It’s been a year and half since I last left Thailand after my stint on The Rock, a year and half since I last felt the buzz of Bangkok or basked in the quiet peace of the mountains and oceans. It’s absolutely no secret to anyone that I’ve missed this country greatly, it’s been drawing me back ever since I got on the plane to back to London. After all of this time I’ve finally answered the call of Thailand and returned back to The Land of Smiles, flying back over Bangkok a few days ago seeing the smog clear over the city I felt an overwhelming urge to smile, by the time I had landed and cleared through customs my joy was unfathomable, the familiar humid heat greeted me fondly as I walked out of the airport carried by the feeling of travel euphoria.
Although I haven’t been to Bangkok since June/July 2013 the city felt strangely familiar, the roar of the traffic, the heckles of the street vendors trying to vie for the attention from those passing through, Tuk Tuks zipping in and out of the traffic as though they were invincible; every single sense heightening experience previously locked away was unleashed, Bangkok, the obtruse, overcrowded city welcomed me back as though we were long lost friends. I headed directly to my hostel, Nappark, nestled in Banglampoo a few streets from the mania of Koh San Road. I stayed in this hostel for two nights; I have to say that as hostels go, this place was absolutely amazing. It is by no means the cheapest at 500THB a night for a ladies dorm, but it’s clean, has hot showers and fast wifi; but most importantly it has a great common area perfect for meeting new people; I made fast friends with my hostel neighbours, together we had a few drinks and sunk into the depths of Koh San for a night (or two) of partying. I can’t completely remember the first night, I know that we headed back to my old haunts where I spent some time previously, Golf Bar, Silk Bar and The Club (it’s still as nuts as I remember).
Koh San Road hadn’t changed at all, the people filtering from bar to bar, music playing loudly, the sounds of the street vendors and ‘events organisers’ echoing through the street. I had a lot of fun, I don’t think it’s possible not to have fun in this city, but the bar hopping trail (as fun as it is), isn’t what I had intended on seeing of the city, it’s so easy to get caught up in; but I knew that I wanted to see the Temples again and enjoy what else Bangkok had to offer away from Koh San Road.
So, the day after my arrival into Bangkok myself and two friends decided that we wanted to do a temple tour, we found a Tuk Tuk for the day (It was only 60THB for three of us over a good few hours), we climbed into the Tuk Tuk with what I could only describe to be the most insane driver I have ever experienced, he flew across the city, along pathways, he rocked the cart and played ‘chicken’ with other Tuk Tuk’s, the three of us in the back squealing, hanging on tightly as we flung around the city; I’m sure that us nervously laughing made him go faster. We drove for a while from the city centre, down to a temple; the name of it, I don’t recall, we got there so fast that I couldn’t gather my surroundings; falling from the Tuk Tuk we realised that we were the only people in the temple, we found peace only a street away from the chaos of Bangkok. The sounds of the city were left behind us as we wandered around the grounds, feeling completely at peace; we stayed there until the heat of the day slowly started to drain us, we knew it was time to head on, we decided that we wanted to head back to the hostel, to eat, to drink, most importantly to nap after our night of frivolous dancing. Driving back to our hostel, our friendly Tuk Tuk driver took a turn to the dark side, previously joking with us he turned angry as we stated that we didn’t want to go to a floating market nor, did we want to carry on into the afternoon; taking our opportunity as quickly as possible we left the Tuk Tuk by the side of the road.
We walked from the Grand Palace back to our hostel where we lazed the afternoon away in air conditioning. The three of us stayed in the hostel until the evening sky started to turn from the smoggy white to a soft pink; not wanting to miss what promised to be a beautiful sunset we headed out into the city, walking along the river to Wat Pho (Reclining Buddha Temple); we got to the temple just as the sun was illuminating the temple grounds in a golden hue, the gems and the gold of the temple shone like a thousand diamonds. Like the temple earlier on that day we had the grounds almost private for just the three of us, the hot Bangkok sun grew in size until it was burning bright red over the river directly towards the temple. We enjoyed the sunset within the temple grounds as the monks in their burnt orange robes wandered past us, it was one of those moments when you realise where you are and what you’re doing.
I felt such gratitude to be lucky enough to be able to travel and see sights like that; it was the perfect way to spend a day away from the chaos. We headed back into the evening for my last night in Bangkok, when I awoke (yesterday) I flew up to Chiang Mai with some other friends, it’s here that I want to visit the Elephant Nature Park (finally!), explore waterfalls, mountain temples and eat my body weight in Tom Yum Goong and Curries before I shimmy my way to Pai in a few days. I’m enjoying taking this trip sllllowly and embracing quiet, peaceful moments of reflection; that sounds like the worst thing to say but it’s true, my life in Essex and London moved so quickly, everything had to be done right away, by the end of it I was exhausted, mentally completely exhausted. So, I’m building my resolve back up, Thailand is the best place to do that, I’m sure.