The beginning… BANGKOK, THAILAND!

Hey followers (and Dad)!

I survived my first week of traveling! Yay!

I’ve spent my first week doing a lot of the typical sightseeing.  I stayed on Khao San Road, the backpacker mecca of the city.  It’s definitely a tourist haven, with hostels, restaurants, bars, shops, and travel agencies everywhere.  You can find cheap, delicious street food (pretty much anywhere in the city, actually), massage shops lining the streets, and vendors selling pretty much everything possible.

There are temples everywhere, too, some more famous than others. Temple Wat Phrae Kaew (and the Grand Palace), Wat Arun, and Wat Pho, the main three temples, were beautiful.  I was a little disappointed to find out Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn) has been closed since February, currently undergoing a restoration.  Usually, you are able to climb the steep steps of the Khmer style temple to the very top, leading to amazing views of Bangkok.  They light it up at night too, making it a magical sight to see.  Since it’s closed for a while, I’ve got a reason to come back already.

The first two hostels that I stayed at were definitely a lot less social than I was expecting.  Neither had a great common area to socialize with other travelers, or even a bar to meet others.  And I worried that I would have more trouble than I thought making friends, and therefore, wouldn’t be able to travel as I had expected.  But after my first 7 days, meeting just a handful of others, my fears subsided.  It was just enough interaction with others while recharging my confidence as a solo traveler.  I don’t need anyone else.  My own company is enough.  Every now and then friends are great: to exchange travel stories with, see the sights with, and especially to go out and drink with.  But I’ve learned from the past few days that it’s just as fun and possible to do it all on my own.  I’m ready and very excited for what this trip brings, even if it I do it alone!

With that being said, I did meet some fun local Thais that took me out for Halloween. I ventured away from Khao San Road, and partied with them in Silom, a central area in Bangkok.  Let’s just say between beer towers, drag queens, and dancing at an after hours club, I had a blast.  Contrary to what I thought, Bangkok does celebrate Halloween.  Pretty well, I might add.

My first impressions of Bangkok, Thailand: HOT, BIG, DELICIOUS, and CHEAP. Haha, but seriously.  It’s been about 95 degrees (F) every day so far, with the sun beating down all day making it feel even hotter.  And in an effort to save money, I’ve been walking everywhere.  It makes for a sweatier, more tiring day, but is worth it for me.  I don’t have to haggle with taxi and tuk-tuk drivers who are inevitably ripping me off (they usually triple the price and don’t always budge), and I get exercise while experiencing the city as opposed to seeing it through a car window.  With that being said, I’ve invested in sunscreen, long and lightweight “temple” pants that let a nice breeze through, and baby powder for the painful chaffing .  To be honest, as ridiculous as the pants might make me look, they have completely changed my outlook, being super comfortable and functional for temples, since you must cover your knees.  They make for good pajamas, too.  And yeah, I’m wearing them right now. 🙂  The food is delicious.  There are street vendors and carts that sell everything from pad thai to pho to fish and beyond.  And the best part is (besides how good it all tastes) is that it’s all very cheap.  For an average street food meal, you’d spend 35 baht, the equivalent of USD $1… so yeah, I’ve been eating well.  In regards to money, I’ve tried to budget about $25-$30 a day and have been doing pretty well.  In 7 days, I’ve spent $213.04, averaging $30.43 a day.  While that does not include visas, airfare, or traveler’s insurance, it does include the necessary essentials that I needed to buy in the first few days.  Food is pretty cheap ranging from $1-$5 for a meal, hostels range from $5-$15 a night, and tourist attractions can range from free to $20.  Since I’m traveling long-term, I’m keeping a close eye on my budget for the first few weeks and not splurging too much.  So please feel free to wire me alcohol money.

I’ll be spending the next few days in Silom.  Khao San Road was cool to experience, but too touristy for me.  Silom already feels like home – it’s a bustling central area of the city, there’s a bit of a gay bar scene, and Lumpini Park – an awesome outdoor green space with an extensive pond, exercise machines, a running trail that gets really crowded, and giant lizards everywhere. I love it.

Up next, I’ll be traveling west to Kachanaburi, known for the bridge over the Kwai River, it’s WWII significance, and the beautiful Erawan Falls.  Then to Ayutthaya, an old capital of Thailand with supposed incredible temples.  And then north to Chiang Mai!  I’m so excited!

Any advice or places to visit?  Hollerrr.

Michael

PS Huge shoutout to Lonely Planet‘s “Southeast Asia on a shoestring” travel guide for keeping me alive and on budget.

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