What’s my first impression of Bangkok, Thailand? Friendly, beautiful, spiritual, and ridiculously affordable.
After a 20-hour long trek from Los Angeles to Bangkok, Thailand, I was restless and irritated. Going through immigration and multiple checkpoints tested my patience. It all started during my eight-hour layover in China, and somehow, I ended up getting lost for two hours during my transfer.
Please don’t ask me how this happened, but obviously, my jetlag and not paying attention affected me. I had to go through the hassle of explaining that I was lost, but with the language barrier, it became a headache and pain. Once I found my way back to the international terminals where I needed to be, without hesitation, I sat down at a restaurant and had a glass of wine.
My initial journey to Bangkok was hectic. However, I arrived in Thailand, and my attitude adjusted and simmered, noting it was over, and that I made it. Calmly, I walked outside of the airport, ready to start the adventure. The warmth of the air and humidity forced me to take off layers. I removed my sweater, scarf, and quickly pinned up my thick hair.
I instantly noticed a lot of other tourists and backpackers from different backgrounds. There was an enormous amount of commotion happening; yet, it was the disorder that exploited everyone’s excitement.
Other than prior research, knowledge of transportation was vague, but it was relieving to see a proper system for booking a cab. I waited in a massive line filled with other curious travelers and groups for almost 30 minutes to take a position number, which directed me to the cab pickup lane.
I assumed that traffic would not be at all like Los Angeles. Though, during that cab ride, my assumptions were incorrect. I sat in traffic for over an hour, and I’m not including the time when the cab driver got lost. So, the ride to my Airbnb was a bit long, and my headache grew stronger.
Realizing my agitated mood, I remembered all of this hassle was part of the journey, and then my emotions soothed. After deep breaths to calm down, I allowed myself to stare through the window, familiarizing myself with the atmosphere of the city.
How would I describe Bangkok? Compared to my previous trips like Vancouver and India, Bangkok sits in between the two. There are well-developed skyscrapers while surrounded by what looked like lower-class sheds of homes and stores. Every other home adorned beautiful gold and bedazzled religious statues or filled with paradise colors of floral arrangements.
Without a surprise, Americanized companies like McDonald’s and Seven-Eleven stood at every few feet with entrances filled with street food vendors. Taking over the streets were your traditional Southeast Asia tuk-tuks, some modern vehicles, mopeds, and many cabs.
After finally arriving at the Airbnb, I took moments to relax on the patio. The panoramic view conveyed the countryside and a spectacular view of the city skyline. Bangkok had elements of a village, yet the city ambiance is apparent. My zen-like moment was interrupted by my stomach growls – so I hit the streets for some food.
Thankfully, my Airbnb’s location had many stores and restaurants nearby. After stepping outside walking through a tight alley, I stumbled upon some locals. They had a warm smile once our eyes met and didn’t seem to make a huge deal that I was a tourist. The community didn’t sit there and stare because you looked different. Compared to my experience like India, I was a ghost in the streets of Bangkok.
Not once as I walked alone did I feel that my safety was a concern. There would be odd smells here and there swiftly taken over by cooked meals from street food carts. At every corner were stray dogs, roaming around as if they ran the streets of the city.
At a nearby outdoor restaurant, the warm and delicious authentic Thai meal ended my first night in Bangkok. Before resting, I was looking back on a long trip to arrive. With immense anticipation for what was to come, I was hopeful for a seamless journey.