Friday, October 19, 2012

Greetings from Thailand - The Land of Smiles

Pre-Orientation - Hello everyone! We've been in Thailand for 9 days now and we arrived in our town very early Thursday morning. So it's been a blast, but our new home is going to take some getting used to. Before I go into that I'll talk about orientation and stuff.

We arrived in Bangkok on the 9th very late at night. Our flight from Atlanta to Tokyo was 15 hours. We barely made it on the flight and it was late, so getting through security in Tokyo was stressful to say the least. But we made it! From Tokyo to Bangkok was 6 hours and we slept most of the time. When we got to Bangkok airport (BKK) the place was air conditioned, but we could still feel the intense heat that was waiting for us outside. We had been warned about the taxi drivers at the airport charging way too much to take us where we were going, but we were too tired and way too hot to try and argue with the guy so we overpaid, but we got to our hotel after a very intense taxi ride. Thais drive on the left side of the road, which is overwhelming already, but they also pay no mind to speed limits or the lane markers. Driving here pretty much makes no sense at all unless you live here. Anyway, I was slightly terrified, but we made it and I didn't vomit. Hooray!

We checked in to our hotel and were relieved that it was air conditioned. We were soaked in sweat just carrying our stuff to the door and into the elevator. The heat here is mostly humid heat - like 100% humidity. It's disgusting. It's comparable to walking into a wall of sticky air...think Michigan humid times 10. Ok I think you probably got the idea. Anyway, we pretty much dropped our stuff and went to straight to bed.

We spent most of the next day sleeping, but did take time get breakfast at the hotel and we wondered around the short street that the hotel was off of. It was very hot and we had no idea what we were doing. We went to 7-11 - there were two within 100 yards of each other - and also stopped at a coffee place to get on the internet. Both of these places were air conditioned. Hooray! Like I said we slept off our jet lag most of the day so after the coffee shop we passed out for a couple of hours, got up for dinner and then went back to bed. We decided we'd try some local fair for dinner, which was good, but we both regretted it somewhat when we found ourselves on the toilet the rest of the night. Ew.

We woke up very early the next day (the 11th) got breakfast and then checked in to orientation. This involved a 3 minute process where we hand over our passports and they hand us all of our information. We didn't have anything else to do that day so we decided we'd go to downtown Bangkok. Bangkok has these super-mega malls that we had heard so much about and really wanted to see. I also needed a hair dryer and we needed a converter plug for our computers. We took a taxi to the SkyTrain station and took a very squished ride on that to downtown. The downtown area was very overwhelming, but we got off the train right where 3 or 4 of these mega-malls were located. The first mall was 6 floors and had an aquarium in the basement floor. I really wanted to go obviously, but Ethan wasn't feeling well and thought our money would be better spent elsewhere. You win Ethan. Anyway, this mall was insane. It was soooooo big. I wish I had taken a picture, but I was too shocked by the intensity. The food court alone was the size of the Meridian Mall. Not even joking! ... ok that's an exaggeration, but whatever it was huge. This particular mall wasn't quite what we were looking for though. It was dedicated to really upscale stores that are wayyyy over our price range. So we decided to go to the MBK mall.

The MBK mall is nuts. I think there were 5 floors. Each floor was like a regular mall but in the "median", for lack of a better term, there were thousands of privately owned shops that you can barter at. This mall literally had anything and everything you could think of. There was a whole floor dedicated to electronics and every shop sold the same thing. Crazy. Just crazy. We bought a converter from a random shop and then went to a department store - that was also 5 floors, each floor was a different department - called Tokyu for a hair dryer. We bought a hair dryer for like $20, which was a bit more than I was expecting to pay for a travel size hair dryer. We chalked it up to the fact that we're in Bangkok and left it at that. The hair dryer was necessary.

After we left the mall we decided to hit up the "central park" of Bangkok. It was pretty and nice to get away from the smelly city streets. It did start to rain while we were there though, which wasn't cool. We also saw some iguanas - or at least that's what we think they were - that were huge. They were everywhere... it was strange. After the park we hopped back on the train and headed back to the hotel. We passed out til after dinner when we got back and woke up in the dark. We had missed dinner, but were really hungry so we decided to binge on snack food. In hind sight it was a poor choice, but we did learn a lot about the snacks here. Snickers aren't satisfying because the chocolate tastes wonky and oreos taste fairly similar to American ones. Also, their idea of barbecue chips is not the same as ours. They weren't bad, but I'm pretty sure they weren't BBQ.

Our first days in Thailand were behind us and we were very excited for orientation to start! :]

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