Day 1: What Are We Getting Ourselves Into?
We have finally made it to SE Asia! First stop, Kao San Road in Bangkok, Thailand. If you want the ultimate (un) authentic Bangkok nightlife experience, this is where to go. Dudes in muscle shirts and buckets of booze included. We were so happy to have Calvin, Clair’s brother, join us for this part of the trip. After meeting up at the airport and hopping in a cab at around midnight, we arrived to the party in full-swing. Our cab driver wouldn’t even turn down the road and you can understand why once you start walking through the hordes of tourists.
With our backpacks on, we slithered our way through the crowd turning away offers of beer, BBQ’d scorpions (Cal ate one!), and laughing gas. Our hotel, Dang Derm Hotel, was in the heart of it all! We ended up booking a second night here, and even though it’s pretty expensive for accommodations in Thailand ($80 CAD/night split three ways), we really liked it for our short stay in Bangkok. Especially, if you’re needing a comfortable stay after a long flight (Calvin had flown for nearly 30 hours!). It was clean, air-conditioned, they provided you with bottled water, and a delicious breakfast included every morning.
We quickly dropped off our gear, checked our jet lag at the door, and headed to mingle with the masses to have a couple of beers to celebrate the Cerilli-Stankevicius reunion.
First things first, Bangkok is awesome and a complete sensory overload. It is easy to feel overwhelmed. And locals love to help but be very aware that almost ever local in the touristy area of Bangkok who asks if you need help or need directions is most likely trying to scam you. They want to gain your trust, so you get in their tuk tuk and then go buy suits, or gems, or have a tea party. It seems weird but it happens ALL THE TIME. Anyways, within minutes of exiting our hotel, and about every few minutes after that we had someone asking us where we were going, where we were from (they all have cousins in Toronto), etc. Be polite, say no thanks and keep moving. Here’s a great post by Globe Trotter Girls.
Day 2: I Would Walk 500 Miles ♫
Anyways. We had intended to visit the Grand Royal Palace but it was slightly more confusing than normal as the King in Thailand has passed away and the country is still in a state of mourning. There were many local people heading to the temples to pray. Not wanting to intrude, and being unsure whether the Grand Royal Palace was even opened, we decided to check out some markets and get foot massages (which are awesome and really cheap!) We lead a hard life.
That night, we decided to check out Asiatique. This was a really different experience. It’s basically a really sanitized version of Bangkok with more expensive stores and restaurants. It was cool to see but not really our style. We actually enjoyed the Pad Thai we had bought on the side of the road more than the food at this place, which was also triple the cost. One upside to this place was they had a taxi service which helped you grab a metered cab. We had been told time and time again to only use metered taxis but that’s easier said than done. Most taxis will flat-out refuse to turn the meter on. We found that the best way to deal with this is to ask your hotel for an estimate on how much a cab should cost and then try to either get a cab to turn on their meter or haggle one down to the appropriate price. Sometimes ya gotta bite the bullet. Taxis are really cheap, so it’s not a deal breaker.
Day 3: It’s Good To Be King…But Just For One Day ♫
We once again attempted to visit the Grand Palace and the Green Emerald Buddha. Pro tip – Wear pants and a T-shirt. If you don’t, you will have to wait in line to borrow some (deposit required). It was really amazing to see the detail at these temples.
It’s pretty incredible how well they are maintained. For just about 150 years, Bangkok’s Grand Palace was not only the home of the King and his court, but also the entire administrative seat of government. Thai Kings stopped living in the palace full-time around the turn of the twentieth century, but the complex remains the seat of power and spiritual heart of the Thai kingdom. Admission is around $20 CAD/person.
We took the river ferry to and from the Grand Palace. Tickets are very cheap, but make sure you buy from the official ticket booth. Be ready to move quickly on and off the boat or else they’re leaving with or without you. If you need help in figuring out a plan of action, visit the I-site in town. They were so helpful!
We were exhausted from all the walking (haha, we are the worst) and decided to get full body massages. It cost a whopping $8 CAD for 60 minutes. Feeling a little skeptical of what it would entail, it turned out to be freaking awesome! Kik – “I burst out laughing at one point because the masseuse literally put me in a full nelson.”
Feeling loose, we grabbed our gear from our hotel and made the change to a different location for our last night before our flight out to Cambodia. Kik found an amazing hostel known as the Sleepbox. It was hands down one of the coolest and well-organized hostels that we stayed at on our travels so far. Very reasonably priced as well at $30 CAD/night for the three of us in a private room with bathroom. Check it out if you’re in town and don’t mind a quieter area located near the fancier hotels. We still managed to find the best street soup though!
Our stay in Bangkok was brief, but we plan on returning after we travel through Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos.