– The first thing I realized about myself arriving in Bangkok is how bad I am at making decisions. It took me over an hour to decide whether I was going to use public transit or a cab to get to my hostel. –
On the 26th of January I left Belgium and on the 27th of January I arrived in the morning in Bangkok. After that hour of debating how to get there, I took the Skytrain to the Yard Hostel.
The Yard Hostel is pretty good. Considering Bangkok is incredibly busy and warm, it’s nice to escape to a quiet place with a little garden to relax.
I had to wait before I could go in my room but in the meantime I was able to shower (which after a 16 hour flight makes everything better). There were some people sitting at the entrance of the hostel and I thought ‘ok, how am I going to approach them and ‘make friends”. I had to think of a strategy cause I am in Thailand, all by myself.
I took a chair and asked ‘can I join?’. So far my big strategy. Cause in fact you don’t need one for solo traveling. You’ll always meet people. ALWAYS … Even when you don’t want to meet people.
On that Friday I did almost nothing except for hang around the hostel, eat and in the evening the hostel arranged for us to get the best Pad Thai in Bangkok (Thip Samai) taking a famous TukTuk and after we would visit the Khoa San Road. I wish I could tell you more about the Khoa San Road but there isn’t more to say than it being a big, dirty, noisy party street with people selling scorpions on sticks – yikes. My first Pad Thai on the other hand was delicious! Was it my best? No, not really. There were a lot of places up North and South that sold streetfood Pad Thai just as good (and cheaper).
The next day I felt like I had to visit a lot. I could hear my dad’s voice saying ‘You HAVE TO visit everything you can’, giving me a lot of guilt if I wouldn’t have visited all of those ‘great things’. I can assure you at the end of my trip, I was fully capable of ignoring that voice.
I visited the Grand Palace with ‘my new friends’ who weren’t allowed to go in cause they weren’t wearing long pants (you need them to enter many temples/sacred places in Thailand + they’re comfortable).
So I went in by myself. Either you know or you don’t but the King of Thailand died in October 2016. Thai people have been remembering him for quite a while by putting up (younger) images of His Majesty, wearing black clothes and putting white/black ribbons along roads. I don’t think anyone would care as much about the Belgian King dying as they did in Thailand. Then again King Bhumibol Adulyadej was very loved by the people which the Belgian King isn’t. Anyway, because of that, some parts of the Grand Palace weren’t accessible. People wearing black were lining up to honor their King. That same day I visited the reclining Buddha (Wat Pho) as well .
In the afternoon I visited the Temple of Dawn (Wat Arut). To get to the Temple of Dawn you have to cross the Chao Phraya River by boat. Eum you know, the thing with temples is … that there are a MILLION of them everywhere in Asia. Hate to say it but once you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all … Except for that time in Bagan, Myanmar that was pretty impressive.
The next morning we went to the Chatuchak market. It’s a big weekend market. I didn’t spend that much time there cause it was quite chaotic but apparently there’s a system (that I didn’t know of when I visited the place). The market is divided in sections and each section is part of a category:
- Clothing & Accessories (sections 2-6, 10-26)
- Handicrafts (sections 8-11)
- Ceramics (sections 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 25)
- Furniture and Home Decoration (sections 1,3,4,7,8)
- Food and Beverage (sections 2, 3, 4, 23, 24, 26, 27)
- Plants and Gardening tools (sections 3, 4)
- Art and Gallery (section 7)
- Pets and Pet Accessories (sections 8, 9, 11, 13)
- Books (sections 1, 27)
- Antiques and Collectibles (sections 1, 26)
- Miscellaneous and Used Clothing (sections 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 22, 25, 26)
In the afternoon I visited the Jim Thompson House. Apparently Jim was an American spy who ‘retired’ in Bangkok, reviving the Thai silk industry. I’m not really into horoscopes but just enough to mention it in my blogpost anyway: according to his Chinese horoscope (he’s a horse), he had to be very careful at the age of 61. The same year he disappeared … WHERE IS JIM? Also, he had a lot of broken buddha statues in his house which in Thai culture is bad luck so maybe … it was Karma?
When I booked my hostel somewhere beginning of January I thought I wanted to relax in Bangkok after such a long flight so I booked 5 nights. You do NOT WANT 5 nights in Bangkok when you arrive. I repeat: YOU DO NOT WANT THAT. Bangkok is BUSY BUSY BUSY and HOT HOT HOT.
I stayed 2 nights instead, wanting to leave that busy city as soon as possible. I booked my night bus from Bangkok to Chiang Mai the same day I visited my good old friend Jim.
I remember freaking out so much. That very first week I was stressed. Stressed about missing my bus, thinking cab drivers would kidnap me, not meeting people, not having fun, not seeing enough … After Bangkok and Chiang Mai I found my flow though.
Honestly looking back, I’ve never ever trusted so many strangers as then. For me being a bit paranoid that’s something BIG haha.
I could tell you all about the beautiful places I’ve visited (which I will, just not as much) but let’s be honest when you go backpacking it’s about the journey, not the destination. (Cheers to clichés!!)
- The Yard Hostel is a really good hostel but ‘quite expensive’ in comparison to others. Breakfast is included, staff is very helpful, clean rooms and bathrooms.
- Always have long, light and baggy pants in your backpack (so you can pull them over your shorts). You can buy them easily in Thailand for 1,5 EUR.
- Do not stay longer than 2 to 3 nights in Bangkok when you arrive!
- Relax, it’s all about the journey.