Hello from Bangkok! I cannot believe that I am finally here!
We landed at about 11:10 AM – a bit ahead of schedule. Bangkok’s immigration process is a bit unique in that they have different lanes to go through passport control – since I flew Business Class, I was eligible to use a priority lane and cut the line. Shortly after I went though passport control, my bag came out on the carousel and I was able to go through customs!
After going through customs, I needed to do two things before I got in a taxi for my hotel – I needed to take cash out and I needed to buy a data SIM card for my iPhone. After a quick search, I found an ATM that wasn’t affiliated with a Currency Exchange (a telltale sign that it’s going to rip you off). I have a Charles Schwab account, so all my ATM fees are reimbursed, but it’s better safe than sorry.
For the data SIM, I heard that a company called True had decent service in the parts of the country I’m going to for 399 Baht (just over $10), so I went to their booth and was done in less than 5 minutes!
After I was done, I headed down to grab a taxi. The taxi drivers in Bangkok try to get you to agree to a flat fee of 500 baht, but I read if you ask them to use the meter it will never cost more than 400 baht. True to my research, the ride to my hotel cost exactly 400 baht!
I quickly checked in and ran downstairs to meet up with a few people from my tour group. We grabbed a bite to eat at a restaurant next to our hotel – of course, for my first meal, I had to order Pad Thai. It was amazing and had a cool view!
After lunch, I walked down to find Khaosan Road, what is constantly called the Backpacker’s Hub of Southeast Asia. I turned to early and walked down a street that I thought was it, but didn’t find out until later in the evening that it was the wrong street!
The streets were filled with people selling trinkets, shirts and food. Music was coming out of each bar like it was the middle of the night. People were just sitting down with friends and having conversations like they hadn’t a care in the world. I love the vibe!
Afterward, I went back to the hotel to meet up with a few people for a drink at one of the local bars. It was a great excuse to get to know some of my travel mates before our kick off meeting with our tour manager at 6:00 PM.
Our orientation lasted 2 hours and gave us a great overview of all the exciting things we have planned over the duration of the tour. At the end of the orientation, we headed out for an evening in Bangkok!
Since it was our only night in this amazing city, we hit the ground running down at Khaosan Road (the right one this time). I immediately got a vibe that I belonged. It felt touristy, but that was okay. I felt an instant connection with the people I passed on the street – we all shared a common interest traveling; we all considered ourselves citizens of the world. As we wandered, we passed locals selling various street food and other souvenirs, but we finally settled on a bar along the way for a quick bite to eat before heading to one of the famous backpacker bars, Lucky Bar. The atmosphere inside was wild, but the atmosphere in the street was even wilder. It was a party like one I’ve never seen before in an outdoor setting – people were just having a great time, dancing with whoever wanted to dance, it didn’t matter if they knew each other or not. Nobody had a care in the world. We then wandered around a few places and tried a few Thai specialties. They make a whiskey called Sang Som which was very strong and bitter. I also even tried a scorpion – I spit it out, but at least I tried!