Letters from Thailand

After about 1.5 months of planning my trip I left on NYE on a 60 hours flight to Thailand. I went for the cheapest flight ($280) I could find and it was quite a way to kick off a year long journey as it was a journey in and of itself. This video kicks off my journey across the world starting with California to Bangkok over NYE!

When I landed I was meeting my friend Johnny at One of Us Hostel. If you want to see what that part of Bangkok looks like here’s a review I did of the neighborhood and hostel.

Our first few days it was all fun and games. We ate all the street food we could get our hands on, we knocked out the top tourist must sees, and even caught a muay thai fight.

First impressions of Thailand: it lives up to it’s reputation. Everyone is incredibly kind. The pace of life is fantastic. It has a little bit of everything so it’s hard to find fault. It feels like Shanghai and Taipei had a love child. It’s bustling and has big city options like Shanghai but still retains the street level feel of Taipei. It’s also incredibly walkable and safe. We had plenty of late nights cruising aimlessly around city streets as we were getting familiar with the various neighborhoods and frankly did not always know where we were heading just looking to stumble into a hidden gem.

The driving in Thailand is super zen considering how many cars are sharing all the lanes. There is very little honking and I attribute it to the peace and love buddhist vibes that permeate the culture. I’m sure if I took a drone video from above a crowded street corner it would look like one of those spectacular bird flying patterns, a sort of coordination improv.

If the States allowed Thailand’s style of driving there would probably be accidents and car wrecks everywhere. Call it a cultural challenge as our individualism costs us efficiency on the roads. There are lanes but no one is driving based on the lines on the ground, rather it is based on one another.

They say Thailand is the land of smiles. When I first arrived I expected everyone to be smiling at me but it wasn’t the case (maybe my expectations were too high!). But by Day 3 I was well relaxed and began smiling at everyone and noticed almost everyone smiled back. In Silicon Valley terms it’s a great flywheel for humanity. Genuine smiles feeding back more smiles generates a lot of free natural seratonin. Beecause when you think about it, when you smile and another person who does not smile back it actually can make you a bit sad inside. Maybe this fear of rejection is why a lot of Americans don’t smile more at perfect strangers. Come to think of it there must be a lot of lost opportunity in all of our non smiling. A returned smile opens a door to “hello”.

It seems like life in Thailand is quite simple yet satisfying for the locals. It’s a country that teeters well between buddhist zen foundations and capitalistic endeavors, it strikes a very refreshing balance. You don’t get the sense that everyone is out to hustle or hard sell you. Everything is a fantastic value and it all sells itself with fantastic service.

If everyone in Silicon Valley falls into: Engineering, Sales, Product, Operations, and VC’s it equated to Grab driver, food vendors, mechanic, and masseuse.

The Thai Bhat is the local currency and of this writing stood at around 33:1 USD. In very general terms most street food lived between 25-60 bhat (for the record the most expensive street food I ate I ordered was a plate of 5 BBQ’d jumbo shrimp costing 280 bhat or around $8.50), you will end up taking a lot of taxis and and the fare usually runs between 100-300 bhat. And if you’re spending 1000’s of Thai Bhat you’re likely doing something fairly exceptional as it equates to around $30USD.

The truth is the most expensive things we did were pay for cover to get into the famous temples. That ran us around 500 bhat for the Grand Palace and 200 bhat for Wat Pho.

We stayed in a hostel and splurged for a private room with two twin beds and AC. It ran us around $30 a night or $15 per person. If you are looking for accommodations they can be easily found for $6-$8 per person in common dorms.

The one thing that came as a complete shocker was the fact that there is not a single beach in Bangkok. I presumed there must be beaches everywhere along the shore. To my surprise the first week in Thailand I did not get to use my board shorts once. As you can see I planned absolutely nothing going into the trip as anyone who looked for 5 minutes would’ve know this to be the case.

Would I go back? Yes absolutely. I totally get why so many people come to Bangkok from all around the world. From the food, to the nightlife, the to cultural sites, and most importantly the incredibly optimistic people. It’s a place with great “spectrum” for lack of a better word. It seems to offer an abundance of options for everyone.

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