Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The Bangkok Traffic Story

The news about the death of the highly revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand swept across the world. As a sign of respect, the entire nation of Thailand was in a state of mourning. The famous night clubs and entertainment strips were closed, and almost all the locals wore black. As the country plunged into what it seemed to be the darkest moment of their modern history, it got me thinking if I should still push this trip with my friends.

It was a little half past midnight when our plane landed at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport (later I found out it was pronounced as Soowanapoom). Even at this hour, the airport was still busy as more international flights arrived. This city hardly sleeps at all! After the long queue at immigration, we finally made it to the arrival hall where our Filipino driver waited for us. There was occasional traffic as we made our way to Pratunam.

At around six thirty in the morning, it all became clear. The stalls were all lined up in the already narrow street of Pratunam, selling clothes and accessories that were either black or white. As a sign of respect, tourists were discouraged from wearing skimpy dresses and brightly-colored shirts.

As we made our way to Marble Temple, I couldn't help but notice how terrible Bangkok traffic is. Cars weren't moving, and motorcycles and tuk-tuks tried to squeeze their way through the narrow lanes of the highway. It was more chaotic than I've expected. Other than that, my quirky friend commented that she can't understand a single thing on the street; that she likened the Thai alphabet as worms. Bangkok is remarkably fast-paced, but traditional pockets can be found in most parts of the city.

Like any other tourists, we visited some of their famous temples, floating markets (which is probably a tourist trap), and parks. Bangkok was unusually hot and humid during that time. I would always complain about it even though I lived in a tropical country. I do remember while biking around Ancient Siam with my friend, I got dehydrated. The park was huge, and stores were sporadic. Once we found a store selling bottled water, I quickly bought the coldest one and drank with so much gusto. I got relieved a bit as it quenched my thirst, but my migraine was starting to kill me. I decided to take a rest near the entrance of the park. Little did I know, my mom and my other friend who didn't know how to ride a bike chose to avail the free tram tour around the park. I could've just ditched the bike and head straight to the tram!

The sweltering weather made us tired real quick. By four in the afternoon, we decided to drop by at the hotel to freshen up and nap for at least an hour. That plan didn't work because of the terrible traffic. It was already dark outside yet we were still halfway to our hotel. Last minute decision was to just drop by the nearest mall (Siam Paragon), and eat dinner there. We had no choice. No one uttered a single word. Everyone was tired, hungry, and thirsty. We quickly spotted a Chinese restaurant as we entered Siam Paragon. We didn't care how much we paid for our dinner. All I know was we were full and satisfied with what we ordered.

Our ordeal didn't stop there. You see, even at eight in the evening, it was still fucking hot and humid in Bangkok. One can't just simply walk four blocks back to his hotel with that kind of weather. So, the best way was to take a cab. Apparently, some drivers were either too greedy (they wanted to charge 300 Baht one way when it should only be less than a hundred), or can't even speak basic English. Not that I blame them about the latter, but during that time, I wish I were a polyglot. My Sawasdeekrubs, Kob Kun Krabs, and my gibberish faux Thai won't give us the right direction to our hotel. Desperate, my quirky friend used the last remaining ounce of her charm and negotiated with some of the tuk-tuk drivers across the street. For some reasons, they agreed for 150 baht. Tired and sweaty, we hired two tuk-tuks.

I wasn't informed that the two tuk-tuk drivers were former Formula One drivers. Our tuk-tuk quickly sped up as if we were in a Fast and Furious movie, Bangkok edition. There weren't seatbelts in a tuk-tuk, so we clung to the metal bars on our sides. My mom was screaming like a hen who was about to be slaughtered in a poultry farm.  Meanwhile, I got pretty much annoyed with my quirky friend because she kept interviewing our driver. They were talking in caveman English, and the driver kept on asking the same questions all over again. It took a toll on me, so I told both of them to shut up and let the driver concentrate on the road. With the Supreme Being's grace, we made it in one piece. My mom was about to kiss the floor, while I took a deep breath and sighed. What a great day to be alive! On the other hand, my quirky friend acted as if nothing happened. It felt like it was a scene straight out from an episode of a sitcom.

The first night in Bangkok was definitely crazy. Despite some hullabaloos, we still managed to enjoy the trip.


  1. Hahaha Bangkok can be a little too toxic... Pero sometimes it is what makes our travels memorable....

    1. Ah yes, this is prolly one of the funnest trips I've had. Memorable. Parang episode lang ng isang travel sitcom LOL


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