Being a Basic Tourist in Bangkok

Updated October 8, 2017
Posted by
This post is part of my Bakbakan 2015 series of posts, narrating my first ever travel out of the Philippines, on my own, to 5 countries. Click here to see the summary and full itinerary!

After sitting by the aisle for an almost 3 hour flight, I’ve arrived at Bangkok! It was getting late at night but Khao San Road was just starting to get loud and bright. I checked in at Feel at Home backpackers through Airbnb as it was a cheap option. It’s near Khao San, but not too close to still be peaceful at midnight. Feel at Home didn’t really made me feel at home but Rohit was an amazing host. Most staff are of Indian descent and they have a restaurant that serves authentic Indian food. Probably the only thing I hated by staying near Khao San is that it’s far from BTS and MRT which are the most convenient mode of transportation within Bangkok.

Eatery serving authentic local dishes near my hostel

One thing you shouldn’t miss out on in Bangkok is riding a public ferry boat. Do note that, there are multiple boat companies with in a station and you might end up buying tickets from a tourist boat which are significantly more expensive than a local public ferry. Make sure to buy tickets for Chao Phraya Orange Flag Boat, fare is no more than 20 Baht (compared to the tourist boats with over 100 Baht fare).

Thai Monks on an early morning boat ride

I first visited Grand Palace, and went around for a few hours. I was wearing shorts that time so I needed to rent long pants at the entrance. The whole area was huge and I don’t think I saw every part of it to be honest. Each structure was well maintained even though they attract huge amount of tourists per day.

One of the structures inside the Grand Palace Complex

Just across Grand Palace is Wat Pho, another complex of temples with amazing architecture. The entrance fee was way cheaper and the crowd was mostly locals. You also get a free bottled water, which was a total win for me. I liked Wat Pho better because it feels more grounded in authenticity, although going to Grand Palace was a great experience as well.

Symmetrical details at one of the structures inside Wat Pho

Me and my friends had an inside joke about Terminal 21, where there is a replica of the Golden Gate Bridge. Basically, every time someone goes to Bangkok, that person takes a picture with the replica bridge, channelling one of our friends who has a picture with the actual Golden Gate. So I came for the selfie, but I stayed for the food. What I really loved about Terminal 21 is their food court. It has lots of choices, different cuisines, and you can just pay thru a card they give you that you load up with any amount. You can get a decent meal for under 50 Baht, then pair it with a drink and dessert for a total of 100 Baht, and you’re full. If I was staying near that mall, I would’ve eaten there on almost every meal of my stay in Bangkok.

~

The most important part of this trip for me is to go bungy jumping in Thailand, and it’s finally happening this day. I took a mini-van ride from Victory Monument to Walking Street in Pattaya. When I got there I was a confused tourist as I didn’t know how to get to the bungy site. A few locals (including the mini-van driver and a fellow passenger) helped me arrange a ride to get to Pattaya Bungy Jump. I only walked-in, but they accept reservations as well thru their website.

Victory Monument roundabout

At that time I was their only jumper, but a couple more arrived after me. It was a quick process, one moment I was Snapchatting, the next moment I was already attached to an elastic cord 60 meters above the ground. Standing at the edge of the platform made me rethink my choice. That’s just it?? I’m just gonna jump and trust the cord wouldn’t get tangled up on my neck? I believed they’re one of the safest in Thailand, so I stopped stalling, counted myself down, and jumped with my arms spread out. At least if I was gonna die, I would look badass right? Thankfully I didn’t die, I just screeched weirdly while dangling upside down, up and down, for a few seconds. It was all a breeze, but time slows down when you’re done rebounding and you’re just hanging there as they lower you down to a platform. That part made me dizzier than the actual jump to be honest. But overall I was so proud of myself for acting onto my craziness and actually accomplishing something. After the jump, I rest for a bit and watched as a few more guests do the same thing I just did. Needless to say, my jump looked cooler than theirs.

Me waiting for the go signal to jump

When I got back to the walking street, I still have a few hours to spend before getting on to the last mini-van to Bangkok. I ate at a Burger King (I deserved a fast-food okay) and went window shopping. Unfortunately, it was raining outside so I couldn’t explore the beach area extensively. By 7PM I went and looked (and almost got lost) for the station, and I’m in Bangkok in no time.

That night, I explored the Si Lom area, from Patpong Night Market to Soi Twilight. I wished I stayed up much longer because most bars were not yet open, but I had to go before the BTS closes. I went wild in Phuket though so stay tuned for that hahaha

~

I talked to Rohit (the hostel owner rememberr) the other day and got to reserve a tour package for Damnoen Sadauk Floating Market. I prepared early, and since this was my last day in Bangkok, I already packed my stuff, checked out, and left my backpack, before the tour bus picked me up. The floating market was far from the city, and travel time took about 2 hours. When we got there, the guide gave some instructions on what could we do, and what time should we be back at the same place, to ride a big boat and explore the area. I decided to take a ride on a small boat–with an additional fee–and got to experience a more intimate interaction with the market.

A typical scene at Damnoed Saduak where vendors with their own boat approach your boat to offer goods

The only problem here for me was that the market was not as authentic as I expected. It still has aspects of what makes it a Thai floating market, but they focused much on serving foreign tourists. Most items sold were the same stuff found in Patpong or Chatuchak. So the traditional idea kind of got lost.

Another thing, I’m not sure if this is a bad thing, but they also have some exotic animals for tourists to take pictures with. I sure hope they were properly taken care of, and not sedated or anything to stay calm.

After my mini-boat ride, I went around a bit more, and had a nice Thai fried rice, before going back to the assembly place. We went on a motorized big boat and saw some of the houses that are by the water.

More vendors on little boats

It was still early in the afternoon when I got back to the hostel, so I chilled for a while and socialized with some of the backpackers.

At around 4PM, I got my backpack, left the hostel, and took a tuktuk to Hua Lamphong Railway Station. Being the lazy person that I am, I just waited 3 hours at the station for my train to Surat Thani. By the way, I bought my tickets through 12Go Asia online, since Thai Railways doesn’t have an online reservation system. My ticket included a connecting bus ride from Surat Thani to Phuket Bus Terminal 2.

Platform area at Hua Lamphong Railway Station

I still can’t believe it, but sleeping in the train was so fun for me. Maybe I was just tired, I could probably sleep anywhere, but the sound and movement of the train calmed me really well.

Interior of the train, with opposite seats before they get turned into bunk beds

That sleeper train ride remains one of the best moments I’ve ever had, in my life. It’s hard to describe how special it is, but it’s one of those proud moments when you realize you’ve grown so much, that you can go on a long journey, in a totally foreign land, by yourself. It was also Christmas Eve at that time, but I still wouldn’t have traded that experience for a feast. What a way to welcome Christmas day for a non-practicing, practically atheist, catholic boy.

Click here to continue to the next part: “That Time I Saw a Live Birth on Stage in Phuket”

Comments