7 days in Bangkok

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On Thursday, December 27th, after a full hour in the immigration office, Arielle, Hannah and I arrived at 4AM in Thailand! Arielle’s friend Polina from Russia was waiting for us at the airport and once we all were ready, we shared a Grab (something like Uber) to our hostel in Bangkok, the iSanook hostel. When we arrived, it was already 6:30AM, but the reception was still closed and in the hotel next door (iSanook hotel; they belong together), they told us that we would had to wait until 7AM before they could let us in… Fortunately, some guy was leaving the hostel when we arrived and he let us in. They have some very comfortable sofas in the lobby and so we lay down and slept another 2 hours there. We were totally exhausted, but we decided to go have breakfast in the hotel next door; on the rooftop, they had a continental breakfast buffet for only 150B (= +/- 4€). The food was delicious and after 2-3 cups of coffee, the world was looking much brighter. After a necessary shower, we then walked around the city to a huge complex of malls where we spent the rest of the day. We had planned on staying there maybe 1-2 hours, but we had absolutely underestimated the size of this thing; you could spend days there. Hannah and I bought some very nice dresses for New Year’s Eve and I bought a whole new wardrobe of underwear, something I had been wanting to do for a long time…

We got back to the hostel quite late and we didn’t do much anymore for the rest of the day. We met a Belgian guy, an Argentinian guy (Hernán) and a Croatian guy (Daniel) who all volunteer in this hostel/hotel. They showed us the rooftop terrace of the hotel where we were not officially allowed to go to, but nobody cares. Up there, we played some cards and enjoyed the view over the illuminated huge city.

The next morning, we got up early to take the train to Ayutthaya which used to be the capital of Thailand. The train ride there was a bit uncomfortable; the train was very crowded and not all of us got seats… Fortunately, it was only a 90-minutes train ride and we were all happy when we finally arrived. We rented bicycles to discover this archeological city, because it was too big and too far from the train station to visit everything walking. There are still many people living there, but thanks to the various temples and ruins, it has become a famous tourist destination. It was very interesting and beautiful indeed, but a bit of a challenge with bicycles; you have to be quite careful and, in the same time, dare to just go between the crazy cars.

The only thing we didn’t know, was that there are no restaurants or places to eat in the old town, so at 2PM we went back to the train station where we found some restaurants, just because we were starving. If you ever go there, you should bring lunch packages. Anyway, it had been a really nice day and we had had a great time.

In the evening, we wanted to go to this lady’s night the Belgian guy had told us about and so we took a taxi to this club. Amazingly, the club pays for your taxi and you don’t not even have to go into the club! Since it was pretty early and we were hungry, we walked a bit around and finally decided to get some dumplings and a pizza to share. I was so sure I knew the Italian guy who sold the pizza, but probably he just looked very much like someone I know, otherwise he would probably have recognized me, I guess… When we went back to the club, it turned out there was no lady’s night and there was 300B entrance fee that we were not willing to pay. So, we walked around for some time, but then just went back to the hostel, not being able to find a nice place… It had been interesting to see the city by night, see how many people were still walking around and drinking. There were some huge stages with live music in front of one of the shopping malls where the different beer companies sold their drinks and you had to book a table in advance to get in.

We had assumed we would be super tired the next day, so we had scheduled to stay in the city and not go for another day trip. Well, we had gone to bed much earlier and much more sober than planned, but well, we sticked to our initial plan and went sightseeing in Bangkok. Hannah and I had another huge and delicious breakfast in the hotel and afterwards the 4 of us walked to Chinatown. On the way, we stopped at Wat Traimit (Golden Buddha Temple), a famous temple with a big Buddha statue that is entirely made of pure gold. Very impressive and the temple around it is beautiful as well. We stayed there for a short time and then we continued our way to Chinatown. There, you can find the biggest Chinese market in Thailand and I can only confirm that it is huge; we spent about 2 hours just making our way across the market!

From there, we went to Wat Pho, another huge Buddhist temple complex that contains Thailand’s largest collection of Buddha images, Bangkok’s largest reclining Buddha statue and the country’s earliest center for public education. Unfortunately, they don’t let you in with shorts or t-shirts without sleeves – linke in any temple – and they don’t rent scarves or long trousers (as they usually do), so Hannah and Polina had to buy clothes before getting in. In the end, this is all a big scam, because you could actually go in without being completely covered: in the individual temples inside the complex, they give you scarves for free to cover yourself… I also had short sleeves, but I got some plastic bags from Arielle, made holes in them and used them as sleeves; it was hilarious.

It was worth all the trouble to visit this place though, it was amazing! The architecture is very beautiful and there are different colors shining everywhere, not as kitschy as Hindu temples, just colorful enough to still be beautiful.

