Monday (November 7): At night we arrive into Bangkok and take an Uber to our hotel. We check into our hotel and immediately head out to dinner. Our choice is Thipsamai, which was rated the best Pad Thai in the country (by some Thai royal dignitary). The rumor must be true as there was a long line out the door for this restaurant. We order their signature dishes, quickly devour it and then head to the hotel to call it a night.
Tuesday: Today is our only full day in Bangkok, so we quickly get going to see everything on our itinerary. First stop is a bakery for pancakes/ice cream (we hear there is more of this to come in Australia) and then head to the Golden/Mount (Wat Saket) for a quick tour and 360 views of the city. This is one of the highest elevations in the city (at a whopping 344 steps to the top). After this strenuous stop, we take a Tuk Tuk over to the royal palace. We are greeted by hundreds of armed guards and thousands, maybe tens of thousands of Thai people going to pay their respects and mourn the passing of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. As it appeared that we would be waiting hours to see the royal palace, we deferred to tour the adjacent Wat Pho. After kilometers of hiking around, we head back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. We picked a burger place (Mos Burger) in Siam Square. Had some decent Japanese burgers and head over to the Hardrock Cafe for some cocktails. Wrapping up the night, we find a Tuk Tuk driver that zipped through the city to get us back to our hotel for the night.
Wednesday: Wake up early (5am) and head to the Bangkok international airport for our trip to Australia! Our first leg is a two hour flight to Kuala Lumpur, where we currently have a seven hour layover, and then off to the land of OZ on a 8 hour flight to Gold Coast.
So we made it to our final Asian destination, Bangkok. After only 3 weeks on the Asian roads, I came to Bangkok with a heavy heart knowing this was the end of our Asian travels and that there was so much unfinished business here. But when I arrived it didn’t take long to realize the people of Thailand have a much heavier heart than I due to the passing of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. On Tuesday morning we woke up early ishhh and headed out to sight see, our first stop was Wat Saket and second the Grand Palace. When we arrived to the Grand Palace, after being ripped off by a Tuk Tuk driver, everyone was dressed in formal funeral attire. They all looked so beautiful (even with the sorrow in their eyes). Eric and I walked around the palace grounds trying to figure out exactly what was going on and how to enter for about 20 minutes (there were people everywhere so it was hard to navigate through). Then we saw the line of thousands of Thai people trying to enter the palace for a ceremony in honor of King Bhumibol Adulyadej . When I say thousands, it is no exaggeration. I know the country is in a state of mourning for one full year for a few different reasons but the main being so that every Thai person has the opportunity to pay their proper respects to the King and attend a service in Bangkok. The population of Thailand is over 68 million meaning those 68 million people will make a trip down to Bangkok to visit the palace at least one time during the next year. 365 days in a year means an average of 186,301 people visiting the palace a day. This doesn’t include all of the others who live outside of Thailand who will also come to pay their respects or the travelers trying to sight see. But it was a strangely beautiful sight to witness this. I think it is beautiful that these people believe in something so strongly. It makes me a little more embarrassed of America and saddened for Americans, especially with this years election. *I am SO over people wanting to talk about the election with us just because we are Americans. Like, sorry random person, but I don’t care about the opinions of the other Americans let alone yours. I have Facebook and get to see plenty of opinions, I really don’t want yours on my vacation too. Oh your Prime Minister supports Trump so you do too? Cool. Oh you think the American political system is screwed up? Cool. Who am I voting for? Well seeing as I am not in America and don’t plan on returning for at least the next year my vote is pretty obvious. Why do you even care? I miss the days when people were polite, conservative, the days before the internet.* I don’t know anything about the Thai government or what the King has done for the people but at least they have something they believe in and support. Someone they highly respect and trust. I don’t think most Americans will ever feel that way towards anyone, let alone their “political candidates”.
My immediate reaction to Bangkok is Holy Shit, finally some real roads and sidewalks. Every previous city we have visited required us to walk in the streets as the sidewalks (if they were even existent) were packed with mopeds, cars, trucks, trash, food vendors and restaurants. It was such a relief to know that we are not going to be hit by a vehicle on our walking tours. Obviously Bangkok is the most developed city we have visited, and that’s apparent in their shopping area’s (Siam Square) and their elaborate palaces, but it still has SE Asia charm to it. Tuk Tuk drivers line every street corner awaiting to take you to the many monuments throughout the city. One driver we had in particular was driving so fast we were sliding back and forth on the seat in the back while he was just laughing…..it was great!
The other thing that’s impossible to miss in Thailand is all the murals, banners, flags, billboards and ribbons honoring their late king. Its obvious the Thai people deeply loved their king, and he will be respected with a year of mourning. The outpouring of love is impressive, especially when we get to the royal palace to see everybody waiting for hours and dressed in all black to pay their last respects. During this year of mourning, Thailand as a whole will put a limit to the amount of festivals and other celebratory activities. Drinking, smoking and other debochery will also be curtailed.
This is our last destination in SE Asia, and I am excited for what the future holds, but still disappointed to be leaving here so quickly. The great thing about traveling through this area, not including the cultural differences, is the cost of travelling. We were able to find hotels from $10 to $35 a night (given some locations were substantially better than others) and we could both eat a nice meal for $10 – $15 dollars. Breakfast and lunches were even cheaper than this. We could have stretched our money even further if we decided to stay at hostels and eat street meat, but veered away from these options (#flashpacking). Ultimately we are greatful for this experience we’ve had, and all the wonderful people we have met and interacted with. I think it’s fair to say that we will be back, hopefully sooner rather than later.
“For what it’s worth: It’s never too late to be whoever you want to be. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and, if you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start over.” -F. Scott Fitzgerald