We booked Thailand a good 5 months before actually leaving when we found insanely cheap tickets on Air India. As an American, good deals overly excite me, but for the record, we’d fly Air India again in a heartbeat for the value for money. H.I.G.H.L.Y R.E.C.O.M.M.E.N.D. I.T.
So, I am a travel research kind of gal, so I stalked every blog I could find to create the best two week Thailand circuit for fresh first time tourists like ourselves. We ultimately decided on 3 days in Bangkok, 1 day in Pattaya exclusively to see friends, 4 days in Chaing Mai and then to finish up with 4 days in paradise on the Koh Phi Phi Islands. I was pretty proud of our itinerary and imagined us soaking up the Thai culture while we zipped around on tuk tuks and longtail boats, tucked into amazing street food and threw back bottles of local Singha beer.
Well…Bangkok ended up being more of a shit show than a culture show. I have to admit that our first day was idyllic and didn’t foreshadow the struggle to come. We slept off some jet lag, strolled through Lumpini park, sipped on fruit smoothies out of coconuts and finished off the night with cocktails at the Bayan Tree Moonbar that has a 360 view of Bangkok. We were hardcore honeymooners with no shame.
When I woke up then next morning, Robin was in excruciating pain. If you’re not caught up on Robin’s ankle problems, find out about our pre honeymoon nightmare here. His calf was cramping and he was spitting up blood. We immediately rushed tuk tuk style to the nearest hospital and spent the morning in an incredibly modern building full of medical workers dressed from the 1950’s. It felt like something out of an old colonial British film. At the time, I was more amazed by what was turning into the speediest emergency room visit I’ve ever experienced. Robin’s hair was windblown as he was wheeled around from wing to wing by his private assistant and we were out the door with meds and a lot of reassurance three hours later. Take that all day emergency room visits in France and the US.
However, this left us less than four hours to “run” around in 70% humidity to take in the tourist sites the Old City of Bangkok had to offer. We were so rushed trying to binge visit The Grand Palace, What Pho, The Flower Market and Wat Phra Kaew that at one point I misread a sign and thought we were going to see the largest Buddha in Thailand at Wat Phra Kaew. We were actually going to see the Emerald Buddha that measures a robust 66 inches. There were hundreds of people crowding around this tiny, yet mighty Buddha, but I was on the look out for a gigantic Buddha. I kept walking around the temple in circles saying to Robin, “Do you see a massive Buddha anywhere?” “Why are people so interested in that teeny Buddha over there?” Little did I know that “teeny” Budhha is literally the symbol of safety for all Thai people. #obnoxioustraveler.
We were so exhausted after our crazy day that we literally didn’t have the energy to get off the hotel bed for dinner. We ended up ordering in room service and burning off our taste buds with another too spicy for us to handle Thai dish. I awoke in a cold sweat the next morning around 6 am. My stomach was violently cramping and Robin wasn’t in bed anymore. I heard the toilet flush while he gingerly crawls back into the bed. Come to find out he’s been up since 3 am making regular visits to the bathroom. 10 minutes later, I’m army style scrambling for the toilet as I empty all of last night’s curry in heaves. Robin and I spend the next four hours before our rendez-vous with our friend Aline, taking turns in the bathroom, trying to hold down all kinds of stomach meds and praying to any and all Gods that our bodies were just rejecting too much spicy food and this was not the start of food poisoning.
By the time Aline arrived, we’d managed to shower and pack our bags, but the struggle was real. We stepped out into the 30°C heat and I literally could feel my legs trembling beneath me. By the time we made it to the Bangkok National Museum and Aline is explaining the significance of the painted ceilings in front of me, I’m starting to get faint. People are on their knees praying and I slowly sink to the ground next to them as the room gets fuzzy. I can hear Aline whispering at me to place my feet behind me because it’s not respectful to point them at the Buddha, so I find the energy to push myself on my knees knowing the last thing I need right now is to get thrown out of the temple. My new position mimics everyone worshiping so when Robin brings back water he thinks I’m feeling better and just “immersing myself in local customs.” If only that were the case. I took some tentative sips of water, stayed on the ground for a few minutes and then it was my turn to hobble back to the car.
We ultimately end up cancelling the rest of our visits in Bangkok and heading straight to Aline’s beach house in Pattaya. While we thoroughly enjoyed relaxing at Aline’s, neither Robin nor I ate again for a full 24 hours and we ended up cutting in half our three day Bangkok program. On the bright side, we absolutely hadn’t eaten any contaminated food so we weren’t stuck in bed for days. It was more of a rather violent warning from our bodies to lighten up on the local cuisine. While I had personally planned on eating Thai every chance I got, we all know that I wasn’t complaining when I was finally able to devour two pizzas the next day. Some things don’t change no matter where you’re at 🙂
We just got to Chiang Mai and things are running a tad bit more smoothly! I’ll keep you updated, but the list below is all the places we went, ate at or stayed that I would recommend to anyone else visiting Bangkok!
Baan K Residence Managed By Bliston | In Silom, next to Lumpini Park. Great value for money, friendly staff & perfect location. Easy to get to public transportation for exploring. | 12/1 Soi Sathorn 2, North Sathorn Road, Silom, Bangrak Bangkok 10500
North East Restaurant | Food is popular with foreigners and locals. Spicy means VERY spicy by European standards | 18-19 Thanon Rama IV, Khwaeng Silom, Khet Bang Rak, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10500
Bayan Tree Moonbar | Amazing 360 view of Bangkok on their rooftop bar. You can eat there too, but the food is apparently mediocre. You can’t reserve for drinks, so go when it opens at 5 and you’ll have no problem getting the best seat in the house. Drinks are pricey, but worth it! | 21/100 South Sathon Road Sathon Bangkok 10120
Chao Phyra Riverboat | Perfect way to explore the old city of Bangkok. Just buy a hop on hop off daily ticket for 150 Baht on the blue line. You can hit all the main things below in the Old City in 3 hours flat. I know from solid experience 😉 | Sathorn Taskin Skytrain Stop
- The Grand Palace | It used to be the King’s Residence. It’s impressive and worth seeing, but beware that they stop selling tickets at 3:30 and it’s overrun with tourists. If you can go early in the morning, do it. You’ll appreciate it more.
- Wat Pho | This resting Buddha is 46 meters/150 feet long. So worth it.
- Bangkok Flower Market | It’s impressive and a highlight on my list, but would be the first thing I would give up if you are tight on time.
- Wat Phra Kaew | Don’t follow my example for this one. Go see the emerald Buddha and appreciate it not for it’s size, but for the symbol it represents for Thailand.
BNH Hospital | If something goes wrong, we got efficient, high class medical care here. Two thumbs up! |9/1, Convent Road, Silom Bangkok 10500