Coming to Bangkok, I didn’t know what to expect. Of course I did research on the place I was about to spend six months in, but nothing online can ever prepare you for what you’re really going to experience. Some people warned me about the dangers of this city and some only had good things to say. When I actually got here I was elated. I’d wanted to come to Thailand for a very long time. It is better than anything I’ve read or seen online. It’s taken me two weeks to write this because there is just so much to experience here I wanted to see more first. Bangkok is full of palm trees, warm weather (okay very hot…), lots to see, great food, and a beautiful culture.
The Food in Bangkok:
The food here is amazing. The street food, festival food, market food, restaurant food, and even 7-11 food, is all fantastic. Almost everything is spicy, in a good way. One of the major differences I heard nothing about is the Japanese cultural influence here. Especially food wise. In 7-11 and all around at different stands you find Japanese cuisine. It has blended in with the Thai culture seamlessly, and I love it.
Bangkok is truly a city that never sleeps. There are some markets that are 24 hours, markets that only open at night and don’t close until 5 in the morning, weekend markets, and morning markets. There are cultural (art, food, music, fashion, vintage) festivals all the time. There is always something to do. Even when you’re not looking, you will find something great. One time I took a taxi a bit far out to get to one market that ended up being closed. I had passed by something on my way there so I went back to see what it was. At first it looks like a small regular night market. When I walked further in, I found a full blown fair. I’m talking ferris wheel, animals, games, and everything. This was just on a Wednesday night. I ended up getting pad thai and fresh coconut water for 20 Baht at a stand there. That’s under a dollar.
There are so many different forms of transportation here. There are metered taxis which start at 35 Baht ($1 USD) and then go up two baht every minute (from what I’ve observed). Going down in price the next option is a red taxi which is a group taxi which makes certain stops (kind of like a bus, but not). These only cost 7 Baht. Then there are tuk tuks. They don’t have a meter so you need to agree on a price prior to your departure. They may seem intimidating at first, but they’re really fun. One very common way of getting around is motorbike-your own or a taxi motorbike (someone else drives and you hop on the back). The reason these work is because traffic is horrible. They are able to swerve through it “safely”. I’ve personally been too scared to try this.
Like I mentioned some people had warned me that Bangkok is a dangerous city. From my experience, after going out plenty of times at night alone, this is not true. Of course any city around the world can be dangerous at night. But the people here have been nothing but kind to me. My Au Pair family has been absolutely incredible. The people I’ve met out in the city have also been. Any time I needed help or directions people helped me like it was their duty and without any questions asked. I was in Morocco not too long ago. Coming from that environment to this, is a nice feeling. In Morocco everyone is always trying to get money off of you especially if they help you with something. It’s not their fault, almost no one can find a job or has money, but it was still a tiring experience.
Going to a Thai Temple:
I was lucky enough that my Au Pair family took me to a Buddhist Thai Temple. I actually used to attend one regularly with my mom when I was a kid, but I don’t remember much. Only the ridiculous memory of me hugging a monk (I was excited to see him I thought we were friends), and getting my mom in huge trouble (that was a huge no-no). I also briefly remember offering food to the monks and helping in the kitchen. But there was a huge gap of what the temple itself was like. When I arrived with my Au Pair family I immediately felt a shift in the atmosphere. We took our shoes off and everyone became quiet as we prepared a tray of offerings for the monk before us. Then we approached him on our knees with our hands together (as if we were praying). The monk dipped some kind of branch (or maybe it was incense wrapped together?) into water and blessed us with it as he chanted a prayer. It was a beautiful moment I may never forget. After that we went over to the river and fed the fish. I was very impressed with all the different ways they figured out to make money for the temple. Selling bread to feed the fish, clothes, jewelry, coffee, ice cream. I was happy to see they had some sort of general income aside from them going out to the city every day to receive offerings. Also a huge problem in Bangkok is homeless animals. No one can afford to have a pet here. So if they have a dog or cat they can no longer support, they will just leave them at the temples for the monks to take care of. It’s a sad situation but at least the monks are able to take care of them.
There is a huge problem with cultural appropriation here in Thailand. When I went through border control at the airport, they handed out a pamphlet on it for tourists. So if/when you come here keep in mind to do some research on this or ask someone if you’re unsure about something. They will appreciate the thoughtfulness.
I would like to recommend the best/my favorite places to go here, but every day I find a new place I call my favorite. There are also many places I have in mind to visit in the future. I will definitely do a blog on this in the future.