Bangkok is much more than a simple transit to the southern islands in Thailand. Unlike most travelers who skip exploring this big chaotic city, I loved getting to know it, it took me 9 days to really feel its vibe and appreciate what it has to offer. Find out what happened on my new blog post: “Voluntarily stuck in Bangkok”. Link in bio. #travel #blogger #blog #photographer #street #bangkok #bkk #scorpions #thailand #boat #floating #waterfall #transit #beautiful #city #VSCOcam #wanderlust #wander #lost #couchsurfing #palace #gold#travelstoke#travelbreak
Day 1, Wednesday:
I had this thought running through my mind during the whole flight, I feared Thailand and the trouble it might present me, ”what if I get robbed and lose all my money”, I feared the unknown, I eventually told myself to drop these negative thoughts. I landed in Don Mueang International Airport, it was quite old but it mentally prepared me for what was coming in my second phase of my journey, Southeast Asia. I only had a bus number in mind to get me to my hostel so I asked a lady with a uniform where to go. Confused, the lady took a second look at me, and told me to forget it and take a taxi instead. “Government taxis with the meter”, she added.
The long queue of backpackers reassured me a bit, I withdrew some cash from an ATM, and followed the flow.
My taxi driver was friendlier than I could ever imagine but with my over cautiousness it got worried. Reading the hostel instructions on Hostelword, it said taxi rides cost from 200 to 300 baht, when the driver stopped the car and pointed to born free hostel on this narrow alley, the meter showed a bit over 200 baht, I was so relieved and gave him the whole 300 baht, it left a big smile on his face which made me happier, that smile changed my wrong perspective about Thai people.
A cat greeted me before I went inside the hostel it had a chill vibe, some low acoustics his beautiful Thai girlfriend showed me my bed in this hot 10 people dorm room, a cold shower was the answer. Fresh, I headed out to get my second meal of the day at no earlier than midnight, two blocks away, was a street with many restaurants, I sat down in one and browsed through an old faded menu, converting prices to dollars, the waiter who was the cook and probably the owner, took my order, a Deep Fried Papaya Salad almost made me cry because of how spicy it was.
Day 2, Thursday:
The sun arose, a stroll in the neighborhood seemed perfect, and a different dish at the same restaurant from last night. Only a few blocks away was the famous Khaossan road, which didn’t ring any bell at the time. I felt alive that morning, I felt like a king, my senses were heightened, time was slower, life was moving in a cinematic feel even the air felt different. Who knows it might just be due to wearing flip-flops, shorts and a tank top.
When I came back to the hostel and sat in the front lobby, there was something about being among dozens of other travelers that made me less interested in conversing, I lacked the feeling of being the special one so I sat quietly reading my book, while overhearing conversations around me.
The blazing sun disappeared, I walked to Khaossan road to meet a girl I messaged on Couchsurfing, a Thai in her late twenties who first introduced me to pad Thai, a meal for barely over a dollar is a whole version of happiness, we discussed my travel plans which were close to nonexistent, I mentioned the cities that were popular among tourists, but she insisted to go off trail, and cross off any idea to visit Pattaya.
Later on, two other Thai young girls joined me right when the first left, even though they agreed to meet up, one was probably depressed because of some guy. We randomly picked a bar to sit at, they ordered two beers, I did not, we talked about school and travel, I was supposed to meet one girl, but she invited her friend, which only made things more awkward, I was attracted to the girl who happened to be depressed, but with her friend being there, things weren’t going anywhere, so I sat back and didn’t make much effort engaging new topics but Instead I just listened to Thai language which helped me realize how hard it would be to learn it. They also told me to skip Pattaya and gave me other islands names to explore.
Day 3, Friday:
When Couchsurfing, it is common sense to not meet up or stay with someone who has zero references in their profile, but this Thai girl was particularly cute, I met her at Central world shopping mall, It was my first time using public transportation in the city and while the buses were from ancient times the sky train was neat and reliable.
