I’m gonna go back to the start for a second.
I’ve been travelling for almost three months now but I thought I would wait a while to talk about when I first started my travels, because I think something so huge and daunting can be too overwhelming to write about at the time. When I first began my travels, I wasn’t even sure it was the right thing to do. I was so nervous. I had never been abroad alone. I had never flown on a plane myself. I had never been abroad for longer than two weeks at a time. As it got closer to when I left, I became increasingly nervous. What if this was the wrong decision? What if I met no-one?
Of course, I went. I flew to Bangkok because I had to. I knew deep down it was what I needed to do. Once I was on that plane, there was no going back. I was in it.
And guess what? When I got to Bangkok, everything was OK. I didn’t immediately get scammed. And I met other travellers. Although, when I first got to my hostel it was a bit daunting. I couldn’t check in until 2pm. It was 9am. Ahh. Thankfully, as I have learnt on this trip, things always work out. And this was no exception. I quickly met another British guy, Joe, who showed me the ropes, so to speak. He showed me Ko Sahn Road. He showed me how to travel the local way, as to not get ripped off. He showed me to ignore the people who wanted to help you find your way. They were probably scam artists. I was propelled from a small girl lost in the world to a bonafide traveller in 24 hours. Bangkok will do that to you.
Bangkok is where so many people start their Asian adventures. It is a daunting, bustling, busy, dirty city. And therefore, I believe, it is the perfect place to start. You must throw yourself in the deep end I believe. Even though, on reflection, Bangkok was way less hectic for me than Hanoi.
Many travellers seem to have a love/hate relationship with Bangkok, and I can see why. Since starting my trip I had to return to Bangkok twice more – once to catch a flight to Hanoi, and once when returning to Thailand from Siem Reap. Once you’ve seen and ‘done’ Bangkok, the city becomes tiring, boring and dirty in comparison with the other beautiful wonders you may witness in Asia. But the first time you go there? Bangkok is magical. Yes it’s dirty. You will get to your hostel after a day of exploring covered in dirt. Yes, a lot of people want to scam you. It’s all true. But it’s a great introduction to Asia and there’s plenty to do. It’s not all Ko Sahn Road ya know (although Ko Sahn Road is tonnes of fun!)
Bangkok has plenty of temples to enjoy. I loved Wat Arun. This tall temple appears grey from a distance, but on closer inspection it’s covered in glistening colour. Climb the huge steps to the top for a wonderful view of Bangkok. I also loved seeing the Reclining Buddah, although the teams of tourists were pretty overwhelming.
One of my highlights of Bangkok, although it wasn’t cheap, was going to the Sky Bar – featured on The Hangover Two. We indulged in fancy cocktails and saw the sparkling city lights, complete with our own lightning show as a storm went off in the distance.
What I really loved about Bangkok though, was just the atmosphere. I loved meeting new travellers and realising I was OK in this world. I would survive. I loved riding in tuk-tuks through the busy streets. I loved riding a river ferry and seeing temples on either side.
Bangkok is a must-visit in Asia, because it is so rich in everything – from tradition and culture to modernity and consumption. Bangkok is not only filled with great tourist attractions, it offers lessons to even the most experienced of travellers. Bangkok will eat you up and spit you back up a whole new person. You may not like her so much after, but that first time, it’s a wild love affair you won’t be able to resist.