Eleven years ago, I made friends with the Thai exchange student in my high school. When you part ways with someone so far away, the typical ‘see you again‘ farewell seems to have the underlying ‘maybe, someday, but it’s a far off dream‘. If you told me then as I said goodbye to Nath that in 2017 I’d be starting 5 months in Asia staying with his kind and incredible family in Bangkok, I wouldn’t believe it! But here I am, reconnecting with an old friend from my formative years.
February 7, Day 1: After arriving in Bangkok, I tried to sleep off the jet lag a bit. Nath took me to his bar in the evening for dinner and drinks with some of his friends. These hilarious guys had all sorts of questions I was happy to answer about the US, and they taught me a few helpful Thai phrases (if not slightly offensive).
February 8, Day 2: Nath taught me the BKS and MRT public transportation systems as we ventured to Chinatown for dinner.
February 9, Day 3: My first experience at a Buddhist temple.
February 10, Day 4: My first day on my own and recovered fully from jet lag. I took a break from the city with a walk around Lumpini Park before my fancy lunch at Nahm. It’s been on my bucket list to dine at a Michelin star rated restaurant, so I paid the price to try out one of Bangkok’s best dining experiences. Overall, it was great food, but it inflated the cost of my entire time in the city. That meal alone was nearly 20% of my weekly spending!
After lunch I got my first Thai massage at Perception Blind Massage. Really neat business with employment opportunities for those with visual impairments. It was conveniently right down the road from a Unicorn Cafe.
Then I spent some time with the Golden Buddha at Wat Trimitr and practiced my haggling skills with motorbike taxis and tuktuk drivers.
February 11, Day 5: Nath’s parents took me to Pattaya City to visit the floating market and see their resort. I got to sample so many new things – mango and sticky rice, octopus on a stick, some sort of pork blood soup… really fantastic flavors. I tried a fish pedicure. As I squirmed and giggled, Nath’s dad sat stoically next to me, never flinching. I’m not quite sure how anyone gets used to the little nibbles of toothless carp, eating away at your dead feet skin.
February 12, Day 6: Another day to see the historic sites of Bangkok. As I was boarding the Skytrain on my way to the Grand Palace, I met two friendly Debs from Canada looking to get to the same area. We traveled together and I changed up my plans to join them at the National Museum. Maybe you’re reading this, Deb and Deb! Hi! Lovely meeting you!
After the museum I took a motorbike taxi to Wat Pho, Reclining Buddha. Check out the little tiny people for a size scale.
February 13, Day 7: My plans to finally see the Grand Palace were again changed around because of the closing of the Palace for a special ceremony appointing a new Supreme Patriarch monk. Instead, I made it to the Golden Mount and climbed to the top for a smoggy view of the city in the morning. It was the least crowded of all the temples, and quite peaceful.
I tried to catch a boat downriver and ended up on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River by accident. I didn’t feel like seeing Wat Arun (I’ve read it’s best viewed from the river anyways), and wandered to Prayurawongsawas Waraviharn Temple instead. I immediately felt intrusive as I walked in on a mourning ceremony for the late King. Nothing seemed open and I almost gave up and left the grounds, then a friendly monk noticed my confusion and came over to tell me I could climb the steps to the top of the temple. It was one of my favorite experiences in Bangkok.
I found a charming spot for dinner, Cabbages & Condoms, decorated with condom art! Part of the restaurant profits go to supporting family planning services in Thailand and promoting a better understanding and acceptance of family planning.
February 14, Day 8: No photos, but I successfully navigated a foreign post office and sent back gifts and a bunch a stuff I didn’t need (hopefully it makes it back to the US in 1-2 months). I’ll link later to a post I write about all the things I brought along and have already shed from my pack because they take up too much space and I just don’t have a use for them.
February 15, Day 9: Bye, Bangkok! On to Krabi!