First off, yes, I would go back. I’ve been asked the question would I go back more than any other question. My answer is yes and it would be better because of what I learned the first time so hopefully by reading this you can learn a few things and make your trip better.
It’s hard to know where to start so I will just start with getting there, from DFW it’s gonna cost you between $900-$1100. I personally didn’t think that was a bad price and I’m pretty tight with money. The flight is around 21 hours depending on if you go through Tokyo or Abu Dhabi but either way it’s gonna take a while. Personally I like flying so even though it’s a plane and I’m 6’4 I can tolerate it because I know what the pay off is for being there.
Once there most everything is cheap, there are a few things to watch out for like anywhere else you go, for example, I scratched my Ray Bans and thought well they are likely just as cheap here as anywhere so I went to get a new pair. I handed mine to the guy in the store and he pointed to a new pair that matched, I picked them up and they were $400 US. I quickly put them back and continued on my way.
You have to remember these people’s livelihood is mostly your tourist dollars so they will take all they can get but at the same time you can always get things cheaper than they ask. Average price for a T-shirt is about $5 most meals are around $4-6 per person. It’s all very affordable. Speaking of the food let’s talk about that more.
Yes it’s hot, it’s Thai and it’s just what you’ve heard it is. I eat Thai food a lot anyway and being in Texas we eat a lot of Mexican food so I enjoy hot food. Most everything is served with rice as you would expect and everything is fresh. My favorite meals we ate were street foods. There are carts and motorcycles and just random little places that are all selling food. Everything from fresh fish to meats on a stick that I couldn’t identify but were very tasty.
All of these foods are cheap and delicious. I learned a hard lesson early one morning while looking for breakfast. First let me say breakfast is hard to find, these are not early morning people most of them are out until near daylight and the city don’t get moving until 8-9 am. In fact on more than one occasion as we were leaving early to head to the lake to fish we would see people staggering into hotels, for the most part my days of staggering in at 5 AM are over but I could see how being in a place like this might make you want to give it one last run. Now back to breakfast and my lesson. We had walked a few blocks and came up on a real nice place serving a breakfast buffet and it said “American”. I thought I could go for some bacon right now so we went in. It was a really nice place and the food smelled great so I didn’t waste time getting started, I never asked how much as I just assumed like everywhere else it would be reasonable. I was badly mistaken, it seems that anything that says American or Western style will cost you about five times the price. I’m guessing they are hoping you become home sick or maybe that anybody that would eat this style of food would have money but your safest bet is to eat local food and not their attempt at American. The food was below average and when I went to pay for the meal I almost cried, $50 for two buffets of raw thinly sliced bacon and hard waffles, I was full so in a good mood but I didn’t make that mistake again.
Service is always fast and friendly, most wait staff can understand enough English to get your order. It’s not their job to know English so don’t get frustrated at them, I found places with pictures on the menu or on the walls were easy to order as you can just point to what you want.
Not only is it delicious it’s beautiful to look at, if you are a “foodie” and really enjoy looking at food and seeing food cooked this is a great place for you. They sell it everywhere you go, it doesn’t matter if you are walking, on a boat, site seeing, whatever it is great food is really close by. I’m not sure how I didn’t gain ten pounds while there, I’m getting hungry just thinking about it now.
There is some beef but mostly pork, fish, and chicken dishes filled the menus. I’m a huge fan of duck and they are masters at cooking duck, I ordered that every chance I got. Part of being in a new place is trying new things, don’t go half way around the world and only order what you eat at home. I like liver but never had pork liver before so when I seen it I made sure to order it. It was good and I ordered it again later. If you are a cook, eating all these different foods is a great learning experience also. I found some flavors in some dishes that I never tasted but liked so I asked what it was. The people try really hard to serve you and keep your glass full and help you. I enjoyed the waitresses at every single place we went.
You could vacation here and only experience the food by eating and seeing and smelling it and you would have a good vacation.
Very interesting and very respectful people. They absolutely love their king, you can see that by the pictures of him everywhere. They are mostly Buddhist, I am not Buddhist but I respect their believes while there and you should too. They all seem to work very hard and for the most part will give you a smile when you pass by. I never met anyone there who wouldn’t attempt to help with anything we needed. They may not have spoken any English at all but they would try to help. Bangkok is a very very busy place, it’s extremely colorful with most of the taxis painted bright pinks and greens and a lot of the decorations were the same. It’s no different than any other city, I’m sure there is a bad part of town, I didn’t seek it out so can’t comment on it but the main center of Bangkok is great place.
