I woke up in Bangkok a little tired but functioning.
I got off the bus and waited in the long taxi line. Eventually it was my turn to hop in. I looked into the front window, hoping and praying that it would be someone who spoke English.
“Everyday Hostel, do you know?”
A series of Thai words came out… none of which I understood.
I tried again, this time naming the general neighborhood.
“Bang Rak? Bang Rak?”
He repeated. I nodded my head excitedly; yes, we are starting to understand each other!
I then pointed to my phone, which had Google Maps open. He started shaking his head, murmering something in Thai, and drove off– I assumed in the direction of Bang Rak. He pulled over a few minutes later, got his glasses on, and then asked to see the map again. He couldn’t decipher anything on the map, however. It was in English. I told him “Sam Yam,” which is the name of the subway station closest to the hostel. He seemed to understand, and we headed toward Sam Yam.
Every now and then he would say something in Thai to me, I’d look at him blankly, smile a little, and he would laugh. We eventually got to the Sam Yam area, and I checked my phone again to tell him where to turn. I started to tell him, but he didn’t understand. We were getting dangerously close to the hostel– I had to figure out a way to tell him to stop.
“Here is OK.”
“Stop!! We are here!”
When words didn’t work, I start using hand motions. I tried every type of “stop” signal I could think of: Pointing down, doing the stop-in-the-name-of-law, waving. He was laughing and I was panicking. I got my wallet out, hoping that would signal to him that I was ready to pay and get out. It worked; he slowed down and I gave him the money, thanked him, and got out, grateful to have arrived in the right place.
After checking in to the hostel, I went to look for a cafe– I was in desperate need of caffeine. I was too lazy to look for something cute and local, so I went for the basic bitch solution and went to…. ugh… Starbucks. I needed somewhere with a reliable source of non-dairy milk, ok!
I sipped on my $4 soy milk latte and caught up on social media. Eventually I got bored and decided to leave to go to the Grand Palace, somewhere that I had been meaning to go to since I first got to Thailand two weeks ago.
I decided to walk it since I love exploring cities by foot, and I needed exercise after a full day of sitting and doing nothing.
I arrived around 11 and put on my plaid button-up. Tank tops and shorts are not allowed in Buddhist temples (although if you’re a guy, the no shorts rule is more flexible 🙄). I don’t know how Thai people walk around in long sleeves and long pants every day. I felt immediately suffocated.
I walked through the front gates and bought my ticket, which was 500 baht (about $15 USD). A steep price for a temple, but I hoped it would be worth it.
I immediately realized I had come at the least optimal time. It was extremely, incredibly crowded. Like, I could barely pay attention to the actual temples because there were so many people around me shoving their selfie sticks in my face kind of crowded.
I spent about half an hour exploring (read: shuffling). Just another sardine in the can, complaining about the tourists while being one.
I left the temple and happily tore off my button-up, feeling unsure if the whole thing was worth it. The temples were beautiful, but the experience was not ideal.
I was hungry, so I set off to find lunch. I walked 20 minutes to Ethos, a vegetarian/vegan restaurant near Khao San road. I sat down at the last free table and started looking at the menu, when out of the corner of my eye I spotted three dudes walk in. I heard one of them say, “let’s just see if we can sit with her,” and I knew they were talking about me. They approached me, asked if they could join, and I was happy to let them. I needed to make some friends!
I feel like this type of thing only happens when traveling– if I was in New York or anywhere else where I wasn’t a tourist, I would not be as happy if random people sat down and joined me for a meal. Solo travel makes you way more open to meeting people and having random fleeting interactions with strangers.
They turned out to be really cool people: two were Canadians who work as tree planters and photographers (willembetts.tumblr.com/, www.duncanmferguson.com/) and the other was a young University of Wisconsin student/entrepreneur. He cooks meals for college students: Chefdonny.com. Really impressive stuff. I wish I had that kind of ambition/foresight when I was in college.
I rode back to the hostel on a Grab Bike: aka uber except you’re riding on the back of a scooter instead of in a car. It’s one of the cheapest ways to get around the city; it’s cheaper than a taxi/tuk-tuk, and just slighter more expensive than the subway. It’s one of those “Yup, I’m in Southeast Asia” moments whenever I take one. They’re really fun. But also a bit scary. Good inner-thigh workout, though!
I took a short 30 minute nap and then left to meet up with Trina and Pierre, who were also back in Bangkok after a week visiting Trina’s family in central Thailand. I was craving a smoothie so I picked up a banana/strawberry smoothie on the way. No sugar and no milk.
I met Pierre & Trina at the Siam Center mall and we walked around for a bit.
Trina and I got bubble tea and explored the outdoor markets while Pierre edited a vlog.
We all met up again for dinner at Koko, where Julien joined us as well. It’s pretty amazing how many times we’ve seen each other while traveling: I saw Pierre and Trina in Taipei in December, spent a week with them + Julien in the Philippines for New Years, saw them all again in Bangkok two weeks ago, I hung out with Julien in Chiang Mai last week, and now we’re all reunited again in Bangkok.
I have a feeling I’ll see them again soon…
I decided to take the public bus home. At 11 baht, it’s definitely the cheapest option for public transportation. I’ve ridden 7 baht buses too– I guess the price just depends where you’re riding from.
I was craving a coconut, so I was really happy when I stumbled upon a coconut stand on the walk from the bus stop to the hostel (coconut stands are VERY common here). I gave the lady 40 baht and walked back a happy clam, straw in mouth, slurping on some fresh coconut water.
I think I have found the key to happiness: coconuts.
Either that or they are my drug. I am addicted– when the day that I cannot get fresh coconuts comes, I will probably go through withdrawal.
But let’s worry about that later.