We spent a couple of hours there, marveling at this beautiful place, before finally leaving around 4:30PM. We had initially planned to also visit Wat Phra Kaew, the temple of the emerald Buddha, and the Golden Palace, but they were already closed when we left Wat Pho and so we decided to just go for lunch. Well, to be fair, it was already 4:30 and we kind of deserved lunch. Arielle found this really good small restaurant close to the river and we had some fantastic spring rolls and Pad Thaï. From there, we walked a bit around and we wanted to make our way to the famous Th Khao San road, a street full of bars, restaurants, clubs and tourists. On our way, Arielle played our “tourguide” and it was a lot of fun. On the Sanam Luang Place, a huge park/square close to the golden palace, they were already preparing for New Year’s Eve and it was very impressive to watch it. When we had a short toilet break in a hotel next to this square, it suddenly started raining violently; that was unexpected! We waited for about 1 hour, playing games and braiding Polina’s hair, but then we decided to just order a Grab and to go to a Latino Club in the city center. Our driver was very friendly and Arielle immediately made friends with him. He offered to take us by car on our day trip to the Kwai River the next day and the price was quite reasonable, but in the end it turned out that we would better have refused… You’ll see why later.

Anyway, we arrived to this Latino Club and we got in even without paying the entrance fee; I don’t know how, maybe because it was raining and we were a mess… We had a couple of cocktails on the first floor where we met a German guy who was quite nice but who left early and a Suisse pilot, Roger. We asked him lots of questions about the life of a pilot, what they get to eat, how long they are allowed to fly etc. Super interesting!

At 10PM, a live band started playing salsa music downstairs and we went dancing. Unfortunately, there were not many good salsa dancers in this bar, but we had a good time anyway. Later a friend of Roger joined us there and – finally – Hannah’s friend Tom joined us as well. He had arrived around 7PM from Sri Lanka and we had urged him to join us in the bar/club. Just like me, he had spontaneously decided to change his plans for NYE and join Arielle and Hannah (and me) in Bangkok. It was a great night with lots of dancing and many good cocktails.

The next morning, we left the hostel early and went to River Kwai. Our driver, Jos, had suggested to go to a floating market first and since we had wanted to see one anyway, we had accepted. Of course, had we known that this marked was absolutely not on our way and caused a huge detour and if we had known that this market was a huge tourist trap, we would never have accepted… Making a detour when you’re in a big comfortable car is no problem, but when you’re 4 people in the back of a normal car, that’s not very comfortable… There was absolutely nothing authentic about this market; it was just a boat tour on a canal with selling boots on every side where you can buy souvenirs and food. It was ridiculous and even quite expensive. Well, we made the best out of it and tried to enjoy it as best possible. To be fair, the food wasn’t the worst and it was an experience.

From there, it was another 4 hours to the bridge on River Kwai. This bridge is super famous, because it’s in the center of the movie “The bridge on River Kwai” from 1957 that is about WW2 and the suffering the Japanese imposed on the British, Australian and Dutch war prisoners who had to build a railway across Thailand to Myanmar. When you learn in Europe about WW2, you obviously learn about what happened in Europe, but nobody really talks about the atrocities that happened in Asia because of the Japanese and that is a shame. It was quite interesting to learn more about it even though the museum about it wasn’t very good – it was very basic, but still informative. The bridge was nothing special, it’s just a symbol, but there were lots of tourists visiting it. We had lunch there and then walked around for 1 hour or so before visiting the museum. In total, we spent maybe 3 hours there before going back to Bangkok. Tom was a very nice travel companion and even invited us to a coffee frappuccino! On our long 4h-way back, we were first watching some episodes of “How I met your mother” on Tom’s iPad, but then Hannah told us that our driver, Jos, looked really tired and we were afraid he would fall asleep and make an accident – he had told us that he had only slept 3 hours the night before! So, we turned on very loud party music and tried to talk to him as much as possible. All of us were very relieved when we finally arrived safely in Bangkok…

It had been a super long day, but we decided that we wanted to stop in the famous Th Khaon San road instead of our hostel, because it was kind of the last night we had a chance to go there. It was super crowded, but also interesting; it was just so touristic and this street could have been any party mile in Europe. Finally, we found a nice place with good music, drinks and food. We were starving, so we ordered some food and played cards while we waited for it to arrive. Hannah and Tom left shortly after dinner, but Arielle, Polina and I weren’t tired yet and the music was quite good, so we decided to order some more drinks and play a drinking game. It was very unexpected, because we hadn’t planned at all to go out that night, but we stayed until after midnight, drinking, dancing and having the best time!

