A truly fitting nickname for Thailand, although some of those smiles are the least sincere you can find. In the capital city of Bangkok, it very hard to distinguish between the local who is glad to have you visiting their home, and the one who only wants to take what you have. From beautiful temples, stunning vistas, and eye-opening experiences to prevalent prostitution, scamming, and theft; this is the place to experience it all.
Upon arriving at my hostel and collecting myself over a few hours of sleep, I was buzzing excitement to explore the city and set off on foot to see the lesser known sights of Bangkok. After fending off the hordes of tuk-tuk drivers surrounding the infamous Khao San Road and making my way into more local neighbourhoods, I finally gave into a tuk-tuk driver who promised to take me to see the local side of Bangkok. After chatting with him for a few minutes I made my decision and seated myself in the back of his chariot, skeptical about the ‘sights’ I was promised to see. Man was I pleasantly proved wrong.
Shortly after this tour had concluded, I had let my guard down just enough to join the many victims of Bangkok’s many scammers. I had walked into a large tourist agency, ready to spend my money on a tour to see the hill tribes during my trip to the north. Being greeted by a seemingly friendly woman named Fan, I gladly seated myself at a desk among a large amount of other tourists booking long, expensive tours throughout the country. Luckily (if you can call it luck) I had only purchased a three day, 2 night jungle trek ‘tour’ scheduled to start on my second day in Chiang Mai.
This day of excitement was followed by meeting some phenomenal travelers back at the Born Free – Vista hostel I had booked in to, and enjoying a night out exploring the wild nightlife the capital is so famous for.
After spending two exciting days in Bangkok, creating enduring friendships with fellow tourists, I was ready to explore the rest of this beautiful and intriguing country. That morning, I had set out on a long and interesting 30 kilometer walk to Mo Chit bus station. Arriving at the station late in the evening, I now had an uncomfortable eight hour express bus ride to the northern city of Chiang Mai.
This is where my adventure takes a turn, testing myself and setting a precedent for my next few weeks of exploration.