People are always on the move, I have no idea how we didn’t see more wrecks. The cars drive about four wide on three lane roads with motorcycles in between them and tuk tuks mixed in with that, its crazy but everybody gets there safe somehow. The old saying that asians can’t drive is not true, they can drive in Asia just not America because our styles are different. Theres no way I could drive there I don’t trust other drivers the way they do. Everybody just stays their own direction and doesn’t make any crazy sudden moves and they blow by each other within inches sometimes and nobody even flinches, it’s insane but works for them. They drive boats this way, motorcycles, cars doesn’t matter. The taxi drivers like most are a little worse but that’s normal for anywhere. There are as many motorcycles as cars and most are taxis, I didn’t ride one but I seen business men in suits on them and girls going to school and even tourist all getting rides on motorcycles. These guys drive between the cars and are not afraid of anything I guess. I seen them go up on the sidewalk and back down to avoid traffic.
The tuk tuks are a cool thing. It’s a three wheeled little cart with a small engine so it’s bigger than a motorcycle but smaller than a car. Two people fit comfortably in back. These drivers usually charge per ride rather than by time so the faster they get you to your destination the faster they can pick up another so when you get in a tuk tuk hang on.
Outside of Bangkok on some of our travels while fishing we seen a different side of Thailand. Along the river shacks lined the banks. These people were very poor but seemed to enjoy their life, they always smiled and waved. They washed their clothes in the river and ate mostly fish from the river. The shacks were built on stilts and usually no more than a couple hundred square feet. I have no idea what these people do for a living if anything but if they are enjoying their lives they are doing it right. They didn’t have much but also didn’t have the worry that comes with owning material things and the work that you put in to have it. In a way I envied these people. Their days are spent on boats, in a river fishing with no worries.
Markets are everywhere, floating markets, night markets, big, small, all kinds of markets. There’s not many stores that you just go in and get what you need, most everything is bought at markets. I liked it for a couple reasons. One you can usually haggle the price a little which really is just to make you feel better because you are talking about a few cents anyway and two the food is fresh and cooked right there in front of you if that’s what you want.
The floating market is mostly a tourist attraction but was well worth going to. The market doesn’t actually float like I thought, you float in a boat through the market. The little store fronts line the canals and your driver just pokes along from store to store and you can buy different souvenirs. The first thing we were told was don’t pay what they are asking. This is where some quick math will help you. The Thai baht was 33.3 to 1 USD at the time so when you see the price 400 baht you have to do some quick math to get a dollar amount. I got good at this over two weeks but have to admit the first transaction we made on the floating market Im certain we paid more than the asking price for some silk scarfs. Heres what happened. Mary Ann wanted four scarfs and of course the more you buy the less per scarf, she made an offer to the lady for two and I got out my phone to do some calculations into dollars. As they go back and forth on price and the nice lady is begging Mary Ann for more money per scarf the numbers are going back and forth and I’m trying to keep up on the calculator. At some point Im pretty sure the price started going up along with the amount we were buying. I couldn’t keep up with the math and they settled on four scarfs at this price and we paid the lady. We had just started down the canal again when I asked what the original price was for one and then I realized I think we paid more for each one when we bought four. I laughed because it was our mistake and it was a few dollars but it made me realize not only do I suck at math but no matter how nice they are or sweet they look getting your money is their job. Lesson learned and I practiced on my math for the next time.
They had some animals there to see but for a small price. Paying for a picture was a big thing. You could pay to take a picture with elephants, snakes, and leemers and of course I did all of that. I have mixed feelings about some of this. I’m sure these animals would love to be wild but also they would probably not like to be poached which is what happens to a lot of the elephants. The elephants, we were told now have a chip and all must be born in captivity to prevent wild elephants from being caught for shows. I don’t know how they are treated behind the scenes but right or wrong we took it all in and I enjoyed it.