Since day one, I noticed the lack of beautiful girls in the city compared to places I’ve been before, it was actually the main reason why I was in a wow moment when I first saw Tara, she was an elegant lady, I was a mess, she made me realize how even though I was a traveler, I wasn’t attracted to the fellow females hostel guests or any other white foreigners in Khaossan road for that matter. She made me nervous, and being a laid back person that I am, this shows off as some sort of disinterest.
She drove me around downtown and we stopped in Sukhumvit, where the higher class locals enjoy their weekends. She led the way to Cowboy Soi, a red-light street, it was my first glimpse of the image I had in mind about Bangkok, the same one you have watching movies like the Hangover.
We later drove to Chinatown for dinner, then ended up in Silom and had a drink at this gay district, the atmosphere brought up interesting topics and more importantly made our conversation more sexual, I was not bold enough to make any sort move other than putting my arm around her from time to time, which gets weird if she doesn’t reciprocate the affection. It was getting late so she dropped me to the nearest train station and I went back home thinking about things I could have said or done that would make her more interested in me. I knew I was being boring the whole night, and a bit gay not to build any sexual tension with her.
Day 4, Saturday:
In the hostel lobby I talked to a German girl, who was traveling by herself too, she was looking at 3 day tour flyer to the north which would cost her around 7000 baht, It seemed ridiculously expensive to me, but I couldn’t tell her so in front of Kevin’s girlfriend who was booking it for her. The German girl was good-looking and all but my mind was only thinking about Tara and what we would do later.
It took me at least an hour to get to Central world by bus from the old city. She wanted to sign up for a boxing class and join her friend there, we watched her friend train and talked about deeper topics, like her past relationship, and her difficult years with a broken back. Things could have turned more interesting if I kissed her here, I didn’t and what she did later made me regret it even more, she left me waiting at the same bench for over an hour while she was chatting with her friends, I took it as a signal for me to leave and so I did. She dropped me at MBK shopping Center and went back to her friend. At this point I felt I probably annoyed her and thus would never see her again. Making any sort of move got harder as time passed by, and the little tension that was between us at first totally faded.
So there I was looking for a waterproof camera at MBK, I was shocked at how prices were high even in one of the biggest electronic shopping malls in Asia. I was so close to buying a fake Sony DX30 for the price of a real one, every camera was at least a 100$ more than what I would pay for in Canada or USA. I was so bummed I hadn’t buy one back in Japan. For lunch I had a subway, even though the same money would get me 3 local meals, I was craving some actual bread.
A few hours of wandering around later, Tara called me to get a drink with her, I agreed, we drove to Khaossan road, we bought scorpions and other uneatable insects and tested our courage at a bar. Her vibe was much better this time, so I felt comfortable teasing and flirting with her, we wandered around looking for a good massage place, it hard to pick one because they’re everywhere, we chose the cleanest one. The thai massage was excellent. We walked back to my hostel to show her how it was. Many more windows for a kiss later said our goodbyes and goodnights, leaving me thinking about how an idiot I was playing it safe the whole time.
Day 5, Sunday:
I decided to go out solo this day, I got out from the hostel and walked in the opposite direction from Khaossan road, without the slightest plan, I moved further and further, then at one intersection, a Thai man approached me and started a conversation with me, the way he eased me into getting a tuk-tuk to explore some temples was beyond professional. I thought he was being friendly, too naive, I accepted his -too good to be true- offer and hopped on a “randomly” passing tuk-tuk, the two exchanged words in Thai, and before I hopped in, I repeated : “20 baht for the whole ride right?”- “Yes Yes yes” He nodded.
It was my first ride in a tuk-tuk and despite being told not to try it because of their danger, my curiosity took over. He first dropped me at a temple called lucky Buddha, nothing impressive.
