Should I Give Bangkok Another Chance? (My First Solo Backpacking)

Should I Give Bangkok Another Chance? (My First Solo Backpacking)

Two years ago,  I finally gathered enough courage to give this solo backpacking a try. It was the height of political unrest in Bangkok, Thailand and my ma kept updating me with the news hoping that it will change my mind. I booked my tickets 2-3 weeks before the actual flight date and I had no idea that things could get worse in just 2-3 weeks but I was pretty determined to go on a solo backpacking in Bangkok. My friends thought I was crazy, but I told them that if worse comes to worst, I’ll get out of Bangkok. Thailand is huge, the protests are concentrated in Bangkok. I can simply catch a bus and head to another city. Besides, it was just a six day trip, what could possibly go wrong?! Unfortunately for me, everything went wrong!

I have long been planning my solo backpacking in Bangkok. I love the idea of it. I have all these pictures in my head of how epic my trip will be. I was so ready to get lost in the streets of Bangkok and most of all I was so excited to eat authentic, tasty, Thai food! Just so you know, I’m obsessed with Thai food.

backpacking in bangkok

Due to the protest, I booked a hotel far from the center area. I wanted to take some precautionary measures. My first impression of Bangkok was pretty neutral. I wasn’t impressed, I wasn’t disappointed either. But after spending some time in the city, I realized how overrated Bangkok is. My biggest disappointment was when I visited the temples. It’s smacked right in the middle of the city, it was scorching hot while I was touring the temple grounds, not to mention, it was ridiculously crowded and touristy. Wat Arun is an exception because I witnessed a beautiful sunset while I was at the top and it wasn’t crowded at the time I visited. I also met two kindred spirits who made sure I was okay and that I can make it all the way down. The steps were too narrow and steep, going down was the scariest part, my knees were literally shaking the whole time, one wrong slip and I will surely fall. But the temples were not the deal breaker for me.

backpacking in bangkok

Travel Tip: Beware of the tuktuk scams where they tell you that the temple is closed and they’ll take you to some jewel shop and force you to buy something. Tuktuks are overrated in Bangkok, they either scam you or over charge you. You’re better off taking the BTS (Bangkok Sky Train), it’s fast, clean and easy to figure out. You can also take a cab, just make sure they use their meter. Also, Wat Phra Kaew and Wat Pho are very near to each other, you can easily walk to the other temple if you can still take the heat of the sun. But just in case you decide to take a taxi, don’t be fooled by the cab drivers who insist on not using their meter and will overcharge you with a fixed amount.

backpacking in bangkok

Before this trip, I obsessively researched about where and what to eat in Bangkok. Of course, most of the travel blogs suggested street food. Since I was an obsessive planner, I actually had a list of specific street food stalls that I wanted to try, except that I wasn’t able to find them. Not a single one. I ended up eating wherever, I tried street food after street food, hoping to find that ‘aha’ moment that will make me want to live in Thailand forever. I don’t know if I’m just eating at the wrong places or maybe my expectations were too high but the food that I’ve tasted so far weren’t really that impressive. There were good ones of course, like that steamed seabass in lime and garlic in the photo but other than that, the rest were just average. I didn’t want to give up though, I was pretty determined to continue my quest to find that “to die for” “must eat” food in Bangkok. Except that this quest was cut short due to what happened on my third day.

backpacking in bangkok

I felt really sick when I woke up on my third day but I tried not to let it ruin my plans. I got up and forced myself to go on another gastronomic adventure. I was having my brunch at this little artsy cafe where the waiter forgot to forward my order to the kitchen and I ended up waiting for one freakin’ hour to eat. I ordered this pulled pork burger because I read somewhere that it’s supposed to be good. They left out the part that they’ve put cumin on the patty, and god knows how much I hate cumin. I’m a huge fan of herbs and spices but I hate cumin and my taste buds are very sensitive to them. After that brunch, I wanted to go to a museum but I felt really nauseous while I was on the train. I decided to go back to my hotel which is again, too far from the center area. I was already having cold sweats and I felt like I’m about to vomit. I got off the train and decided to take a cab instead but I guess I was really in a bad luck because there’s not much cab in the area where I got off. I felt like I’m already about to pass out at that point. I saw a signboard that says Hospital in the waiting shed and I almost decided to go but I finally got a cab. When I got to the hotel, the housekeeping was cleaning my room, so of course I have to wait again. When I was finally alone, I threw up like there was no tomorrow, I suffered from a horribly cramping stomach ache and I had a really bad case of diarrhea. It drained all my energy and my stomach hurt like hell. I was in misery and the front desk didn’t even have an emergency kit. I have to get up and buy medicine for myself. I really felt like I was about to die but I have to suck it all up. It was definitely food poisoning, what else could it be.

backpacking in bangkok

The next few days were spent eating 7/11 food which was just really sad. But despite my condition, I was determined not to spend the rest of the trip in my hotel room. I went to Kanchanaburi the next day, it was one hour and thirty minutes bus ride out of Bangkok. I booked a day with an elephant camp to experience what it was like to take care of these beautiful gentle giants. This was the only best thing that happened to me during that trip. I really had fun at this camp, I learned so much about elephants and bathing with them at the River Kwai was just amazing. I almost didn’t want to go back to Bangkok after this experience. I wanted to stay at Kanchanaburi a little longer.

Travel Tip: Please don’t support elephant riding or tourist activities that use elephants for entertainment. Those chairs that they put on top of the elephants in trekking camps are actually painful because they’re usually placed at the backbone part of the elephants. Also, their feet are soft like humans, they don’t have hooves like horses, so it’s really painful for them when they’re made to trek for long hours carrying heavy stuff at their back.

backpacking in bangkok

I guess, I’m just not much of a city girl. Bangkok felt very much like Manila, it’s crowded, modern and highly urbanized. Little things can actually easily charm and captivate me, whether it’s a local art, a cute cafe, a hole in the wall restaurant, or a really memorable encounter with a kind stranger. However, I wasn’t able to find anything in Bangkok but bad luck and I told myself that my next trip to Thailand will never be Bangkok.

Maybe it was just bad timing. What do you think? Should I have another solo backpacking in Bangkok? Do you have any tips so I can enjoy the next time I go there?

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