I’ll be honest. I’m writing this from the courtyard of my adorable boutique hotel in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Why? Because I can’t purchase alcohol until 5:00 and it’s only 3:00pm. I figured it’s high time to give my honest take on Bangkok and it’s probably everything you’ve heard before. However, I’m glad to have experienced it firsthand. I’m not so glad that after this trip is over, I have to spend one more night there.
When talking about their Thai itineraries people are usually quick to say you don’t need more than a day or two in Bangkok. I didn’t take much convincing so after I arrived during one evening, I planned to have the next day as my only full day in Bangkok. Thank heavens.
It all started with a 14 hour flight, three hour layover, and seven hour flight.
First things first. I thought that since the taxi’s are now metered, basically being robbed by drivers was thing of the past. I thought wrong. When I got in a taxi that was queued up and assigned to me at the airport, as soon as we drove a few feet I was told that the ride that should’ve been 300-450 baht, depending on traffic (of which there was none), was an even 500 (roughly $14.50). The man tried to explain why, and I understood everything else he said BUT that. I’m going to assume I was paying for him to get back. As if he wouldn’t find another fare.
Once I finally got to the uber busy Khaosan Road (I wanted to stay in the heart of the action) I hopped out of the taxi and walked down busy Khaosan looking down every alleyway and behind ever vendor stand for my hostel. Everyone was trying to sell me anything from jewelry to scorpions on a stick. I just wanted to lay down my suitcase and come back out to explore. Finally I gave in and decided to ask for help. By this time my hostel was literally across the street from where I was standing down the most discreet alleyway. Sidenote: I chose a hostel because of my super short time in Bangkok and because it was gorgeous. I literally saw the photos and decided, like I’ll be doing for my next trip, that the hostel was too gorgeous to pass up.
After checking in I decided to check out the neighborhood and the first thing I did was purchase a beautiful journal (my third in one week) and a lovely chopstick set. Second, I purchased a plate of pad thai for 30 baht. That’s about $0.85. Little did I know this would be the first of three pad thai meals during my less than 48 hour stay. I took it back to my hostel and wolfed it down like I hadn’t been fed every couple hours during my extensive plane rides.
As usual, I’d made no real plans for Bangkok and had no desire to do anything in particular. What’s my remedy for this? Walk. Walk until you can’t walk anymore. Then take a break and walk some more.
After quickly glancing at my map I realized that something called the Grand Imperial Palace was in my vicinity. Natural I began heading in that direction to figure out what it was all about. Along the way, and as usual, I made a wrong turn or two but ended up seeing what had to have been the palace in the distance. After basically walking around the entire block (can you imagine circling an entire palace?) I found the entrance and made my way to the building that give out coverups for a cool 200 baht deposit. They weren’t the most chic but did the trick.
I paid the admittance fee that came out to a little less than $13 and spent an hour or so roaming the grounds. I have to admit, it wouldn’t take nearly that long but I wanted my $12 and some change worth of views. Would I visit again? Of course not. I could’ve just found a temple and gotten my entire life plus some Instagram worthy photos. You live and you learn.
When I finally made it back to Khaosan Road I found some more delicious 30 baht pad thai and treated myself to some spring rolls for the same price. While walking around with my leftovers I was summoned by one of the many tuk tuk drivers interested in chauffeuring me around the area and convinced to take a 10 baht ride. He said he’d noticed me the day before and wanted to show me around. We visited a couple buddha’s and the Thailand Tourism Authority (I could’ve done without the latter) before returning to Khaosan.
I had an afternoon flight out so I spent the morning roaming, as usual, before heading to the nearest McDonalds for the closest thing to breakfast food I could find. Even the eggs taste different in Thailand (not always a bad thing) so I just wanted something that tasted like home. I also didn’t want to be thrown into pad thai rehab so I was set on having “real” breakfast food. To us Americans that consists of bread (usually toasted), eggs, a meat…you get the picture.
I opted to take a bus to the airport to avoid getting swindled out of my shrinking amount of baht. Just because I can afford to hemorrhage money doesn’t mean that I want to! I wasn’t even sure if I was at the right bus stop or a bus stop at all, but a taxi driver stopped and convinced me to get into his cab. Clearly it doesn’t take much to get me to change my mind. He promised he was meter only and even though he was a major creep, I preferred to be driven than have to catch the bus. Turns out, he didn’t know where I wanted to go and once he realized, he didn’t even know how to get there! I still don’t believe it, but I hopped out after he failed to get directions and if you think I paid him, you couldn’t be more wrong.
It took all of two minutes to signal another taxi and be on my way to the airport. Even after he hit me up for money to pay the toll, I still came out cheaper than if I would’ve kept driving around aimlessly with the other guy. 40 minutes and heading no-damn-where! Yeah, I couldn’t believe it either.
Here are some more awesome Grand Palace shots: