First days are usually the hardest. Ask any girl out there.
Obviously, I didn’t. But still, the country has its fair share of drawbacks just like any other country out there. Maybe it’s because I’m still a baby traveller which is why these are things looming to me just now.
My Bangkok Thailand trip was my first out of the Philippines travel without my mom. Naturally she and my whole family went nuts, giving me advices here and there which I didn’t remember once I was there simply because, who would? I have this habit of believing in the kindness of strangers and just feeling the moment which I guess would be a double-edged sword for me someday but I won’t think about it for the meantime. I’m grateful for the tips but really, experiences would bear me those, I just have to get on the plane and see for myself.
Arriving at Suvarnabhumi Airport
It’s also hard for me at first to speak the entire airport’s name in one piece but staying for five days in Bangkok is enough time for their words’ practice. It may feel funny at first but they feel like words that have deeper meanings than just places. The airport was huge enough to fit an entire kpop group fandom for a concert, partnered with sky-high ceilings that makes it even more spacious. A lot of other tourists were making their way out along with us but Filipinos are one of the few people who have basically grown up in long lines so we didn’t mind. The airport was swarming with Thailand’s beauty products commercials, with big ass posters all over the corners you could think of.
After immigration, we went ahead to the lower floor to ride their train going to our hostel. Bangkok’s surprise number 1: they have a connecting airport line from Suvarnabhumi to the city proper. When I saw this online I wondered, is the Philippines the only country that doesn’t have this yet? The train link is very similar to that of Eurorail, or I’d like think so at least based on the pictures I’ve seen. It’s just how like it is in movies: the view starts with a long field of scattered leaves and other plants you could think of, then the countless homes’ roofs will soon emerge. Gazing out the window the whole time, I think it took us around 30-40 minutes to get to Ratchaprarop station, where our hotel room awaits us.
Pratunam [Ratchaprarop] Adventures
Before seeing the beauty of the locals’ fashion, skyscrapers around the city and rooftop bars, we had to have our money exchanged first to Thai Baht. Easy peasy, we thought. We just have to look around the area for money changers. The area we lived in had a lot of street market, an Indian mall in between all the chaotic sellers, and some street food squeezed among all these mess. It was very hot, it smelled of every kind of smoke. We found one money changer near our hostel squeezed between a small family-run restaurant and a clothes shop, which we tried but cut back our Philippine money to almost half! I’m big on my money so I exchanged some here but not all. We continued to roam around the busy streets of Pratunam which feels very similar to Recto in the Philippines, trying more money changers with higher rates but sadly, those who offer it don’t convert Philippine peso to Thai Baht directly.
Learning #1: Have money changed to USD before travelling. Everyone accepts the American. So racist, I’m kidding.
This whole money change thing took us almost three hours, after we just grabbed some lunch at an Indian restaurant, yes in Bangkok, what else is there to do when your tummy’s about to eat you up if you won’t feed it? The restaurant was quite big considering they don’t have a lot of customers. The smell of curry wafts through the whole place but I was undecided whether that’s a good thing or not. My stomach was kind of twisting around mulling over the idea if it really wants some Indian food. There was a TV adjacent to our seat so that kept me well entertained while we waited for the food. The waiters were kind enough to answer all of our touristy questions about their menu so we settled for some chicken and rice to be on the safe side. Lucky enough the food we got here was delicious!
After lunch we decided it was time we let our bodies sleep because we all met up at 2 in the morning that day because our flight was at 0635, I was running on no sleep the whole time. We then arrived in Thailand at 10AM so it’s rest time for the afternoon. But surprise surprise, my eyes didn’t even flinch for a while, something normal with me when I’m out of the country. I don’t like spending so much time on things I could do back at home so after a couple of hours, I asked the group if they wish to go somewhere like, maybe the Lumphini Park?
Whispering my birthday wishes to Bangkok’s night lights
Sadly, it was too late to get a go to Lumphini Park because it was almost 6 in the evening when we headed on our way. Instead of visiting a park we ended up at the high-end mall called Siam Paragon which had the most famous brands such as Chanel, Fendi, etc. It was also the heaven for makeup enthusiasts for the place dedicated an entire department store specifically for makeup and fashion forward individuals. I was constantly snapping away cause I can’t actually buy the products so for the meantime, photographs would do.
I can’t recall what we had for dinner or if we even did eat during the night but to me, our first night in Bangkok, on the day of my birthday, was a little boring. It was composed of frustrations, sticky heat and lost money. The first day I could barely feel I was in another country. Before going to sleep I told my roommate how I felt a little homesick which I don’t usually feel. Or maybe it’s because I expected too much?
But as the optimistic person I am, I just braced myself for the second day when I totally went head over heels for Bangkok, Thailand, feeling it’s the country I could relate to the most.