After a short week that felt surprisingly long…I was bound on an overnight bus for Bangkok at 8:30 pm Friday night. Bound for delayed birthday celebrations for my friend Annie.
Hours before I had dropped Bri off at the bus stop to catch a quick bus to Chiang Mai. A bus she was seconds from missing considering we pulled up on the scooter as the bus was pulling away.
That moment of panick passed, I took my routine trip down the main road into Phrae. A drive that (when done at sunset) makes me insanely happy. I’ve gotten into the potentially dangerous habit of listening to music when I drive and something about upbeat techno when you’re on a scooter, driving into the sunset on the wrong side of the road kind of feels like magic.
I got a quick dinner with Alex and Charlotte who were staying in the city this weekend. And then a quick drink at what was labeled a “karaoke bar”, but was really four guys with a microphone sitting at a folding table, drinking beers, and reading song lyrics off a tiny television. Bless them.
I’m on my bus next to a lady that was adorably concerned about my being cold when I boarded in a tank top. She was promptly reassured when I pulled out my blanket. (The one I bought in Lampang, which has been a staple of every weekend since). I took some dopamine and was promptly knocked out until I was startled awake at 5am and the bus deposited me at the Mochit bus station of Bangkok.
Annie had texted me very specific instructions for getting from Mochit to her place. And I had them, screenshot in hand, and pretty confident I could figure out the way. And I was promptly proven wrong.
Turns out the Mochit bus station and the Mochit BTS (Sky train) station are three kilometers apart! Who planned that? And so the man at the information desk lets me know that I can take a walk to the public bus station and then catch a public bus there. And it’s still the wee hours of the morning and so when I step out of the bus station and take one look at the sketchy, freeway-underpass road I have to walk on by myself to the public bus station…I immediately chicken out and get myself a cab.
And one very overpriced cab later…I am deposited at the beginning of the airport sky train that stops at Annies town. Oh boy!
I catch literally the first train out of there with all the commuters. I bounce out at Annies stop like “hey girl I’m here” and in typical Annie fashion she’s like “oh shit. I’m not. Lemme get out of bed and get there”. Luckily it was just a few more minutes and then friends reunited in Thailand once again!!
I got to see her walk to school which was a typical Thailand mix of smelly markets and beautiful canals and bridges. We went to check out her school and meet the very adorable Thai woman who is her “Thai mom” at the school.
We had lunch on a canal, and at that point Annie was like “well this is more or less all that Lat Krabang has to offer”.
So we head into Bangkok!
My memories of this place were from about 2 1/2 (at this point, geez) years ago. And also it was songkran back then…so not a typical Bangkok experience. And what exactly would that entail? Lots of people trying to rip you off.
Which was got right out of the gate as we are trying to find a cab to our hostel and they are all refusing to turn on the meter. That’s like a classic Bangkok scam. Because it’s like 80฿ with the meter but then they’ll charge you 150-200฿ if they can. And the problem with Bangkok is that there are so many tourists that cab drivers will just be like “nope” cause they know some clueless farang will be down in ten minutes and pay double.
Our hostel turned out to be beautiful. Props to Annie for finding the cutest, trendiest place. The location wasn’t super ideal but this place was set over this very cute, antique-y coffee shop. And the guest house had super soft beds, free towels, flushing toilets, and luxury showers. I was in heaven. Clearly, because I immediately took a nap. Lol.
That afternoon we were both kind of tired so we decided to treat ourselves. We started with a nice walk to Khao San road (the Bourban street of Bangkok, if you will). But during the day it’s just your typical tourist hub where they try to get you to pay 120฿ for smoothies. Aint nobody got time for that! Cause I found one for 40.
Then we got Thai massages. Typical.
And for dinner we had Outback Steakhouse!
We went to this swag mall that Annie was excited about. We ate seriously delicious hamburgers and mashed potatoes and tried not to feel guilty that it was way beyond our teacher salary budget.
And I told the server it was Annies birthday (only a slight exaggeration) and we got a free chocolate banana sundae and they sang her happy birthday!!! Annie was super pleased because I think she loves her birthday more than any person I know.
