Disclaimer: I actually spent two nights in Bangkok but I’ve been waiting ages to use that title.
Wow. What a city. In a way, Bangkok was almost exactly what I expected it to and yet so much better at the same time. Home to around 6.3 million people, it’s a city of contrasts – in one corner sits the glittering towers of the Paragon Shopping Centre, then as soon as you step outside people line the streets selling handicrafts and elephant pants (of which I may have invested in four pairs for myself and a couple of extras for friends…they rip easily okay!)
Tuk tuks run rampant around the streets, careening around corners and threatening to deposit their passengers at every intersection. The people are overwhelmingly friendly (maybe I’m just used to Chinese hospitality but they are so nice!) and as a destination it’s easily the cheapest city I’ve visited.
Flying with China Southern Airlines was an experience in itself. I didn’t entirely connect that I was flying from China and would therefore be surrounded by Chinese people on the plane and at the airport (deadset was the only non-Chinese person at Wuhan airport). To put this in perspective, I am absolutely convinced that their only goal when flying is to bring as much as humanly possible onto the plane with them so that they can speed off at the other end. To this end, the lady in front of me had a huge cardboard moving carton stuffed with (according to the picture on the box) some sort of fluffy marshmallows, as well as a carry on suitcase that really should have gone under the plane. After a solid ten minutes of gawping at the outfit and watching her try to shove all her luggage into the compartments, I mentally noted to avoid the lady in the geometric print pants with the carry-on marshmallows and settled in for the three hour flight.
At the other end I jumped off as quickly as is humanly possible in a moving tidal wave of Chinese people (there may have been elbows involved) and ran to overtake geometric marshmallow lady on the travelators. When I hit security they guided me to a line and I went to stand in it to await my entrance to Thailand. Alas, it being 1.30am I wasn’t entirely paying attention to where I was headed and next second I was standing behind an extremely familiar marshmallow box accompanied by a geometric print shirt. Damn! Despite all my efforts she somehow bested me and I ended up behind her in security. For whatever reason it took her ten solid minutes to get through security (of course). 30 seconds after walking up I was waved through and I departed to find my transfer.
The hotel was about a half hour drive from the airport, right near the infamous Khao San Road. When we pulled up I genuinely thought we had arrived at the wrong place because it was so nice! Far too nice for a Contiki hotel! I headed upstairs to meet my new roommate Daniella, and we had a quick chat before finally falling asleep.
The next day I had a full, glorious free day in which I could do whatever I wanted. So after accidentally waking Danni up an hour early because I forgot to change my watch and was utterly convinced it was 8.30, we headed down to eat. Dad’s friend Bruce had offered his wife to show me around for the day so I jumped over to his office around 11am where we had a lovely catchup reminiscing about when I was 11 and he visited us in Australia (my memories were somewhat hazy due to ten years passing). We then headed out to some local markets to look around (this may have been where I picked up the six pairs of elephant pants). We had lunch at an amazing street food lunch of chicken with delicious soy sauce and then headed out for some retail therapy.
That night was our Contiki meetup where we got to meet with the group and our Tour Manager. Alex seemed like a super chill guy, full of handy tips about South East Asia including warnings about squat toilets and street food. You’re preaching to the choir mate, I only wish we’d had Alex around when we first got to China! His #1 Tip was take care of your bag (unfortunately his bag got stolen later that evening at dinner….). We’re now on to our second trip manager who is really awesome…I’m super sad that we’re losing her in Laos.
Anyhoo sorry for the long post. I was going to make this post all about our travels through Bangkok but it’s already too long so I’ll condense it down into a short section: went to Grand Palace, had crazy local tour guide who made us sing Thai songs, made friends with some people, ate some good food (ALL THE MANGO STICKY RICE), next stop Chiang Mai.
tl;dr (Thanks Jess for the inspo): Caught plane packed with Chinese people to Bangkok, met up with some cool people, ate some great food, saw some sights, now about to go on overnight train. Sorry for dodgy formatting I’m workign off my iPad on this trip. Ditto for lack of photos. You’ve all seen Facebook anyway.
Final thoughts: note to self China Southern does not believe in in-flight entertainment, also not allowed mobile phones, kindles or iPads. Must think of something non-electronic to do on on the way back. People watching is always a good option on a Chinese airline.