It was strangely underwhelming to board the plane after saying goodbye to friends and loved ones. Last time around this was an adventure into the unknown and yet this time I know exactly what to expect. My flight via Abu Dhabi was fairly painless although somewhat easier than I remember.
Arriving in Bangkok hit me like a hammer. I don’t know how I forgot the diversity, the hustle, the bustle and the sheer scale of this city. Bangkok has a population of around 12 Million people; over 4 million more than London, and it shows.
Looking around for places to go and things to do soon made me realise that this is a city that cannot be conquered. Normally when visiting a destination you can plan to see the main attractions, dig up some lesser known places that may or may not be interesting and visit a few good restaurants/bars recommended by previous travelers.
Here in Bangkok almost every street turns up it’s own unique experiences… and there are a lot of streets.
Walking down a typical street you will see a stream of taxis, cars and motorbikes jostling for position on the busy roads. On the pavement you pass food stall after food stall and, depending on the area, DVD stall after Music stall (counterfeit of course). You can buy anything from a coconut to the latest Hollywood film to banana pancakes to fake handbags to barbecued squid on a stick, all for less than the price of a pint of beer.
The street I am currently on, Convent Road, is typical of this and also shows the great contrast with a Starbucks, many 7/11 convenience stores and a traditional Irish Bar (one of the best I have seen outside Ireland) called Molly Malones.
A full english breakfast, with Coffee, is £2 and that is fairly expensive for food around here. They provide free Wi Fi and the staff are great.
For all the wonders of Bangkok life travels at 100mph here. As a visitor you will always feel like there is more to see and more to do. As a tourist, you will surely feel overwhelmed and couldn’t possibly have the time to figure out the best ways to get around and the best things to see (in this case it is surely beneficial to pay that bit more for tour guides and organised trips).
The best way to experience Bangkok is as a resident, I believe. Living here you will soon know how to get everything you need, do everything you want and meet many people. This town is essentially a mixing pot of cultures and people from different backgrounds bringing their bit of flair to whatever tiny part of Bangkok they can influence.
I said to a few people before I left that I would not live here in Thailand, but now I am here I envy the lifestyle many of the more outgoing and entrepreneurial expats are living – literally anything is possible.
But still I crave the serenity of places like Koh Samui with the laid back attitudes and beautiful scenery. I also crave the adventure and cannot wait to visit Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. I don’t really know what to expect from these places and I plan to keep it that way. This week I will be making a plan of where I will be going in the weeks of December and early January and this may also include Kuala Lumpar.
For the short term I will be staying in Bangkok this week to finish up some bits of work, organise my trip and get the things I need for the rest of my journey. Next Monday I plan to travel south to Koh Samui for a few days before taking a ferry to Koh Tao and completing the open water diving course for scuba diving.
Before I came away my motivation to traveling was starting to become slightly subdued but now I am here I cannot explain the changes when you are exploring and pushing your boundaries. Sometimes it can be too easy to take the comfortable route but it is when our heart beats and our mind races that we are truly living our life.