A Note From My Indochina Trip: How I Kept My Sanity When I Traveled Solo. Part 1. Bangkok

Journeys are made by people you travel with ~ Unknown, I got from an article in an in-flight magazine

That quote sounds almost perfect! For we can share the laughter, silly things, and even hard moments with the people we travel with. Then a question arises ; how would you create a journey if you travel solo, Rani? That was my question at the very beginning of my Indochina trip. I was supposed to travel with my brother, but he had to look for universities he wanted to go for his bachelor degree, so he quit from the trip. Yup, then I had to travel solo!

Well, to cheer myself up, I assured myself that everyone needs a moment of solitude, sometimes. But again, I thought it would be just stupid and boring to travel solo and enjoy the trip in silence. But the tickets have been booked, the itinerary has been made, and the time has been allocated. So I packed my 40 liters backpack and I flew to Bangkok!

Turned out things were not that scary as I thought. I met lots of people to share the laughter with. Yes, I love to laugh, and I don’t want people to think that I’m insane laughing alone. Boys don’t date insane girl! Duh! Haha

The most important trip you may take in life is meeting people halfway.  ~Henry Boye

During this trip, I met lots of people who gave interesting experiences for me. From thoughtful small talks to stupid inconsiderate attitudes. So I’ll be writing about the people I’ve met and how I learned from them and the experiences I shared with them. This is the first part of the series.

After 4 hours flight from Surabaya to Bangkok, I arrived at Khao San Road area around 9 pm. I stayed in a mixed dorm-room in Nap Park Hostel in Tani Road, two alleys next to Khao San Road. I was preparing to take shower that night, when a boy asked me “Did you just arrive here? Do you have any plan for tonight?”. “Nope. I don’t have any plan yet”, I replied. “I am going to go to Ping-Pong show with other 14 people. Are you coming with us? We’ll be leaving at 11.30 pm”, he asked again. “I’m a bit exhausted, so I’ll have a shower and take a nap for a while. I’ll see you guys afterwards”. Well, you may wonder what is interesting with a ping-pong show. It is not a sport game, for sure. It is Thai ping-pong show.

I’m not saying that it’s a bad show at all, people may find it as a source of fun entertainment.  I’m just not into it. First of all, I’m not a night owl, I’m bad at staying awake at night. Second, I see this show as an exploitation of women, and third, it is a source of scam. People often have to pay a lot for the entrance ticket or for the drinks. Eww..!! I’d better to be safe than be sorry! So I preferred to go to bed.

I was in a 6-beds room that night. Only I and a guy in the bunk below mine were in the room, sleeping.  He didn’t go to the show either. I was waken up at 04.00 am by a loud conversation between 2 guys in the room. I had no idea whether they were drunk or not, but they just came from watching the ping-pong show. They were talking about how cool the show was, and how one of the guy really wished to hook up with a cute British girl named Georgia. He was disappointed because Georgia shared a bed with her friend, so he couldn’t find any space to hook up with her. Well, don’t get me wrong. Hooking up or not, it is their right, and their personal choice. The thing is, they should haven’t talk about it loudly and at 04.00 am when other people in dorm were still sleeping. Enough said! Haha

On my second day in Bangkok, I intended to visit Grand Palace, Wat Po, and Wat Arun. After exchanging some amount of money – yes, I still bring some cash! An obsolete way that still works!-, I get out of the bank with a hopeless mind. I just walked along when suddenly I saw another Asian girl walked alone as well. I then asked her what was she looking for, and she told me that she wanted to go to the Grand Palace as well. Yay! We then decided to explore the city together that day.  Her name was Jeon. We almost got scammed by a man who said that Grand Palace was temporarily closed due to the Buddhist Day, and we could come 1 hour later, and we could spend the time cruising the Chao Praya river in between. He offered a tuk-tuk for 10 Baht (USD 30 cents) to go to the harbor. We took that great deal, but we didn’t go cruising. The tuk-tuk driver took us to a small harbor, whom the owner he knew so well, apparently. We knew that was an attempt of scam. The tuk-tuk driver might get some commission if we took the tour. Sorry, Sir! We knew you needed some money, but we did, too! 🙂

So we explore the traditional market and got our breakfast in a small restaurant near the harbor and the market. I intended to tell them not to give me the spicy one, but we all lost in translation. I remembered that I had a Thai language application in my android phone, so I showed her the sentence I meant. It was funny because it was a recorded voice that I needed to press a button to listen to. So we all laughed over this stupid lost in translation and the use of this application as the way out. It was a bliss to laugh with strangers. We don’t speak the same language but we understood each other and laughed over the silly things we’ve shared together.

I found that I and Jeon got along well. We both loved to explore the off-beaten places. We visited a museum of King Rama VI, which wasn’t really popular among travelers.  I and Jeon entered the building, turned out it was a military base.  We saw people in a line to get such background check, apparently.Haha.. We laughed at ourselves because we thought we went to a wrong place. Well, actually the museum was in the second floor of the building. We even were accompanied by a beautiful and knowledgeable army major! The museum was dedicated for King Rama VI. He was the father of modern Thailand. He went to pursue a degree  in UK and served in British royal army before he adopted the western system to Thailand after he went back home.

What I learned from Thai people was that they seem to really respect their Kings. I often see lots of photos of the kings in front of a building, with an altar to worship them. So was in the museum. There was an altar with the statue of King Rama VI.

Picture of King Rama VI in the museum

Statue of King Rama VI in the museum

We then went to Grand Palace and Wat Arun. We were happy that we weren’t trapped in the scam. The man offered the Chao Praya cruise for over THB 1000 (app USD 30), and we actually only had to pay for THB 3 to cross the river to Wat Arun when we took the official regular  long tail boat.  And we did some sport in Wat Arun afterwards! The stairs to reach the top were so steep that Jeon and I took a long-deep breath to climb the stairs and she was afraid to step down. I then held and led her to step down the stairs. We both laughed a lot afterwards, it was like grandmas holding hand in hand to step down the stairs. Interesting thing happened again when a monk called and blessed us and gave us bracelets. He spelled some prayers and said “Good luck.. Good luck..” to us. We both laughed and questioned whether we had a bad aura so the monk called and blessed us. Haha..

In the evening I had to say goodbye to Jeon. I know she was sad, so was I. It’s really interesting for me how a stranger could be a friend in a strange place. This experience reminded me of what my dad’s friends told me. They were from Olympia, Washington, which was not a big city at that time. The mother told the son not to talk randomly with stranger. And the son, who was 3 years old at that time, replied to his mom “If I talk to them, they are no longer stranger”. I find it true to me, but again, however deep we can trust them when we travel, they are still stranger. It is good to befriend sincerely, but we haven’t known them for quite long time, so we better set a standard for our own security. We can trust them more after we know them quite well.

It was only 2 days but I’ve learned a lot, that laughters can be shared with whoever, wherever, and whenever. Thailand, the land of smile, had certainly put a smile on my face 🙂

Disclaimer : the links I provided are for information purpose only. I didn’t get any commission from the links of the products I’ve linked here. The products are those I use personally.

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