Hello from Thailand!
First of all I want to apologize for my lack of blog posts! I’ve been feeling guilty for making such a fuss about starting this blog and I’ve barely been able to touch it since I left home almost two weeks ago! The truth is I’ve either been absolutely exhausted at the end of each day or the wifi has been weak whenever I’ve tried to create a new post and I’m not able to upload my photos 🙁
But I enjoyed my time in Rome immensely and made it to Thailand safe and sound! This will probably be a long post to make up for lost time but I’ll try not to go into too much detail. But I do want to share some highlights and first impressions of this beautiful country!
Day One: I arrived in Bangkok last Tuesday morning. I was worried about not having any Thai money and not having remembered to look up directions to my hostel before leaving Rome. Luckily I made out ok – found an ATM to get money, and was able to get on the airport wifi for the directions! I was very proud of myself for navigating public transportation all the way there – I took the airport train into the city and transferred onto the MRT metro system to the area where my hostel was located. It was pretty easy actually!
Getting out of the metro and stepping onto the streets of Bangkok was quite a slap in the face, however. The noise, the people, the traffic, the heat – just wow. Luckily a nice Australian man who happened to be passing by must have noticed the look on my face in that moment, and he was able to point me in the right direction towards my hostel.
I didn’t do much the rest of that day. Napped, explored the neighborhood, ate my first Pad Thai, etc. I thought I had the hostel room to myself but a girl arrived that evening, named Grace. She was Thai so I thought there might be an awkward language barrier, but it was just the opposite. We started chatting and were fast friends! She showed me on a map what to see in Bangkok and even offered to help me get to where I needed to go the next day! Thank God, because I was clueless.
Day Two: Grace and I headed into the city to take the tourist boat around to see the sights of Bangkok. She had meetings to go to later that afternoon but said she would come with me to some of the temples – score! It was not only great to have a companion, but having a local show me around turned out to be an incredible way to start my trip and get acclimated to Thai culture.
One exciting aspect of Thai culture that I got a taste of that morning was motorbike taxis! Grace and I couldn’t get a taxi that morning so she suggested I get on the back of a motorbike with a random man who pulled over. Terrified, I refused at first, not knowing what was going on or why this was even an option! I told everyone I’d be careful on my trip and this sounded like a bad idea. I had never been on a motorcycle or even a moped before, which didn’t help my nerves. Another man on a motorbike pulled over and Grace hopped on, urging me to do the same, so I did, hoping I wouldn’t die on my first day out in Thailand. I have to say, weaving through traffic on the back of a motorbike really got the blood pumping at 8:30 in the morning! The ride was probably only about 4 minutes to the nearest metro station, but it was a serious adrenaline rush! I later realized there are motorbike drivers in orange vests all over the city, and they are taxis! I started to notice all sorts of people riding on the backs of taxis – it’s funny to see businessmen and women in their professional attire zooming around on motorbikes!
The first stop of the day was Wat Pho – the first of many Buddhist temples I would soon visit! Wat Pho has a gigantic reclining Buddha statue housed in a beautiful temple in quite an impressive complex of buildings and other structures.
After that we took the tourist boat across the river to Wat Arun, another major temple in Bangkok.
Wat Arun is MASSIVE and really intricately decorated. Amazing!
We visited one more temple after that (I don’t recall the name) before Grace took me to a local market for lunch. I didn’t see any other foreigners there, which I thought was pretty cool. It’s places like that I would have never seen if I was exploring on my own!
We stopped in a hole-in-the-wall spot for food, where we got Thai salads (although to me it seemed more like a coleslaw). It was good! Unlike anything I’d had before.
Grace and I parted ways so she could go to work and I headed off to the Grand Palace, fighting my way through the crowded streets. It was another beautiful complex but at that point it was the part of the day when the sun is the hottest and the crowds were unbelievable. So I didn’t stay long but I enjoyed the architecture and took some nice photos!
I took the tourist boat back down the river and back to my hostel for the night. I decided to explore the neighborhood a little more and ended my day with a cold Chang beer to cool off 🙂
Overall my first days in Thailand have been overwhelming but exhilarating. I never felt much culture shock when I lived in Italy, but I can certainly feel it here in Thailand. I’ve managed to learn “hello” and “thank you” in Thai and do my best to remember to take my shoes off when appropriate. I’ve been practicing eating my food with a spoon, and just using my fork to help get the food onto the spoon (It’s harder than you’d think to adjust!). The Thai people have been so kind, and I’ve only been scammed once so far (to my knowledge…). Still getting used to eating Thai food every single day. I’ll admit there is already an element of repetitiveness to the food after only my first week but I can say I’ve tried at least one new thing almost every day! Hopefully I’ll continue to branch out and may even find a new favorite dish! There are so many subtle differences and quirks between American and Thai culture, that I’ve started compiling a list – hopefully when I have enough, I will make a post about them!
Going forward I think I’d like my blog to be less of a chronology of events so it may be more interesting to read? Please let me know what you think! I’m going to try to publish a post about my trip to Ayutthaya in the next day or two so stay tuned!