Embracing the Backpacker Lifestyle

I can’t believe it’s only been a few days, and I’m already starting to feel at home here.

I know that may sound crazy, but I’ve been staying at the same hostel and hanging out in the same area in Bangkok for the last couple days, and I’m already feeling a sense of community.  Everyone is so nice and social, and certain bars and shops are becoming comfortable spots for me to socialize and hang out.I guess you could say I’m getting into my groove.  And it’s only Bangkok!! It scares me to think about the future of this trip, but one hour at a time and one day at a time.

Speaking of hostels…I was very worried to find one the other day, but I shopped around and found a brand new one hidden away, called The Alley, and I could not be happier.  Im staying in a dorm style, but there are only a couple other people in the room.  It is EXTREMELY quiet, EXTREMELY clean, and I was able to get it for $9/night and it includes wifi, AC, and coffee. That is a bit expensive for dorm style, but I feel safe and comfortable there, and that is all the matters.

A few things I’ve noticed here in Thailand…

They don’t use knives… just a fork and spoon.  And RARELY chopsticks. You cut with the fork and eat with the spoon.  Well, that is what someone told me anyway, but I find it easier the other way around.They don’t have trash cans…ANYWHERE!  For being a pretty dirty place, I can never find a trash can on the street.  I usually have to use some street vendors waste bucket.

You can literally get any food you want, whenever you want. Street vendors are open early, and open late. It’s the best drunk food, although I actually haven’t been drinking much here ..maybe a beer here or there, but if you want a cheap meal, you walk the street until you find something that hits your fancy, get a beer and a water from 7-11 (they even open the beer for you) and sit down for your Sukiyaki with Shrimp for a total of $3.60 USD. Although I was craving Som Tam, green papaya salad, but the line was so long, and I needed food..FAST!

The night life here has been subdued due to the King’s passing, and if this is subdued, then I don’t even want to see what it was before.Streets are hustle bustle, bars are packed, and last night was such a fun experience to hang out at one of the original Khaosan bars.  Khaosan means “milled rice” and used to be a major Bangkok rice market, but has since become a street where all the tourists and backpackers hang out.  I had the opportunity to hang out with a British guy who is cycling around South East Asia (who I met earlier while sitting and having a beer), a Turkish guy who lives in Cambodia who is visiting Thailand, a Canadian girl who is on a similar journey as myself, another English guy who is traveling solo, 3 Americans from Indiana who are visiting their friend who lives in Bangkok, and 2 Irish girls hanging out.  It was truly something I’ll never forget.  But this is what you get when you travel.  You meet people, you learn about them, you express the side of you you want them to see, and you realize the world is actually a lovely place and we really CAN all get along.  I’ve been so worried about ‘making it’ here, but if these last few days are any indication of how I will handle it…I think I’ll be just fine!

The coffee here is always served extremely hot, and the beer is served with a glass of ice.  Well, you have to ask for the ice, but this is the way to go in Thailand.  That way you stay hydrated, and the beer stays cold.Fruit is amazing here. So fresh, so flavorful.  The herbs and spices are so fragrant.  I can’t get enough of the food, the prices, and the convenience.  Yesterday I had a fresh green juice for 20 baht and this morning I had a carrot, beet, passion fruit juice for 25baht.  Where else can you get fresh juices for  ($.70 USD)?

The napkins are extremely thin and small.  Like tissue paper really-the absolute worst.

Thai people do not follow the crosswalks.  You just step out, be confident, and go.  Don’t stop…just keep walking forward.

You can drink beer any time of day.  I see people drinking coffee, fresh juice, or beer for breakfast.  No judgement here!

After leaving downtown the other day, I walked..yes WALKED all the way to Chinatown with my 30# backpack on my back and my 10# backpack on my front.  This was an hour and half walk and a total rookie move, but I love seeing cities by foot.  And I passed some amazing street vendors and markets.

I wanted to try everything.  Walking through these markets is sensory overload.  The smells are incredible.  Sometimes a bit off putting when you get to the fish and dried meats, but for the most part the air is filled with aromas of thai basil, lemongrass, garlic, oil, chili peppers.  It’s really wonderful.

I was fortunate enough to meet up with a professor here at Thammassat University, who is a friend of a former colleague of mine. It allowed me to meet someone who’s been living in Bangkok for years, and we had a lovely meal at Hemlock, a nicer restaurant here in old district of Bangkok. We had Thai lettuce wraps with dried shrimp, coconut, peanuts, ginger, lime, chilis, and onion, steamed mussels with a lemongrass broth, chicken in a coconut curry, and beef with cilantro.  Again..I can’t get enough of these amazing flavors.  Thanks again Joe for setting that up!

Yesterday I booked a day trip to Ayutthaya, which is about 100 kilometers outside of Bangkok.  Extremely touristy, but totally worth the $12 USD I spent for the transportation, a traditional Thai  lunch, and an ‘English Speaking Tour Guide’, who didn’t really speak English so I could only really understand about 2 words he said all day.  I guess I’ll have to read all about the Wats myself.  This was really spectacular, and a great way to spend the day learning about Thailand’s history.

Again, met a girl from Holland who was on holiday and had just done 3 weeks traveling around Thailand.  She was so much fun, and again, gave me a lot of great advice and answered a lot of questions for me.  I was bummed she was leaving that day, but not to worry…I just met a whole group of new friends later that evening.

I’m meeting up with my friend Maddie, who I met on the plane, later today to show her Khaosan Road and old district, and then we are headed to Chatuchak tomorrow, the weekend market.

A part of me gets worried, I’m not doing it right, but I keep reminding myself..there is no right when traveling alone.  This trip is a learning experience.  I’m asking all the questions, and I’m educating myself as I go.  I am experiencing exactly what I want to experience, and that is all that matters.  I do, however, need to stop buying loose cotton Thai clothes with elephants on them.  But it is so hot here, and they are so comfortable.  Embracing the au natural look-curly hair don’t care, and enjoying the easy breezy lifestyle that is traveling South East Asia.




5 thoughts on “Embracing the Backpacker Lifestyle

  1. J says:

    Looks so amazing and everything looks yummmmmm. Also, Remember there’s no way of doing it right. If it’s your way and you’re loving it that’s all that matters.


  2. Michele Pelsinski says:

    Everything sounds amazing…sights, food and and people. Sure would love to visit but would probably eat myself to death…what a way to go! Thank you for your wonderful pictures and prose.


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