Bangkok Tips For The First-Timer

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Oh, Bangkok. What will we ever do with you? Some love it, some hate it, some have both feelings towards it — often at the same time. It grabs travelers for indefinite amounts of time when they were simply passing through. It’s conflicted, it’s beautiful, it’s Bangkok, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. The complex culture and contradictions pose some obstacles for the millions who travel there, so when I found a post on some tips to Thailand, over at thrillingheroics, I took notice.  It’s written by an expat, self described as being “marooned” there:

It’s a  developed metropolis in the middle of the developing world where ancient tradition meets cutting edge technology. Bald-headed, orange-robed Buddhist monks wander the streets toting the latest iPhones; gray-haired Alabama exports sport handlebar mustaches and transgendered girlfriends.  You will see the Old juxtaposed with the New, the East juxtaposed with the West. Thailand feels a bit like the Wild West meets The Fifth Element. I came to Thailand in 2008 after a bad breakup (two actually), quitting my office job, and many months of stagnation and boredom with my suburban existence in the States. I wanted to live for a year abroad, somewhere as different as I could possibly find. I wanted to create a location-independent  lifestyle, free up more time to read, learn, travel, and work on personal projects, test my self-reliance, expand my understanding of other cultures, and of course lounge on the beach.

I can remember having a ridiculous amount of questions before I boarded my first plane to Asia. Luckily, this post covers a wide range of topics that may trip up a first timer. It’s loaded with tips, from when to go (Oct. to Apr. to avoid the monsoon season), which cheap airlines to use (AirAsia, Tiger, and Nok Air… avoid Jetstar), to the legendary Thai food (go street stall), and the numerous scams you should be aware of (NEVER get in a taxi that doesn’t have the meter on).

Despite all the intimidating madness, riots, and scams, the author’s voice never turned negative (which could have happened). I mean, how often have you seen monks standing on the same street corner as prostitutes? In fact, the craziness may just be what us travelers have come to expect, what we want, and what we need to discover by traveling there.

“Bangkok almost feels like it’s experiencing a bit of a renaissance right now — there are a lot of creeps in this town, but there are also innumerable creative types out here trying to make the world a better place.”

Perhaps Bangkok may have it figured out more than we will ever know.

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