Culture Shock; My First Three Days in Bangkok
There’s nothing quite like stepping off a plane and feeling disoriented from the overwhelming amount of people that do not speak English, the unorganized chaos of traffic (who needs lanes?), the swarms of slow walking locals, and the loud buzzing noises of all the motorcycles weaving through traffic… welcome to Bangkok!
After traveling for a total of 24 hours, flying from Winnipeg to Vancouver, Vancouver to Beijing and Beijing to Bangkok, describing myself as tired would be an understatement, however I was still very excited to have arrived in the capital of Thailand.
High-rise buildings, heavy traffic congestion, and intense heat are some of the words used to describe Bangkok, but beneath this façade lies a city that is rich in culture, arts, and tradition.
For my first two nights, I stayed at the Eastin Hotel Makkasan, which was quite nice. After arriving at the hotel around 1:30 am local time, I was more than happy to sleep in and enjoy my first full day in Bangkok around the hotel, lounging by the pool and catching up on some much needed rest and jet lag recovery. I ventured out for a few hours in the afternoon to check out the surrounding sights and really see for the first time what this new culture was all about. The moment I stepped outside the 4-star hotel and started walking through the streets, the definition of culture shock became even more real. Although very different, and sometimes ‘grungy’ looking, I felt very safe walking through the streets and was never uncomfortable, which almost felt strange being in such a foreign place. The locals live very differently than we do back home and seeing this sure makes you appreciate the many things we take for granted.
After a couple low-key nights at the hotel, I checked-out and headed to experience my first ‘back-packing’ adventure by checking into the Bunny Burrow Hostel, where I would spend the next two nights (which was a very nice, clean and friendly place to stay). After checking in, it was time to experience some of the main sights of Bangkok. I headed over to Khao San Road, which is a famous street like no other in Southeast Asia; super busy and full of tourists. The street is lined with bars, people selling insects on sticks, clothing and many other souvenir items. Crowded and loud are two very common words to describe this street. It’s a must see when visiting Bangkok, but it is definitely not an area I would want to stay in.
After walking around, taking in the sights, and eating some local food from the food carts, all I could think about was how different this is compared to back home. It’s amazing to see so many different people from different cultures all in one place, all in culture shock and most of which are trying to haggle with the local shops (in whatever language they speak) to get the best deal on a pair of elephant pants or one of the many souvenir items... what a site! And then you turn your head and hear the individuals that are already fed up with the crowds, telling (for probably the 10th time) one of the pushy suit salesman or rude Tuktuk drivers to F**k off as they walk by… words truly cannot describe this street.
Prior to leaving on my trip to Thailand, I connected with a friend, Dennis Barczak, who I graduated high school with and has been living in Bangkok for 10 months working as a teacher. It worked out that we could meet up and I was excited to experience a Friday night in Bangkok with a 10-month old local. Needless to say, we had a blast! We Spent most of the time around the Khao San street area having a few drinks in the local bars, catching up and listening to many great stories (and advice) Dennis has from living in the city. We later met up with two others from Winnipeg, Tyler and Adrian, and continued to have a great time.
On my last full day in Bangkok, I decided to tour through the temples and floating markets. I visited the Grand Palace, Wat Pho and Wat Arun, all of which were amazing and a must see when in Bangkok. The Grand Palace was a spectacle and stood out as the coolest temple of them all. The detail in the temples and history behind them is amazing. You could spend hours upon hours walking around and soaking in the culture and its traditions. After a full day of sightseeing, I settled into my favourite café, The House, and spent about an hour and a half catching up on emails and doing some work (by the way… this café had the best cup of coffee I’ve ever had!).
After spending 3 days in Bangkok seeing the main sights, and getting (for what I think) the worst of my culture shock out of the way, I am ready to leave the hustle and bustle of the busy city and head north to Chiang Mai. I will plan on staying roughly 4 days up North then venture down south to the islands. I am sure Chiang Mai (along with every other place) will offer its own unique experience and memories, which I cannot wait for.
I will plan on releasing a new blog post after every major place I visit, so to be sure you don’t miss a post, sign up with your email to be notified when a new blog is posted. You can sign up on my home page or on the main blog page.
Until next time,