When we finally got back to our hostel, we continued talking and drinking on the balcony until about 1AM, but then we decided to go to bed so that we wouldn’t be too destroyed for NYE.

The next morning, I was quite hangover and tired when I woke up and everyone else was still sleeping, so I decided to go to the hotel and have a nice, big hangover breakfast that helped a lot. The others woke up quite late and we spent the day doing nothing much. We watched “Kevin home alone” and “Kevin alone in New York” in the hostel and we talked to the other people from there. Finally, we decided to have a late lunch/dinner in a small local restaurant next to our hostel that had very good food before going out, looking for drinks for the night. We had planned to go watch the fireworks at “Asiatique”, a huge open-air-market at the river that apparently has the best view over the fireworks and so we wanted to buy some drinks for the way and to drink there, because the drinks there would probably be very expensive (which was the case). I wanted some rum and the others gin, but the only stores close to our hostel were 7/11 and it took us over an hour to find what we were looking for… In every store, they told us they didn’t have any rum until finally one of them told us that they had a local kind of rum that actually was sold in every 7/11; if only someone in the other stores had told us that our walk could have been much shorter, but whatever…

It took us some time to finally get ready and Arielle and Polina were being so crazy and full of energy that I first needed a big beer to get to their level (and they were sober!). We started drinking in the hostel and more and more people decided to join us: Ellie from Israel, Anne from Germany and Blandine and Lisa from France; later, after his shift in the hostel, Daniel from Croatia would join as well. For me, the best part of the night was in the hostel and our way to the party. We were drinking a lot and having so much fun! At some point, some girls had to go to the bathroom and we entered this dessert shop and realized they had a pool full of balloons and, drunk and crazy as we were, we just jumped in and played around until we got kicked out!

The market was huge and there was an incredible crowd. Still, Arielle managed to get us to the front of the river somehow, so that we had the best spot to see the fireworks (she made a lot of enemies on the way).

From there, we had an amazing view of the fireworks and we had a lot of fun, because we were a really diverse and cool group!

Unfortunately, shortly after the fireworks ended, everything in this place closed and all the people left. Still, somehow, we managed to talk to people and walk around until 2AM and then we realized we were super hungry, so we went to grab some food. This was more difficult than anticipated: most places were just about to close; even KFC and PizzaHut closed just in front of our nose… Well, finally we found some Pad Thaï, but it really wasn’t good…

At around 3AM, we then decided to leave and take a taxi back to our hostel. Some people wanted to go out to a club, but it turned out that all the clubs asked 1000B entrance fee that night and for just a couple of hours, that seemed a bit excessive to us…

Never mind, it had been an amazing and crazy night and I’m very glad I had decided to join Arielle and Hannah from Sri Lanka to Bangkok!

The next day, our last day in Bangkok, I went to the Belgian embassy to get some information about my passport – it was almost full – and when I came back, I had to say goodbye to Arielle, Hannah and Tom who were leaving… The next day, it would be Tom’s birthday, so we had bought a card and some cake and we had a very moving, short goodbye party… I was super sad to let them go; it had been the most amazing 4 weeks with them and I have come to love these 2 girls (and Tom of course) very much! I will miss them a lot but I know that I will see them again for Eastern and maybe at Arielle’s graduation in summer (a few month later, Hannah and I would by accident both end up living in Switzerland and continue seeing each other all the time).

The rest of the afternoon, I spent watching some series and I went to bed very early because I had to get up at 2:45AM the next morning to get my flight to Myanmar.

I hadn’t planned on visiting Thailand during my trip, because everyone always says that it’s a destination for 18-year old people who want to party, but I must say, I did enjoy my time there a lot, which is probably due to the people I was there with. I will never forget this Christmas and this New Year’s Eve; it will always be one of my favorite memories of this trip! ❤️

The next morning, we all got up super late and went immediately to lunch instead of breakfast. We went back to the same local restaurant around the corner where we had been before and where we could go again. We were too tired and too exhausted to do anything that day, so we just chilled around, talked to people and recovered from the exhausting last days.

In the afternoon, Polina left to go back to Singapore where she is working at the moment, because she had to work the next day…

Arielle, Hannah, Tom and I then decided to finally move a bit and so we went to a place called “Skybar” from where you can see all the city. Unfortunately, we didn’t know that they have a dress code and so Hannah and I couldn’t get in with our flip flops… Tom said he didn’t mind not seeing it because he has been to sky bars in Bangkok before and I didn’t particularly care to go up either, so Hannah took Tom’s shoes and she and Arielle went up alone while Tom and I had a coffee at Starbucks. When they came back, we walked back to our hostel and spent our last night together on the roof of the hotel, playing cards and drinking a last beer together.

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