The first day we spent in Thailand was in Bangkok. We got up early and started to just march out into the city and explore. Here are the main things that struck me:
It’s very hot:
Like very hot. And humid. If you’re in an air conditioned room, you’re only sweating a little bit, and then when you walk outside and it smacks you in the face. Thick and heavy. It’s cool though, who doesn’t like taking 3 showers a day?
The people are super nice:
Really very nice. We just ran into a stranger who could tell (somehow) that we had no idea what we were doing. He stopped to chat with us for a few minutes, taught us a few Thai phrases, and drew on our map a few cool places to check out. Then he flagged down a Tuk-Tuk (modified motorcycles with seats in the back) driver and haggled him down to an incredible price for us. More on that in a second. The people are always excited when they hear we’re from the US. Maybe that’s because they think we’re rich. But a good amount of people know some English and they like to chat with us and see what we’re all about. They also all seem to really dig Barack Obama. We met another guy yesterday while we were waiting for a bus. He just flagged us over to sit on the bench with him and chat. He knew about 9 words of English (which is about 7 words more than I know of Thai so…)
Tuk-Tuks are awesome:
Our aforementioned new friend negotiated for us and we got a crazy price: 40 Baht (about $1.25) for over 2 hours of sightseeing. The dude drove us all over the city to see temples and huge Budda statues which our friend drew on the map and the driver just sat and waited while we explored. They have some deal with the local stores where drivers bring us to the souvenir/clothes shops and the drivers get a free gas voucher. It was a little annoying that they kept bringing us to these stores, but it’s cool, we picked up a couple cool things for cheap. When we were done, we said or did something that made the driver seem mad and he just took off after we paid him. Sorry bro, we didn’t mean to be rude, we’re just dumb white people.
Traffic in Bangkok is bonkers:
There are traffic lights and lanes but they seem to be secondary in directing the flow of traffic. There are lots of little Toyotas and Hondas everywhere but the main vehicles are mopeds (scooters, motorbikes, whatever you want to call them). People basically fill any empty space with their vehicle. There are cars parked in the far left and right lanes from time to time so everyone is always switching and honking. It’s pretty interesting, and the locals seem to understand it, but I can understand why there are so many accidents.
Street meat is the best meat:
Still feeling a little jet lagged and trying to get our bearings, we stopped for breakfast this morning in a little western-style restaurant. The food was ok, but pricy for Thailand. By lunch we had walked and ridden all over the city and we were ready for some authentic Thai street food. We stopped at a little cart near our hotel and got an amazing noodle soup lunch. We watched her chop up the vegetables and chicken and pour in the broth right there. Seems simple but it was incredible. Best part is it cost 35 baht. That’s like $1.
Insects are surprisingly rare, but enormous:
There are some flies and occasional cockroaches, but there are not many. Then every once in a while, you run into Godzilla’s 10″ pet millipede.