Sunday, July 19, 2015

My Thailand Adventure - Bangkok

I wanted to tell you about Thailand. There are a few things I wanted to highlight so that when you're in Thailand you know what to expect.

So to begin....

I bought my flight ticket online, it was cheaper than going through a travel agent. I didn't have a desire to do a packaged deal where your travel agent puts everything together for you and you stay in a  resort, 10 nights in Phuket, I could'nt imagine anything worse. I wanted to be careful and choose my own guesthouses and have a real experience. I spent alot of time choosing my accommodation slowly online and viewing their websites on Trip Advisor. I emailed everybody and paid their deposits and I had the most wonderful trip doing it this way. Every accommodation was special and hand picked by me, and I chose the nature and flow of every activity. I flew directly to Bangkok, and asked my hotel to pick me up. I chose to stay in old China Town as I wanted the most unglamorous authentic experience possible. They were there to meet me, I was driven to my guesthouse immediately on arrival with no hithes. You can buy a sim card for your phone with data immediately at the airport on arrival, it's very easy, and I recommend it.

China Town is a riot - take a scene out of the Fifth Element - it's exactly that. I was dropped onto a sprawling pavement and was immediately assaulted by senses - there are hawkers everywhere and it is so completely foreign to anything I'd ever been before. I loved it.

I stayed at the Shanghai Mansion Bangkok - a beautiful small boutique hotel, in the middle of China Town. I hadn't slept on my fight and everything felt surreal but I couldn't wait to do some street photography so I checked in, left my bags and hit the sidewalk with my camera. The first moments in another city is always my best. I could not believe it. Losing myself in the beauty and the street venders and the  humid rain and humdrum - words cannot describe it. You have to go there yourself. These first moments were my best. I think something spiritual takes place when you're in a place on your own and you're getting to know it for the first time.

I walked for miles photographing the landscape, and returned late to my hotel wet and hot and happy, caught in many torrential rain storms. That evening, my partner flew in and met me in the lobby. Andrew had just been surfing in Nias for 3 weeks. I hardly recognized him as he had been living on rice and coconuts and was skinny and burnt brown by the  sun.

That night we took a train to the city and met an old friend from Cape Town, a Bangkok local, who showed us the sights and sounds - I wanted to experience some live local music, and  took us to various restaurants and bars and night clubs. What they say about Bangkok is true - you only need one night, and what happens in Bangkok, stays in Bangkok. Advice: be careful with your credit cards, make sure they are pin protected and be sure to pay cash only and not give your credit cards over..there are many scams. Make sure your cards are protected.

We did however not stay one night, we stayed two, because I wanted to see the floating markets. The photography aspect of the floating markets is amazing, and you get your own private boat and driver and speed through the canals, it's wonderful. We hired a driver for the day he drove us out, it's very far, about 2 hours, and pricey - be warned, but im glad we did it. My dream was to see a tiger and so we did that - Andrew was very patient with me but it's not something I would promote as it's cruel and unsustainable and something I wasn't comfortable with. 

Andrew said I had to experience a show and so we went to see a production that evening. It was brilliant and beautiful and we got to meet the dancers afterwards who are so good. So here ends by 2 nights in Bangkok - it was definately enough time for me and I'm so glad I stayed in Old China Town, that was the biggest highlight. The next adventure begins in Chiang Mai, the spiritual capital of Thailand...

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