By Ana Serafin
Words that describe Bangkok: bustling, hustling, loud, traffic, madness, sa-nuk, dirty, friendly, and smiles. Bangkok was definitely everything that I expected it to be from its horrendous traffic that drove me nuts after the first day to probably the best food I have ever had in my life (sorry Italy, you got some competition in Thailand!). But all those intermingling of opposites are what make Bangkok one of the most interesting cities I have been able to experience.
One of the first things that I noticed in Bangkok was its lack of infrastructure which is the main reason why there is so much traffic in this city. I just do not understand how the government provides incentives to residents for them to purchase cars when there are not enough roads to drive them on. It just baffles me how the people are legitimately fine with sitting in traffic for hours, that would drive me insane. I definitely take public transportation and/or walk before I sit in a car for hours; but my reaction is very American because we are all about not wasting time since “time is money” and you could sense in Thailand that there really was no such concept. People in Bangkok were very laid back for a capital city and of course in Koh Samed they were even 100 times more laid back and relax about their surroundings. It is like they walk around in zen mode, that part I admire.
That laid back feeling is really what I believe makes them one of the friendliest people I have ever met. The Thai men and women are amazingly friendly and are willing to help you even when there is a slight language barrier. The Thai people were always available to answer any of my questions which made my experience very welcoming and interested in returning to see more of Thailand and experience the Thai charisma again. Although, there were moments where I felt like I was being taken advantage of, especially when we went shopping into the markets. That experience was priceless! You need to learn how to haggle otherwise you are completely screwed. (I’m saying that in the nicest way possible!).
Our first night in town, a couple of us went shopping and we thought we did very well with the way we negotiated for certain items to find out we were ripped off ridiculously for certain items. Even though it made me upset, I did not feel too bad about it because at the end of the day the majority of the people we interacted with seemed like they were selling contraband items in the market to be able to survive living in such a large and expensive city. Bangkok is definitely a poor city compared to Hong Kong, you can see the poverty every corner you walk (or drive in our instance) through. A part of me felt like I was back at home in Caracas, Venezuela. Where there is trash in the middle of sidewalks and in the rivers, beggars ever five feet you walked, must wear closed toed shoes or otherwise little critters would crawl over your toes, need to hold on to your purse a little tighter than usual — never know when you are going to be picked pocketed, and the only place where you breath “fresh air” is in your dormitory because the pollution levels are so high thanks to the amount of cars living in one city. The only difference between Caracas and Bangkok is that there is a level of security in Bangkok that Caracas unfortunately no longer offers.
Now back to Bangkok…the highlight of being in this city was the amazing hotel we stayed at, Dusit Thani. When we walked into the hotel, I felt like I was at the Bellagio in Las Vegas with everything being extra-large and elegant. The Dusit Thani is glamorous with their first in class customer service representatives in sharp fitted Thai traditional costumes to amazing food selections for all kinds of cravings; from a large waterfall with koi fish in the bottom for you to enjoy while sipping on a glass of Chardonnay and imagine you are somewhere else to their amazing spa services that were definitely worth every penny! The hotel rooms that we all stayed in were fabulous, very clean and modern yet elegant and classy. I still cannot believe we stayed at that hotel it is by far the best hotel we stayed at during this trip and I loved it so much that I provided a review about the hotel on Trip Advisor and it has been viewed by more than 900 people in the U.S.
To close the loop on Amazing Thailand, the biggest thing that I loved about this country was their food. As I mentioned before, I love trying the local food when I travel and that was my favorite thing to do in Thailand. I enjoyed every bite of street food I had including the random crickets on Koh Samed Island. Their dishes are so complex in flavors but easy to make (or so they made it seem) that I was amazed with everything we had served both in Bangkok and in Koh Samed. I loved the fact that you can be walking down Rama IX road and you can get a quick plate of fresh Pad Thai or some fresh fruit with sugar and red chili seasonings. Or be lying on the beach and get some fresh coconut juice, with grilled chicken and papaya salad on the side. I loved Thai food before I got to Thailand and now I must say it is the best cuisine in this world!