Bangkok – Thailand

As with perhaps every single place we’ve been so far, Bangkok was not at all what I expected. I’ve realised that I have so many (mostly wrong) pre-conceptions about places and countries that I must have accumulated from other people, the media, tv and film. It’s one of the few things that I’m happy to be proved wrong about. Bangkok is modern, civilised, clean, high-tech and not as overcrowded as other cities we’ve visited so far. Their public transport infrastructure is very impressive too. When we arrived at the airport we hopped on the train directly from the airport in to the centre of Bangkok. It was so surreal because it felt like we were on the DLR in East London going through Canary Wharf (if you’re from London then you know what that’s like). After a minor mishap with the taxis (now we know always use the meter, don’t agree a price up front), we arrived at our hostel, a very small private room where we basically had to exist in single file for 3 days. Walking back to our hostel after dinner on the first evening (Pad Thai, obviously) we had a really surreal experience. The street was lined with police offers and the road closed to any other vehicle other than a convoy of black cars and mini vans. The police officers even made us (and all pedestrians) stop walking whilst it all happened. Turns it out, it was the Prime Minister of Malaysia?!

On our first full day in Bangkok, we went to visit The Grand Palace and Wat Pho. We caught the public ferry along the river (Chao Phraya), a really cheap, efficient way to travel that I wasn’t even aware was an option! The boat was absolutely rammed and it pulls up to a floating pier and when you see the boat swing close enough, you jump quickly on board. We arrived at the Grand palace to discover we had turned up with approximately 97 billion other people (accurate, I swear). The King of Thailand’s body is still there so many Thais were there to pay their respects along with all the tourists. The Grand Palace is beautiful, intricate and huge! Dave has already been to Thailand before and said when he came here last, it was near empty and quite a lot had since been cornered off. We took our time looking around, with loads of breaks, partly because it was so unbelievably boiling hot, and partly because my ankle was still swollen from last week’s face plant. We then walked on to Wat Pho, a temple infamous for its’ 150ft reclining Budha. I much preferred this temple as there were fewer tourists and I actually preferred the decor and designs.

On the next day, we spent the morning in a lovely coffee shop planning our South East Asia route and booking a couple of extra internal flights. We’ve also decided to do a week volunteering at the Elephant Nature Park in Cambodia and a day tour in Thailand. This is quite pricey but its the one thing we’d happily blow a budget for. It’s our Birthday and Christmas presents to each other (let’s see how many times we say that this trip haha). Elephant Nature Park was founded in Thailand and is one of the few legitimate elephant sanctuaries. More info when we actually go…

In the afternoon, we needed to do a bit of shopping as we were pretty much out of the essentials (shower gel, contact solution etc). You wouldn’t believe what a mission it was to find shower gel in India and now Bangkok too, that doesn’t have whitening agents in it. It seems there’s nowhere in the world where people are happy with their skin tone. We tied in our shopping plans with our evening plans. As I said before, Dave’s already been to Bangkok and has been to Khoa San Road (a popular tourist destination which is basically a busy strip of bars). This is of zero interest to me (hate crowds, currently not drinking alcohol). So instead, we opted for a Thai cinema experience (in other words, I basically just really wanted to see Beauty & the Beast). We took the Sky Train, which is actually rated number 2 on trip advisor, to the massive MBK shopping centre; a true American-sized mall. We managed to find everything on our shopping list, even hand sanatizer. We had an amazing dinner of basically fried chicken but with soy and garlic soaked batter. We went to watch the film and to be fair it kind of was an experience in itself; the ads were in Thai and they were just so different to what we’d have in the UK and then just before the film started, the current Thai King’s national song started playing and everyone (including us) stood up in silence whilst the anthem played. Side note – I loved Beauty & the Beast and so did Dave haha, definitely recommend.

Next stop, Myanmar! Where the currency is 1700 Burmese Kyat to one Pound. Thank god I’m travelling with an accountant…

Sophie & Dave

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