Is there order in the chaos? Or do we merely see patterns? This was the question I asked myself while trying to navigate a busy intersection. After three days of observing Thailand’s grand metropolis. On the surface it seems very caught up with the appearance of order. Look a little closer though and you what you have is far more interesting. Bangkok is warm yogurt.
Thailand is at the forefront of the emerging Asia market. You could be forgiven for thinking you were in Singapore while inside one of Bangkok’s many vast up market shopping malls. It feels strange that you can buy a meal for less than $1, in the same mall that is selling Lamborghinis. When you consider the average monthly wage is around $200 and unemployment is less than 7%. It makes you wonder who has the money to buy Prada and Ducati’s in the mall?
The Thais are well versed in getting money from tourists. It is socially acceptable and even encouraged to bump up the price for a ‘farang’. So expect to pay way above the price for things like Taxis, purchases in local stores and market stalls. Even with this in mind you can survive a day, fully fed and entertained in Bangkok for as little as $15.
Public transport is clean and cheap. You can traverse the city for the entire day and still spent less than $5. I have however heard some stories that the Sky train can be dangerous at night but I did not personally see any evidence to support this. A single journey on the MRT or the BTS will set you back around 60 cents. One thing to note is that eating and drinking is entirely prohibited. I really hope someone in National Rail is reading this and taking notes.
I also spent some time in Northern Thailand. I stayed at a farm retreat about 2 hours away from Chiang Mai. There I volunteered on the farm. I practiced meditation, yoga, and had some time to practice my own martial arts training. Accommodation, three meals a day, and tuition with meditation cost me $4 a day. Chiang Mai’s main pull is not the town itself but the myriad of activities available in the local area. Elephant sanctuaries, snake farms, tiger parks are all within in hours drive from central Chiang Mai. You can also partake in ATV driving, Bungee jumping, Zip lining, and shooting ranges are also offered. If that doesn’t tire you out, you should go hiking. There are many trekking routes available. Be sure to shop around.
Thailand boasts itself as the “land of smiles”. My experience doesn’t contest this. Though sometimes the language barrier posed a few challenges. Nothing that your smile couldn’t fix. The Thais are very social. Just don’t be fooled by the droves that have their head constantly buried in their smartphones. I also found their attitude towards publicly and shamelessly taking selfies as a great source of entertainment.
Regardless of the chaos. I can tell you one thing. You will love Thailand.