I’ve basically pulled 3-all-nighters the last three nights because I took a night bus from Munich to catch my flight in Berlin and didn’t sleep at all because the bus was completely freezing and completely packed full, then I had an overnight flight from Berlin to Ukraine where I didn’t sleep at all, then another overnight 13-hour flight from Ukraine to Bangkok where the flight was totally full and this time too hot to sleep on. My right eye started twitching uncontrollably and I thought I might have nerve damage so I immediately checked WEBMD and they literally said, “sleep more,” “drink less,” “eat better,” #travelhack. I haven’t been sleeping, I’ve been drinking much too much (though I swear most people I meet are going WAY harder than I am), and have pretty much been eating pretzels, bread, cheese and meat my entire time in Europe. I swear they don’t eat salads!
Camping was also absolutely freezing both nights. Though the camps provided sleeping bags, they were not warm enough in the least! The showers were also cold, so you were cold all night… then took a cold shower… then were even colder. You absolutely NEED to go to Octoberfest at some point in your life, but I definitely recommend staying in a hotel or hostel. I didn’t plan on staying in Europe this long, so I didn’t pack the right clothes for this chilly weather. I was also not wanting to spend precious travel money on a whole new winter wardrobe, so I’m stoked to get out of Europe and over to the warmth of Asia! Stoked about going to Asia because of reasons other than warmth as well, of course.
Arriving in Bangkok, you could immediately feel a rush of warmth over you when boarding the plane. I kid you not, the entire airport smelled like steamed rice and curry. This is going to be my happy place, I know it! After what I read online about tourist visas upon arrival, I thought it would be a long process that costed $35 and required 2-forms of ID, two “passport photos,” and proof of a ticket purchased leaving the country within 30 days. I scrambled and bought a $25 ticket to Cambodia at the Ukraine airport this morning, but was worried because I didn’t have the two passport photos. I’ve heard horror deportation stories on this trip. However, customs simply stamped my passport and told me I needed to be out in 30 days. So much for stressing on that!
I got in line to board the Airlink into the city and a Canadian boy started talking to me. He was pleasantly surprised when he realized I spoke English. I hadn’t booked a hostel yet, and he swore by the one he’d stayed at on two separate occasions, so I decided to just follow him to his hostel rather than worrying about finding one myself (now that I have no data). The Airlink took us over agricultural fields, small canals and colorful little shanty-towns on our way into the heart of the city. We stopped at a street vendor and bought some fresh mangoes and pineapple, then jumped in a Tuk-tuk with richly patterned woven seats, flower garlands and photos of the driver’s family and recently deceased king, and road all the way to the hostel.
Taking your shoes off at the door is custom here, even in many public businesses. The staff remembered the Canadian guy and greeted him kindly as we paid around $8 for a bed for the night. After a rinse (which there really is no rhyme or reason to rinse because the moment you’re out of the shower, you start sweating again), we went and walked around our neighborhood. The hostel is on a quieter street, THANK GOD, because I really need to be out of the party scene for a while. It’s such a fast-paced and vibrant city that “quiet” here still means there are Tuk-Tuks, motorbikes, and street-food vendors squawking everywhere at all hours of the day.
All over Europe, I was already hunting down Asian food because (let’s be honest) it’s just the best. I’m stoked to be in the home of my absolute favorite cuisine–Thai food! We got come icy fruit smoothies to cool us on our walkabout and my new friend said he had to take me to his favorite restaurant in our neighborhood. It was on a busy alley with several other restaurants waving napkins and trying to get us to dine with them. They had huge red Thai-umbrellas and an outdoor flaming wok that was constantly in use for all the customers they collected. I heard most people asking the owner to “make me whatever you feel” which gave him complete creativity over the meal. He was in an absolute constant state of “flow” and smiled and cracked jokes as he threw things into the fire with his blistered brown hands.
We sat next to a Spanish couple and enjoyed a Chang beer. Out of nowhere, lightning cracked and rain started pouring down. This wasn’t normal rain… the drops were the biggest drops I’d ever seen and immediately the street was full of water up to the sidewalk. I guess it IS monsoon season right now! But the rain was warm, we had our Thai beer and delicious food for a very slick price, so we were happy. Workers were busy chopping, taking orders, cleaning, passing the chef whatever he needed, re-lighting our candles and keeping the umbrellas from dumping on us. They put little plastic bags on their heads and brought us extra smaller umbrellas when they noticed the horizontal rain was still reaching us under the large umbrellas. They worked through the storm like a perfectly polished machine with such kindness and gratitude.
Alena Horowitz | Miss Potato