Before getting to the next one we stopped in front of a suit shop, the driver said that I wouldn’t have to buy anything but I would have to stay inside for about 5 min. I playfully took it as a challenge, the man was showing me the suits and even tested how sincere I was, by measuring me. I didn’t break character until I left the store. I asked the driver if it was all good, he nodded, then excused himself to “smoke his cigarette” while leaving me worrying about some scam coming up. The next stop was a travel agency where I would have to fake being interested in their offers for a few minutes again. The prices of their tours were clearly overpriced, I felt lucky I knew better. After stopping at a gas station we headed to another temple, I liked this one because it had a viewpoint looking over the whole city.
I spent the following days telling myself it was not a scam but rather a deal, a shitty one because it is a huge waste of time.
Back to the hostel, I tucked everything I owned inside my two backpacks and took a bus to Ratchawethi Rd to stay with my new host at his condo. Using public transportation was more exhausting than complicated to the point that I wished I would find a crowd applauding me when I reached my destination. I called Petch for more directions and minutes later he opened his door for me, he had another guest who was leaving the next day. We all went out to Silom for dinner, on our way we passed by the manifestations, it was funny and strange for me because while other parts of the world thought it was dangerous to be in Bangkok at that time, I saw people singing and dancing like it was a festival.
Petch’s place was fancy, the best part about it, is the swimming pool downstairs. I knew I only have a couple of days here, so I made sure I would check it out every morning. I would be the only one there, so naturally, I fantasized about owning one for real. I felt every move my body made on water, every dive was almost in slow motion.
Petch was quite busy with his school projects so we didn’t spend much time together, he told me about his love for Germany and that he was so excited to go there to study.
Day 6, Monday:
It took me 5 days to go to the grand palace, a place most people visit the first or second day. I am not a big fan of temples, for the simple reason being me not seeking any sort of religious knowledge or inspiration, I get inspired by wandering around streets by myself more than going to some temple and paying a 500 baht for entry. However, I had nothing to do and no one to meet that day. So I thought I would give it a shot. It was impressive, no doubt about that, but I did not appreciate their policy that makes foreigners pay as oppose to locals.
Tara had invited me to an English language exchange, my second one in Bangkok, this time it was at a bar instead of a boring hotel conference room. It was time to get my wrinkled shirt out of my backpack along with my awesome boots I hardly ever wear, I had a beard longer than ever before, and I didn’t care about my look because I wanted to see how far can I go without shaving this mess. Add that to being the only person sober at the bar and you have an uncomfortable man failing miserably at seducing a woman, I could feel that Tara was ignoring me so I would talk to new people, there was some friendly people but I had so much going on in my mind and even though I knew it was only a dumb excuse, I couldn’t get in the zone of having fun and meeting new people. Seeing an old man chatting a young beautiful lady was enough to get me off that mindset and join the conversation, It was quite boring and at one point I was dying to find a way out, I realized I was the one who’s being boring, lazy, so I went up to Tara thinking about creative ways to make this better, we played games and teased one another, she later asked me what girl did I like most in this place, I pointed to one Asian girl, then she told me to go talk to her, I was really confused whether to do it or not, I spent way too much time with this girl and I wasn’t willing to simply throw it away like that.
Here is my thing, I have no problem charming strangers when I randomly meet them, but when it comes to someone I’ve been seeing for a while and who I wasn’t clear about my intentions with, the first time I met them, I feel more pressure to act with any sort of seductive way as time pass by.
Day 7, Tuesday:
I had booked a day tour with a travel agency located close to Khaossan road. At 7:30 am I was already waiting for the ride. Among many choices, I had picked the rose garden, floating market and Erawan Waterfalls tour, I was the only one in the van who was traveling solo, 2 couples and 2 girl friends, the waterfalls were beautiful but freezing cold, and almost impossible to walk in because of rocks and tree branches on the soil. The floating market was a unique experience, before getting to the market our traditional wooden boat was speeding insanely, I loved it. Seeing how people lived by the river amazed me and left me thinking I was in a different era. It was a long and tiring day, I got back to Bangkok at 7 pm , a couple of hours later, Tara and I drove to a fancy spa called the Healthland, we both had a foot massage and we both needed it so bad.
