Thailand – a Journey about Freedom (I)
Sa-wat-dii-khap (khâ)! (Welcome to Thailand!)
You certainly had heard that Thailand is “the smile’s land”. And that is not a lie…
Today we want to tell you a little bit of our experience traveling around this beautiful country.
How we choose Thailand?
Basically it was an accident. We wanted to go to a place where we could be abreast in a very different culture from our own. And the opportunity came when a friend of ours told us of his own travel experience in this country.
So, when we planned our trip, we wanted to have a global and “real” perspective (within the possible, we know!) of the country and try to escape the tourist routs that are fully widespread. So, we planned a journey ourselves…
The start…Part One
In Thailand, our journey began in Suvarnabhumi Airport (Bangkok). We just needed to get off the plane to feel that it would be a beautiful country with very friendly people. The walls of the airport were full of flowers and, yes, the flowers were all natural.
When you leave Suvarnabhumi Airport, you have lots of possibilities to get Bangkok city center. You just have to catch the train. Our contact with locals started right there: at the vending machine was a friendly employee that immediately helped us buy our ticket. You can check here for more details about how to travel from the airport to city center.
We didn’t stay a very long time in Bangkok (just two days) and in our opinion it was almost enough. Maybe 3 days would be perfect. The city was full of people, pollution, traffic and beautiful temples. Initially we were very confused about all that “organization”, such as the traffic seems chaotic, the thousands of electricity cables at the streets… but at the end of the first day the city has it own charm.
In Bangkok, we have to highlight Khaosan Road. According Wikipedia, “Khaosan” translates as “milled rice”, a reminder that in former times the street was a major Bangkok rice market. In the last 20 year however, Khaosan Road has developed into a world-famous “backpacker ghetto” where you can find cheap food, accommodation, bars, pubs and lots of shops selling clothes or handcrafts and the numerous and beautiful Buddhist temples.
You can check here for a general tour about the main temples. The old city has other attractions, like you can check here. If you don’t mind to walk (like us!), you can visit most of these attractions walking.
But, whatever you do, don’t lose the opportunity to ride one of the billion Tuk-Tuk available in the city. You have to improve your capacity to bargain (yes, at the first time we were truly robbed!), but we loooovvveeeed the experience and it can be a cheap way of getting around town. We also traveled a lot by metro, it seemed pretty safe (you can check here).
In Bangkok, you can have so many wonderful street food. We ate everything we could, following our “golden rule”: if it is cooked, it is safe! The people were lovely and seemed really happy if we liked their food. Once, we went to a hut of a family that was selling some small fried balls and we liked so much that we returned next day. They were so happy about it, that they called other family members to tell them and offer us some extra fried balls! They were also very nice to us in the stores: once, at a bank, we were waiting to trade some euros to baht and the place was full of clients. However, one employee looked at us, asked what we wanted and told us to go ahead the rest of the clients. We felt very badly, but the other clients just seem to find that OK.
The city is also the perfect place to be the start point to travel to another particular places: the Floating Markets (we visited the Floating Market of Damnoen Saduak) and the cities of Ayutthaya and Sukhothai.
The Floating Market of Damnoen Saduak is a gorgeous market placed about 100 km away from Bangkok. You can buy a tour every day (we bought at one of the many stores placed at Khaosan Road and it costed 450 bath/pax) and it starts very early, at 7 a.m., returning to Bangkok more a less at 2 p.m. There, we shopped souvenirs, clothes and Thai food that was really great (we ate spring rolls, dragon fruit, …). We had to take a minibus, then a motorized long tail boat to get there. Once arrived the market, we strongly recommend that you take a wooden paddle boat (for an extra 150 baht): they are mostly operated by women and you can get a beautiful view of the canals. While we were waiting for the guide, we where sitting in a bench, something amazing happened, suddenly a Komodo Dragon appears us from the back. In a first glance, we didn’t think much about it and took lots of shots and got very close to him. Only later we learned from Thai people who saw the photo that the animal was quite dangerous. But, we can also say that it was also beautiful.
If we had time, we would have gone to Ayutthaya and Sukhothai. They are old capitals of Thailand and seem to be beautiful and a good example of Thai Heritage. They are also very well preserved, because they are world heritage centers of UNESCO. It’s almost looks like a movie scenario, where one can find himself in another era…
After two days we left Bangkok towards Chiang Mai… to be continued!
This is a guest post from our great friends Adriana & Helder.
Hi, we are Hélder & Adriana, from Portugal. Besides travelling, we also like sports (cycling, running), study, cinema, good food and good music. Hélder is an adventurer. Adriana is afraid of everything, but she follows the adventure. When we travel, we like to get a feel of the countries like we lived there: the food, people’s way of life, the heritage, … But, besides of all, we like to remember, each day, that the world is a big place, full of possibilities.