Sitting on the airplane wanting to capture a few thoughts while they are fresh.
When we left Spain I really didn’t know what to expect from Thailand. I tried to mentally prepare by watching youtubes and reading what this guy had to say.
In total we spent four weeks in Thailand. We flew into Bangkok from Spain. 1 week in Bangkok. 1 week in Phuket. 2 weeks in Chiang Mai. I don’t think at this point we would have done things any differently. This amount of time worked well for us in each location.
So we actually flew into the Suvarnabhumi Airport, and stayed a couple of nights in an eastern district of Bangkok called Lat Krabang and had an incredible experience with the most delightful man, Yoong is his name, a talented designer of metal interiors and he built his airbnb himself. He picked us up from the airport and had fresh coconuts waiting in our fridge. We were amazed and I began mentally replacing the word 'kindness' with 'Thai-ness'. Yoong even introduced us to his family and they have a little store next door to the airbnb. His grandmother gave us free bananas, more thai-ness. We spent two days exploring the area with Yoong, riding up the canal to his coffee shop at a floating market and more or less rested to let our jet lag pass us.
Yoong brought us to the sky train and we rode our way into the big city.
Bangkok is kind of insane. It’s massive. Chaotic. Buzzing with people, life, traffic, food, shopping, temples, a true cultural melting pot.
It is certainly worth the experience, but we were super glad to move on to the beaches and islands for some fresh air. Friends said to try everything and eat everything, and that was the best advice. We honestly didn’t do a ton of sight seeing here, because traveling takes it out of you, for us at least it did and we had to rest and breathe and adjust to the new chaos of it all. Dorthy was no longer in Kansas, anymore.
Chinatown: totally touristy and it felt nice to be here because most everyone there is a foreigner. The coconut curry dish was a favorite with a good ole Chang beer. Lots of souvenirs and mango and durian you can buy here.
Big Hug Market outside SIAM Shopping Center: delicious pad thai, mango and coconut fresh fruit shakes, spring rolls, etc.
- The Fox Hole: I so enjoyed this cutie little hole-in-the-wall joint - beer, coffee, bakery style foods. Feels good to #supportlocal
- GRAND PALACE: If you want to experience a place that nearly feels like you’ve left the earth, go here. Brent enjoyed the temple ‘Wat Pho’ more but I opted to paint at a park and didn’t join him, but we were amazed at the temples, ornate designs, and people watching. TIP: you must wear a shirt that covers your shoulders and pants if you go here. I had to buy an elephant top for 100 baht, because I thought a scarf over my sleeveless top would work, Nope ;)
- ARTS & CULTURAL CENTER: Free! Neat photography exhibits and lots of cute shops, art galleries, and coffee and tea shops inside here. It also connects to the sky train.
- KHAO SAN ROAD: fair warning, this feels like being at a touristy beach in Florida minus the beach part. It’s basically a famous long road with bars, restaurants, cheap massages, t-shirts and goods for sale, you can eat fried bugs here.
- LET'S RELAX: massage franchise in the mall, but seriously best 30 minute massage EVER, this company has locations all over Thailand, it’s basically $8 or $9 for an hour massage. I stuck with the back, neck and shoulder massages because the Thai massage scares me a little hehe, and I heard someone refer to it as ‘lazy man’s yoga’, they stretch your limbs out and push hard into your groin area. The perks about Thai massages is they usually begin and end with some sort of tea or snack :)
- Flying: We used AirAsia the whole time we were in Asia and had a great experience
- Driving: Uber and GRAB (app similar to uber) worked great for us here
- Sky Train: we rode this just once, and the staff was very kind and helpful
- Tuk Tuks: are everywhere and we took part in this just once and were done, haha. Just watch out for these, sadly it’s common for drivers to be connected with a large scams where essentially the tuk tuk drivers are paid by store owners to bring you to buy their goods, we had a long detour and eventually got where we wanted, but use your gps and make sure they take you where you want to go and don't be afraid to hop off and ask one to pull over if you need.
BUY A PHONE PLAN >>
In Thailand, we used TRUE and really should have gotten it set up at the airport but Yoong kindly took us to a local shop and we got set up with a thai number and data which we used to get around, translate info, SO HELPFUL! We spent around 750 baht to get 30 day plans for us each with data, aka around $23. ps - you need to make sure your phone is 'unlocked' from your current carrier in order to get a sim card placed in your phone.
LOCATE A LOCAL GROCERY STORE >>
It worked really well for us to explore on foot shortly after arriving to learn where we could get last minute food, find groceries, buy water, etc. Tesco Lotus was like a walmart here and our saving grace for buying vitamin C, fresh fruits for breakfast, toilet paper (cause cheap places won’t usually have much or any).
BATHROOM CULTURE >>
TP isn't compatible with Thai plumbing, so most places will ask you to throw tp in the trashcan. Also in several public places there is simply a roll of tp outside the bathrooms for you to grab your amount before going in the stalls. This took me some time to realize, thus why I’m mentioning it here :) oh and when you see a toilet that doesn't have a flusher, but you see a bucket and a sprayer, you are meant to fill that bucket with water and pour it down the toilet, this momentum allows the flap to open aka a manual flush (also took me a bit here to learn this one). You get strong thighs in Thailand, lots of squatty potties.
BASIC NEEDS >>
7 elevens are EVERYWHERE, just about every street, this came in handy when I needed to buy a toothbrush, etc. The beer is cheaper here than in a bar. 7 elevens can be priced on the higher side though, and for whatever reason people rave about their grilled cheeses called 'toasties', we stuck to street food.
LEARN THE BASICS ON LANGUAGE >>
It’s humbling to be able to travel just about anywhere in the world as an english speaker because most other people know english. Most Thai know basic english and if not, a few times we used the google translate app to communicate our needs. It goes a long way to learn the basics (thanks youtube) in Thai and a slight bow hands together saying ‘kah-pun-cahp’ means thank you, and ‘sow-wah-dee’ is hello.
A LITTLE SURPRISE! >>
If you have the opportunity try to be in the subway at 6pm sometime, a pretty cool experience happens daily.
Don't hesitate to shoot me a line if I can help answer any questions.
Thanks for reading, hopefully you found some good nuggets here