When I was planning our year of travelling, I knew that I needed to include short stopovers in large cities. From past experience, I know how much of a pain it is to find certain products that aren’t easily available in smaller cities. The idea of going for months without having easy access to such products was a situation I prefer avoiding. While we were travelling with a suitcase and a carry on between the two of us, I wanted to be prepared for the unexpected. You never know, simple things like sunscreen or vitamins are not so easy to find overseas. Ok, well Thailand has sunscreen, but did you know that it’s hard to find sunscreen in Thailand (and Bali!) without a whitening component?
Yup, pick up 99% of the sunscreen bottles you see in Asia and there’s likely some bleaching component in the product! Or, when I was in China for three months, I could not find my favourite L’Oreal waterproof mascara (this was back in the day when I bothered with make-up). L’Oreal is ubiquitous in Canada, but not so in certain parts of Asia!
So even though a stopover in Bangkok was my third visit to this city, I needed this break before continuing up to Northern Thailand. You know, juuuusst in case.
Yes yes, deep down inside, I guess I am a big city girl.
If you’re new to the website and want to follow my year of travelling, visit this section for all my posts related to long-term travel. You can also start from the beginning of the series by reading this article. Here’s a post about leaving home for a year to travel.
Finally, our Bangkok stopover after a sleepless night on the train
We arrived in Bangkok at 6 am after a twelve-hour train ride from Surat Thani and we were walking zombies. Once we arrived at the train station, we bought our tickets for our remaining journey up to Chiang Mai. There were a few stops that we needed to make along the way: Ayutthaya and Sukhothai. I was super excited about this part of the trip because I’ve always wanted to visit these two cities. In case you didn’t know, it’s not easy getting to Sukhothai. And while Ayutthaya is about an hour away from Bangkok, I’ve always wanted to spend a few days in the ancient city to explore the ruins. We learned that we can’t buy our Ayutthaya ticket in advance, and so we grab what tickets we could and head over to our hostel.
While our hostel is ten minutes away from the station, it felt much longer because of our luggage. And, we didn’t know where we were going and may have gotten lost a few times.
Despite my previous visits to Bangkok, I’ve never been to Hua Lamphong, nor have I visited Bangkok’s Chinatown. That, and everything feels longer and more cumbersome when you’re running on two hours of sleep.
Once we arrived at our hostel, we find out from the staff that our room is available
There’s only one catch; we have to pay for our room upfront in cash. We were low on cash and only had 1,000 baht between the two of us ($37 CAD or $30 USD). Time to head to the mall to withdraw money from the ATM.
Withdrawing money was another big to-do item that we were holding off on until we arrived in Bangkok. Thanks to the bad experiences we had with ATMs in Malaysia and Phuket, we decided to wait to withdraw money in a big city. By bad, I mean no money came out of the ATMs… while we were overseas! And no, this was not because of the international banks, but at the fault of the Canadian bank that we were using to withdraw funds.
We stayed at Starbucks until the mall finally opens
The next action item is to find a delicious lunch. At this point in our travels, I haven’t had a good meal in weeks because of my spicy noodle soup in Phuket. I had really weird stomach pains (maybe because I burned my stomach lining with spicy food?) and eating food at sketchy places made the pain worse. Since food standards in malls are comparable to western countries, I figured I would not have any stomach pains.
My eyes widened with excitement as I imagined all the things I can eat again; ramen, Korean fried chicken, Thai tea. For some reason, I was craving ramen to no end and that was the first thing we ate in Bangkok. This one happens to be made from a Michelin chef.
Once we finished eating, we withdrew money from the ATM, which, thankfully, it finally works. Success!
We then became mall rats and walked around all the malls within the Siam Paragon area. It was fun to note some of the changes around the MBK mall. We ended up walking around the mall to find a camera lens cap that we lost during our first month of slow travel. Luckily, we were able to find a replacement for about 150 baht (around $5 CAD).
I don’t care what anyone says, malls are AWESOME
I looooveee malls, especially in Asia! Malls are air-conditioned, mall food is well prepared, and they have CLEAN bathrooms with toilet paper! No need to plan bathroom breaks!
Not going to lie, we spent most of our short Bangkok stopover in malls. Eating, of course.
My favourite mall so far on this trip has got to be Siam Paragon in Bangkok. This is going to sound super cheesy, but this mall holds so much sentimental value to me. I discovered cute Korean stationery the first time I went to Siam Paragon and told myself I must go to Seoul one day. Finding Cute Korean stationery is one of the biggest reasons why we decided to visit Seoul the previous year.
And last year, during my second visit to Bangkok, Gary and I walked around this exact mall discussing how we should pursue this year of travel.
Now, this mall is meaningful to me because it is familiar. Everything has been so foreign for the last two months that I am SO HAPPY to be in a place that I recognize! I am so accustomed to this mall that I even know the bathroom locations on each floor!
A short two-day stopover in Bangkok
And that was it! Just like that, two days went by and we were off to Ayutthaya as our next destination.
Read next: Ayutthaya, a beautiful heritage park
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