My time in Bangkok wasn’t too active due to the rainy season in SE Asia, so this gave me time to catch up on research. However, there are some things I learned about Thailand and a few activities I did that I won’t be forgetting anytime soon.
Predictions and First Impressions
My original views of Thailand came mainly from movies I’d seen and rumors I’ve heard. Yes, that rooftop bar that’s shown in The Hangover Part 2 really does exist, but unless you’re carrying a nice outfit with you and don’t mind spending a small fortune on a drink, you’ll probably want to avoid this place. Instead, you can hop over to the Marriott downtown and head up to the Octave rooftop bar instead; where there is no dress code and everything is reasonably priced. It’s also one of the higher buildings in the city so you also get the great views as well!
I’d also heard about all the supposed stories of the streets filled with prostitutes and ladyboys, and while I saw a little of both it wasn’t in the large amounts I was expecting. Instead, Cambodia fit that description perfectly as I had talked about in my previous article. And also after visiting Vietnam and Cambodia, I was expecting Thailand to be a bit run down and rough, but it was actually very modern and most of the people were rather respectful.
There were a few issues though and a couple downsides I noticed with Thailand, but I’ll get to those shortly. There’s also the famous “Thai Massage” that you’ve probably heard about and the massage parlors do have women out front dressed rather provocatively that will in fact give you a real massage, but will also offer a bit more for a price. I did not partake in this popular activity, but I’ve heard that some of the masseuses can be rather forceful if you don’t go for the “bonus features”.
Taxis In Thailand
The biggest and most reoccurring issue I had in Thailand was taxis. I’m not sure what qualifications you need to become a taxi driver in this country, but it apparently must be the same as flipping a burger at a fast food joint. Finding a taxi driver is easy; finding a taxi driver who knows where anything is on the other hand is a challenge. Countless drivers didn’t even know where the airport was, but they seemed to know where countless brothels were oddly enough.
Of course, once you find a taxi driver who actually knows his own city and is willing to drive you, you then need to let him know you want to pay by the meter. This narrows down the selection of capable taxi drivers even more as many want to drive off the meter and pocket the fare. They’ll often try to charge you 2.5 to 5 times the amount it would cost on the meter! So after finding one that knows where you want to go and will turn on the meter, you then have to hope that he doesn’t drive around in circles just to run the meter up.
There were many times when my fellow backpackers and I would simply not pay the scammed amount. After you visit enough developing countries you build a confidence to just simply say NO to scammers. Whether it’s walking away before a scam starts, or just simply walking away during the scam and not paying a fabricated price. We never had any of these scamming taxi drivers chase after us after we would bail from the taxi on a bogus fare charge, but I can’t say it won’t happen if you try it yourself.
Nothing like downing 10 bowls of boat noodles to satisfy your hunger in Bangkok! No, they’re not noodles in the shape of boats or anything like that, just a small bowl with some noodles, broth, and a small variety of tasty additions! I only got to enjoy this popular food for one meal, but it was certainly a unique experience. What happens is you and your friends sit down at a table, order some boat noodles, sit back and wait for them to start coming out. As you finish your bowl you start a stack and just keep piling them up; and at the end of the meal your waiter/waitress comes by and counts the stacked bowls to determine how much you owe!
The grocery stores in Thailand also carry things that you may not be accustomed to seeing, like a pigs face for example! Yes, you can by the real face of an actual pig (eyes not included). Other than some strange oddities like that, the grocery stores are pretty westernized, though this could be that the famous grocery store chain Tesco (the Walmart of the UK) can be found here. So, if you’re looking to move to Bangkok, shopping probably won’t be much of a challenge for many people.
Even though it rained a lot and I only got to venture out on so few days, I enjoyed Bangkok a lot and would like to return to Thailand one day to explore more of the country and include a visit to Chiang Mai as well! Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for my next article on the extreme city of Hong Kong!