1. Bangkok – Sky Trains, Temples and Ping Pong

After three months of working with no social life, my friend Liz and I embarked for South East Asia. Or, rather, dragged our unprepared behinds onto a plane for some 13 unsavoury hours.

Upon arriving, however, our excitement was fired up as we rode the Skytrain through Bangkok. School children and workers warily regarded us as we interrupted their daily commute with our massive backpacks and the stench of airport between us. We didn’t care, too preoccupied with staring out the windows over a distinct mixture of shacks and highrises that made up the Thai capital. The fast pace of the city was at once familiar, but what wasn’t was the constant stream of stifling heat, street food smells and traffic noise punctuated by shouts of “tuk tuk!”. Exhilarating for the first time, yet exhausting the longer you are out within the mad urban whirlwind.

We found our hostel within the borderline red-light business district of Siam. Covered in plants on the exterior, we entered to find the interior host to numerable fish tanks. After removing our shoes, we collapsed in the common room and waited in sleepy anticipation of our beds to be free (we were sharing a female dorm of eight).

A nap and shower later, we were exploring the local area, finding a night market and a variety of bars, including the infamous ping pong clubs. We ate noodles, witnessed a rat run over an old lady and walked past bars advertising bored pole dancers. It was an experience.

The next day we went further afield, seeing the giant reclining Wat Pho Buddha and the astounding glittering temples of the Grand Palace. Best to cover up for the latter temples, although you can borrow clothes to wear (warning: not the most flattering attire).

We walked most of the time, ignoring the tuk tuk drivers, as we wanted a sense of the city for ourselves. Although I would definitely recommend taking a ferry along the river and hoping off at random places to see different parts of the city. Plus it was great to be on the river, with a breeze to tackle the demanding heat.

After a day of walking, there was only one thing to do after such a day – sit back, eat and drink beer (note, this becomes a bit of a theme throughout our trip).

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