3 months…and that I was traveling all by myself. I teared up a bit walking through security, that uneasy feeling of the unknown. Excited, nervousness, fear were all rushing to me at once.
My plane ride was about 12 hours. Luckily, the flight wasn’t booked up so the middle seat was open and I had a little more room to sprawl out. I watched Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and The Zookeeper’s Wife and got maybe 4-5 hours of sleep. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be and arrived in Wuhan, China. Their terminal is quite different: they make you collect your baggage and recheck it in even if you’re transferring flights. You also have to wait for a specific check-in time before you can even go into the terminals, so I was waiting in the lobby for about 3 hours.
I was exhausted by the I got on the plane. I passed out immediately, and woke up to food on my tray. The strangest thing happened to me, the guy next to me had eaten my hot meal and I only had snacks left. He didn’t speak English, but he was trying to give me other food that he didn’t want, maybe because he felt bad or was trying to make it up to me. I was a little pissed because WHO DOES THAT?!? I ate the snacks real quick and fell asleep again. By the time I woke up we were descending into Bangkok.
Once I arrived at the airport, it was already 2am in the morning. I had to catch a cab to my hostel since it was so late, which by the way is a very intimidating and annoying process. The cab drivers try to squeeze as much money from the foreigners as possible and have meters that are either broken and charge you very quickly or don’t turn the meter on at all and try to charge you a ridiculous rate. I think my cab driver’s meter was rigged but it’s hard to tell let alone accuse them of it.
I finally arrived at the NapPark Hostel at around 4am in the morning. People were still out and about, which at first I thought was strange, but come to find out later that this would be the time I’d be coming back each night. Since Bangkok is 14 hours ahead of California time, I tried to sleep so I could at least acclimate to the time difference. It actually wasn’t hard since I had been traveling for basically 24 hours now.
Sept 7 – Day 1 in Bangkok
After 4 hours of sleep, I woke up around 8:30am to get my day started. Our hostel has a nice little cafe downstairs where I had this traditional Thai yogurt with banana and cereal for breakfast. I then headed out with the goal of seeing Wat Pho (reclining Buddha) & The Grand Palace. After wandering the streets of Bangkok for a bit (I kinda got lost) I finally made it to Wat Pho. This temple was beautiful, although I was pretty entertained by the feral cats more than the actual temple itself. I then made my way to The Grand Palace, which was also beautiful. However, The Grand Palace was WAY more crowded and 5 times more expensive than Wat Pho. There were hoards of Chinese tourists everywhere, which made it quite bothersome to actually enjoy the place. I also went to the National Museum of Bangkok where they displayed a lot of traditional Thai artifacts dating back to basically the beginning of Thai existence.
After 5 hours of visiting temples and museums, I went back to the hostel with the goal of taking a nap. Unfortunately, there’s no AC in the dorms from 12-6pm so I went down to the common area to relax and hang out. This actually turned out to be a great idea since most people hang out here anyways and it’s a great opportunity to meet other travelers. I met a bunch of people who wanted to go out that night. We all chatted and made plans to end up at Khoa San Road later on. At 6 I went up to the dorms to take a nap (bc the AC was def needed to get a good nap in) and went back downstairs around 8pm. Someone suggested food, so we all headed out to Khao San road to get some street pad thai, which by the way was SO GOOD & SO CHEAP!
The guys and Liv, my new friend from Manchester, all decided to pregame before heading out. I had some delicious rum–just kidding, it wasn’t delicious, it was seriously like jet fuel, but it was cheap and did the job. We walked around Khao San, where we stopped at a stall on the street an got buckets of alcohol and balloons filled with laughing gas. After we finished the buckets, we went to “The Club” (literally, that’s what it’s called) where we danced and had a good time. I finally got back to the dorms around 4am, where I passed out.
Sept 8 – Day 2 in Bangkok
Today I woke up so exhausted. I still hadn’t got a good night rest since my body is still in California time. I woke up around 9 and got a traditional Thai omelette from downstairs. I said goodbye to the 3 cool Irish dudes that I met the night before. Not sure what I was going to do that day, I hung out in the lobby of the hostel for a few hours before deciding that I needed to be productive.
