So that’s our time in Bangkok over. It has been an amazing experience and we have seen so many wonderful things. Here is some things that we have learned along our way.
1. Haggling – We were very naive to this on the first day: perhaps because in our culture it doesn’t really exist. I quickly overcame this difference and realised that the key here is that if it doesn’t specify a price then it is open to negotiation. I normally go for half whatever they offer and then settle on their counter. This leaves both parties happy and saves wasting time over a few baht.
2. The smell – Unlike Glasgow, where there is at least fresh air and wind, Bangkok doesn’t have this. It’ll hit you like a ton of bricks and will never fully go away. This is mainly due to pollution, street food and the heat.
3. Scam scam scam – If someone tries to stop you on the street then chances are they want money off you. While we didn’t experience anyone trying to mug or steal from us you do get stopped constantly with people asking you about your trip. Don’t mistake this for niceness. We had countless offers for “cheap tuk tuk” rides where they’d then say that they’ll take you to a suit shop that sponsor them for gasoline. Say no and walk away. We also had people telling us that the Grand Palace and such were closed when they weren’t, they are open 7 days a week, so just ignore them. Google before you go out to where places are located and the details of them or you’ll be left wishing that you had. It’s a pity because you do meet some nice people but they are outweighed by the scam artists e.g. The guy who said he taught Thai in Loch Lomond.
4. The Royals – In the UK people are mixed on their views of the royal family but over here they are massive royalists. Everywhere you look there are huge portraits of their royal family. Make sure you don’t offend them in any way I.e. If you drop money don’t stand on it as they see that as you standing on their kings face.
5. Crossing the roads – Be fearless. Red lights mean fuck all. Seriously. You can be crossing with the green man on and they’ll come flying by you. Just walk fast and they’ll drive around you…mostly. Best advice would be to watch what the locals do and go when they go.
6. Strays – There are dogs and rats everywhere you go. We didn’t get bitten or anything but it’s best to keep your eye out when walking around them.
7. Slums – Despite Bangkok’s sights being beautiful and unique homelessness is rife within the city: far worse than Glasgow. Even the “normal” houses are damaged and old, roads need repaired and rubbish just dumped on the ground. When travelling between the sights you get a real sense of sympathy and realise just how well we have it back home. (This is in comparison to the UK)
8. Safety – What safety? People up pylons with no rope, low hanging electrical wires everywhere, no seatbelts, no-one indicates, pavements have pot holes but people don’t seem to bother. Just watch where you’re walking and you should be fine.
9. Thai massage – They are amazing. Just make sure you don’t go to one with flashing lights outside unless you want a happy ending. It was £2 for a half hour massive.
10. Ladyboys – You rarely see them. We stayed just off of the busy strip of Khoa San and only seen one in our six days here.
11. Ping-pong shows – This however is in abundance. A “must see” when on the strip we were told by our Scottish pals that we ended up out with one nights. Ping-pongs, darts, hankerchiefs and so on: it will be worth going for the banter.
12. Couples – Feminism isn’t big here. If you travel as a heterosexual couple don’t expect anyone to ask the girl anything. Ashley got asked like one thing in our whole time in Bangkok.
13. Language barrier – There is a slight difficulty but if you just slow down and only speak the key words then most people will understand you. It’s amazing how many people speak at least some English here.
14. Suits – You get offered a “cheap suit” about 50 times a day. Just say “no thanks” and walk on. I ended up just pretending not to speak English and ignoring them. Can only say “no” so many times especially when they take that as an invitation to talk.
15. We are attractions – It might be because Ashley is ginger but we had so many people taking sly photos of us and staring in the street.
16. The “travelling wanker” – The stereotypical backpacker with dreadlocks, man-bun and beard is at least half of the white male tourists here.
17. Everything is so cheap – This couldn’t be more true except maybe when drinking in bars and clubs. You can get a delicious three course meal and a pint of Chang here for under a fiver. Ashley managed to get TopShop quality patterned hareem pants for £2 and this is the norm.
18. Food – Take in the local delicacies at the street stalls and restaurants. When you want something Western there are several McDonald’s, KFC’s and Burger Kings in the tourist areas. They come in supersize too. McDonald’s tastes different but Burger King is cheaper, and just is the exact same as back home.
19. Monks – Thailand is a very spiritual country and Monks are considered above everyone else here so don’t be annoyed if they skip you in the queue or that.
20. Weather – It’s constantly 30+ degrees here, even at night, and you won’t get used to it quickly. Our air con at 16 degrees felt like walking into a fridge. Monsoons aren’t that bad (so far) shit load of thunder, lightening and rain like you’ve never seen, but with the heat the way it is you appreciate the shower.
Off to the mountains in Chiang Mai now for 5 days.