Thursday, May 26, 2011

Day 5 - HCMC to Bangkok, Thailand

Today was basically a transportation day, getting from Vietnam to Thailand and getting acclimated to the city of Bangkok. The rain started pouring last night and this morning in Vietnam. Looks like we left at the right time!

On the way to the airport, our taxi driver rear-ended a young girl riding a motorcycle. Luckily, there didn't appear to be any damages since he was driving pretty slowly, and she just drove away. It made me wonder if there was any auto insurance in Vietnam, or even health care for the matter? I don't think there are any health and safety code standards since anyone could open up shop at the ground level of their homes (which many people already do). In some of the poorer areas, where there isn't as much tourist traffic, it seems like these shops cater just to the neighbors in the area, who also have their own little shops. It all becomes a sort of barter system between them all, where the money just gets constantly passed around...

The flight to Thailand took about 1.5 hours, and once we arrived at the airport, we went directly to immigration. As a US citizen, we didn't have to apply for a Visa, but just filled out an arrival and departure card. It took us about 1 hour at the airport to try any figure out how to get to our hotel, though, since we were trying to use the rail line.

Thailand has a very clean and new transit system. It kind of reminded me of New York, but with fewer routes. I am excited to come back to this country on my own and just randomly stop wherever to discover new parts of the city. The traffic is HORRIBLE here compared to Vietnam. At least in Vietnam, the traffic moves, albeit at a slow pace. In Thailand, sometimes you are at a stand-still for a long time... There are definitely less motorcycles in Thailand, and many more cars. The pollution isn't as bad since there aren't as much exhaust fumes lingering in the air.

One thing I was worried about was the weather. Since Thailand is even closer to the equator compared to Vietnam, the temperature was higher. But even with higher temperatures, walking the city was a lot more tolerable because it is less humid than Vietnam.

Another thing I worried about were the plethora of scams that I heard about in Thailand. Check out this thread on lonelyplanet: Hopefully I'm not moronic enough to fall for any of these traps...

We spent the whole day in Bangkok trying to figure out how to take a bus to the border of Cambodia/Thailand, which we will do tomorrow at 8am in the morning. A good thing was that many of the people in Thailand spoke some English, and many of them seem very friendly and eager to help. I also spent the day reading up on Thai culture, customs, and history, which I will highlight in a future post.

We went to the largest market in Bangkok - the Chatuchak Weekend Market, which covers over 35 acres, but many of the booths were closed by the time we got there around 6PM. We were able to try some street food, which was exceptional! One thing that I noticed was that all the dishes you ordered at a food stall or restaurant came in very small portions, but I guess it gives you the opportunity to try many different dishes.

At the end of the night, my mom and I got foot massages for about $6/hr. Quite an incredible deal, and the massage was tough and hurt my body, but that's what makes it good right?

First Meal in Thailand - Garlic Fried Rice with Chicken

Street Food - I didn't try the food in the first picture, although it was something with corn kernals, The second one looked like a taco with sour cream and cheese/carrots, but was actually a crepe-like dessert filled with what tasted like melted marshmellows and coconut (orange substance). I am uncertain what the yellow substance is.

The transit system in Bangkok

Chatuchak Weekend Market

Various juices sold at the Chatuchak Weekend Market

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