Bangkok is a place favoured by Westerners. In doing research before my trip, I just couldn’t figure out why. Not to say it is a bad place, I just didn’t see what was drawing so many in.
With only one full day in the city we planned to make the most of it. We woke up early and set out for the Grand Palace. Thinking we would take the public river ferry to the Palace, we followed the signs to the pier from the subway. In my daze of following other foreigners, we ended up taking a small tourist long tail boat. This boat was much more expensive, but worth the experience.
Arriving outside the Grand Palace I was met with so many people trying to sell me a long skirt. Luckily, I did my research before arriving and knew of the Palace’s dress code. I was also aware that I would be able to borrow a long skirt once I entered the Palace. Knowing this, and seeing so many young girls purchasing the skirts, I was conflicted; should I share my knowledge or let them learn from their own mistake?
Having just come from Angkor Wat two days before, I was a bit afraid that the Palace would not impress me much, but upon entering the gate my fear dissolved. The Palace was impressive. The colours and sparkle of the mosaic patterns were mesmerizing. The paintings along the perimeter were just as impressive as the architecture. Every place we looked was decorated in little details of colour.
The next stop of the day was the famous backpackers’ heaven of Khao San Road. Khao San Road has everything a traveller on a budget could want; including souvenirs, snack stands, restaurants, massage, hostels, etc. With all of the craft and clothing stands and all of the Westerners, I felt more like I was at a Grateful Dead concert than a major Asian city.
We wandered the city for a little while longer before Ming Hay finally said what I had been thinking… “I’m bored.” Feeling a little defeated by Bangkok, I asked Ming Hay what most Hong Kongers do in Bangkok. He said, it is very cheap to eat and get massages, which is the draw for Hong Kongers.
Over an extravagant dinner we chatted about our day and our thoughts of Bangkok. I realised that Bangkok is normally the first stop for Westerners when they come to explore Asia. It is a good place to transition out of the Western customs and get a taste of Eastern culture. It is also a very inexpensive place to make mistakes as a first-time traveller (like purchasing an over-priced skirt outside of the Palace). Also, although Bangkok has some amazing attractions like the Grand Palace, if you’ve spent time travelling Asia, these attractions aren’t any different or mind-blowing if they are not your first experience in Asia. After having these realisations I felt less defeated by Bangkok and we enjoyed the rest of the evening with an inexpensive 60 minute foot massage.