The weekend of October 20th I had a long weekend because there were no classes on Friday. I had a few ideas about what I wanted to do. A few of my friends were going to Pai, which is in northern Thailand. It’s supposed to be beautiful but the trip there required a 15 hour bus ride. I hadn’t been to Bangkok yet and I wanted to do a solo trip during my time here so I was excited for the opportunity and booked a bus ticket to Bangkok!

I got off the bus at 4 a.m. on Friday morning and negotiated with the songthaeow driver from 400 baht to 250 baht for the drive to my hostel. When I showed up at my hostel, the bars were up, the lights were off and I could’t see anyone, even though they said they had 24 hour reception. This was the only time on the trip I thought, “What the heck am I doing?” Luckily, I worked it out and I wasn’t stuck on the streets of Bangkok for the rest of the night.

My first day in Bangkok I spent sightseeing by taking the ferry boat down the Chao Phraya River. I went to Wat Arun (“Temple of Dawn”), a flower market and Chinatown. On the way back from the ferry ride, I walked down Khao San Road. It is well known as the backpacker hub of Southeast Asia. It’s filled with hostels, open air bars with lively music, food vendors and even a McDonald’s. I had phad thai for dinner, which I have to say didn’t compare to my favorite phad thai vendor in Khon Kaen.

On Saturday I was up early for the drive to go to the train market and floating market. The train market was exactly what it sounds like; it was along the train tracks, which a train actually still takes quite frequently. I was there when it came by and when the vendors heard the train slowly coming, they casually moved their overhangs in and any of the produce that might get crushed. After the train market, I went to the floating market, which is along the canals an hour outside of Bangkok. I took a slow paddle longboat ride around the market.

My bus ride back to Khon Kaen was later that night. It was a quick two days in Bangkok but I had enough time to do what I wanted. Bangkok was a very exciting city. I enjoyed my solo trip there and I found it helpful that I had a previous experience traveling alone. It made being in the overwhelming city more manageable. I’ve heard from people that they didn’t enjoy Bangkok, usually for the reasons that it is too busy, it’s too humid to walk around, there’s not much to do or it’s only for people who want to stay in nice hotels with rooftop bars and shop. I wasn’t expecting to love Bangkok but I was pleasantly surprised. I’ve heard it called the “Venice of Southeast Asia” because of the canals coming off of the Chao Phraya River. I wouldn’t go that far but it definitely had some charm mixed in with the hustle and bustle. The temples in Bangkok were numerous and unique; Wat Arun is one of my favorite temples I’ve been to in Thailand. The energy of the city is infectious. Even though I’d been up since 4 a.m., I found myself exploring the city in all my free time. And, of course, the food. I wasn’t looking to go to an expensive rooftop restaurant but I found my 1 USD street or cafe food just as delicious. I could’ve spent a few more days enjoying the variety of food in Bangkok. Looks like it’s worth another visit!

The “Venice of Southeast Asia”?

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