I've been trying to publish this post on Bangkok for days-- I'm now two cities beyond it and about to move onto my third. But the internet connection has been slow and uploading photos has been a process! So here I am, finally writing about Bangkok.
Oh Bangkok, where do I begin? I left Hanoi last Wednesday, after sadly leaving the wonderful girlfriends I'd made during my time in Vietnam. We all met in Hanoi one month ago, and realized we'd be heading in the same directions. So, obviously we formed a super rad band of solo female travelers. It was so lovely having such incredible women as travel partners (seriously, we became such close friends!), and once we all had to go on our separate ways it hit me that I hadn't really traveled alone yet.
The time I spent in Hanoi was alone, yes, but I stayed put. There wasn't travel beyond the limits of that city. Now here I was, leaving Hanoi and my new friends behind, setting off for Thailand. On my own. A solo traveler, at last.
I got to Bangkok easily, but with much anxiety. Because I'd uh, planned on living in Hanoi for a year (heh), I had two huge suitcases with me, plus my big backpack. Luckily I could leave them in Hanoi for free while I wandered through Vietnam, but once I got to Bangkok I needed to store them. I managed to get new currency and a SIM card, leave the airport in a new country, find a taxi, get to the storage center, get another taxi, and get to my hostel. All in one piece. I made it, and I was so relieved.
I only planned to spend a couple of nights in Bangkok, as there wasn't much I wanted to see and I'd heard such mixed reviews about it. My impression:
coming from Vietnam, it felt like a wonderland.
There was no honking. The streets were orderly and calm. People were kind. There were western comforts and even huge shopping malls. I will never forget walking into that mall, feeling the relief of the super cold air conditioning, being whisked up on an escalator past marble floors and chandeliers, saying out loud, "I'm not in Vietnam anymore!" I even went to a movie. And ate ice cream. It felt completely luxurious and I reveled in the fact that NO ONE WAS HONKING. (Seriously, go from Hanoi to Bangkok. It's like night and day.)
One thing about Bangkok that broke my heart and gave me nightmares, though, was walking past a child asleep on the street on a pile of rags. He couldn't have been more than six and I wanted to cry right there. Or bring him food, or scoop him up and hug him, or take him home with me. It broke my heart and made me incredibly angry. I'm not sure I can understand a city, or country, that allows children to be sleeping alone on the street.
Anyway, these two nights in Bangkok were my first experiences of truly traveling alone. And I can't believe how much I rocked it.
Yes, one night I ate a microwaved sandwich from 7-Eleven in my hostel bed for dinner because I didn't know what street food to buy, but I'm calling it a win. I figured out the train system. I made a friend on the ferry and we visited temples together. I wandered the streets alone with a mango smoothie that tasted like heaven. I got myself to the bus station and figured out how to get a minibus to Kanchanaburi.
Each step felt like a major, major accomplishment.
I wrote this post right around then, and felt so proud of myself. That's not something we often say, that we're proud of ourselves, is it? But I rode that sky train and felt really fucking proud of myself. I was on a train in Bangkok in Thailand by myself. I wasn't even supposed to be in Thailand. I wasn't supposed to be a solo backpacker at all. I was supposed to be in Vietnam teaching English. I kept having these simultaneous moments of "What the fuck am I doing?" (I still often say this out loud!) and "Fuck yeah, of course I'm doing this."
So that's Bangkok. The start of my truly solo adventure. More to come..... :)