No amount of research can prepare you for the culture shock you get once you land in such a developing country, I instantly appreciated everything I had back home. That’s when I truly fell in love with travelling, it’s something that everybody should experience at least once, then maybe become addicted to it and quit your job. For anyone who knows will agree that travelling is an addictive hobby; it’s something that’s so liberating and makes you feel completely different about everything in your life and makes you appreciate the small things.
My first long haul flight went ok. I mean, for anyone that knows me knows that I slept for a majority of it and also ate my way through Emirates profits. When I found the “wake me up for food” sticker, I knew I was in the right place. I had a lot of time to think whilst I was on the plane; I thought about the past year and how much my life had changed since then and how much of a different person I was. Everyone had said it but it had taken me until now to realise it.
From the first day, I found myself smiling at the most stupid things. I was over the moon to have this opportunity and was ready to see what the world had to offer – once I recovered from the terrible jet lag after my 28 hour travel there.
I was so relieved that the hotel I was staying in had air-con and a pool!!! It was total bliss and just what I needed as I was jet lagged for 3 days and was really sick from the malaria tablets (devil medication!!!) so I stopped taking that…! Also lets talk about the hair situ ladies, what the hell? Talk about humid and wishing I had my damn straightners 🙁
Bangkok was full of life… and also people annoyingly dragging you into bars you didn’t wanna drink in and shoving fried scorpions in your face. The traffic was hurrendous, full of Thai locals seemingley rushing to get to nowhere. The night life was like something I had never experienced before, it was unbelievable and also pretty intimidating and overwhelming. I felt like I should be wearing a fluorescent jacket saying “nervous approach with caution”. I certainly needed a drink after it taking me 20 minutes to walk the famous Khao San Road, dodging the tuk-tuks whilst trying to work out if the person talking to me was female or not.
Khao San Road is everything you have heard it is; busy, bright and so f*cking loud. And still now, all I predominantly remember was the incessant noise of them bloody wooden frogs. The road that runs parallel to it, Soi Ram Buttri, was similar but way less intense. At the end of this street was a beautiful road lit up with hanging lanterns and old vans turned into food stalls; you wouldn’t believe that Khao San Road was a 5 minute walk from here. The atmosphere was chilled and there was nobody trying to sell you crap or shove menus in your face. This street was actually where my addition to Pad Thai began!!! The people collecting here seemed to be a bit older and more laid back. Me being me sat right in the middle of them and instantly got chatting to the nicest set of people. That’s when my faith in other travellers began; I was made to feel at home instantly.
During the day it was a completely different atmosphere. The streets were slightly cleaner, quieter and more relaxed, although the stagnant smell of beer and street food still lingered. Last nights bars turned into little cafes and restaurants, there was a large collection of shit-stalls and the Mc Donalds was still heaving (something I don’t understand when you’re travelling?!) EAT THE LOCAL FOOD GOD-DAMN!!
I did the usual temple-seeing and came to realise that sometimes a temple is just a temple. Some are all the same and when its 35 degrees and you’re sweating buckets, walking round a similar temple is just not the one. I also wondered round Lumpini Park and caught the most beautiful sunset over the skyline; sunsets are something I have begun to appreciate more too. One of my first lessons learnt was to make the most of each day.
I had read that the teak boat canal tours were worth a go, so I hopped on a boat which took around 1.5hours. From leaving Khao San Road where they have electricity and roofs over their heads, to getting into a boat and seeing tiny shacks built over the river, gave me a real insight into how the different people lived around there. It makes you fully evaluate yourself. Seeing the Thai locals being fully appreciative of the small things they have makes you wonder when we started taking everything for granted. They are genuinely happy with the basics and most of the community are probably oblivious to how developed the rest of the world actually is.
I spent a few days (far too many in my opinion) in Bangkok to recover from jet lag then caught the over night sleeper train to Chiang Mai – dat was fun. I lie, it was awful. The only positive was that I met some lovely people, who I kept on bumping into around CM.
Also, make sure you take food and drink on the train with you – if you’re anything like me and get travel sickness on trains, you won’t appreciate that the food stall is at the far end of the train!!!
After a crappy sleep on a super uncomfortable bed made for the borrowers, I arrived in Chiang Mai. I’d say I was ready to see what CM had to offer, but I felt like shit and just wanted a decent sleep.