When your best friend snapchats you about wanting to go to Asia, you book a flight and make it happen. This is the backstory to how- on a steaming hot morning in late May- Morgan and I found ourselves arriving at the Bangkok International Airport at the ripe hour of 5 AM. Both working full-time while constantly fending off the travel bug, we decided it was time for some outdoor exploration and to experience a new culture different from what we’re used to or have seen in the past.
Planning our trip, we knew we wanted to go to Southeast Asia to truly get out of our comfort zones. We had both seen many parts of Europe through study abroad and backpacking, and felt like we were due to experience something new. Well-traversed by backpackers and known for being relatively safe, Thailand seemed like the most accessible first foray into what I now know will be a lifelong love affair with the continent of Asia.
Upon landing in Thailand’s bustling capital city, we were immediately struck by sweltering heat enveloping us from head to toe, smells both intoxicating and unsettling, and lush green trees canopied over crowded streets. We stepped off a bus around Khao San Road which, unbeknownst to us at the time, is one of the most famous backpacker roads filled with elephant pants, street food, Thai massages, and liter beers. There were giant golden buddhas in local shops on every street corner, tuk-tuks (colorful little motorbikes-turned-taxis) zooming down narrow alleys, and pad thai frying in open air woks as we walked through the city.
Bangkok is massive, and we experienced everything from the iconic temples of Wat Pho in the historic old city center, to the trendy bars and coffee shops in the upscale Ari neighborhood. One of the BEST things we did in Thailand, in my opinion, was to visit the floating market and train market on our last day. This was an experience like no other, with vendors hooking our boat to sell fried bananas or coconut ice cream, and tent flaps closing up just in time for a train full of people to pass through the market.
A lot of people say to breeze through Bangkok or that it’s not worth your time. On the contrary, I can wholeheartedly say that we LOVED Bangkok. In retrospect, the discomfort of the city at times with it’s bustle and crowds is something that really put me out of my comfort zone in a good way and helped me to grow as a traveler.