As I sit here, full from an enjoyable splurge of an evening at the Sizzler salad bar, I realized two things.
- I haven’t written about our Bangkok adventures for my 25th birthday this past weekend.
- I never thought Sizzler could ever make me as happy as I am now. Or that a salad bar could for that matter. Oh, how much can change in a year.
I turned 25 almost exactly a week ago now. 25 is kind of a big deal. You are officially an adult, your brain is fully developed (at least thats what my friend here Laura has told me), you can rent a car and you are solidly cemented in your mid-twenties. You ARE your mid-twenties. You are a quarter of a century. As my friend asked, “Are you having a quarter life crisis yet?” To which I responded ,”I quit my job and left everything and am inThailand teaching English right now. So I guess it came a little early” What better way to celebrate this auspicious occasion than venture to the hottest city in the world?
By Friday evening my friend Alex and I were Bangkok bound with our other friends joining us the next day. With only a few minor hiccups (aka our bus breaking down on the side of the highway and having to switch buses) we were able to navigate our way to WE hostel (highly recommend) to meet up with my friend, Jess. Jess has been in Thailand for about 6 months now and teaches right outside of BKK. She is actually a friend from good old Fair Lawn, NJ and the one who told me CIEE and how she went about teaching abroad in Thailand. So effectively, she is the reason I am here and my quarter life crisis. You can all blame Jess.
Anyway, Jess knew of a MEXICAN place near by the hostel so we moseyed (ran) on over to have our first taste of Western food in what felt like a lifetime. And boy was it worth it. Margaritas, nachos, quesadillas, and a large bill for Thai standards left us happy as clams. We wandered around the area we were staying and perused night markets, stalls and got asked to see enough Ping Pong shows to drive you crazy. Really gross. We went home for an early night so we could get a good nights sleep and ready for a busy Saturday around the city.
Saturday morning we waited for the rest of our friends to arrive before exploring for breakfast. We originally had planned on doing a brunch, but being we realized the weekend was going to be full of expensive meals, we opted just for a coffee run instead. From there we went to the Health Land Spa, an amazing spa around the corner from our hostel that is noted in a lot of travel books, including Lonely Planet. Anyway, this place is amazing. From the minute you walk in it’s like a true spa. Most of the time when you get Thai massages, the places can be a bit rinky dink, or in a mall, or just a random store front on the street. Thai massages are everywhere and super cheap so with most places you aren’t there for the experience. But this was a real spa. With still really great prices. The 6 of us opted for a 2 hour Thai massage and it was 450 baht (which is less than $15, you can typically get an hour at a normal place for 250 baht). We were escorted to our private room, where the 6 of us were given our clothes to change into (you usually put on a scrub-like outfit), and the ladies came in and went to work. Now Thai massage isn’t always for everyone. It’s not your typical oil rubdown with some aromatherapy and classical music in the background. It is very rarely private, if it is, you are just seperated by a curtain. And Thai massage techniques are more about them using their weight and arms and hands and elbows and feet to stretch, rub, twist, extend, bend and pretzel you. If you have someone who is too tough it can honestly be painful. I have yet to have a painful experience and my little Thai lady on Saturday was just right. She gave the perfect amount of pressure and bending and streching and I left loosey goosey. It was amazing. Until they hustled us for tips.
From here our group split up. I really wanted to go see the Temple of Dawn (Wat Arun) at sunset from this hotel bar I read about in Lonely Planet. Luckily, Jess was up for the mission as well. Everyone else went to head back to the hostel, shop, shower, etc.
Jess and I walked down to the Chao Phraya River, which the temple is on and runs through Bangkok and Thailand, to take a water taxi to where it was. This was successful enough, even though we missed our stop, and we walked around through Old Town and past the Grand Palace (I literally can’t come to this city without seeing this thing) and to the Arun Residence, this really adorable, boutique hotel that sits right on the river and stares at the temple, Wat Arun. We arrived a little before 6 and made our way up to their rooftop bar. We snagged a table, grabbed and drink and spent the next 30 minutes watching the temple transform. It was really incredible. To be honest, in the daytime, this temple isn’t that nice looking. It’s grey stone and looks a lot like the other temples. Over that next 30 minutes it went from being a caterpillar to a butterfly. Truly beautiful. Drinks were pricy (like $6 for a mojito but I am a teacher now…) but to sit on that roof, with the view of the temple was totally worth it. A nice birthday treat. I would really recommend anyone who is visiting Thailand, like as a normal American with a normal American budget, to stay there for a night if you are in Bangkok. It would be worth the balcony views. Plus, it’s a great location.
From there Jess and I got in a cab, sat in BKK traffic and met up with the other lovely ladies for a birthday dinner. The original plan was long awaited burgers, but with a party of 9, we obviously should have called ahead and got a reservation. We did not so we stumbled upon a french/italian place that had WINE. So we wined and dined and had a grand old time.
After that Jess and I went back to the hostel to get ready while the girls hit a few more bars. From there we met up with half of them at the infamous Sky Bar. Sky Bar has been made most famous for it’s appearance in Hangover II and it’s views of Bangkok. It really is a beautiful bar and I think worth a visit. It is kind of awkward though because there is a restaurant outside too but the bar is separate and on the other side of it so you have to weave through the tables on this rooftop restaurant to get to the bar area. Definetely could have thought that through. Anyway, it was a great the place for special occasion drink. The views were cool, but nothing like what you are used to in New York City. Just not as many lights or buildings.
We went another place after that and then all headed home after a successful night on the town. The next morning we got BAGELS at BKK Bagel, (you can see a theme here, this weekend was obviously about obtaining as much western food as possible), they obviously didn’t compare to NY/Jersey bagels but did the trick, and then we took the bus home. We were back in Chonburi by early afternoon and pooped.
Something that didn’t really hit me until I made it home was that I actually turned 25 in Thailand. For the rest of my life I could say I spent my 25th birthday in Thailand. Which is pretty incredible. I am one lucky, lucky duck. Up until this point I have either been in New Jersey, New York City, or Boston. Bangkok was definetely one for the books.
It is kind of surreal celebrating a holiday or a milestone very far from home. It sometimes doesn’t feel like it’s actually happening/happened. It kind of comes and goes with whatever crazy time zone your in. But what I did learn was one year could take you far, far away from where you began. About 8651.33 miles to be exact.