A Travellerspoint blog

September 2007

Bangkok Part 2

A crazy city

overcast 33 °C
View Southeast Asia on sam.m.'s travel map.

I'm settling in much better now. The adrenaline of the culture shock has worn off a bit, and I was feeling a bit of jetlag yesterday, but it's been fairly easy to adjust. Bangkok is a very busy city with no coherent plan on where streets go, it's very scattered. It's also very polluted. It still has charm though and it's growing on me, but I won't be sad to leave on Saturday.

It's been pretty difficult to meet people, even though the Khao San Road area is buzzing with tourists. I found out that a lot of Europeans come here like North Americans go to Mexico, so everyone is kind of already in their own little bubble. However, I did manage to meet some people a couple nights ago. This girl noticed my maple leaf tattoo on my leg and we started talking, turns out she was from Langley, and she went to high school in Abbotsford! Of all the people, the first ones I meet grew up literally minutes away from me. Small world.

Yesterday I got my first Thai massage, which was fantastic. For 180B (about $6), I got an hour long massage fom head to toe. It was great, the masseuse digs her elbows into you, twists your body, and generally loosens you up. It hurts a bit, but afterwards I was incredibly relaxed.

Today I went to Grand Palace and Wat Pho, two of the main tourist attractions in Bangkok. Grand Palace was built in the 1700's and used to house the King, but now it's just an attraction, visited by Thais and tourists alike. Wat Pho houses the massive Reclining Buddha. It's huge, something like 75 metres long by 45 metres tall. Definitely the highlight of the day. I took a motorcycle taxi to get there, which I was very hesitant to do, but it was a lot of fun. You are basically on the back of the bike weaving through traffic at 70 km/h. There are lines on the road but no one really obeys them.

Here are some pictures of the past couple days. I'll only post a few because it takes a while to upload:


This is a tuk-tuk, a three wheeled taxi. The drivers are very agressive, it's best to just keep your limbs inside and trust them. I just realized you can see me in the mirror.


This is the street I'm staying on, Soi Rambutri.


This is the infamous Khao San Road.


My first Thai meal! Beef noodle soup with a cold Beer Chang.


A sleeping cat. Stray cats and dogs are EVERYWHERE. Very hard to get used to.



This is the Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho. It's amazing and the pictures hardly do it justice.


This was at Grand Palace, there are loads of these statues.


This was one of the many structures at Grand Palace.

This is most likely the last post I'll make until after October 11th. I head down to Surat Thani on Saturday for the meditation retreat, so wish me luck! I'll need it. I hope everything is well back home, I really, really miss the Vancouver air. Thanks for all the comments!

Posted by sam.m. 15:15 Archived in Thailand Comments (5)


Culture shocked

sunny 30 °C
View Southeast Asia on sam.m.'s travel map.

I have arrived!

I arrived at 5:30pm last night, and I got through customs and immigration in no time, so I was at my hotel by 7:00pm. At the airport, there were tons of people trying to get you into their taxis. All I heard was "hey you, taxi!", "Taxi sir?", "We have taxi!", I learned quickly to ignore them as they were all quite expensive. The currency here is baht, it's about 30B for every Canadian dollar. These private taxis were pushing 1000B, so I made my way to the public taxi lineup, and before I knew it I was heading towards my hotel while a bright red sunset dropped on the horizon in front of us.

The taxi driver was very nice, but new little english, which was fine. I was able to muster up the courage to greet him in Thai (sawadee khrap), and he asked me where I was from. When we got off the highway and into the neighbourhood, I couldn't keep my eyes off the streets. They are bustling with business and foot traffic, stalls everywhere selling food, clothes, everything. We got stuck in traffic, so he turned on his little TV screen and we watched the women's world weightlifting championships that were happening in Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand. We were both rooting for this huge Russian women who ended up winning. I think we bonded. The taxi cost 400B ($13), I thanked him (khap khun khrap), and he shook my hand and wished me luck.

It's very hot and humid, but surprisingly not as bad as Vegas was in August. My hotel room is pretty decent, air con, TV, working bathroom. It's probably the nicest place I'll see during my trip, so I'm not really looking forward to the other places. I reorganized my things, took a shower, and decided to go for a walk around the neighbourhood, despite the fact I had barely slept the last 24 hours. I'm staying near Khao San Road, which is the backpackers strip. It's crawling with people, bright lights, loud music. It's overwhelming. I bought a strawberry/banana shake from a street stall which tasted amazing and only cost me 25B.

I am definitely culture shocked, and a bit lonely as I realized I had no one to talk to, but I'm sure that will pass. I haven't been able to take many pictures, but as soon as I do I'll post them.

I'm staying in Bangkok until the 29th, and then I'm taking a train down south to Surat Thani, where I'm going to spend ten days at a meditation retreat. They have a website, if you're interested: http://www.suanmokkh.org/ret/ret-sm1.htm. You can check out the schedule I'll be keeping, which includes waking up at 4:00am every morning. I have to be silent, and the accomodations are very bare. It will be a big challenge, but I've promised myself to stick it out, so we'll see how it goes. I won't have access to email or anything, so if I don't post anything before the 30th, I won't post again until after October 10th.

Thanks for leaving comments and sending emails, I really appreciate them. I miss you all.

Posted by sam.m. 08:26 Archived in Thailand Comments (6)

Leaving for Asia

Only 17 days left in Canada ..

overcast 17 °C

Well, I've finally decided to get up and do what I've been thinking about doing for a few years now. I'm leaving Vancouver on September 23 at 850am, and after a quick layover in Hong Kong, I will arrive in Bangkok the next day at 530pm. Over four months, I'll be backpacking through Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and possibly Myanmar, though I haven't made a final decision on whether or not I'll go there.

I've spent many, many months thinking about this trip, trying to decide when I should go. I had a great job at EA, worked with some great people, and it was difficult to leave, but I felt I had procrastinated long enough, and it was time to just drop everything and do it. I've been planning for the better part of a month, and even though it's close, I still find it hard to believe I'm leaving. I've never even been off the continent before! I have mixed feelings about the whole thing, mostly because I'll be going solo and it freaks me out a bit, but also because I'll be apart from my family, friends, and my girlfriend Parisa, who is leaving the day after me on her own adventure to France, where she's teaching English for the school year.

I hope any of you who bother to check back on this blog enjoy living vicariously through me. If you're so inclined, you can subscribe using the link on the right, and get an email when I update. I also urge you to leave comments! I found out after I signed up that if you want to leave a comment, you have to register. I know this is a pain in the ass, but it's a quick, one time thing, and I will really appreciate reading them.


Posted by sam.m. 00:02 Archived in Canada Comments (6)

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