Welcome to Thailand! After nearly 20 hours in transit, three plane meals, and one culturally enlightening layover in Kuwait, our taxi dropped us off at the mouth of Bangkok’s pulsing artery of backpackers: Khao San Road. It was mid-afternoon and Khao San was a steamy, sweaty haze of Pad Thai food carts, Tuk Tuk drivers, and skinny stray cats lazing in the odd patch of shade. Still wearing the clothes we’d left Rome in, our backpacks weighed heavily in the humidity. My pants clung sticky to my thighs and a trickle of sweat rolled down my spine.
You’d think after countless stumbles and the dog poo incident in Paris, I’d learn to keep my eyes on the cobblestones. But, Khao San is a spectacle in and of itself that screams “eyes up!” Street vendors hawking their wares, Thai ladies demanding your attention with cries of “massage! massage!”, bawdy storefronts selling fake ID’s alongside cheap t-shirts with naked ladies posing brazenly on their fronts, sun-darkened backpackers donning dreads and bare feet. My head was on swivel as I tripped and stumbled my way towards our hotel, trying to take it all in. Thankfully, our guest room at Rikka Inn was a haven from the madness downstairs. With crisp white sheets, heavenly a/c, a mini fridge stocked with chilled bottles of water, and a rooftop pool set back from the road below, it was a virtual oasis that would see us through our jet lag, culture shock, and my newly acquired cough and cold. At $40 CAD per night, we were splurging.
After five weeks in Europe, we arrived as a couple of high strung, slightly stressed, battle-hardened, spending machines. But it took no time at all for Thailand to embrace us in her warm arms, hand us an icy beverage, and gesture to a poolside lounger inviting us to take it easy. As we donned our swimsuits with a plan to do nothing more than eat, sleep, and laze by the pool for our first day in Bangkok, Bob Marley assured us in his slow reggae way that “everything is going to be alright”. And so it is.
And now for a special guest appearance from Tyler, travel partner extraordinaire, reporting poolside from Bangkok. Take it away Tyler!