Bangkok: The Reason Why I Am Still on the Road
November 17, 2015, I flew from Manila to Bangkok for a 4 day escape. All I wanted was to escape from the corporate world for a bit and gave myself a holiday. I was 21 at that time and it was my first solo travel abroad. Bangkok had always been on my bucket list as every time my relatives from the United States visited us in the Philippines, they would always talk about how crazy they were about Thai food – well, who wouldn’t be.
I got my laptop, browsed the Internet and then booked. To be truly honest, I sucked at planning. I didn’t research much about the things to do in Bangkok, I had no idea what travel websites to browse through, I had no idea where to go. I just booked a flight, booked a hotel which I had no clear idea on how accessible it was from the airport – seriously, I just wanted to get away. Voila, Bangkok, I’m on my way!
I could hardy sleep the night before my flight as I had a lot of questions, or let’s say I had a lot of travel fears. Will I get to my destination? How far is my hotel? Is it safe in Bangkok? Will I get lost? (A stupid question yes!) Are the people nice? What will I do? and the long list went on. My flight was as early as 6am; therefore, I had to leave home around 3am – I had to make my way before the rush hour! Hey Manila, I somehow miss your crazy traffic scene!
I arrived at the airport two hours before my flight to Bangkok. Everything ran smoothly. I now got onto the plane and had my seat and then the plane finally took off after a few reminders. I had mixed emotions. I felt the excitement, the fear and the happiness. I was seated next to the window. No one told me that one of the most wonderful feelings was to see the sea of clouds from the plane window, from above! No one warned me that in this moment, I would get addicted to traveling.
The plane landed in Malaysia first as I had interconnecting flights via Airasia. I was surprised how massive and tidy the airport was. It might not be one of the most prestigious airports in the world, but the airport, in general is way better than we have back home. I waited for another three hours before I finally had my flight from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok (Don Mueang). Upon landing in Bangkok, I was like a small fish in a gigantic pond like seriously. There were so many tourists from around the world which was my first time to experience – we never had this amount of tourists back home. yes, I was overwhelmed. I was already at the airport lobby and did the essentials. I exchanged a few dollars to Thai baht, bought myself a sim card and made my way out of the airport. Next step, was to get to my accommodation.
I spoke to everyone I came across at the airport and asked if by any chance, they knew where my hotel was. They were all smiling but could not say any English words. “Sorry, no English” ( with a strong Thai accent). I then asked where the taxi station was and they pointed me to a certain place within that area. It was packed with tourists waiting for cabs and I had to fall in line. However, I decided not to take a cab from the airport as I could not wait that long – I was so stoked to experience the city! I got out of the airport, walked around and had a sight of the main road.
I asked a local where I could take a cab but the local I first spoke with just walked away. Again, language barrier (It shouldn’t be). The cabs nor the buses were stopping to pick up passengers from the place I was at. I realized that this was Thailand. They had their rules on the transport system that buses and taxi cars could not just pick you and drop you off at any place you wish to – far way different from our transport system. Since I had already asked several locals and nobody was able to answer me and gave help, I was already feeling lost and hopeless. I walked a bit and luckily, I saw another tourist. I took the chance to ask him a question as I was demotivated to ask another local again. I showed him my hotel booking and asked if he knew where the place was. He told me that it was already his second time in Thailand but he was not that familiar with the places around yet. However, he asked me if I wanted to come with him as he was heading to Khaosan Road since he had a hotel booking there. I had no idea about Khaosan Road and didn’t know what the place was like. I just said yes, as it was almost dark, yet I had not had a place to sleep. We walked up until we reached a bus stop. In Thailand, you are only allowed to be picked up or dropped off at designated bus stops. There you go, there was already a cab! I felt relieved. Upon getting inside the cab, the driver already asked us this ‘fixed taxi fare’ of TBH400.00 or US$8.50. It was only a short distance from the airport and this friend I met on the road said that he was asking too much. But we decided to take the offer as we wanted to reach Khaosan Road straightaway.
We now arrived on Khaosan Road, Thailand’s backpacker’s central. It was very lively, full of lights, colors, packed with people from every nation – one of the best places I had been so far at that time. I was amazed as we didn’t have this kind of place in Manila. Walking through this jazzy road and experiencing this kind of atmosphere really put me in the mood. I could stay here forever, I told myself.
Many thanks to that British friend I met on the road since I didn’t know where I could have been if I didn’t meet or didn’t even talk to him. I then proved the saying which my mom was always telling me
“Don’t talk to strangers” was wrong. Traveling requires you to speak with total strangers and make friends with them . Well, it is definitely one of the life lessons I have learned while on the road.
My 4-day escape was almost over and I needed to go back home. The night before my flight, I wanted to cry as I had already fallen in love with the place, or with the experience rather. I had no plan on leaving Thailand just yet. I did so many things that I had never done before. I felt like I was a bird in captive for 20 years that just got out of the cage or I felt like I was quarantined for a long period of time and then was just set free. I was enjoying the most freedom ever in my life and did not want to end it just in time. I realized that there was more to life. I appreciated my freedom, I appreciated my life even more. Consequently, I did not take my flight back home. My friends, colleagues and of course my family were already bombarding me with lots of messages why I was not home yet. “I’m not returning home yet but it will be soon.” Therefore, from a 4 day escape from the corporate world which became an extended holiday, I have since celebrated my first week, first month, half a year, a year and over a year around Southeast Asia – I have escaped the Philippines, yes.