Bangkok, Thailand

Our trip to Bangkok started with the plane ride from hell. Never in my nearly three decades of travel have I experienced such bad turbulence. At one point the kid sitting behind us shouted “we’re all gonna die.” It was only an hour and half flight but it felt much longer. Once we touched down, Debra, Sarah and I took a train to our hotel, where we were supposed to meet up with our friends Cher and Sean (you guys remember them from Koh Samui). Unfortunately, Cher came down with a really bad case of food poisoning and they missed their flight.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before, but Debra and I met in grad school and we have a former classmate, Tatum, who lives in Bangkok. Tatum was kind enough to pick us up on our first night and show us around town. We caught up over dinner at a super local restaurant (my definition of “super local” is when the menu isn’t translated into English), followed by drinks at a super local beer garden where a dj spun an excellent selection of 90s and early 2000s hip-hop. We capped the night off with some Nutella-smothered toast and ice cream at After You Dessert Café.

Early the next morning we went to a Buddhist meditation center, where we met a pretentious American student who humble-bragged about how enlightened he’d become since he began his meditation studies. One of the English-speaking monks taught us how to do walking meditation — which was neither meditative nor relaxing to me — then we had lunch with about 30 students who were momentarily living at the temple. After saying our goodbyes and thank-yous, we made our way to the Grand Palace, where we took a tour of the former residence of the Siam/Thai Monarch (1782-1925). The palace was the size of a small village, with many gold-plated buildings, carefully manicured gardens and carved stone statues. It was a blazing hot day, but we managed to see all of the elaborate beauty that the Grand Palace had to offer.

The girls were exhausted after our tour and decided to go back to our hotel to get some rest. I on the other hand mustered up enough energy to take a solo shopping trip to the Chatuchak Weekend Market. If you’re ever in Bangkok, you MUST check out this market, it’s packed with vendors selling unique clothing items, accessories, artwork and delicious food and beverages. A few hours and a few hundred Baht later, I met up with the girls for some drinks, then Debra and I took to the streets of Bangkok to check out the night life. We stumbled upon a fashion show, ate loads of food and went back to After You for some more Nutella-smothered toast and ice cream.

We spent our last day in Bangkok rowing down the floating market and visiting the Reclining Buddha before we headed to the train station to leave for Chiang Mai. I didn’t anticipate liking Bangkok as much as I did because it’s nowhere near the beach, but it ended up being my favorite city in Thailand.

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