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My experience in Bangkok

My experience in Bangkok

I was offered the opportunity to study abroad in Bangkok, Thailand for two semesters while attending university. As a sheltered youth, I had never before left my home country, and was thrown into an exotic world filled with bright lights, interesting aromas, and the unique sounds of a busy nightlife.

Between studies and attending my courses, I explored the city with my flat mate and the friends I made while in Bangkok. I was introduced to aspects of life I never knew existed until Bangkok became my home for nine months. After landing at the airport, I took the rail to the city. A long ride, but it kept me dry and out of the downpour that began after I landed. I kept occupied by reading my travel books on Thailand.

After meeting my flatmate, she took me about to explore the city. Having arrived a few days before myself, my flatmate had familiarized herself with the area closest to our flat. She waited until my arrival to venture beyond the radius she had already become acquainted. The climate was humid and steam rose from the streets due to the earlier rain, but our spirits were high and we decided to try some local cuisine.

Bangkok is a one-stop wonderland of local ingredients, and international cuisine. The food alone is almost worth the trip to Thailand. Any craving can be satisfied, or, for the adventurous, any food can be tried at any level of dining. My first food experience in Bangkok involved the legendary Thai street food.

I ordered somtham with shrimp while my mate opted for tom yam kung soup. My food was delicious and addictive. I would go on to eat this dish at least 4 times a week for my entire educational career abroad. My flatmate was not so lucky. She was unaware of the incredible spice in tom yam kung, and spent the better part of an hour with watering eats, and downing bottle after bottle of water. I still tease her about it to this day.

It was several months before we worked up the courage to try some of the delicacies from the food vendors peddling bug snacks. A group of school chums, all foreigners in Thailand, purchased an assortment of deep-fried insects from a vendor. I must confess I was only brave enough to eat a couple of the scorpions. To my surprise, I enjoyed the treat, but did not wish to tempt fate and quit while I was ahead. As a reward for our bravery, we got a scoop of coconut ice cream from a local shop.

My favorite adventure, beside the food, was riding the tuk-tuks. These three-wheeled motorized carts ate loud, smelly, and a load of fun! They are a fast and cheap way to get through the congested city streets, and the rides are quite thrilling. My flatmate didn’t care for the tuk-tuk rides, but she doesn’t do well with any sort of motion. She absolutely refused to ride with us on a water taxi one afternoon, and opted to stay behind that day.

Over my two semesters, I was privileged to see the Grand Palace, and other cultural hot spots. I spent a full day at Safari World, and must have walked a hundred miles scouring the fashion district in Pratunam, and the street markets in Bangkok’s Chinatown. I learned to haggle with the vendors, and how to dig for treasures among the tourist souvenirs.

I found that I had little difficulty living well on a student’s meager funds in Thailand. I ate well, could travel through the city for very little, and got more than my money’s worth at the markets. I could even afford to go out to a nightclub now and then. As I was warned ahead of time, so I was careful about the prices of drinks. They can be outrageous in some clubs.

When I sought peace and relaxation, I would venture to one of the many temples throughout the area. Pak Nam was my favorite temple to visit because of its close proximity to a canal where you are allowed to feed the fish. I came here whenever I felt the need to escape from the noise of the city.

One event I recommend to any visitor is the Muay Thai fights. The sport is held in a stadium in Silom, and one at Rattanakosin. The sport is exciting and full of action. It is also free, which makes it easy for a broke student in need of entertainment! I left Bangkok with a heavy heart and miss the city to this day. I find, at times, I have a yearning to hear tuk-tuk drivers arguing in the street with cigarettes dangling from their mouths, or I suffer a craving for somtham, and dream about a time when I can revisit one of the most joyous times of my life!

Bio: Natalya Pobedova is a travelling nomad and backpacker from beautiful Brno Czech Republic. She is 27 and makes a living as a freelance web developer to support her traveling needs. She also runs a travel website for backpackers as a hobby: http://www.travelsiders.com/. She dreams to fly to Brazil and speaks Portuguese fluently. She visited 14 countries already and most of them are in Asia and Europe.

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