Finally, the sad day has come where my travelling posts have to end! Even though I’ve been back for over three months (say what), it still feels like yesterday when I was freaking out on my flight with only two nights of my accommodation booked and no itinerary. So many people told me that Bangkok was only worth staying in for the briefest of times and that I would hate it. However I like to make my own mind up about such places and as I’ve been to Hong Kong and NYC, I found the busy pace similar in some ways and ended up spending 6 days there in total. I seemed to meet more Londoners in this backpacking hub than in London itself and it was the perfect place to start adjusting to life in South East Asia. Sure there may be Boots and all mod cons (the bathrooms at Lub D lulled me into a false sense of security) but what Bangkok represented for me was the start and end of a journey, a bit of a limbo scenario with time to think and plenty of Pad Thai.
Don’t Stay On The Khaosan Road
Once I’d booked my flights I still had no idea where I was going to start out. I’d heard a lot of mixed opinions about the Khaosan area, everything from ‘It’s amazing and you will meet so many people’ to ‘It’s dodgy and expensive’. Luckily I went with my gut instinct and stayed away. Once I’d visited the infamous area, I’d realised it was the Thai equivalent of Leicester Square on a Friday night and I’d have been an extremely grumpy guest. To avoid the constant party atmosphere, I decided to stay at the fun and sociable Lub D in Silom, which eased me into hostel (and bunk bed) life gently. After two nights there, I still didn’t know what I was doing and needed to move sharpish as the hostel was full. Thankfully Silom Art Hostel was just around the corner, certainly quieter but all the more creative with the most random decorative details everywhere. This is a great place to stay if you’re in an established group already (although I still befriended some French girls here when I was a bit of a loner) and it’s worth making use of the quirky roof terrace. Nearby there’s plenty of places to eat but I defaulted to the street-food setup on Soi Sueksa Witthaya where most dishes were less than £2, bargain!
Take Things At Your Own Pace
At this point in my trip, I still hadn’t read the guide book. Silly I know but the amount of information seemed so overwhelming, that I initially concentrated on getting to know the people I’d met. This also helped me to stop being such a control freak in the planning department and just, dare I say it, go with the flow. I started to rely on recommendations and only doubled checked Lonely Planet for a bit of background information. The Grand Palace was the perfect other-worldly experience, the sun was hot and the colours and ornate patterns of the various temples were slighty surreal in my jet lagged state. At well over 200 years old it’s been beautifully preserved and became a sort benchmark for most of the other temples I visited. Eventually I was able to appreciate the differences in the crumbling Angkor Wat and dishevelled Hué Imperial City, but initially all I wanted to keep seeing was the same sort of gleaming perfection.
Shop, Shop, Shop!
When left to my own devices, I reverted back to my spending roots and managed to check out Chatuchak Weekend Market thanks to an Instagram recommendation. It probably wasn’t the best idea to head here at the beginning of my trip and I did end up lugging an impractical vintage skirt around Cambodia & Vietnam, but it was the perfect way to spend a lazy Sunday. The market was split into several sections which I completely disregarded and instead wandered to the most vibrant and packed stalls. Before my flight home I managed to discover the delights of MBK where everything isn’t quite as it seems (most of my questionably branded items have since broken) but is worth visiting for the bargain food-court and Japanese supermarket alone. I would definitely get all of my grooming sorted upon arrival as the pedicures work out at about £8 and nearby Browhaus is a lot cheaper than its London counterpart, but still just as trustworthy. Terminal 21 is also well worth a visit, an airport themed shopping centre with lots of independent boutiques and a glimpse of some of the more directional style I’d been spotting.
So that’s the end, sob! Guess I’d better look at renewing my passport and searching for cheap flights for next year so that I can explore Thailand properly. I hope you’ve enjoyed my travelling posts and that they’ve helped you somewhat if you’re thinking of doing a similar trip. Even if you’re alone and going through a bit of a transitional period, I couldn’t recommend it enough. Feel free to leave any questions here and let me know if you have any travels planned to make me jealous!
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