Arriving in Bangkok
My flight from Heathrow to Cologne was over before I even had a chance to get my headphones out. I’ve never taken such a short flight before so it was quite weird to be landing within an hour.
Maybe I should have done more research but my plan was to buy food in Cologne airport and then eat it on the flight to Bangkok. I quickly realised that Cologne is a tiny airport, housing just 1 cafe and some vending machines. I bought a salty bagel and some water and concluded I would just do the flight almost fasting.
Another excellent Daniel piece-of-work was my miscalculation of the flight time. For some reason, I thought the flight was 9 hours so it came as a bit of a shock when the pilot announced it was 11. I would arrive in Bangkok just after 8am, which was good for orienting myself in the city in daylight but it was the body-clock equivalent of 1am UK time. I read one of the best things to do for jet lag is to immediately start living on the destination time as soon as you board the flight. That meant I had a few hours of flying before I should try and go to sleep. Most of the passengers seemed to be European backpackers. The 11 hours seemed to drag by. I kept drifting in and out of sleep as we experienced small turbulence. I had prepared several days worth of music to listen to but I felt very uncomfortable in the seat.
Eventually we landed at Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok on August 15th. I travel with only a carry-on so I went straight to immigration. I prepared all these documents including financial documents and proof of onward travel, suggested by various sources on the internet, in case the officer asked for them but it was very straightforward. My first tasks were to exchange a small amount of money (because airport exchange rates are bad) and get a SIM card. Thankfully, places to do this are straight out of immigration in the arrivals hall.
Then I tried to find the Airport Rail Link, a train linking the airport to the city, because it was much cheaper (35฿/$1.07) and faster than a taxi. I remember arriving in the airport, feeling the temperature and thinking “this is not too bad”. Little did I realise how high the AC was jacked up to so as I stepped outside, this wave of heat and humidity hit me.
I got off the train at Makkasan station. I started walking around, realising how intense the city was. In all honesty, it was all very overwhelming and I had this feeling like “what the hell have I done”.
I booked a few nights in a hostel before arriving, so I had somewhere to write down on the arrivals immigration card, and somewhere to stay until I figured out where was good. I’m glad I did this, instead of booking several weeks outright, because there were other areas I preferred more. I did like Chinatown though, the street food was really good. I don’t really know what the name of my first meal was but I know it contained noodles, chicken and fish balls.
Later on, I stayed in a hostel near Benjasiri park, which is along the BTS line, so I could run. With motorbikes coming up on to the paths in order to skip traffic, I figured it would be a risky idea to go running around on roads.
It’s taken me over two weeks to write this blog post, mainly because I was trying to overcome culture shock and a feeling of being overwhelmed. I’m now in Chiang Mai, which is much more chill.