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Location 1: Bangkok, Thailand

THAILAND | Sunday, 3 April 2016 | Views [624]

Location 1: Bangkok, Thailand

"Finally" was the only thought when we touched down at Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok.  It was a long haul, but felt great to actually step out of the double wide doors into destination #1, with many more to come.  I am traveling with two friends, Alexa and Chris for the first leg of the journey and I have to say it might be a bigger blessing than I had anticipated.  The weather (hot and humid are delicate words for the climate), language barrier, traffic and overall differences between home and here are huge.  Not only do I wake up and go to sleep exactly 12 hours later than I did previously, but the way of life is 180 degrees from what I considered "reality".  

Once we landed we jumped in a taxi and headed to the hotel.  We booked a room for the first few nights (as I will be spending the majority of my nights in hostels) to help acclimate our bodies and minds faster.  I will admit, this was a smart idea, because Bangkok is big and intimidating.  We woke up after a few hours of restless sleep and got on with what we thought was an "epic" first day…wrong, so wrong.

For any of you readers that have managed to traverse Bangkok scam-free and regret-free, I envy you.  The three of us fell victim to what now appears to be one of the biggest charade's the city has to offer.  We started our first day with no agenda, but quickly determined that we should hop on the Skytrain and head to the Grand Palace.  After arriving at our stop, to jump on the boat shuttle, on the Chaya Phraya, I was stopped by a polite gentleman gawking at my height.  He wrote out an elaborate plan, on my pamphlet map, and ushered us to the nearest tuk tuk.  The tuk tuk driver brought us to the first stop (Lucky Buddha), which was a pretty neat spot.  We took a few pictures, donated 20 baht, and were ready to keep on…till a well spoken Thai man, with very proficient English approached us.  The guy was a smooth talker and roped us in, he told us about his pregnant wife, his three sons, his life as a tax attorney, and his father.  We ate up his entire story before he delivered us some information that we couldn't pass up.  He told us that we should go to a particular clothier shop where we could get custom suits made, at the best quality, for what seemed like very little cost. The shop supposedly had the same tailor that works on suit designs for the Armani export factory in Thailand.  The story was beyond detailed and the three of us walked into the shop and one hour later had orders placed.  I would go into further detail, but honestly it isn't the point, the point is that 10 hours after purchasing I was searching the internet and came across the EXACT same story (minor details changed, but the crux of the tales were damn near identical)…turns out, this is a typical deception that happens everyday in Bangkok.  Now- the suits themselves are in the process of being made and at our fitting the suits actually appeared to be of really great quality.  Also- yes, we did have to go there after knowing the whole ploy to get us there was total bullshit.   Since we are in a foreign country and considering we do not speak Thai, we didn't want to enter into the store and start something.  Unfortunately- we are not sure what this ring of orchestrated con artists are capable of.  It was a hard pill to swallow, realizing that we paid nearly 45% more than we should have (still a fraction of what it would cost back in the states).  The one positive that came of this is that trust is something to cherish, lesson learned!  

The second day in town we finally made it to the Grand Palace- which is absolutely beautiful.  The colors and details of each structure are really things to admire. Despite it being 101 degrees and 85% humidity, all patrons are required to wear long pants and have shoulders covered.  The grounds were swarming with people, some there to be blessed in the Temple of Emerald Buddha and others there to simply get a feel for Thai history.  I really enjoyed seeing the formality and historical connection that many of the visitors displayed.  If you ever make your way to Bangkok, you must go see it for yourself.  

The third and final day was one of my favorites.  We took the Skytrain to the end of the Silom line and meandered to Chatuchak street market.  The market is monstrous and would truly take a full day to see maybe a fraction of all the shops/vendors.  We spent most of the time hopping from street food vendor to street food vendor, but did walk away with a few items to use on the rest of the trip (including a pair of unisex parachute elephant pants- I'm sure those will pop up in some pictures from time to time).  One of the cooler things that happened there was meeting a jovial Spaniard making fresh paella.  We sat down and started talking to another Spaniard, who delivered us some sage advice on places to visit for the remaining time in Thailand.  It is also always fun to be able to speak Spanish in a country where English often represents naivety.  

Bangkok did deliver on almost all fronts, with inexpensive markets, cheap beer and chaotic street life.  I will be venturing back here periodically, as it is a great hub to get from one place to another.  Today- I can say, without doubt that three days in Bangkok was probably enough for now. It can be a very overwhelming place to navigate, but I think it was a good jumping off point for what will be a trip of a lifetime.  I apologize in advance for the picture overload, but I too want to remember what I saw and did.  Off to Chiang Mai…


See photos here.

Tags: bangkok, thailand


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