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Merels week,  Asia,  Personal travel stories,  Thailand

Backpacking in southeast Asia – Week 1

Even though I regularly share my adventures in Asia on Polarsteps, I also want to share some updates from this special trip here on my blog. I would like to share everything I experienced during my first week in Thailand. Later I will link to more extensive blogs about the different activities in Asia. 

Monday, April 1 – the day before departure

It feels very unrealistic that my big trip is now so close. Backpacking in Asia always felt like something I would like to do someday in the future. And now suddenly my solo adventure is only one day away and it simply doesn’t feel realistic. Even though I packed my backpack and went for a final walk with my parents and Cody in beautiful environment of Markelo.

Tuesday, April 2 – off to Bangkok 

The day of departure has arrived and it feels crazy! In the morning I packed the last things and checked one more time if I had all the important papers. At half past twelve I got into the car with dad, mom and Cody towards Schiphol Airport. Of course, not without stopping at a snackbar for my last kroket and French fries with peanut sauce. I certainly won’t be eating those in Asia. 😉 

At Schiphol we say goodbye to each other (in 10 weeks my parents and Laurens will also be coming to Asia). As I walked through the gates towards customs I thought: shit, now I am really on my own for the next few months. Am I doing the right thing making this trip all by myself? At least I can’t go back now. (Or well, technically I could turn around, but I didn’t want to). So, I got on the plane to Bangkok, still a little nervous, but mostly very excited. I’ve flown alone before, so that part of the trip is the least of my worries. During the flight I watched some movies and tried to sleep. 

Wednesday, April 3 – first steps in Bangkok

My first Pad Thai!

The flight to Bangkok went by without any trouble, even though I didn’t sleep much. At 9 a.m. local time the plane landed in Thailand. As I got off the plane, I am suddenly overwhelmed by the realization that I am actually solo traveling in Asia and from now on I have to figure it all out on my own. I follow the crowd to the luggage belt and customs. At the airport I change some Euro into Thai Bath and buy a SIM card. I book a Grab to the city. I am happy when I arrive at my first hotel with all my stuff. Unfortunately, my room is not ready yet and I go somewhere nearby to have coffee and lunch. By the time I have eaten my first Pad Thai I can happily enter my hotel room. Where, not at all according to plan, I decide to take a nap anyway. 

The rest of the day I don’t do a lot of things and only leave the hotel to eat somewhere.


Thursday, April 4 – Dutch people in Bangkok go cycling

For the first time I woke up in Thailand and that felt pretty crazy. Fortunately, I already had a plan for my first day in Bangkok so I felt a little less lost. I had breakfast at my hotel and decided to walk to my afternoon activity. For this I took the whole morning so I could stop frequently along the way. I walked across a large Chinese market that I can best describe as a reallife version of Aliexpress. You can really buy all kinds of things here.  

As a typical Dutchie and former bike guide in Paris, I try to bike in as many foreign cities as possible. So in the afternoon a bike tour with Ko van Kessel tours was scheduled. Of course, the group consisted mostly of Dutch people. 

I enjoyed cycling through the city and thought this was the ideal time to spend my first day in Thailand. After the bike tour, I drank some Thai beers on a beautiful waterfront terrace. And because I am really in Asia after all, I ordered a typical Thai pizza together with some Dutch people. 😉

Friday, April 5 – Relaxing in Bangkok

After an intense first day in Bangkok, I decide to take it easy for a day. The last few weeks before my departure were pretty busy, so a day of doing nothing wouldn’t hurt. I go for a swim, do some pilates and get busy updating my Polarsteps. I also mess around with my blog, which unfortunately I still have a lot to do for after I lost all my content due to some technical issues. 

That evening I eat a delicious pad thai at a nice little restaurant.

Saturday April 6th – my first day of travel 

Since I am not staying in the same place for three months, I have to travel from A to B from time to time. 

And quite honestly, I was quite a bit nervous about that. Fortunately, my first trip was from Bangkok to Ayutthaya and I only had to travel 80 kilometers. I took a Grab to the station on Bangkok, where I could wait in a nice waiting room for my train. The train trip took an hour and in Ayutthaya I took a Grab to my guesthouse. Fortunately the trip went well. That afternoon I called my parents and grandfather in the Netherlands. Since I still wanted something to eat in the evening, I went out for a bit in the late afternoon. I ate at a local restaurant where I got exactly what I ordered: rice with chicken. I expected it to come with something like a sauce as well, but that wasn’t on the menu. (My only disappointing meal so far). Of course I walked through the night market, but didn’t dare to order food there yet. I also walked past some old temples and to my surprise, one of the temples was still open to visitors. So I walked around there and was overcome with a sense of pride. Secretly, I found it quite exciting to travel in Asia on my own and now here I was walking alone past ancient temples and feeling completely at ease. Until that moment (and also at the time I am writing this blog) I have not regretted for a second the choice to travel alone.

Sunday April 7th – Temple hopping in Ayutthaya 

I start my day with breakfast at a local coffee shop. Once it hits 10 am, it starts to get really hot outside. So just the walk to my breakfast is a full workout. Fortunately, I can rent a bike from my guesthouse, so that’s how I get around for the rest of the day.  

Ayutthaya was the capital of Thailand (then Siam) for 400 years. But in 1767, the city was destroyed and looted by the Burmese. The temples were abandoned and taken over by nature. The city has 41 ancient temples and it is simply impossible to see everything in 1 day. So it’s a matter of making choices. 

I visited the following temples:
– Wat Phra Maha we that
– Wat Phra Si Sanphet?
– Wat Phra Ram
– Wat Phanan Choeng
– Wat Phutthaisawan
– Wat Chaiwatthanaram 

Oh and the national museum, where you can admire the gold found in the temples. 

I ended the day with a pizza (again) and a delicious ice cream. 

*I’ve only just started weekly blogs about my trip in Asia. So the first weeks you can expect two updates per week.

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