I touched down at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airportvia Tiger Airways, a budget friendly city bus of an airline, and Virgin, with their much more attractive fleet, one of which was the least intriguing party to help me celebrate America’s 237th birthday. But together we bonded over some 5,500 miles, spanning 29 hours, 4 cities and 3 countries. Everyone and everything arrived safely, less Tiger’s landing gear after the pilot decided to go all WWE on the landing strip.
Customs deemed me not a terrorist, so I grabbed my bags and head towards the train. The Skytrain is located inside of the airport, so as I de-boarded 20 minutes later, it’s was my first time setting foot on Thai soil. Immediately a heavy, pungent, and wet air slapped my face. It was hot.
And so it was for my entire stay in Bangkok. But in those short 3 days, I weathered the heat and rain to see as much as I could. Which in hindsight probably wasn’t too much; in Bangkok’s 230 years as Thailand’s capital city, it has sprawled out over some 600 square miles – that’s twice NYC – and populated itself with 8 million people. The place is huge.
But regardless of size, I reckon the best way to see a city is to ditch your travel guide, put on your running shoes, and go exploring.
Friday saw an 8-hour run/walk-about of the city. Saturday morning, I swapped shoes for wheels and laces for chains and did a 5-hour cycle through Bangkok’s back roads and outer suburbs. Not knowing Bangkok’s highest peak, a few of us settled for the 61 stories of Moon Bar for an absolutely stunning panorama of the city on Saturday night. To wrap it off, for some “real Thai exposure,” on Sunday morning we taxied 30 minutes outside of the city to the Khlong Toey markets, where the locals shop for everything from corn to brain.
And thus my 3 days in Bangkok were over. And though the food was tasty, the language pleasantly peculiar, the cost incredibly cheap, and the architecture historic, I’m pretty set on not going back. It was just another big, congested, dirty city. I’m not saying Bangkok is awful, but in speaking with the other backpackers, many of whom had been in Thailand for months, there are heaps of incredible and exotic places this country has to offer, all just outside of Bangkok.
I’m hoping to find that in Chiang Mai.