I arrived in Bangkok on November 28 after a 10-hour flight from Amsterdam. I was curious how my cardboard boxed bicycle would arrive, and I was happy to find it in one piece. I kept it boxed and went to the taxis to see if they could bring it as such with me to my first AirBnb (which I booked last-minute after I sent a few messages through Warmshowers without any response). When the taxi drivers saw me coming they weren’t too hasty to help this guy with a huge box. A lady from the taxi service desk started discussing options with them and eventually managed to get a driver with a van to try and fit me, my baggage, and my box inside – and it worked fine!
I had read tips regarding taxis using a meter. When the driver wanted to take off, the meter was covered by a cloth. I mentioned it a few times and he said yes yes, but I did take off the cloth myself. A tip from my Airbnb host was also to take a photo of the license plate (which should also be inside every taxi) – this could be your only hope in case you forget something. My host also told me to give very clear instructions to the driver to get to my destination – YOU have to be the navigator. At first it seemed a bit condescending of the drivers, but later I would find this really is necessary. Most of them will happily take a detour to make some extra money. Anyway, I got to my first place, going wrong only once. Pretty good job as a first-time taxi navigator in Bangkok, right!? The meter said 250 baht and I gave 300 to include a tip, but the driver wasn’t really happy with it and said “only 10 bucks?” (30 baths converts to about 1 euro or dollar).
I roamed around Bangkok alone, absorbing all the new sights, faces, and smells – pretty bad smells (pollution) too. It was hot, busy, chaotic, and there was rubbish everywhere, which altogether, felt quite suffocating. But there were also friendly faces, shining temples, and delicious food for 1 or 2 euros per meal. I tried some fried insects too, which tasted mostly like any fried food – oily and salty. I felt a bit lonely, out-of-place, and lost in translation. After all, I wasn’t used to traveling alone.
In the evening I was lucky to meet JR – a warm-hearted guy from the Philippines who’d lived in Thailand for the last 5 years.
We hit it off straight away. He spoke English effortlessly and we had great conversation. As he also got into mindfulness recently, we quickly got a deep topic to discuss. He showed me around the city including the touristic areas, such as the red light district, and Khao San road. Pretty sad to see those girls lined up, ready to be picked up by fat ass Westerners (at least that’s what I imagine). Unsurprisingly, most of them didn’t seem happy. On Khao San road was the biggest battle of loud speakers – every spot next to and across each other tried to overrule the other, resulting in a mess of deafening beats and sounds. It was utterly ridiculous. Nevertheless, it was crowded with tourists. All I wanted was to to get away as soon as possible.
Despite the chaos, there was a pretty relaxed atmosphere, and an “anything goes” mindset. People didn’t seem to judge anything another person wants to do, including his / her sexual orientation.
I was pretty tired after a full day of Bangkok and decided to take it easy the second day. I got a haircut for 3 euros, 1-hour Thai massage for 7 euros, and exchanged my euros at a “Superrich” exchange – these guys have the best exchange rate. This way you can save about 15 euros a 400 euro exchange.
Bangkok was an interesting experience, and I was really fortunate to meet JR, but I’m ready to go to a quieter place, the countryside, nature, breathe in cleaner air, and enjoy the freedom of being on my bike.