The last week of Ghana was a countdown for me. I haven’t seen Jesse in a month and I was ready to be off traveling again. The morning of my flight I woke up early to eat a good meal before heading out. We had to leave extra early because the ride to Accra was 3-4 hours long and with the traffic and the condition of the roads you never know what delays will happen. I said my goodbyes and Makafui and we hopped in a taxi headed for the bus station. I originally was told that he would be joining me on the ride to Accra and then be riding back alone. I get to the bus station to find out I’m going alone. I pack my bag in the back of the bus and hop in the front middle seat next to the driver. Normally the ride isn’t so bad, dirty but the seating is comfortable. This time was opposite, it was clean cause the AC was on and the windows were shut but since I was in the middle seat in the front it was somewhat on a slant and extremely uncomfortable. I don’t think its meant to be a seat for an adult, but after shifting positions 100 times I made it to the airport just fine. Transportation in Ghana is different every time, you never know what you are going to get, one time it could be a comfortable experience and the next you could be stuck waiting on the side of the road for another bus cause yours broke down. I arrived at the airport about an hour early just in time to relax for a minute with a beer at the airport bar before boarding my flight. There were a few Thai people waiting also and I saw a guy take his shoes off under the table, a man came over and asked him to put them back on. Another Thai man took a video of some of the pastries being sold at the bar and the woman behind the register yelled at him and said that maybe it was ok in his country but it wasn’t acceptable here and that he needed to delete them. He said he would but the woman proceeded to take his phone directly to the security officer where the man spent about 20 minutes trying to handle the situation. Meanwhile, I was sitting at the bar legs crossed, shoes on the floor and I previously took a picture of the bar and not a word was said to me. It’s always interesting to see the different treatment given to certain ethnicities, neither guys were doing anything wrong yet both got confronted. It’s also interesting to see the different security measures within different airports. Every one is so different, some require shoes off, some don’t, some barely search you some are extremely thorough.
As I boarded and settled into my seat on Egypt Air I noticed there was no T.V. screen on the seat in front of me, I looked everywhere but only noticed a few main screens. Usually, for a long flight, the airline will have individual screens where you can choose movies to watch, not this one. They chose the movies and played them on the big screens for everyone to watch together. I find that watching a few movies makes the time go by much faster, luckily the movies they chose weren’t terrible. Before I knew it we were coming in for a landing.
When I first arrived in Bangkok it was a fairly large airport but easy to navigate. Online it claims you need a return ticket to show that you are leaving Thailand but we did research and decided it was unnecessary. So we both got our 30-day stamp upon arrival and were good to go. Although I was a little nervous going through customs everything went fine and they didn’t ask for the ticket. There are too many people in line for them to be concerned about asking everyone. I’m sure it happens occasionally but it’s unlikely.
I was about 10 hours ahead of Jesse so I found a local metered taxi and gave them our hotels’ address and would later go back to get him. If you’re ever in Bangkok airport be sure to look for the signs and go to the lower level to get a metered taxi. Don’t make the mistake of taking an airport taxi and pay double if not triple the price. Luckily I knew this already so I was able to get to the hotel cheaply. Driving towards the hotel there were some Buddha statues and alters in front of buildings and along the roadside where they present gifts such as flowers, food or open drinks. These are scattered throughout Asia, even in some of the most remote places.
I went to pick Jesse up at around 11 PM, we planned to meet outside the gate where he’d exit but somehow missed each other because there was another gate. Thankfully for Wifi, we found each other eventually. We headed to a hotel close to the airport to catch up on some sleep for a few days. Since I was coming from Ghana and Jesse from Seattle we wanted a few days to completely rest before really beginning our travels. We ended up staying up till about 5 or 6 AM completely wide awake. It took us a few days to get on a different sleep schedule.
Traveling to another country never seems to be a culture shock for me. After going to both Ghana and Haiti twice nothing seems to shock me. When you see true suffering and struggle of both animals and people it opens your heart beyond what you ever could imagine but also hardens you in a way where you become somewhat accustomed to seeing some things that others would be shocked by. It doesn’t change how you feel but it does change your reaction and your compassion just continues to grow. Going back to the U.S. effects me more, they call it a reverse cultural shock. Seeing all of the waste we produce with packaged food and going out to eat after coming back from Ghana the first time left me feeling disgusted. Products are way over packaged and at restaurants so much food is being thrown out. “Eh, I’m full I don’t need that perfectly cooked roll or the leftovers”. For a while, I began taking all the leftovers and literally just dumping it outside somewhere. My mind was still stuck on seeing all the hungry cats and dogs that it felt so wrong to throw it away when others would be so grateful to have any meal at their fingertips or paws. More restaurants in the US really need to compost, but I won’t get into that. Back to my point…When I travel somewhere my mind seems to put these images in my head of what a place looks like, I’m assuming it’s based on movies, TV, and pictures I’ve seen. It never looks as I imagined. I knew this wasn’t real but in my mind, I imagined Elephants everywhere in Thailand, temples throughout, traditional clothing and dances, unique handmade hats, monks everywhere, dirt roads and mountainsides. It’s funny what the mind does. For Jesse it was very stimulating in a different way, he was looking at all the different types of cars and vehicles and the sounds of all the diesel engines. His mind is very mechanical so while I’m looking at the cat hiding under the truck he’s looking at the actual truck and gears are turning in his mind trying to figure out the details about it.
Bangkok is a huge city and concrete jungle like NYC or Seoul with tons of shopping and a busy nightlife. When we were in search for some vegan food we found Central World Mall, it’s the tenth largest shopping complex in the world with 7 floors, including a 57 story hotel that’s attached to the side. There were a lot of name brand stores. The one store that caught my attention was Croc’s but unfortunately, we couldn’t find it and we didn’t see a mall map. It was so unbelievably big and overwhelming that we ate and got out of there!
I’m sure there are beautiful sights in Bangkok because I’ve seen them in pictures and videos but we thought our time in Thailand would be better spent elsewhere. My personal advice would be if you’re a nature lover like us, completely skip Bangkok unless it is a cheaper flight to go there first, which is usually the case. Spend your time north in the mountains or along the beaches and islands if that’s more your thing. We decided to spend a few days resting and then leave Bangkok. We had trouble finding Vegan food so that was one deciding factor to leave as soon as possible. We didn’t have much of a plan and I’ve heard good things about Chiang Mai so for the sake of time we booked the 1-hour short flight and were off.
We also have more pictures on Facebook.