S̄wạs̄dī Thailand

We’ve been waking up fairly early lately (around 7.00) and today was no exception. We continued some our Australia research and flight purchasing before our final breakfast of eggs and fresh fruit in the hotel. We’ve been having trouble with Jetstar Asia’s website for our flight from Cambodia to Singapore so we had planned on finding a travel agent to help us book those tickets but we ran out of time before our airport shuttle arrived so we thought we would just try to find their ticket counter at the airport.

Finished with breakfast, we packed up our room and took an uneventful shuttle ride to the airport, ready to head to Thailand. Lynn got in line to check in while I looked for the jetstar ticket counter to no avail. It seems, in our terminal at least, they were only selling Vietnam Airlines tickets. I rejoined Lynn and we checked in successfully, this time without having to remove everything that could look like a battery from our checked luggage. The lady checking us in though seemed concerned we had not booked our bus tickets out of Thailand yet and said that may make it difficult to clear customs upon arrival on Thailand. We headed through security and got some lunch while I navigated a truly frustrating Thai bus ticket website to buy our tickets and make sure we could get into the country.

We boarded our flight, took off, and were very surprised when they served us a full meal on the plane even though it was a less than two hour flight in the middle of the afternoon. We landed in Thailand and made our way to the customs desk where we were both nervous about the bus ticket situation but it turned out to not be an issue at all and the customs agent never even asked about it.

Successfully in Thailand, we immediately noticed the plethora of bubble tea shops around the airport and, needing to break our large bills anyway, thought what better way to do that than with a refreshing milk tea with pearls. We easily found the train to the city and boarded but had our newly purchased milk tea confiscated, it seems no food or drink allowed on the train. One of the interesting things about Bangkok is that they have a great train system but it stops about 3 miles short of the actual city center and you have to walk or take a taxi the rest of the way. We, of course, chose to walk.

On our walk we quickly noticed how well behaved the drivers were.  In every country since Japan no one has cared about lanes, stoplights, or even that they are actually on the road.  In Thailand it seems, order has returned, and drivers obey all of the lines and signals that they should.  We also noticed how colorful everything is with many buildings covered in white, gold, and blue, and chains of marigold flowers hung everywhere.  We think they may just all be Georgia Tech fans hoping we’ll turn this abysmal football season around.  There were also a lot of portraits of the king and queen of Thailand outside of various buildings and we even, as we got close to our hostel, noticed stores selling these portraits.  It seems they are very fond of their king and queen.

Portraits of the King and Queen on the sidewalk.
Portraits of the King and Queen on the sidewalk.

We checked into our hostel and were relieved to be out of the very hot and humid air and into some air conditioning.  We were shown to our room, which seems to be a converted balcony, and left to our own devices.

Excited to explore the city, we headed back out into the muggy air and wandered up and down the streets finding a number of night markets and food streets – some full of tourists, others less so.  Around every corner it seemed there was a tuk-tuk offering us a ride and I could tell that would get old very quickly.  We coincidentally ended up in the night flower market just as they were setting up for the night and walked through, amazed  at all of the colors and activity as the florists were assembling their strands of flowers for sale.

The first night market we walked through, mostly full of elephant pants and flip flops.
The first night market we walked through, mostly full of elephant pants and flip flops.
Strands of yellow flowers for placing at temples and shrines.
Strands of yellow flowers for placing at temples and shrines.
So many flowers!
So many flowers!

Having worked up an appetite we googled around and found that there was a Pad Thai place with great reviews on the way back to our hostel and headed in that direction.  As we got close we were able to identify it by the long, long line of people out front and joined them.  As the line moved closer we got to see them make the pad thai since the kitchen was really just a bunch of charcoal burners on the sidewalk.  We also learned that this place is famous for it’s orange juice as well and saw deliveries constantly being made to refill their ice coolers on the sidewalk.

The line moved quickly and we made it to a table before too long.  We ordered two Pad Thai’s and a large orange juice to share.  The orange juice was almost the same price as our two plates so we had very high expectations.  They were definitely met, if not exceeded.  The orange juice was fresh squeezed and there were whole chunks of fresh orange in it, to the point where you couldn’t drink it through the straw because they would block it up. I would easily put the juice on par with Morocco’s, which you may know is the only nice thing I will ever say about our horrible 23 hours spent there.

Our Pad Thai arrived, wrapped in a fried egg and we tried it.  It was a bit sweeter than we expected but definitely delicious. We both loaded it up with the myriad of toppings and sauces at our table and Lynn rekindled her romance with spicy chili pepper vinegar. Full up on deliciousness we payed our bill and headed back home to rest before our first full day in the city.

On our walk to Pad Thai, Lynn decided we needed some fresh fruit from this very friendly fruit vendor.
On our walk to Pad Thai, Lynn decided we needed some fresh fruit from this very friendly fruit vendor.
Dinner.
Dinner.
Now THAT is high pulp orange juice.
Now THAT is high pulp orange juice.
The kitchen expo station, on the sidewalk.  Almost every plate we saw was the Pad Thai wrapped in a egg, so we figured that's what we should probably get too.
The kitchen expo station, on the sidewalk. Almost every plate we saw was the Pad Thai wrapped in a egg, so we figured that’s what we should probably get too.
The line outside the Pad Thai restaurant.  If you ever come, don't worry it moves quickly.
The line outside the Pad Thai restaurant. If you ever come, don’t worry it moves quickly.

Daily walking miles : 11.3 miles, which is great for a travel day.

First Impressions of Thailand:

  • It’s like a more Westernized version of Vietnam.  Cars stay in their lanes and stop at stop lights, most things are clean, and the people are quite friendly.  In fact one of them came across the train car to pickup a subway ticket I had dropped and hand it to me, and another stopped me from stepping in front of a truck that was turning.
  • Everything is very colorful.  All of the temples (and there are a lot of them) are bright white, blue, red, and sparkling gold.
  • All of the food is very sweet.  Everything seems to have a lot of sugar in it, even the savory dishes are much sweeter than the Thai food back in the U.S.  Maybe its a Bangkok regional thing.
  • Everyone seems to LOVE the king and queen.  Their portraits are everywhere: on the sides of buildings, on highway overpasses, and in homes and restaurants.  We’ve also read that you are not supposed to stop money that is flying away with your foot because the king’s picture is on it and that would be disrespectful to him.

Fun Facts:

  • Thailand (Siam at the time) is the only southeast Asian country to not have been colonized by Europeans. They accomplished this by playing the British and French off each other for hundreds of years.
  • Thailand is the world’s second largest consumer of pickup trucks after the United States.  In fact 42% of new cars sold in Thailand are pickups. We haven’t seen very many but we think they are probably mostly outside of cities.

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