After arriving in Bangkok for the very first time on the 22nd January, this was to be my third visit to the bustling city I have grown to both love and hate. The night train was a pleasant journey as I had paid a little extra for the bigger air conditioned bottom bunk and was lucky enough to have a nice guy from Sweden and a couple from England around me. As soon as I arrived in Bangkok I headed off to find a guesthouse close to the station so I could chuck my bags down and get to the Myanmar Embassy before it opened at 9am. I needed to ensure I had enough time to get my visa for Myanmar (Burma) that day so I could fly out the following afternoon.
On my arrival at the embassy I was stunned to see how many people there were waiting to get tourist visas. At least a hundred tourists including western families, lone backpackers and old people were jammed into a small room with staff unable to cope with the demand. I spoke with a 96 year old woman who had been ten years running and she describe how shocked she was at how it had changed within a year. I couldn’t believe someone so old and frail was travelling to Burma alone and I helped her fill in her form. There’s no denying Myanmar is welcoming tourists with open arms, there’s even a van outside offering photocopying and passport photos needed for the application form.
After an hour I was out and on the Bangkok Sky Train (BST) to meet my friend Aree for cake at After You Dessert Cafe. I ordered Nutella sweet toast with ice cream and whipped cream thinking myself and Aree would be sharing. Little did I know she ordered her favourite chocolate melt fondue leaving me having to demolish the huge monster myself! Although ridiculously full, I can’t complain one bit as it was absolutely divine and Aree kindly treated me. I spent the rest of the day running errands and in and out of coffee shops for wifi. I must have spent over a day’s budget just on coffee!
That afternoon I returned to the embassy to see if my visa application had been successful and meet back up with Jaimie. I received my visa within about half an hour after learning of Jaimie’s nightmare day which involved having to spend $100 on a trip to the US embassy for new pages in her passport – and I thought Bangkok was draining my wallet! We took a walk to the duck place opposite Lub D Bangkok – Silom, the hostel I stayed in previously, for an early dinner of duck noodle soup which was nice but if I’m honest, a little over rated!
I decided to take a long walk home back to my area just to explore Bangkok a little further. It was just how I left it apart from the air being hotter and more humid than in February, but it felt different. I’ve only just come to notice just how developed the city is. There are Starbucks, people with iPads, the smoothest of tubes and people dressed up to the nines, it was just like being back in London. Not only that, I never realised it was so expensive, especially compared with Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos.
Having come from fairly pricy (in Asian standards) Laos, I was looking forward to converting back to Thai Baht forgetting Bangkok is one of the most expensive cities in South East Asia. My $25 budget went straight out the window on a small room without aircon (big mistake) and a trip to the supermarket to stock up on toiletries ahead of Myanmar – there’s no need to do this as you can pick up most items in Yangon.
High prices are always expected in large cities but the cost of things in Bangkok has noticeably increased in the month of two since my last visit. A dorm bed in hostel Lub D was a whopping €4 more than my previous visit and noodle soup has almost doubled. Even the price of a pineapple off the street is over a third more expensive than in Febuary, it was really odd to see. Peed off by how Bangkok was killing my wallet I returned to my overly hot room for a terrible nights sleep, waking twice through the night for a cold shower.
The next day didn’t start much better as someone stole my overpriced pineapple out the fridge of the guesthouse even when I was sat right next to it. My flight to the Philippines also went up before I had the chance to book and I learnt that my bank was charging me interest on all ATM transactions and £100 went missing from my purse. The last couple of weeks seem to have brought nothing but bad luck such as loosing things, unaccounted for expenses, inefficient aircon etc., but I just remind myself that if these little things are all I have to worry about then I have a pretty awesome life!
Living life, loving travel,