Every night, I would go back home thinking of what I did wrong and what I did ok with T, last night, before she dropped me at home with her car, we had a moment where I could easily went for a kiss but I chickened out again. and so when she would leave, I would message her and talk to her a bit about my feelings towards her, which was the only reason she would see me again another time. And I could see how she was almost pissed because she felt she was wasting time with me. And that she almost felt sorry for me not having anyone else to hang out with. Which wasn’t the entire truth, the truth is that I liked her so much she made me nervous about doing anything that might face a rejection.
Day 8, Wednesday:
I had to leave my host Petch and go to a hostel called Etzzz, which was a few blocks away from Lumphini Mrt station, I stayed in a 12 dorm room at a very reasonable price. I prefered not to go back to the old city, just because of how easy and more convenient to move around when near the metro or skytrain (bts), After setting down my luggage I went out to meet Modz. The girl I met on my second day, I wanted to get my mind off Tara so I thought it would be a good idea. This time we went to eat in Chinatown, my first time trying duck went ok, but I still couldn’t make things any more interesting between us, because she brought her friend again. When we parted ways , I went to a couchsurfing meet up, as I approached the venue, I could see that it was crowded, so I asked a bartender where the meet up was, she pointed to a big group sitting around a long set of tables, I stood there for a moment trying to start a conversation with some people who were standing, but I couldn’t spot any cute girl who wasn’t already engaged in conversation and I couldn’t muster up the courage to join any group, thinking too much of awkward scenarios, I finally took the easy path and coward decision to go sit facing a Tv, far away from the meet up. I watched a whole soccer game of teams I can’t even recall now that I am writing this a year later. What I remember however is the feeling I had in my chest, tightness that almost turned into pain caused from a stab. Sadness while travelling is one a kind, realizing I was feeling depressed even when doing something I thought would make anyone the happiest person on earth, was an epiphany, I had to get my phone out and write about this moment, only a few months earlier, I was ecstatic talking to cute girls left and right in Montreal, and now I couldn’t even say hi to friendly couchsurfers. Tara surprisingly called to check on me, I tried to hide my pain, but she could easily feel it, I told her I was watching a game because I came late and didn’t feel like talking to anyone. When we ended the call she texted me asking: are you depressed? I denied, I didn’t know I actually was. Perhaps my parents and friends were right and I was only wasting money, my time and my future traveling here. That night Tara and I kept texting each other, I told her about my plan to go north and south of Thailand, it somehow made her want to join me, I thought that would be wonderful. However her business kept her hesitant towards the trip.
Day 9, Thursday:
I was still feeling down from last night so I stayed in my hostel all day until Tara took me to Silom to check out those crazy shows, as we were entering this narrow chaotic street, I instantly thought of the movie, the beach, and how this was the scene where he mentioned khaossan road, I had no intention to go in to any of these bars, but Tara pushed me to check it out and that it was part of exploring the crazy Bangkok, I didn’t want to look lame, so I followed a persistent Thai and sat by myself waiting for something to happen in that stage, all I could see is two Thai ladyboys coming up to me and sitting next to me then caressing my thighs and chest, I didn’t want to be rude so I just kept repeating “no thanks”. The waiter came, my deal was to pay for a drink and the show would be free, I ordered a beer, but I was given a small glass next to it. The ladyboy quickly drank that small glass and left. Meanwhile, weird things were happening in the stage, I heard a sound of a wine bottle opening, I looked over and saw the beer liquid shooting up from the bottle towards a customer and his mate. If it sounded sexy to you, you probably pictured a young fit lady and a nice venue, the lady was in her forties and the venue was trash. I waited for the famous ping-pong show, disappointed, I got up and headed to the bar to pay my beer, the man behind the counter got his calculator and typed the amount to pay, It was a four digit number, I was furious, I burst up and said that’s not what the man in front told me, I only had the beer to pay, two other people came to scare and crowd me into paying. I was lucky I didn’t have much cash on me, I emptied my walled and headed to the door without looking back.
