25th November 2017
I drifted off for a few minutes here and there on the flight. The plane landed at around 6:30am local time, which would be 5am for me, had my body clock not already been in disarray from my past week.
I spent about fifteen minutes in the ‘Visa on Arrival’ department, filling out forms, searching my wallet for a passport-sized photo, and queuing in line. Then I remembered that Irish citizens don’t need a visa for up to 30 days, walked to the passport inspection queue, and was through in less than a minute.
I took a bus from the airport to a station on one of Bangkok's light rail systems. I took this 'Skytrain’ (so called because it runs on a platform above the road) further into the city. From here, I walked along a street for a while, hopped onto the first passing bus, and just hoped it was heading in the right direction. I was reminded of a thought I’d had last time I was in Bangkok: there aren’t exactly great public transport systems between the airport, and the city centre.
In every other regard, though, I instantly loved the place. Last year, when my college friends and I were on a tour of southeast Asia, I’d traveled to Bangkok from Ireland. It had been my first time far outside the ‘western world’. I’d thought the city quite crowded, and reckless, and even slightly intimidating. Now though, I was traveling from India, and the situation was completely reversed.
The infrastructure seemed so developed. The people were so respectful of each other’s personal space. The streets were clean, and the drivers calm. The commuters actually followed the rules on the Skytrain; queuing orderly, without any pushing. But most significantly of all to me, there was space.
For the past few months, I’ve either been alone in the mountains, or surrounded by crowds. There was rarely any middle ground. Inside any city, every inch of space was used for something. Every footpath or open space was congested with stalls, and rubbish piles, and makeshift housing. In Bangkok though, with it’s beautiful gardens and spacious streets, I had room to breathe. Sure, the very centre of the city was quite hectic, but I could walk a few hundred metres, and find myself in a calm, quiet, park. After India, I really, really appreciated it.
Having missed a night of sleep, and just generally wanting a rest, I spent most of the day lying in bed, in my dorm in Khaosan Immjai Hostel, a clean, comfortable guesthouse, with a capacity of almost one hundred. Here, in this calm (relatively), friendly city, surrounded by fellow travellers, for the first time in a long time, I felt totally relaxed.