Hello! It’s been a few weeks since we left Bangkok and headed into China, but because I had such a great time overall (this really is a place you either love or you hate), I thought I would share a bit about what we got up to, including when Mum came over on her first overseas trip! (remember to hover over pictures for captions)
Matt and I had a few days in Bangkok way back in February before heading overland to Myanmar. We were excited to get to our first big city, and my first impression of Bangkok was that it was really, really big. But not only that, it was a city of contrasts, street stalls and tuk tuks set against skyscrapers, giant advertising TV screens and massive concrete overpasses. Fancy restaurants, coffee shops and shopping malls set against wooden shacks filled with locals up at the crack of dawn preparing their food for the day. Food that would later be eaten on little tables and stools on the footpath next to the drain. Bangkok is a city where you can buy a delicious bowl of noodle soup or a pad thai for $1.50, or get your lunch for $20 in a restaurant only 20m away! Whatever you want, this city has it.
Some of the food:
Although it was hot and humid, and we were exhausted from all the travel, Matt and I decided to tick off some of the major attractions in Bangkok and visited the ancient temple Wat Pho, walked past the Royal Palace and happily stumbled upon the ferry system, which turned out to be a much better way of getting back to our hotel in the heat than walking. We also visited the famous Khao San road, and Matt decided to try fried grasshopper!! Eww!!! It was all very touristy, and a lot of things were overpriced as you would expect, but a god experience anyway.
We ended up moving to another hotel in the famous expat area, Sukhumvit Rd, where it was slightly less hectic (I don’t think there is any such thing as a quiet spot in Bangkok) as we both got quite unwell (most likely a product of the full moon party). Once recovered we decided to treat ourselves by having a cocktail at long table bar overlooking the city (amazing views!), and ended up exploring Sukhumvit Rd and checking out Soy Cowboy. Certainly an eye opening street, and one of those places you really don’t want to go back to.
One of the things I really love about travelling is when you have not much planned for the day, and just by saying yes and doing some exploring you stumble across some really cool things. You end up having a way better time than when you have all your activities planned. This happened to us the day we went to get out last pre-exposure rabies shot. The friendly doctor suggested we see the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall nearby, which turned out to be extremely impressive, and from there we found a massive fresh food market along a canal, a real insight into how the locals live and trade. Most of the fish/crabs/eels and toads were still alive, and some of the sights and smells made me feel a bit ill, yet it was all so interesting that I couldnt look away!
Somehow during this time in Bangkok Mum decided maybe she could come and stay with me while Matt headed home for a wedding over Easter. Next thing I knew she had booked a flight and a few weeks later Matt and I are back in Bangkok but with Mum… I have no doubt she wondered what she had gotten herself into!
To go from a cheap 1 star hotel to a 5 star for a week was a real treat, and I certainly didn’t want to go back to the backpacker life afterwards! I think it was so brave for Mum to come on her first overseas trip to Bangkok, one of the craziest, busiest cities in the world.
We had a great time making the most of all the things you can do in this city. We had tapas and cocktails, a few expensive meals at nice restaurants, and of course did some shopping. We also ate street food, something I’m sure would have seemed quite daunting to mum, as it was only recently after going to Myanmar that I started becoming more comfortable with eating this food!! We also rode in a tuk tuk (twice!!) amongst the crazy Bangkok traffic, and went to see the ladyboy Cabert Calypso (Mums idea – it was actually quite good) which was like going back in time – I don’t think it had changed in the 30 years it had been going. We also bought a Smirnoff from a convenience store and drunk it whist wandering the streets because, well, in Thailand you can!! We agreed that Bangkok has to be one of the best places in the world for people watching.
I know that for mum just lying by the pool at the hotel, reading and not having to worry about anything or anyone else for a few days was one of her favourite things to do (particularly because it was so hot). I am so happy that we got to spend that week together, I realised how similar we are, how funny my mother is, and I will forever treasure the time we spent together. Next time we will have to go somewhere a little bit less crazy (or less like slide show alley, as Mum put it), and of course bring Dad along (maybe somewhere with a golf course)!
Tomorrow we are heading to the ancient capital of China, Xi’an, and from there heading west into desert and western China! We are looking forward to experiencing how the landscape, people and culture change as we make our way to Central Asia! We will update you again when we get the chance.