This past Friday I hopped on a bus and spent the weekend in Bangkok. I had been eager to visit the capital of Thailand, and it was also a great opportunity to meet up with some friends who teach nearby.
Overall it was a great trip, but the bus ride to get to Bangkok from Khon Buri really tested my patience. The bus from Khon Buri to Korat City took 2.5 hours instead of 2. So I wasn’t able to get on a bus to Bangkok until 6pm instead of 5pm. And to top it off, I accidentally bought a Bangkok ticket for the crappy, slow bus that stops every 10-15 minutes to let people off at random stops along the way. To put it in perspective, we started the trip with a full bus. I don’t mean American full (1 person per seat). I mean Thailand full. People were sitting on the floor and crammed in the aisles. Out of all of those people, only 7 of us actually made it to Bangkok. So, unfortunately it took me a little over 8 hours to get there instead of 5-6.
Between me being mad at myself for getting on the slow bus, my phone dying the last 2 hours of the trip, and the fact that I hadn’t eaten anything since lunch at 11:30am (it was 11pm at the time), my irritable level was approaching a 7 by the tail end of this bus trip. However, as I started getting closer to the big city and I could see the skyscrapers, I became a lot more relaxed and excited. It was like I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. I finally arrived and was very, very excited to see all of my friends that I hadn’t seen in weeks.
My Biggest tip for people arriving in Bangkok for the first time: Do NOT get in a taxi that won’t turn on their meter. They will try to take advantage of you by overcharging you by 2 or 3 times the amount it should be according to the meter. A lot of times if you convert how much it costs you in USD, it will seem like you are getting a fair deal. However, $15 is not a fair price here. It should be closer to $5! Taxi drivers in Bangkok are required by law to turn on their meter. So if they won’t turn it on, get out and flag down another one. There are plenty and it won’t take long to find one who will!
A cab driver tried to get me to get in his taxi without turning on his meter and wanted to charge me 500 baht ($14)! That price is outrageous. I get how I looked like an easy target. I only had a backpack, I was a female, and I was alone. Little did he know that I have lived in Thailand for 2 months and knew what was up! I ended up sharing a cab to Khaosan Road with 2 other Westerners and it only cost us 60 baht each!
The next morning, I woke up early to explore the city and stumbled into a parade. There were people dressed in costumes, people on floats and kids playing drums. Randomly they would set off a bunch of firecrackers. The coolest performance was by these men that climbed up gigantic poles and guy fought a dragon.
After the parade, we headed to the Chatuchak Weekend Market. It is the biggest market in Thailand. It has more than 8000 stalls! You can buy anything from food to furniture to antiques. There was also an entire section of exotic animals. That part of the market was actually very sad. The animals looked miserable and half of them shouldn’t even be domesticated. There were everything from puppies to squirrels on leashes to a full grown fox in a tiny cage.
Some of my friends that live in Bangkok told us about the Artbox Festival. I could not find any information on the internet about it, so I am not a 100% certain exactly what it was, why it was there, or how often it is there. I had fun nonetheless. There were a ton of food stalls with huge selections of great Western and Thai food. I bought a steak with potatoes on the side, an extremely overpriced bottle of Hoegaarden, and a brownie. No regrets. The outside venue was decorated with lights, there was live music, and a bunch of booths selling everything from t-shirts to wooden pencil cases.
Our last stop for the day was the infamous Khaosan Road. A lot of my friends and I had never been to Bangkok, so we decided to stay in a hostel near it to get the full experience. It is one big, crazy and chaotic party street. There are people selling beer, food stands, and even fried bugs and spiders! We bought beers at the 7/11 for 55 baht and then walked up and down the road. After 12 midnight, it is illegal for 7/11 to sell any alcohol, so then we sat down at a bar and drank beer there for 100 baht/bottle. It was a one of a kind experience.You should definitely check it out for 1 or 2 nights when you come to Bangkok. At the same time, please don’t go to Bangkok and spend a whole week only partying on Khaosan Road. There is so much more to the city!
We ended the night having a full fledged, 2 hour long political debate….at Burger King….at 2 in the morning. On a serious note, one of the greatest advantages of living abroad is getting the opportunity to have debates like this with people who come from completely different backgrounds than you. It’s moments like those that remind me that it is important to have friends that don’t agree with every political and religious view I have. Having my views challenged, in a healthy way, helps me think about the reasons that I believe what I believe. This either strengthens my argument or forces me to adjust my beliefs.
I had an awesome weekend in Bangkok, but man did I pay for it! I had a very Western weekend filled with steak, pizza, kebabs, Hoegaarden beer, and fancy cocktails. Where I live, I don’t have a lot of opportunity to eat any other food besides Thai food. Don’t get me wrong, I love Thai food, but I was definitely starting to miss Western food.
I also bought contacts. There was a stand in the BTS (the sky train) that sold Acuvue contacts for 450 baht/box ($13)! I didn’t have to show them a prescription or anything. The lady just pulled out a giant box filled with contacts and I scanned through them until I found what I needed. Thank you Thailand!
So, including absolutely everything I spent about 3400 baht ($90). Which equates to the amount of money I spend in Khon Buri over 10 days! Here is the break down:
Bus ticket (round trip): 435 baht ($12.5)
Hostel: 480 baht ($13.75)
Food/drinks: 1500 baht ($43)
Water: 85 baht ($2.50)
Contacts (2 boxes): 900 baht ($26)
I can’t wait to visit Bangkok again. It only took me 5.5 hours to get home, so it is definitely worth taking a weekend trip there once a month. The city is huge, so I am eager to explore the different parts of it over the next few months.