My first in Thailand. And I felt so blessed. We saw Moana (that new Disney movie) and we both thought it was so cute! And exactly what we needed to see after long seemingly-endless weeks of toddlers.
And we went home after that and passed out like the grandmas we are.
Cue day two:
I wake up early and get a super expensive cup of coffee at the coffee shop on the first floor. Read my Pope book (still making it through that one). Don’t get me wrong, it’s so good. I freaking love Popes and their lack of piety never ceases to amuse me. That morning I overheard some other chick talking about being a teacher and couldn’t help but interject.
Turns out that she just finished her first week teaching. I’m like “shit girl! Don’t worry. I know it sucks. It’s not gonna be that terrible forever I promise” and she was like “oh my god I’m so glad you said that cause it’s so hard!” I’m like “yeah. Teaching in Thailand is fucking rough”.
Anyway. That day Annie and I start off for JJs market. Or at least that’s what she says the locals are calling it these days.
And we get some (bad) info from the ladies at 7-11 that the closest BTS station in Hua Lahmpung? Well. Start off with the fact that I am carrying a bit too many things (pope book and camera never a good combo). And also Hungry Janet is very much present. So I get myself some food almost immediately. And Annie keeps being like “we’re almost there” which I know isn’t her fault cause she doesn’t know this city either…but I’m getting a bit grumpy. And then we are suddenly in Chinatown. And in typical Thai fashion suddenly we’re like in a market and then the sidewalk is like veering off the road and we’re like “wtf?”
So then we have to backtrack and cross the road only to find ourselves in like another market. And we’re wandering around like “what the hell google maps are you just trying to get us to buy Chinese goods?!” And finally we find an exit. Apparently there’s one.
And a few more “we’re almost there”s later…we find the station.
The air conditioned train does a lot for my mood. And by the time we reach JJs I’m feeling a bit better.
I snag a quick “bench of the day” pic on my way into the market.
Notice me wearing jeans in the heat like the fucking classic Thai local I am! (Jk I actually traded those in for lightweight pants I bought at the market minutes later).
JJs is huge. There were a ton of farangs. And when we arrived we had to treat ourselves to Thai tea before we could get any shopping done. Because it was very hot and crowded and we couldn’t handle that without sugar reinforcements.
I bought some comfy pants (previously mentioned), a new lantern, and some lemon soap.
Then in a typical Bangkok moment we sit down to get some food at one of the little stands. And they give us the English menu. So we order our food and while we’re waiting we see the Thai menu and the prices were different! Like by 100 baht!! And we’re like “uh…same same?” And the man is trying to convince us that the soup Annie has is bigger and we’re like “nah”.
And then when we’re done eating the woman comes to collect like “300 baht” and we’re like “no way” and we’re trying to take the Thai menu from the man and he’s not giving it to us. And finally the lady goes “fine! You pay!” And so we hurriedly drop the money we want to pay and book it out of there because the lady was pissed.
We were tired so we went home at this point to chill in the hostel for a bit. I finished my video (more info at the end). And then we went back to Khao San road.
First we treated ourselves to some dank Indian food. Which we were both craving. I know, I know, I’m in Thailand! Indian food? Whatever.
And then (instead of shelling out for one of the popular sky bars that are popular in Bangkok) we found ourselves a much cheaper Rooftop bar (which was cool, but typically overpriced). This was after we rode to the top in what was probably the world’s most sketchy elevator. Which went up through the floors at a snails pace and Annie and I were both convinced we were going to die. Annie actually screamed when we made a jolting stop at one of the floors.
We went back to Khao San after that. We had drinks at the bar where Lenny got a bottle broken over his head more than 2 years ago. And Khao San in fun but it is insanely overwhelming. There are like a thousand farangs just in the streets. And it was madness. I think we were both pretty happy to go home, grab the required end-of-the-night cheese toastie.
And then I shelled out for an Uber to the airport in the morning (I know! Bangkok has Uber!!) And took probably the smallest plane I have ever ridden on back to Phrae. And even though I miss Annie like crazy…I was definitely happy to be home. Phrae is so much nicer. And I really cannot beat a life full of cashew chicken and nice long scooter commutes into town. I am seriously lucky.