friends, TBT, Travel

Things to do in Bangkok!

Hands down, one of my favorite countries that I visited on my exchange semester was Thailand.  But sadly, I really only got to visit two places in this amazing country due to time and budget constraints, which is why I promised myself I will go back to Thailand one day and hopefully do more.

The first place I visited in Thailand was, of course, Bangkok.

A back story of how we even ended up in Bangkok: we were 20 minutes minutes away from being unable to board on the plane on our way to Malaysia. Something I learned in my exchange about my host country, their time-orientation is very different compared to Canada’s: you’re always waiting. Since they failed to provide us official documentation that we were going to be attending school there in time, we needed to prove that we were eventually going to leave the country. Our solution: buy another one way ticket to the first country we could think of. 

I hear from a lot of people that has visited Bangkok that they hated it; they say it’s too touristy and crowded. It was, but I loved it. It also had a such a fun and lively vibe, filled with very friendly people and amazing food.

I didn’t stay in Bangkok too long, so I won’t be able to provide a list of my favorite places. But thanks to my Camera Roll and a handy travel journal I chose to keep during my travels, I have a pretty accurate list of places I got to visit and some suggestions. Although, I really should thank my then-roommate as she was the one who planned most of this trip.

We ended up staying in Sukhumvit 4 at a newer hotel called Alt Hotel Nana, which was actually a really nice hotel for only $35 CAD/ night. It was clean and quiet, the downside was that it was a bit of a walk to get to the main street and the main street also consisted of the “Biggest Adult Playground in the World.” More on this later. Another great thing about Thailand was that there were plenty of available means of transportation; the trains were easy enough to take, uber was really cheap for longer distances and there’s the famous tuk-tuk for short distances!

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The boat ride to the Temples

On our first day, we decided to check out the famous temples in Bangkok. Since we didn’t book anything in advance, we took the train and found someone who was advertising the temple tours. We ended up taking a boat ride to where the temples are and ended up visiting the Reclining Buddha and Thonburi Klong. Both were so beautiful and you can literally spend hours going through them, exploring, and taking photos. There were other temples that we didn’t get to visit, I believe the Marble Temple was under construction so we decided to skip that one. We tried to go to the Grand Palace, which is apparently amazing to see, but we walked to the entrance and turned back around. It was insanely crowded.

As you can see, the view was gorgeous and my photography skills don’t do them justice.

That night, we also got to check out Kao San Road! Yes, it was super touristy and crowded but it was also really cool to see. During the day, the road was filled with vendors and at night it turn’s into Bangkok’s most popular night life. The road is super live with music playing and tons of people walking around. We ended up meeting with people my roommate knew from home and they showed us a what a proper bucket party looked like on Kao San Road. AKA drinking alcohol in buckets and then dancing the night away right on the streets.

Of course, if you wanted to get away from the busy streets, there’s an alley you can take from Kao San which leads you to a famous street food! I believe it was called Chakrabongse Road.

The next day we checked out Khlong Lat Mayom to see what the floating market looked like in Bangkok! I’m not sure if it was just this one in particular, but there weren’t too many vendors that were in boats. Rather, there were stalls just like a regular market. Again, it could have just been that certain day, the certain market, or Google just deceived us completely. Either way, it was super sweet to see and we were told not a lot of foreigners went that one in particular. Probably one of the reasons why it was difficult for us to even figure out if we were at the right place in the first place haha.

IMG_1557Probably one of the highlights of this trip was when we went to Siam Paragon Mall to see a movie! I know that’s such a touristy thing to do, but it was insane. There were probably 3-4 malls connected to each other with varying levels of fanciness and they were huge! Going to see a movie in Thailand was one of our must-do’s and we were so glad we did it. The movie ticket that we got came with a 15 minute massage, a glass of wine, a couple of snacks, and reclining chairs in a 12 person movie theater. It was crazy and so worth it for the experience.

Did you know that Thailand’s national anthem is even played in the movie theater? They play it right before the trailers start so you can’t get too comfortable in your seat.

If you’ve ever heard of infamous Thailand Ping Pong Show’s, we also got to witness that (what I meant when I’ll speak on the subject of Adult Playground’s a little more). If you know what it is and you’re thinking why on earth did we want to see that, we HAD too. We we’re in Thailand! We had to experience EVERYTHING! The only thing I have to say about them is that it was actually quite interesting and instead of thinking about how gross? not sexy at all? they are, we were left wondering how on earth did they do what they just did. It was also not as unsafe as we thought to go see one, but obviously be cautious and remember you can bargain! To avoid being scammed, we researched how much we should be paying before asking a random guy on the streets of Sukhumvit where we can see one.

