Bangkok, Thailand is one of the craziest cities I have ever visited. It is literally another planet with everything being so foreign to me. It took me three days to learn how to say Hello and Thank You in Thai, not recognizing any of the sounds. With my mastery of the Thai language, we have spent the last seven days navigating this high energy town and it has been interesting to say the least.
I have never been in a place with so many people trying to get to the same place at the same time. The other day Kayla and I had a real adventure out on our own when we tried to catch a train to see a performance on a Friday night.
The train station was packed with a sea of people making their way home from work or heading out for a night of partying. As we approached the ticket counter, a song began to play loud over the speaker system. Suddenly everyone froze in place and it was like witnessing a reverse flash mob. Kayla and I sent each other the WTF look as we stood there staring at people frozen in mid-stride. As soon as the music stopped, the crowd returned to its frantic movement.
We had no idea what just happened until I looked it up later. Come to find out, Thailand’s National Anthem can be heard every day at 8am and again at 6pm, coming from televisions and radios and loud speakers all over the country. It was so weird to see hundreds of people come to a complete stop to show respect for the country and the King.
Trying to get on a train at peak rush hour on a Friday was an adventure in itself. The train was packed like sardines, so much so that people’s faces were smushed against the windows and each other and they literally fell out of the train as the doors opened. I’ve never seen anything like it.
Needless to say, Bangkok has felt a little overwhelming to me. It may be a combination of jet lag, the time change, not knowing the language and the incredible amount of energy it takes to do anything, but I felt the need to hunker down in the hotel room for the first few days after we arrived.
The need to stay put was a new sensation for me. It was unlike myself to not want to explore every inch of a new town. But, the more I thought about all the things I was missing, the more overcome with fear I became.
After a few days of laying low, I forced myself to venture out on my own to overcome my fears. I took a long walk through the city to find a park, where I could connect with nature and feel more grounded. My tension began to fade as I noticed everyone I passed greeting me with a smile. I even managed to negotiate my first authentic Thai massage (without Boom Boom) on my journey and arrived back at the hotel with a whole different perspective of the people and my surroundings.
Thailand is called “The Land of a Thousand Smiles” for good reason. The warm, authentic greetings that I consistently received from strangers reminded me that what you put out into the universe is what you receive.
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