Hi from Pai (pronounced pie so it rhymes 😉 )! We have officially been in Thailand for 2 weeks and 1 day today. I have so much to share, but for this post, I will divide up the info based on the cities we’ve been to during the first week-ish of our time here.
We arrived in Bangkok late and went straight to our hostel. The hostel had actually overbooked and only had one bunk bed available for us. She was going to set up a bed in the common area, but when we saw the bunk, we decided we could both just sleep there. It was pretty big, had a privacy curtain, an outlet and a lamp, and was actually pretty comfortable. So right off the bat, we had our first little hiccup, but it worked out and we ended up saving a little.
The next day, we were up early, ate breakfast, and were off to explore the city. Bangkok is huge with so many different neighborhoods and several Wats (temples), but to be honest it is like any big city. It is always better to know someone. We wondered around aimlessly (in the freakin’ heat!) and saw a lot of the different neighborhoods, but definitely spent too much time in Bangkok. We were waiting to meet up with my old friend from highschool (more on her later), but she is a flight attendant and was not in town for the first 3 days we were there, which is part of the reason we waited around.
Our first day went like this:
We decided to walk to Chinatown. On our way, a super friendly guy with pretty good English stops us and says there is a political demonstration going on up ahead and that the street is closed. He asks where we are going. We tell him. He says it isn’t really good until later, but makes a few recommendations on wats we can see before heading there. He tears a page out of his newspaper and writes them down for us. He then starts explaining that there is a promotion going on for tuk tuk drivers (tuk tuk is like a rickshaw, but powered by an engine, not a bicycle) for the month. He says that they get their gas for free so it is super cheap to ride around. He tells us we can do all the things he wrote down for us for 30 baht (less than $1 people). Then all the sudden he flags a tuk tuk driver down for us, tells him where we want to go, and then we are soon on our way. We were like wow, this is too good to be true.
The tuk tuk driver takes us to the first place, we get out and he waits for us while we go explore. We walk around the temple and see this huge Buddha and a few other decorative pieces and then we walk back to the tuk tuk. He is still there waiting for us. We get in to then head to the second destination. The second destination is a smaller Buddha with a gong that you can ring. No other tourists are there. A guy comes out and starts making small conversation with us. He also speaks really good English and seems super nice. He asks where we are from, makes some recommendations on where we should go next and then mentions that we should book transportation with a specific travel agency since it will be cheaper. He then goes on to tell us a little history of the country, which then somehow leads to Thailand being known for tailoring suits for awesome deals and they can ship the suits to the states so you don’t have to carry them around for the duration of the trip. Then we are on our way back to the tuk tuk. We were commenting on how nice this guy also was, almost too nice, and then Hoch realizes that he thinks we fell for a scam.
Sure enough, the tuk tuk driver tells us he will take us to a travel agency (same one the guy mentioned) so we can see if we want to purchase any deals. We told him we did not want to go since we are not sure what we want to do yet, but he asks us just to go in and look around since it is part of the monthly promotion and he will get his free gas this way. So we go look around for less than a minute and are on our way, or so we think. He then asks us if we can do the same thing at a suit shop, again for the promotion. So we oblige and are in and out in less than 1 minute. Then he asks if we can stop at one more suit place. At this point the Hoch was like let’s just get out. I was being a bit more patient and told Hoch we would try one more and after that we would not go to any more. We get there, do our 30 sec loop and walk out again. Finally the guy takes us to our third destination and we pay him and get out.
We later looked up the tuk tuk scam. This is something that is commonly done to tourists. If you buy something from any of the places, the driver will get their cut (and in our case, the first guy who lied about the demonstration/street being closed, and the second guy at the second “destination”) and the quality of the suits or prices at the travel agency are not as great as they say it is. Usually you get ripped off. So long story short, if you think it is too good to be true, that is because it is. We had both read about this scam however many months ago and still completely fell for it. For us, it was really only a nuisance, since we still got to ride around in a tuk tuk for around 2 hours for cheap. So of all scams, it isn’t the worst, but learn from our mistakes if you make it out to Thailand!
Anyways onto some of the highlights of Bangkok:
Bangkok is definitely a party town. We did not get too crazy, but did enjoy a few beers and people watching on occasion. If you make it out here, definitely check out the Grand Palace (crowded, but pretty awesome), try street food, and walk through and shop on Khao San Road. We also made it out to Soi Cowboy Street which is a short street filled with go-go bars. Not our scene, but we did walk through it just because.
Traffic in Bangkok is no joke. We went to Victory Monument area (a huge traffic circle) for dinner one night and took the following time lapse video. We started filming and noticed that the light was still red at the traffic circle. We figured we could wait it out. I swear that light was red for like 15 minutes!
Pep and Pattaya:
Finally we were able to meet up with Pep once she was back in town! She was one of my best friends from my freshman year in highschool. She was an exchange student for the year. After she went back, we stayed in touch via pen pals, but then lost touch for while. Luckily she found me on facebook about 3 years ago and I knew we would have to meet up while we were in Bangkok.
She and her boyfriend picked us up in Bangkok, took us sightseeing east of Bangkok in Chon Buri province(south of Pattaya beach), dropped us off at the beach for a couple of nights, and then Pep took us back to Bangkok so we could head up north. It was a short visit, but they have work etc so maybe when we come back to Bangkok (after we do a full loop), we can meet up with them again.
Anek Kusala Sala is a Buddhist temple/Chinese musuem. Pep explained that a lot of Thai people have Chinese ancestry, including her and Bas. They prayed to Buddha while we were there and we all burned incense and made wishes.
Pep and Bas recommended that we visit an island off the coast of Pattaya for a beach day. They were not able to join because of work, but we took the time to relax and nap at the beach.
Pattaya Beach itself was interesting. It was a much larger version of Soi Cowboy in Bangkok with several go-go bars and a big night life. There were a lot of Russians, some Europeans and a lot of families. We did not see the appeal and maybe we missed something, but made the best of our time there.
Sukhothai was the first capital in Thailand back in the 13th century before Ayutthaya and now Bangkok. It is a small town with an old city and a new city. We stayed in the new city and took a small bus to the old city and national park super early in the morning. We rented bikes and visited several of the ancient wat ruins in the national park. Being early birds was definitely a bonus, it was not super hot yet and we had several wats all to ourselves! Afterwards, we made our way back to our guest house, took naps, and then explored the new city, ate street food and enjoyed a couple of beers to end the day. It was overall a pretty, perfect day and one of my favorites on the trip so far! We took a lot of videos and photos and thought this visit warrants its own video.
I hope you enjoy! I have so much more to share, but to prevent this post from getting much longer, I will save it for my next post. 🙂
(P.S. I LOVE the song in the video, it reminds me of the movie Brokedown Palace which takes place in Thailand!)
-I still kick myself over the scam and how easily we fell for it, especially since I had told Kimberly about it a couple of months ago. Like she said, though, we made the most out of it and we certainly aren’t as naive now.
-A go-go bars, for those interested (shame on you), are where you can buy a nice Thai girl a drink and negotiate the details of where the night might take you. Some of them are classier, for an unfortunate lack of better words, but the gist is the same. Thai people are very understanding when it comes to personal choices, including LGBT and prostitution; the latter since these young girls are from the countrysides and support their elderly parents with their nightly toils. Life is harsh for the have-nots, no matter where.
-Pep and Bas (her boyfriend) were extremely gracious hosts eager to show us the best of their homeland and just great people to be around for the day. We had great conversations and I hope we get to have some more upon our return to Thailand.