I was brokenhearted from failing the bar exam in 2013 and I did not know what to do. For 6 years, my life revolved around studying law, reading and digesting cases, and praying not to be embarrassed during class recitations (which happened a lot anyway).7
Results were out March 2014 and I was on the plane to Bangkok in July 2014. Well, airfare sale did not start until July. C’mon. I was just out of school and without a lot of savings, this was the best I could do. It turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life. You’ve probably heard that a lot of times already from solo travelers… but only because it’s true.
I was welcomed for 2 nights in a guesthouse in Bangkok. The owner was British and the keeper was Filipino. I brought them gourmet sardines and they liked it. The British guy was a big fan of football. During one of our conversations, his eyes were gleaming, almost hysterical at how Brazil was defeated by Germany on their own turf at the World Cup. Rhea, on the other hand, told me about the nice places to see in Bangkok, and booked me for the next-day city tour. I rode the BTS and explored Sukhumvit – shopping malls and great food!
The city tour was bittersweet. I got to see Tiger Temple but I was ignorant about the moral issues surrounding this place. About a couple of years later, news broke out that the attraction was shut down.
On my 3rd day, I was drenched with sweat from towing my luggage up the stairs of BTS. Traffic was horrendous in Bangkok and Rhea insisted that I take the train instead of taxi so I don’t miss my flight to Chiang Mai. Oh was I glad to have followed her advice!
Upon arrival in Chiang Mai, I hopped on an airport car service for Thb 120 only! I had no prior hotel reservation but the driver was kind enough to take me to downtown Chiang Mai where all the cheap accommodations were. I checked in to a boutique hotel and put down my bag. I hurriedly ate at a noodle house and downed 2 glasses of their house iced tea. I hailed a cab and off I went to see the pandas in the Chiang Mai Zoo. I fed an elephant with cucumber sold for Thb 20. I watched the rhinoceros mind his own business in a corner. But it was the hippopotamus that stole my heart! I rode the tram to get around the zoo. I wished my family was with me. My niece and nephews would have loved it. It was cold and gloomy that day.
By 4pm, I rode the red pickup truck just outside the zoo to climb up to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. I was the only passenger because it was already late and most people were already up there. The drive up the Doi Suthep mountain was scary. It was foggy and the road was slippery. I saw medics attending to a motorcycle accident. I sighed with relief when we reached the top. I walked 300 steps up to the golden temple and golden buddhas. I walked with a group of Spanish tourists and tried to pick up some familiar words from the tour guide. Suffice it to say that I heard oro a lot. I stayed for about an hour, bought souvenirs on my way down and boarded the red pickup truck again.
I had a fun day! I had good exercise, too! it was time to go home. Only I didn’t know how. I was always poor with directions. I now know that that flaw can get me in serious trouble if also get too excited. The only thing I could remember was I checked in to Grace Boutique House. The street vendors showed me a map and I saw familiar landmarks so I thought I had it. I rode a pick up truck, got off somewhere, got on a tuk-tuk and started strolling around Chiang Mai. We stopped at a tourist assistance center. The guide gave the tuk-tuk driver instructions to Grace but we still couldn’t find our way! It was already dark. Alas I saw policemen stationed in the corner! I asked the driver to stop so we could ask help from the police. As soon as I said that, he got agitated and started talking loudly in Thai. He stopped by another tourist assistance center and asked me to get off. He refused the money I offered to pay him and left. Thailand relies heavily on tourism. I figured he thought he might get into trouble by a clueless tourist who looked like one of them. I felt so bad because he was kind. I was also tired already. I still had a whole day tour early morning the next day to see the White Temple and The Golden Triangle. I entered the tourist assistance center not really expecting too much. I said I needed to find Grace. He leapt to his feet, and on the computer, he pulled up Google maps, located Grace, and wrote down the directions on a piece of paper! I was only about half a kilometer away from seeing Grace again! I started walking. I bought 2 liters of water on the way. Relief! I woke in the middle of my sleep and saw a bed bug crawling on the sheet. I killed it. I was itching the next morning. I hope this issue was already resolved because the people there were really nice and I hate to write bad publicity about them.
After the Golden Triangle tour where I got to cross the Mekong River to Laos, I was on the plane back to Bangkok. I shopped on my last night and slept. I truly had fun in Thailand. The food, the people, the whole experience. I have gone back to visit Bangkok again and Pattaya a few months after, and a couple of years later, Phuket.
There, I’ve shared my experience. Please don’t judge me.