When I first travelled without my family in 2012 I had a rough start. These were thoughts I journaled at the time. I’m not sure I liked Bangkok a great deal…
Arriving in Bangkok at 2.30am New Zealand time was fairly exhausting, but to add insult to injury my bag came out last and my hotel transfer presumably got fed up waiting for me and left. Or maybe they never showed! Either way I was on my own in Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport on my first solo overseas trip, with no idea how to get to my hotel, or what it was even called. Barely able to function, I rifled through my itinerary and finally found the assistance number for the transfer. The woman who answered spoke what sounded like Thai, with the odd English word thrown in for show. Eventually we established that she wanted me to call another number – one that she didn’t know. I was started to get really stressed now and asked for help at the information desk where the pretty Thai girls were friendly, but again, their English was limited. They tried calling the number again and got no further than I did and spent around 20 minutes talking to each other in Thai until finally I decided I would have to taxi to my hotel. The girls were nice enough to write down my hotel name for the driver and tell me the taxi would cost around 500 baht. (How stupid of me to assume I could pay in US dollars!)
I think the taxi driver had sensed my nerves at being on the other side of the world alone and tried to rip me off. He refused to turn on the meter and started negotiating a price as he drove onto the motorway (at around 130km/hr). We agreed on 500 baht (maybe not such a rip off after all… I would have paid twice that to be at my hotel and safe!)
Mr Taxi Man sped down the motorway, changing lanes without so much as a glance over his shoulder, while cranking Rhianna and Taylor Swift. We drove through two toll stations and both times I thought he was going to make me pay, fortunately he didn’t, but the worst was still to come. After the second toll station he pulled over to the side of the motorway and without a word or even an attempt at signalling what he was doing, he got out of the car and walked off. I wanted to die.
At this point my Dad sent me a text “arrive ok?” All I wanted to do was pick up the phone and say “No! I am not ok!” But I tried my best to stay calm. A Thai woman walked past just as I started to text back, she was on the phone and gave me a very concerned look, which made me feel as if I was really unsafe being a woman alone in a car, in the dark, in Bangkok. My text home was a little ambiguous and I said I would reply once I made it to the hotel.
I’ve never been so happy to see a hotel in my life. It was clean and nice, they spoke English and helped me with my bags, it was an incredible relief.
I slept for only about four or five hours due to jetlag and got ready for a solo-day in the big city. Within 20 minutes I had been adopted by another G-Adventures group (I was meeting up with my own that evening) and we headed to Khao San Road (backpacker street), the Golden Mount (Wat Saket) and attempted to go to the Royal Plaza, but were told, eventually, after being rejected by multiple taxis, that there were huge protests there and it wasn’t safe.
After meeting my group that night, the following day we headed out on TukTuk’s to the river boat and took a river cruise to Wat Po where we saw a massive reclining (not lying, sleeping or relaxing) Buddha.