I walked around Khao San road, this time in the daytime and checked out the different clothing/food stalls. I wandered around, got my nails done and legs waxed, then went back to the hostel. Liv was at common room when I got back to the hostel, we both agreed that we were hungry and went to get a bite to eat.
When I got back to my bunk I met my new bunk buddy, Rosie from the UK. We all made plans to go out that night too. After napping (again) for 3 hours, I pregame again with my disgusting jet fuel rum, mind you I could only sip it slowly and have 2 glasses max since it was so gross. A bunch of us, including me, Liv, Rosie, and another new friend Lucy went to Khao San road, where we went to the same sidewalk mini bar. This time I had 2 buckets and danced in the street before having to leave a bit earlier than the others. Liv, Josh (my new friend from New Zealand) I had to wake up early (7am) to go to the Floating Markets.
Sept 9 – Day 3 in Bangkok
Today, I had to wake up early since the shuttle bus that was taking us to the Floating Markets would be downstairs at 7am. However, I didn’t even need to use my alarm clock, since the guys across the way from me decided to come in at 6am in the morning, drunk off their asses and basically waking everyone up. I think I woke up drunk that morning or at least VERY VERY hungover. It was an excruciating bus ride and our first stop was the train market. This market is situated right by the train tracks. When the train comes by, the vendors put back their shades and take their products away from the path of the tracks, then put everything back once it’s gone by. The train literally chugs by within inches of everything and the vendors are so used to it they barely blink, unlike the tourists, snapping pictures in awe.
The next stop was the Dumnoen Saduak or Floating Markets. So cool to see this floating market, with vendors either on the shore of the river or on boats. Most of the items they were selling were tourist stuff, so I’m not sure if it is as authentic as it used to be. Josh, Liv and I were all hungover, trying to enjoy this floating market but really needed to find some food. Luckily, we stumbled upon this small food stand where we devoured our food. The last leg of this trip was a speed boat, taking us through the village communities by the water. This was fun because the boat actually went quite fast and we were able to see real Thai communities from a cool ass perspective (the water).
Liv, Josh and I got back to the hostel around 1:30pm, where we all booked a sleeper train to Chiang Mai for the following day. I watched a movie in the lobby, napped a little, and took a shower. Liv & I then got some street pad thai again before heading out. A bunch of us girls wanted to go to Lebua, the Sky Bar where Hangover II was filmed and the highest view point in Bangkok. We all had to dress up, since this was an expensive place and let me tell you this was a hard task to complete for backpacking girls.
At the end of the night, it was me, Lauren, Lucy, Liv, Sancha & Sarah (my new friends from the Netherlands). Cocktails here started from 710 bhat (~$20)…the most expensive freaking cocktail of my life. But, there was no entrance fee and you basically pay for the ambiance. Most people just go there to take pictures (like us). It was a very mellow night since I could only afford one drink and compared to the other two previous nights.
Sept 10 – Day 4 in Bangkok
Last night was the first night I was able to sleep with no problems. I woke up around 10am since Lucy, Rosie and I wanted to go to the Chatuchak weekend market. I got some amazing street food for breakfast, this fried chicken salad over rice that Rosie recommended getting. We then had the difficult task of finding a cab driver to take us to the Chatuchak market who would actually use the meter. We passed up around 4 cabs who refused to turn the meter on (jerks, the police here say it’s illegal but they still don’t care and try to scam tourists).
Finally, we found a cab driver who would turn on the meter and not use the speedway (since it’s a 50 bhat fee to use the high way). Once we got there, we were overwhelmed by all the stalls, There was so much to see, so many things being sold from clothing to fake flowers to furniture and ceramics. I got some cute shorts and tiger balm, since my bug bites are swelling out of control and I am in some serious need of some relief from the pain. We stayed for about 3 hours before heading back.
Right now, I’m currently in the sleeper train with Josh and Liv, headed to Chiang Mai. It’s such a cool experience and I loved every second of Bangkok. The backpacking community out here is so amazing. Everyone you meet is so friendly and cool to talk to, I can see why people stay out here for months. Stay tuned for the next episode of MELISSA’S SOUTHEAST ASIA ADVENTURE *in the voice of Saturday morning cartoon announcers*.