Sawat dee ka! I made it to Thailand! In one exhausted, sweaty piece. My so-called “sleeping” pills are doing the total opposite, and have resulted in two red-eye flights now that have been sleepless. One the plus side, I got ice cream for breakfast on my flight! On the downside, I haven’t slept in three days and am starting to go a bit nutso.
After arriving in Bangkok, retrieving my bag (which I swear is putting on holiday weight), and navigating the visa and immigration system, I then had to navigate the subway. Luckily it was pretty idiot-proof, and a bargain to get into the city. And air conditioned. Full points, Bangkok. From there, I found a German guy wandering around with a large bag and confused expression and declared “you must be on my tour!”. And he was, sort of – a different Gap tour departing from the same hotel. So I had a lunch buddy, along with several other travellers from that tour.
Bangkok was stinkin’ hot – 100% humidity, and smog so thick that I thought it was rain clouds when descending on the plane. When stepping out of anywhere you’re immediately hit with a huge wall of heat, followed closely by a million mystery smells (some good, some not so good) and the noise of millions of people honking, yelling, and running about. It is just as crazy as you’d imagine.
I tried to investigate on my own but abandoned ship pretty quick – it was just too hot. I’d taken a quick shower upon arrival, and needed another one when I got back to the hotel to try to reclaim power over my enormous mass of hair.
In the evening I met up with some of my tour group – there are seven of us in total, all women. Two from New Zealand, three from the UK, and Canada is well represented by myself and my roommate – a 75 year old from Edmonton (seriously!!). All led by our Thai guide, Mr. Tee. It’s a sitcom in the making. In the span of 24 hours, bickering has already started, and it’s beginning to feel a bit like I’m on a Survivor spinoff. Can a group of women travel through South East Asia? Only time (28 more days, to be exact) will tell.
At any rate, yesterday we toured around the east side of Bangkok and saw:
The Klong tour in particular was pretty cool (albeit terrifying), as you really see the differences in income in the city as you blow past. We also stopped to feed carp who were practically jumping into the boat, as it’s good luck according to monks.
We just had the one day in Bangkok, and will complete the tour there in four weeks. Last night we hopped on an overnight train to Chiang Mai, which was an experience (and another sleepless night thanks to a doozy of a migraine). It’s been pouring buckets and we made a slippery trek up to Doi Suthep, the most famous temple here which is situated on top of a hill with great views of the valley. I’m sure they are lovely views – we saw absolutely nothing thanks to the aforementioned buckets of rain. And it’s freezing! 40 degrees yesterday to 15 and raining today, yowza. Tonight we’re about to head to an evening dinner and dance show followed by the famous night bazaar, where I’ll try on my bargaining hat for the first time. And in two days…I’m bustin’ out the Tina Turner (or CCR) as we’re rollin’….rollin’…rollin’ on the (Mekong) river in a slow boat. Malaria pills begin tomorrow, Mum, don’t worry.