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  • Writer's pictureMonica Beth

Navigating Bangkok

Navigating Bangkok

So we got to Bangkok and we had our hotel for 2 nights. We had originally thought we will fly straight from Bangkok to Chang Mai, but when our flight got changed we decided to change our travel plans (Read about that here.) We got into our hotel at about 2AM so we slept and when we woke up we had a full day to figure out exactly what we wanted to do- we had a rough idea, but we needed to hammer out the details.

First things first though- Coffee! Using Google we found a cafe near by and wandered down the street. We were in a very residential area of Bangkok and while trying to order a couple lattes it became clear that no one spoke English. I had started studying my Thai, but I hadn't gotten very far- mostly I've learned Sa wa dee (hello), knob khan (thank you) and a plethora of useless words like 'nang sue' (book) and 'Mueang' (city) and 'mhaa' (dog), regardless we were able to get some coffee and it was really good.

So now it was time to get down to business. We had an idea to get a scooter for a month and we could ride it to Cambodia and stay in Siem Reap and check out Angkor Wat, then go to return the bike or depending on how much time we had go to Hua Hin.

A map of where we want to go

We wanted to spend some time in Thailand- this is supposed to be the big part of our trip. We were going to spend about two months here and go to Cambodia to do a 'Visa Run' (the tourist Visa is for 30 days so you leave the country for a few and then go back.) Unfortunately, these two months are during what is called 'Pollution Season' in Thailand. Pollution Season is between January and March (when we plan on being there) and during these times the northern, more populated areas (like Bangkok and Chang Mai) experience terrible air quality- there is a dense haze hiding the skylines. The pollution comes from heavy traffic, construction work, factory emissions, trash burning and farmers burning to prepare the soil for next years crops. Further south where the population isn't as dense the air quality is a bit better, but we were talking about heading east so looking at the map we chose to go to Pattaya- a little beach town that was kind of on the way to Cambodia.

We left the coffee shop went back to the hotel and looked for a scooter rental place. Found it and booked a Grab to get there. Grab is like Uber for Southeast Asia, it's great because it has a set price and you don't have to worry about getting scammed by cab drivers driving around and running up the meter.

Our Grab driver arrived and off we went. . . and went . . .and went and after 40 minutes or so the man dropped us off in an alley with a bunch of scooters outside a dilapidated building. We thought 'this must be the place.' No one was there and Grant tried to call, but no one answered the phone. We were a little bewildered, Even though we couldn't really communicate with the driver he still had the address through the app to get us where to go, but we were not in the right place.

We were really expecting this part to be easy peasy- how many times had we rented a scooter before? We thought we were going to real quick go get a scooter come back to the hotel shower get our things together and go for lunch, It was going to be quick. It was not that. After wandering the street and trying to use the ATM and failing (because nothing is in English.) We come across a place with plenty of bikes outside. It's not a scooter rental place though and using google translate the guy tells us to go to the original place we had planned to rent a scooter from. He gives us the new address (they apparently moved 2 years ago and we had the old address some how.)

We call another Grab and take another 40 minute ride to apparently the only scooter rental place in Bangkok. We get there and the woman is busy so we wait, we find a scooter we like take some time picking out helmets that fit, get cash from another ATM that we were able to figure out the language setting on and then we are on our way.

40 minutes back to the hotel. I guess this is how it is navigating Bangkok.

We are Hangry. It's like 4 pm, we haven't eaten and we didn't bring our own toilet paper so using a public restroom is out of the question- a lot of the time the "restrooms" don't offer toilet paper (they all have bidets) and/or they are like a toilet bowl built into the floor and I CAN'T do it- I have a fear of portapotties and this is way worse.

Takeout food

So we get back to the hotel and decide to look for some food at a time of day we don't even know what to call the meal and we just can't find a restaurant, so at the 7-11 looking at bags of chips with a label that looked like 'Lays', but it wasn't, I began to lose it. Just a little bit. Tired, Hungry and in an unfamiliar place with zero understanding of everything around you. It's like culture shock, and you can also experience the frustration a baby has being unable to communicate. The Thai alphabet looks kind of like an all lowercase and backwards English one, basically, I couldn't find anything recognizable, besides for sushi and prepackaged ham sandwiches which are questionable at any gas station no matter where you are in the world. With tears in my eyes I decided on some seaweed and a snack pretending to be Cheetos. Grant got some really delicious buns we recognized from the Philippines and got two orders so I had something substantial to eat when I had calmed down. (But later I did order some Thai meatball soup using the Grab App.)

Then it was time to pack again since we were leaving in the morning to go to Pattaya.


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