Arriving in Bangkok felt how I would imagine jumping off a sinking ship into shark infested waters would feel. “Welcome to Thailand!, Welcome to Thailand”. My mind was not sharp straight from the sleep I had forced on the long ride. I wondered why they thought I had just arrived to Thailand and needed welcoming. I wanted to be in Bangkok, saying I’m in Thailand was not nearly enough information. They said to hurry so I grabbed my bag and walked out onto the street.
I was one of the lucky ones that could shut off my senses enough to sleep through the changes in temperature and the bumps in the road. Even with a few hours of sleep I wasn’t feeling ready to deal with Bangkok. On the stairs from the second floor of the bus I tried to clear my eyes of sleep and get my wits about me. My first step on the side walk was all hands grabbing, voices asking, and faces either confused or predatory.
I needed to know where I was, I tried to get my bearings. I saw a 4 lane road, a giant picture of the queen of Thailand, and nothing that helped me understand where I was. I looked around at the other backpackers to see if any of them had a flicker of a plan, a few showed more confidence than I felt. I knew it would be better to walk with a group than to wander off on my own at 4am. Especially when all my senses were still tuned down from the bus ride, I have to ignore so much in order to sleep in the bus and the rest is important. It just isn’t easy to go from 0 to 100 in 60 seconds.
The taxi drivers were persistent, they grabbed my arms and asked “taxi, taxi’ again and again. I had to shake them off, I knew I may end up needing them. I also knew that more information was needed. To hire a taxi when you don’t know where you are is usually a great way to get ripped off. They could ask for a ridiculous sum of money and I wouldn’t be able to bargain, to haggle over the unknown is foolish. I’ve done it many times while traveling and its usually not productive.
After a few minutes of confusion I found a group with some confidence and we were walking, it feels so good to walk away from the taxi drivers. Even when I’m not totally sure where I’m going it is a relief to not have to rely on someone that is very clearly trying to take advantage of my weakened mental state and lack of knowledge.
In five minutes my group of Spanish speakers found the road with all the hostels and bars, It broke apart when the few from Spain found a restaurant for breakfast. I continued walking with a guy from Argentina. I don’t speak Spanish well but it surprises me how comforting it is to hear Spanish after so many languages that I understand essentially zero of. I hear a lot of German, French and Thai. I can usually grasp a bit of the conversation in Spanish.
We found a Burger King to wait for the light in. They had a breakfast sandwich called The Enormous, it was not enormous but that and a cup of coffee helped the light come a little faster. With the light some of the harshness faded from the streets, light makes a world of difference. Bangkok seems lovely, not unlike a menu in a language you can’t read.
You might end up with a delicious meal or a disaster on a plate.