Step 1 : The arrival at the airport
Your plane started going down towards the landing runway of the Suvarnabhumi International Airport (it took me quiet a while to spell it and pronounce it properly), and if like me, you came here alone, you are well aware that you are going to be on your own within a couple of minutes and there will be nobody to help you but just you. And this is quiet exciting actually. There you are in totally different country than yours, there is absolutely nothing similar. The culture shock is coming ahead and all of your local habits will soon be shaked a little bit. You are going to start over with life in some way.
“Sawadee kaaa”. From now on, this is your new melody. The charming hostesses will gently greet you as you are waiting in the line for getting stamped.
Anyway, you are getting back your backpack from the baggage claim and from this point, you are likely to withdraw some cash unless you want to stay in the airport, which would be a lot less exciting. I also suggest that you also get a city map at the information center near the exit. As I was doing that, I also bought a DTAC (pronounce “”d-taik” if you want to be understood in the 7-elevens) thai sim card at some counter next door.
Stop 2 : Let’s go into town
Now that we’re done with the basics, we can finally leave the airport. The easiest way being to take the Skytrain from the airport to the Phaya Thai Station (the terminus) down town. It will cost you some 25 bahts before 2:30pm, otherwise it’s 45 or 90 if you are taking the express line (be careful when you are buying the ticket).
And here we go! Let’s reach the gigantic anthill that is Bangkok. The skytrain will also let you admire the magnificent panorama of the city that spreads out as far as the eye can see. At this moment you can start noticing that the local architecture is nothing like we are used to. You can first see some kind of “huts” surrounded by tropical vegetation and the landscape is getting more and more of a cityscape as you go further down. This city is just that big.
A couple of minutes later, you are finally reaching your destination. You get off the train and this should be the first time that you actually get some fresh air and… oh my god, it’s like 92° outside, the heat is really strong and after walking a couple of feet loaded with your backpack, you will feel the first drop of sweat running down your forehead. So you may want to anticipate on your clothes before taking off. I was wearing long sleeves shirt and a blue jeans… let me tell you that I thought I’d empty myself from all my water before getting to my destination.
And since I “don’t like too much” organizing in advance, I was here and I didn’t exactly know what to do for avoiding being in trouble… and this is where the troubles started
Step 3 : You are on your own
As I was looking all around me, I definitely looked like I was sort of lost and some local people came to me and tried to help me out. It is really nice to have some human warmth (in addition to ambient warmth), and to be given a few directions in this “hostile” environment.
Ok, I’m leaving the metro now, and from now on, I can actually feel what is life like around here. There are streets vendors every 10 inches, the traffic is so dense and just keeps going on and on, and there are all kinds of vehicles : tuk tuks, motorbikes, cars, taxis, and buses that looks like from prewar. And the noise is just so loud, the smell is coming from the exhausts where the catalysts seems unknown here.
There are a lot colours though, and that is positive. The vehicles are neon pink, flashy green, vivid yellow, light blue. There is really a wide range of colours all over the place. I mean, obviously you cannot miss that. Everything seems really alive, and we start to see thai writings everywhere, and portraits of the king. The local people are very respectful to him, and so you’d better do too. For your own personal culture, you should know that the thai alphabet has got 44 letters, and they are not symbols like in China or Japan.
And if you like easy, you would probably head the neighborhood around he famous “Khao Sans Road” street. You can find everything you need there. There are restaurants, street vendors, souvenirs shops, guesthouses, travel agencies, custom tailors and even counterfeiters (yes you can be graduated from Harvard just by coming to Bangkok). But this is a
too very busy place, and if you don’t like crowds, you definitely don’t want to go there. You can barely see local people, so if you are looking for genuine Thailand, be aware of that. Well, this is not where I spent my first night because I did CouchSurfing but obviously this is not the right place to go to to really fit in.
To sum up briefly Bangkok I would say :
- Extremely heavy heat
- Human warmth
- Giganticness of the city
- Vivid colours
- Food at every corner
- Very different architecture, very “DIY”