Another crazy awesome thing about Thailand is the shopping! I’ve already talked about Kao San Road and the crazy malls, but what left me stunned is the weekend market called Chatuchak. It was the best shopping I got to do in all of Asia and this is coming from someone who’s from the Philippines. I know what I’m talking about when it comes to markets and if you have any idea of what I’m talking about… it was Greenhills and Divisoria x 10. Chatuchak had 8000 stalls to be exact and you can literally find anything there. I was in cheap quality clothing heaven, it was amazing. My roommate and I felt the same way when we got there and if you mean business like us, we decided to split up for efficiency.

I remember the final thing we got to do in Bangkok was go see a Muay Thai fight. They’re really big in Thailand, so it was one of the things we had actually planned on doing. It was also super cheap to get tickets and actually a lot of fun! They separate foreigners and locals on different sides of the stadium and we were lucky enough to get a close enough view of the latter. The event went on for a few hours, with locals betting and cheering on their favorites. It was super exciting to see!

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A view from a Tuk Tuk ride

So that was Bangkok. I was only able to spend very few days there but as you can see, we tried to experience as much as we can. I’m sure there are so many more things to do, but I’d like to think we crossed out a ton from our list. Bangkok is such a lively city and one that you have to keep an open mind about.

KD

TBT, Travel

My Penang

This time last year, I would have already spent exactly 1 out of 5 months in Penang, Malaysia. It’s crazy how short that amount of time seems compared to how big of a part it’s played in my life. Every time it’s mentioned at work, my manager interrupts to say I went because I was “finding myself.” I went for a exchange semester, but I really did learn so much. I got to travel and live in a different country by myself! Something not a ton of people would be able to say they’ve done at my age… or ever.

I’ve always been so proud of myself for taking that opportunity, and I’ve always regretted not starting this blog sooner so that I can share my experiences and knowledge.. Hence, I decided to do a few blog posts here and there of anything related to my travels where I visited a total of 9 countries.

First destination: Penang, Malaysia!

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AKA my home base and it was a good one. The reason I wanted to do an exchange was because for me, it was a reason to travel… and I’ll be the first to admit I wasn’t in it for academics. Penang was great because it was close to everything! I had so many means of travel available to me; plane, bus, boat, and even train. It was super cheap to travel, for example it cost me $30 to Singapore by plane and $50 to go to Thailand by doing a combination of flying and taking a boat.

Penang is also known as having one of the best street food in the world (I think they’re ranked #2 after Thailand). It’s not hard to see why once you get there, too. They have what they described as “asian food courts” which is also known as Hawker Centers. This is where you go for cheap but good food. I swear, everything cost under $5 there. Sometimes I would spend $10-$15 and get 5 different meals when I wanted to treat myself lmao! You can really get away with only getting one or two dishes though, depending on the proportions of what you get.

It was also very multicultural (another reason why they’re Hawker Centers were so great), there were so many different languages and religions everywhere and it was nice to be able to learn all about them. Penang is also a mix of tradition and modern and when I got home sick, it wasn’t too difficult to go out and sit in a cafe to feel somewhat home (they were very popular).

Here’s some of my favorites in Penang: 

Means of transportation: Uber (extremely cheap but safety is a concern)
Must do: Georgetown Street Art (rent a bike and go on a scavenger hunt)
Must try food: Roti Pisang (Roti w/ bananas, condensed milk, curry sauce)
Must see: Kek Lok Si Temple (so different in the morning vs at night)
Random fun activity: Upside Down Museum
Hawker Center: Super Tanker (cheap(er) food), Red Garden (more exp but better proportions)
Place to drink: Antarabangsa Enterprise (casual drinking and cheap beer)
Breakfast Spot: Sechawan ‘n’ Such (the best bennies… ever!)
Cafe: Black Kettle (good food and good wifi)
Mall: Queensbay Mall

There were so many things to do and places to eat in Penang, so the list of my favorites is really just a peek of all the places I went and enjoyed. There’s also a lot of touristy things on that list, but I do genuinely enjoy a balance of checking out tourist vs local spots! Of course there were so many other things (like people!) that made it such a great trip, but all I can say was that Penang was such a great opportunity to experience and somewhere I miss being everyday.

KD