Well, we’ve finally arrived in Thailand! After a solid year of working at the English Village in Seoul, it’s finally time to relax and unwind. We stayed up pretty late saying goodbye to friends, packing and emptying our apartment our last night in Korea. With only an hour of sleep we dragged ourselves to the airport. Both of us had upset stomachs and were feeling subpar.
Luckily, I’m tall. I try to use this fact to my advantage whenever I fly. I smile at the person working the check-in counter and ask for an exit row because I have long legs. So far it’s worked every time! Our 5 hour flight wasn’t so bad because we had plenty of space to stretch our legs!
In the past three years Jessie and I have spent a considerable amount of time in Thailand, but somehow I’d forgotten the extreme contrasts you encounter in Bangkok. On the metro from the airport to our hotel we witnessed row after row of pristine condos set in manicured, palm tree-lined lanes. Tall fences marked the boundaries of these subdivisions, while just over the fences were tracts of land with dilapidated, burned out old housing blocks and lean-tos where dirty children squatted to play in the dirt. The stark contrast of mere inches separating big money and no money is confounding.
We checked into our room on Soi Rambuttri in the backpackers area of the city and tried to decide what to do with our new freedom. After a short rest we hit the streets. The backpackers area is a small network of streets and alleys in western Bangkok that are packed with hotels, restaurants and street merchants. You literally can’t walk more than ten steps without seeing a clothes stall, food vendor or massage booth. As we checked out all the old (and a few new) places we came upon a large group of Korean children waiting in front of their hotel. As we walked by, several of them called out “Oh! Handsome boy!” Jessie and I had to laugh. We’d just traveled a thousand miles and yet we still couldn’t escape Korea!
We ate dinner at our favorite restaurant. Ethos serves fresh vegetarian and vegan food along with the most unique smoothies in the area. Of course, our first meal had to be a red curry and pad thai! We greedily devoured the vibrant flavored dishes and washed them down with a tamarind coconut shake and a masala chai smoothie.
We were both super tired so we decided we needed to go back and catch up on sleep. But before that we wanted to make sure we were completely relaxed, so we decided to go to our favorite massage booth and get a foot massage. Now, we’ve talked with hundreds of people about Thailand. Some people love it and some people don’t care too much for it. But NO ONE can tell me that it isn’t worth coming here if only just for the massages. For a mere $6.50 per person, Jessie and I had our soles pressed, kneaded and rubbed for an hour. It was absolute bliss! We had to keep hitting each other to make sure we didn’t fall asleep! We staggered back to our room and fell onto our bed in a total state of relaxation. All in all, I’d say it was a very successful first day of our holiday!