The three of us were hanging on the bars on the back of a Tuk Tuk going around 50 KMH on Sukhumvit Road. We’d just been to the building my mom lived in back in the 1960’s, and were headed to the market a few kilometers down the road that was recommended to us by the lady who now owned the old building. It was only around 10 A.M. and around 30 degrees Celsius, which we were told was considered a “cool” morning by Thai standards. We didn’t entirely have our sense of direction about us either, and weren’t 100 percent sure how to get back to the elevated train that would take us back to our hotel in the Sathorn district.
Thankfully though, everything turned out just fine. In fact, it was more than fine. Daniel had one of the best meals of the whole trip for the U.S. Dollar equivalent of $3 from a nice elderly Thai lady he’d met at the market. The giant shopping and food arena we spent around an hour in also had a ton of other things like clothing, flowers, and other Thai homemade items. We somehow found our way back to the BTS train that took us back to our amazing hotel room that only cost around $50 a day. This was all before 1 P.M. on a Thursday.
This was just one of our adventures on our trip to Thailand, a week full of fun and culture that had at least a dozen stories just as crazy as this one to take back home.
I started begging Daniel to visit Thailand with me a few years ago. My grandparents had lived and worked in Bangkok for several years in the 1960s – 70s. My grandfather was career military, and had ran the NCO Club for the U.S. Army in between two yours in Vietnam. My grandmother managed a liquor store nearby the club. My mom and her brother had grown up there; being, “raised by maids,” as she jokingly puts it.
Daniel was very hesitant at first, but finally agreed after years of begging. I knew it would be unfair (and almost cruel) for us to go to Bangkok and not invite my mom (plus we needed a translator), so we invited her along. Even though she had flown around the world solo at age 12, this was the first flight she’d been on in over 40 years. Needless to say, she was over the moon about the entire trip.
We all boarded a flight out of Huntsville on Sunday morning, and arrived in Bangkok Monday night around 11 p.m. To combat jet lag, Daniel and I decided we’d try to stay awake as much as possible on the way there (which worked for us, actually).
We stayed at the Mode Sathorn Hotel, which was a modern hotel in the Sathorn district. The hotel features suites, a rooftop pool, and rooftop bar and more. The staff was very friendly and helpful. We definitely recommend Mode Sathorn, especially for Thailand first-timers. It’s located next to a BTS Skytrain stop, which was helpful for getting around town. It’s also within easy walking distance to shopping areas like Bangkok Fashion Outlet and Patpong Night Market.
The trip would not have been complete without a visit to see my mom’s childhood home. While she couldn’t remember the exact house her family lived in, she did know where my granddad’s office was located. She had lived above his office for about a month before returning to the U.S.
It was surreal. I always thought if I made it here, I’d take photos of every nook and cranny of the building. I didn’t though; I couldn’t. I can honestly say I completely froze. When my mom took me to the pool she swam in as a child, I started crying. My grandparents were amazing people that lived a life of adventure, friendship and love. In this lifetime, I’ll never meet anyone like them again.
Naturally, we did the tourist route, seeing the Grand Palace. I’d seen photos of it, but it was significantly more impressive than I imagined. I ended up buying a shirt at a market across the street; as shoulders must be covered, and a shawl doesn’t count.
We also visited Khao San Road, which is another large tourist attraction. We didn’t get to go at night, though, as our hotel was across the city.
Each night, Daniel and I went out and explored the city. We went to Lebua, which is better known as “the place Mr. Chow was arrested in The Hangover II.” We were disappointed with this rooftop bar, and essentially paid $30 to say “we went to the Hangover bar.” We did get some great sunset photos though.
Our hotel was only a few blocks away from the famous Patpong Night Market, and Daniel found it by accident one day. It was hilarious, fun, and the best place to buy cheap souvenirs. We also wandered around a few random alleyways, which had fantastic street food restaurants. Our particular favorite was one called “Cheaper and Better.” We had dinner and drinks there every night for only $4.
For us, the best part about Bangkok was the friendly and low-key vibe. It is a very diverse, tourist-friendly city. We met so many amazing people. We met guys from Canada and the U.K. who were backpacking through Asia, a family from Chicago on vacation, a guy who had ran a street restaurant for over 15 years, a guy with a food cart from Los Angeles, a lady who had moved back and forth between Bangkok and Seattle, a musician from New Zealand, a Hindu priest who’d dropped out of medical school to work in Thailand, and so many more. It was both an awe-inspiring and eye opening experience.
After years of begging Daniel to go, he only said one thing when we returned: “So, we’re saving up money to move there, right?”
What’s your dream place to visit? Leave us a comment below!
— Next up in the blog? One night in Japan.—