สวัสดี which is romanised as ‘sawasdee’, ‘sawatdee’ or ‘sawadee’, is a general Thai greeting. I understand that it is similar to ‘hello’ and can be used at any time of day and to people of all ages (correct me if I’m wrong).
This post is text-heavy. Are you ready? Good.
My first impressions of Bangkok weren’t great. For one, the airport was super crowded. There were lots of other Asian tourists who had no regard for personal space. None!!! The signage in the airport wasn’t the best either, and the cherry on top? My luggage was missing. Great, right? (Watch my short vlog video below to hear my little rant.) The traffic from the airport to my hotel was also an issue. And let’s not mention the heat and humidity like none I have ever experienced! I was never ready.
Not the greatest start, but after a little exploration, it won my heart over. The only thing I can say about Bangkok is that I did not spend nearly enough time there as I should have. I was solo in Bangkok, and spent 4 days there. I think I need a couple of weeks next time.
My airport transfer driver was the loveliest. He was a Bangkok local and shared with me all sorts of random facts about Bangkok. He told me about Bangkok’s tourist highlights, the best local food to have, and even how to cheat the tourism system to get free tours! He really was a sweetheart.
His English was quite good too. Just a few things I noticed about how Thai people would pronounce English words. e.g. the English sound ‘s’ (as in ‘snake) is sometimes pronounced as ‘t’ (as in ‘time’). He would also say things like ‘liver’ for the English word ‘river’ which was a bit confusing at first, but I soon got the hang of it. I also had to change how I spoke. LOL. I would literally try to have no accent (is that even possible?), speak slowly and articulate my words very clearly.
Obviously, the Thai people aren’t English speakers, and I tried to respect them by saying ‘sawasdee’ for hello and ‘khob khun’ (ขอบคุณ) for thank you. I probably completely mispronounced it, but I hope they appreciated the effort.
Somewhere along the drive, my driver went on a rant about how he didn’t like Cambodia. That was quite awkward, especially because that was my next stop after Bangkok. He told me about how Cambodians claim the ancient city of Angkor as theirs, yet it used to belong to the Thai. Upon doing my research and later speaking to a Cambodian tour guide, I found out that Angkor is actually legitimately Cambodia’s. The Thai invaded Angkor in the 10th century and captured it in the 13th century. The Khmer (Cambodian) people abandoned it till it’s restoration began in the 20th century. So really, it was and still is Cambodia’s; and not Thailand’s as my driver would like to believe.
He told me lots of other stories, which I wrote in my travel journal. Too many things for me to write in a single blog post. But this is just an introductory note to my South East Asia blog posts. So excited!
A few random facts about Thailand and more specifically Bangkok (both from the internet and my driver)
- The Thai flag has three colours, symbolising different things: red- blood (nation), white- purity and innocence according to Buddhism, blue- the kingdom
- Thailand’s currency is the Thai Baht
- Thailand was formerly known as Siam and Thai people archaically called ‘Siamese’
- Thailand is currently governed by a military junta that took power in Thailand’s coup d’etat in 2014
- Buddhism is the country’s most-practised religion with over 90% of people identifying as ‘Buddhists of the Theravada tradition’ (source)
- Thailand’s current king is the world’s longest-serving head of state
- The word ‘Dusit’ is refers to one of the levels of heaven (the fourth level, I think)
- The population of Thailand is about 70 million people and that of the Bangkok metropolitan region is 17 million
- The Grand Palace and Buddhist temples e.g. Wat Pho, Wat Arun are must-see attractions, as is the floating market
- Khaosan road is hippie central and must be visited
- The current king’s (Bhumibol Adulyadej) birthday is on the 5th of December- quite a useless fact, but my driver thought it necessary to share!
- Kings are referred to by the title ‘Rama’, borrowed from Hinduism
- Colours associated with the Kingdom are: yellow- King, light blue- Queen, red and orange- the King’s children
Thanks for reading and see you soon!
Feature image details:
Bangkok at night, seen from top of Banyan Tree Hotel September 2009, by Benh LIEU SONG source
PS: I’ve learned the hard way that DSLRs were NOT made for vlogging!