Having A Blast in the Bangkok Bubble

Temple in Bangkok

Having A Blast in the Bangkok Bubble

Written by Amanda Martin and Samnang Pak, 2014 Southeast Asia: Cities & Sanctuaries Program Leaders. 

Sitting in the countryside of Cambodia and reflecting on our last few days together in Bangkok, we are struck by how quickly the first few days flew by; yet, we feel as though we’ve already done so much. Welcome to an Operation Groundswell program. More specifically, welcome to the Southeast Asia: Cities and Sanctuaries adventure!

After a flight delay or two, the group all arrived in the big city of Bangkok safe and sound. Despite some jet lag and difficulty determining the time of day their bodies thought it might be, everyone had their bag in hand and was ready for the journey to begin!

Hustle of Thailand

We jumped into some neon pink taxis and cruised down the highway on the opposite side of familiarity towards the skyscrapers in the distance. Bangkok is a massive modern city with a thriving art, music, business, and cultural scene. It’s also a shopaholics heaven!

We were staying near the Chao Phraya River, which weaves its way through the city and is full of colorful long tail boats, river taxis and tug boats. Our guest house was tucked in the alley ways of a local and quaint Thai neighborhood just blocks away for the Backpacker’s Mecca of Khao San Road.

Chao Prahya River
Khao San Road is a must do on the list of any backpacker touring through Southeast Asia! The streets are lined with Thai restaurants with the spiciness turned down, cheap massages, beer towers of Chang with its elephant logo on the rack of tank tops hanging next to the bar, 7/11s, and street food with an abundance of pad Thai and spring rolls on every corner. Within no time, most tourists have purchased a loose pair of genie pants or fisherman pants to cope with the heat and get amongst the trend of Thai fashion, or at least Thai fashion for the foreigners.

There is no denying that Khao San is a tourist bubble where Western needs and wants are fused together with a Thai flavor. There is also no denying that it is a blast for a few days! We have our tourist uniform to be temple ready and combat the heat. We ate as much pad Thai as we could! We had an amazing massage or two… and, of course, got to know one another over a few ice-breakers and buckets!

Group at Temple
After venturing out of the bubble for a day to explore more of the city, we got a taste of how much more this amazing city and country has to offer. We buzzed our way through the city popping wheelies in tuk tuks and cruised past the business district on the sky train. We visited a mall which was more like a modern art museum and wandered through Wat Pho and Wat Arun, two of the city’s famous Buddhist temples.

One could spend days or months exploring the city of Bangkok itself, but we had Cambodia on our minds! After enjoying the head rush and buzz of Khao San and Bangkok, we were ready to burst the bubble and venture off of the generic tourist destination for something more hidden, something more authentic where we could really start pushing our boundaries and connecting to the counties we are in.

We crossed the border of Cambodia yesterday and have changed the pace and location drastically in 24 hours! We went from metropolis to village, fast to slow, urban to rural, modern to traditional, honking horns to crowing roosters. Cambodia is a lot dustier and a lot less developed than its Thai neighbour, but my, is it charming!

The team has just reached our first partner in rural Cambodia, the Community-Based Tourism Project of Banteay Chhmar. We will be internet free for a few days!

Until next time,
2014 Southeast Asia: Cities & Sanctuaries

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