The trip to Bangkok went smoothly Sunday morning. I was able to visit the post office in the airport and send some postcards and a small box full of things I decided I didn’t need back to the U.S. I shipped the box to my cousin for safe-keeping (thanks Valerie!) until I get back to the US for only 1,450 baht (about 40 USD). My backpack feels so much lighter already, and now I won’t feel guilty about buying things! 🙂
Once in Bangkok, I took a car to my hotel (arranged through the group I am traveling with, G Adventures) and checked in. I was very excited to see the hotel was pretty nice…although I’d only stayed in a hostel 3 nights in Chiang Mai, I realized how much I like having space and privacy! I will be in hotels for the rest of SE Asia, and then will be in hostels the rest of the summer, I am now thinking I may have to treat myself to a hotel every now and then later in the summer as the budget allows! Instead of sightseeing, I decided to relax by the pool for the afternoon, which was an excellent decision.
Around 6pm, Alexa (roommate from Germany, also traveling solo!) and I met up with the rest of our travel group, where we met a third solo female traveler (from Australia). The six other people in the group are from Canada and Britain. Just as it was in Africa, I am the only American in our group…evidence that Americans need to travel more! 🙂
After meeting up, we all went to dinner and then took tuk-tuks to Khaosan Road. This is where it got interesting! Khaosan Road is ridiculous! It is like the Thai version of Bourbon Street in New Orleans or Beale Street in Memphis. Perhaps it was a little touristy and over the top, but I absolutely loved it. After a lot of dancing, people-watching and experimenting with food (Alexa and Jemma tried scorpion! I observed…), we headed back to the hotel to get some rest.
In Chiang Mai, people told me I would not like Bangkok because it was dirty, hot, and too busy. Ironically, these are exactly the reasons I liked it so much! It’s definitely on the gritty side, like NYC :-), but I really enjoyed it. I do feel a little guilty for chosing the pool over seeing temples or the Grand Palace, but I will just have to catch those next time. 🙂
This morning, we drove from Bangkok to cross the border into Cambodia at Poipet. While walking the 10 minute stretch across the border, it immediately struck me how much poorer Cambodia is than Thailand. Thailand is very developed and luxurious compared to Cambodia. I also learned that no education is free in Cambodia–not even primary school. (In Thailand, primary school is free but nothing else.) I have only been here for an hour and am already floored by what I am seeing and learning.
On the way to Siem Reap, we stopped at a roadside restaurant and I had my first Cambodian meal–fish amok with an Angkor beer. Very on point and so delicious! Tomorrow, it’s on to Angkor Wat!