Day 10, Friday:
I woke up checked Badoo, the infamous app, my eyes were halfway open, chatting with a girl trying to set up a date, she agreed and told me how to get to her place, I had nothing better to do so I followed what she told me to do, I hopped on a taxi bike and gave him the phone to talk to the lady, it was quite a long ride, I got dropped off at an alley, so I called the girl, she directed me to her door, then waved at me from afar and said to get inside her place while still on the phone. I felt it was a bit strange but I thought: “what ‘s the worst that can happen”. As I got in, I could only see darkness, then I heard a door shut from behind, I said hi where are you, then the light went on, I was shocked to see that she was a ladyboy, my hair went up, not even tiny one, this was a big manly one. I didn’t know what to do, so I said let’s go eat something, she replied she had food at home, so I said I have to go eat something first and come back, then I tried to open the door but it was locked, my heart took off from its place, as I yelled what the fuck, “if you go out you are not coming back” she said with her poor English and fucked up voice, I repeated : “open the door”, -“don’t fight me”, she answered. “I am not fighting a beast” I thought. Although, with that rage building inside me I could have probably killed this monster. She asked me for a 1000 baht claiming that I wasted her time, I tried to budge it down to 500 baht, but failed. I eventually gave her the money because I just wanted to get out of that place, the least thing I wanted was trouble. I got out with my shirt torn from her pulling it when I was trying to open the door. I walked to the nearest train station and got back to my hostel. I was a mess from the inside as well as from the outside, I was so mad, I first deleted that app, it was my second bad experience and second time deleting it after the first being in Hong kong.
Later at night I met Tara, we sat at a bar in Khaossan road before a Viatnamese girl from couchsurfing joined us, they quickly hit it off so we moved to a club, my first in Thailand. We played dares, the Vietnamese dared Tara to kiss a stranger if she loses in rock paper scissors against her, Tara lost but refused to kiss any stranger, so she suggested to kiss me instead, I agreed, but as I moved closer she changed her mind. As the night went on I tried a couple of times to kiss her but she turned her head every time I went for it. So I left to the crowd, talked to a couple of girls who found my way too direct. A while later, Tara disappeared from the club, when I went out to see her parking spot, her car wasn’t there. She didn’t even say Bye, I tried to get any explanation from her the next day but she said she was tired and left and that she didn’t have to get my permission to leave. The Vietnamese lived in Bangkok importing clothes from Vietnam. She said she was making good money but illegally because she only had a tourist visa in Thailand. We walked out the club and wandered a bit before she got me a cab and made sure I go to the right address without getting ripped off.
Day 11, Saturday:
I spent the whole day at the hostel booking tickets and accommodation in Chiang Mai. I tried sending requests in couchsurfing but it was last-minute so I didn’t find any couch. Nearby my hostel was a market filled with street food, at the cheapest price in probably all Bangkok, 40 baht for a fried rice and chicken dish. Add that to a juice with 20 baht and I had my self a meal barely over a dollar. Other days I would eat salads, Pad-Thai. I admit, I wasn’t very adventurous trying new food every day, but it was a question of saving money to stay traveling the longest possible.
Day 12, Sunday:
I checked out from my hostel at 12pm, I left my luggage there and went to meet Tara and her friends in a huge market called Chatuchak, we wandered around together before she and her friends stopped at their friend’s shop, so I left to explore the market more, it reminded me of a market in Casablanca, only a bit more organized. I had lunch then took off with a watermelon juice on my hand, a couple of hours later, I found my back to the shop, which was quite an accomplishment giving it was the biggest market in Asia and probably in the world, she drove me to the hostel then to the train station, where we said our goodbyes before I leave to Chiang Mai. She told me how sorry she was for being a bit mean to me and that she was just following her heart.
Most backpackers consider Bangkok no more than a transit to exotic islands.