As we boarded the night bus at 9pm at Chiang Mai Bus Station we were greeted by a friendly Thai lady who provided each passenger with two slices of cake in a small plastic container and a warm blanket. The journey down to Bangkok wasn’t too bad. The roads were fairly bumpy but no worse than I was expecting. However, I couldn’t tell whether being woken up at 2am by the friendly Thai lady, this time with a can of coke for each passenger, was an example of how hospitable Thai’s are or just slightly odd…
Getting into Bangkok Mo Chit North Bus Terminal at 6am was definitely an experience. The only signs in English are ‘Taxi’ to discourage tourists from opting for the cheaper options. Just trying to get walking directions to a bus or a sky train was an hour-long struggle. We eventually caved in and took a taxi to the sky train. The sky train was fantastic; signs in English, very clean and fairly peaceful – London needs this.
Side Note: Another positive peice of info regarding Bangkok is that it only cost 80B (about £1.70) to leave each large peice of luggage at the train station for an entire day. (This is in comparison to Bern, Switzerland where it costs about £8 per day!)
In Bangkok every Tuk Tuk and taxi driver seems to be trying to rip everybody off, with taxi drivers refusing to put on the meter. I just found this to be such as shame. In Chiang Mai everything is based on trust and as a ‘farang’ you have to learn to be less cynical, something that whilst it made me feel slightly vulnerable, it also felt so nice to be in a place where a majority of people have respect for each other and base their business on trust. However, arriving in Bangkok the guard has to go right back up. Having said all this, when people aren’t trying to scam you the locals are very friendly and keen to help lost tourists (without you needing to ask!) – we had about 5 different locals circle sites/wats/must see’s on our paper map and many more who just wanted to know what we thought of their beautiful country!
Places I visited in Bangkok visit #1:
– The Standing Buddha (free for everybody as it was the queens birthday)
– An hour-long ‘long boat’ around Bangkok. I saw a ‘mini’ floating market (very mini – a total of 3 boats). I actually found this trip a little sad; rows of derelict huts on stilts and masses of rotten stilts where huts used to be. The river used to be one of the main ways to travel around the city but now it’s a bit of a sorry state – it’s strange and sad to imagine what it once looked like.
– Democracy Monument. It was here that a man attempted to scam us with a ‘tour around the city’ which sounded far too good to be true. We politely made our excuses and left, to only then bump into the same Tuk Tuk driver 5 minutes later, waiting on a corner for us, shouting “5 BAHT EACH!”. I was certain he was just going to appear each subsequent day afterwards in whatever location we happened to be desperate for us to experience his magical tour. Luckily, he did not…
Lets just say, I’m extremely glad that Bangkok wasn’t our first taster of Thailand, as it would not have been the best start to our adventure. Bangkok definitely has it’s perks but the rest of Thailand has SO much more to offer! After this day in Bangkok we travelled down to Ko Phangan for 5 days and then back up to Bangkok for 2 days before our flight back to Heathrow. This second taster of Bangkok was much more enjoyable but it’s certainly not somewhere I’ll be rushing back to.