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One night in Bangkok

...And the world’s your oyster.

overcast 27 °C

Well really it will be two nights as we arrive at Bangkok airport at 11pm, the first night in Bangkok is a non-event and we are driven to our hotel without incident. Sam has booked us into a fancy hotel thinking it would be a good way to start off our holiday around South East Asia. We check in and Sam is in bed before I can say “Check out the view”. I decide to take a few quick snapshots of the Bangkok skyline from our hotel balcony and then bed down for the night. Two hours sleep on the plane is motivation enough for me to follow Sam’s lead.


I know I’m in Asia when I’m about to eat one of many breakfasts consisting of fried rice and egg

We wake to a grey, humid morning in Bangkok, just as I remembered it. Sam and I had been here three times before and I can’t recall it ever being sunny in Bangkok and have never really figured out if it’s because of the smog or if it’s just the weather. “You look like shit” Sam says to me as we head down to the buffet breakfast. Maybe she was practicing her Thai but I’m sure she meant to say “Good morning”. I know I’m in Asia when I’m about to eat one of many breakfasts consisting of fried rice and egg. Love it! It reminds me that although I am an Aussie and love my meat pies and beers, that on a genetic level, I am still Asian. In the daylight, I see that the hotel is right on the banks of Chao Phraya River that runs through Bangkok. We eat breakfast watching boats go by, ferrying office workers from one side to the other, poor bastards. We decide to head to the rooftop pool but not before hit the hotel gym, knowing that this will be the only time in a month that I will get a physical workout besides carrying my 40 lbs Backpack.

I think it was a mixture of luck, good resume writing, and Aussie charm

First time visiting Bangkok was exciting but on the third time, it was like any other modern city. It has the unmistakable ‘aroma’ of an Asian city, a mixture of street food, humidity with intermittent whiffs of open sewage. You get accustomed to it after a while and I find it kind of pleasantly familiar, reminding me this smell indicates that I am once again travelling.


Parts of South America had a similar smell. We had travelled around Argentina, Chile and Peru for six weeks in September 2009. Prior to that, we had done a road trip around America’s Deep South (At one point in Arkansas, I think I was the only Asian within a 100 mile radius). We would have kept travelling but had to return to Australia in November for a short visit. Returning to the US, our funds almost dry, Sam and I decided Chicago was where we would base ourselves and arrived there on Christmas Eve. I think it was a mixture of luck, good resume writing, and Aussie charm that Sam and I found jobs within 3 weeks of arriving. Admittedly, we both took the first job offered but we are both on a ‘good wicket’. Sam, a Training Manager at an insurance company, with her own office, I managed to settle into the IT department of a mid-size company dealing in revenue management and consulting for hospitals (I think). We would probably never talk about our respective industries during a social outing, but we both work with great people and I have a killer view of Michigan Ave/Lake and Chicago River. Sam enjoys the Chicago traffic in her BMW SUV we purchased as soon as we found out she was working out in the burbs (She picked it out whilst I was hung-over and I was in no condition to look at anymore cars). I said we were both lucky but I don’t think that’s entirely accurate. We both knew what we were getting into and both knew the risks. We worked to make sure that those risks never occurred and from that we managed to find a place to live, jobs to finance this trip and an ever increasing circle of friends in Chicago.


Infinity pools are so pleasing to the eye. The Hotel’s rooftop pool merges with the river and skyline. We decide it’s time to venture around the city, or in particular MBK, Bangkok’s largest shopping centre for ‘Same Same, but not Same’ fake goods. Sam loves to bargain and therefore loves this place. Unfortunately it has changed for the worse since we first visited in 2004. Most stalls have become proper shops and bargaining down to below half-price is damn near impossible. “This sucks” Sam comments as we walk away from another Hand bag shop, unable to get the price down even close to half. What’s worse is that prices have generally gone up. “Well we can probably find them cheaper in Vietnam or Cambodia” is my comforting reply. Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but shopping is her Religion. Sam agrees and we head back to the hotel to grab our stuff and move to another hotel where we will be starting off our South-East travels proper. Luxury hotels and taxis are about to take a backseat to mid-range hotels, beach bungalows, tuk-tuks and public buses.

Posted by Al Jam 16:25 Archived in Thailand Tagged bangkok mbk

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