As I stated earlier most of the people are Buddhist and that means there are temples everywhere, some new, some old, some ancient. We visited the ancient ones, I would consider them ancient as they are over 1000 years old. If at anytime while there I felt uncomfortable it was while visiting temples. I don’t want to disrespect anyone in anyway especially while visiting their country and I don’t know all the rules about Buddha and temples and what to do and not to do. Here’s a pretty good tip, don’t do something that no one else is doing, if everyone is taking off their shoes to approach a certain monument then you should too, if other people aren’t letting their kids climb on something you probably shouldn’t either and this brings us to the Americans.
First of all it’s not hard to see why a lot of the world hates Americans, we are loud and big and boisterous and we stand out. That’s ok in America but don’t go to another country and act like that and disrespect their culture. While at a temple I seen an American woman sweating like Obama trying to read a TelePrompTer and whining that it was hot, lady you are in Thailand you chose to come here, they didn’t invite you, try googling some weather or something before your fatass goes to a tropical location and don’t want to be hot. While this is going on her hellian kid is climbing on various walls and Buddhas. The signs are in English for a reason, Thai people don’t need instruction on how to respect the temples you do. This is an over 1000 year old temple built by people with their bare hands and not much more and has survived foreign occupation during world wars and 1000 years worth of weather and you are letting your snot nosed poop maker make a jungle gym out of it. I’ve never wanted to not be associated with Americans more in my life. Everyone there knows where you are from and sees what’s happening. I don’t understand it, I don’t know why people need to complain constantly and why you would even go somewhere and look for things to complain about. Stay home, have a play date with your neighbor, talk about how you can’t believe Trump won the election and lady, wipe the damn hotdog grease that’s sweating out of your third chin off, it’s gross and you are not a good representative of what America should be. Just do what others are doing and keep your damn mouth shut, it’s not hard. When you get to the hotel you can do whatever you want but this is a public place and it means a lot to the local people that you came to see so try to be respectful and not embarrass the rest of the Americans around you. I have no idea what some of the people are doing at certain times, but I can tell that they are worshipping and praying and I will keep my distance and allow them to do so. It is their religion and it’s a peaceful one so respect their beliefs especially in their country!! You don’t have to partake but be smart enough recognize what’s happening and maybe give your kid an extra dose of Benadryl before going so he’s not screaming and running around.
Sorry back on track.
While at one temple I was approached by some young men from a local university who’s assignment was to interview a tourist from overseas in English. I’m not sure there was anyone there more qualified than me. You can’t look more tourist and overseas than I do while in Thailand. I was very impressed with this young mans English. He read me the questions, only stumbling on a couple real long words which I helped him with and he listened to my answers while his friends recorded it for the class to see. I may not look like every American but I hope at least when the class watches the video they think I was nice and friendly and they think of Americans that way too.
At one temple all the heads were gone from the Buddhas and when I asked what happened I was just told Japanese where here in the war. So I did some research and apparently in 1941 the Japanese occupied Thailand by forcing their way in to allow troops through. Even though Thailand was neutral they used it to get troops across and in the process destroy a bunch of stuff. The Japenese army took over the temple and cut all the heads off the Buddhas. Not a real good way to show your thanks for the passage of your troops but Thailand had no way to fight back so that’s what happened. I’m in no way a history buff but things like this are amazing to me. Unlike the lady from earlier I stood in the middle of those temple grounds and tried to imagine thousands of Japenese soldiers eating and cooking and preparing for war in the exact place I was standing. It would have been a good opportunity to teach her kid something but that’s what teachers are for right?
My only regret about the temples and the Buddhas and that whole experience was that I didn’t do any research and learn anything about it before hand. I enjoyed it greatly but feel that had I known more about it I would’ve found it one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. So if you are planning a trip and temples are on the list do some research and find out about them before hand and I think you will enjoy it even more.
Overall Thailand was one of the greatest experiences in my life and that doesn’t even count the fishing. Our main purpose of being there was fishing but I would’ve had a great time without it but I just couldn’t imagine traveling somewhere with water that I didn’t fish.
I would return to Thailand today but I want to see the rest of the world too. If anyone has any questions at all about anything I would be glad to help. I could write about it for days but know my audience and I think I’ve come to the end of their attention span. I’m by no means a Thai expert but I could save you some money and some time having already been there. I didn’t have anyone to ask about the fishing and a few other things so we just winged it and found out later there were better ways. Message me here or Facebook or Instagram which are linked to this site and I will do my best to help.