#3 – Travel journal: Songkran in Bangkok

April 12, 2019

Hello Bangkok!

Today is very hot and I decided to wear a long sleeve shirt because my skin is burning! I’m constantly re-applying sunscreen and drinking lots of water.

I went to a grocery store called Big C to buy a whole pack of water to keep with me at the hostel. I’m drinking at least 3 bottles a day here, wow.

I’m starting my day early walking across the city trying to beat the afternoon heat. I decided that in order to get a good sense of all of the areas, I should walk along the skytrain line that cuts through the entire city.

My hostel is nearby ‘On Nut’ station, which is part of a skytrain system they have here called the ‘BTS’ (Bangkok Transit System?).

I’ve made it as my starting point for the day and my goal is to make it to National Stadium station and back.

Songkran – Thai’s New Year

Songkran is the Thai’s New Year national holiday which follows the Buddhist calendar and is celebrated for three consecutive days on April 13-15.

How lucky am I to have arrive at the perfect time to celebrate Thai New Year?

Every one here is dressed in colourful shirts, similar to the ones you see tourists wear on vacation in Hawaii.

There is this one Thai remix song that is blasting everywhere on the streets, it’s sort of catchy but I understand none of it.

Along the way there are people engaging in water fights. I joined in on the fun and almost got my new camera soaked.

Asok station and Terminal 21

Today I spent most of the day checking out all the Songkran festivities around the Asok station area, where it seemed to be a lively area.

I ventured inside a mall called Terminal 21 which you can sort of guess by the name is themed like an airport.

Each floor is designed to give you a glimpse of different places in the world, with the main floor having marble columns from Rome, a middle floor with lamps from Arabia or Egypt, and an upper floor with the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco.

On the lower level, a market is set up just for the new year selling food and wares.

This is my first time trying spicy Thai sausages and an assortment of kebabs served with spicy dipping sauce and veggies.

It’s weird that Thai’s like their kebabs served with cucumbers and cabbage as sides, but I’m not complaining, I tried it and immediately loved it. It adds a good crunchy balance for the soft meats and sausages.

The assortment of foods and drinks you can get here is mind blowing, there’s so many to choose from it’s hard to decide where to start and finish. The aroma just grabs at you.

Having a poke around for a while and filling up my belly, I stopped to watch a man pull tea. Watching the tea being poured from one thing to another was oddly mesmerizing as I watched him for a good five minutes before leaving the mall.

His attire looks as if he is Malaysian and what he is preparing is ‘Teh Terik’. The tea and milk mixture gets aerated when he “pulls” it to give it a soft taste.

Teh Terik is Malaysia’s most well known hot beverage and sort of tastes like bubble tea.

Songkran Traditions

Just steps outside the mall doors is a beautifully decorated walkway to ring in the new year. I had to take a pic.

During Songkran, it’s tradition for Thai’s to visit family outside of the city to pay respect and wish well wishes for the coming year to elders.

Younger family members cleanse the hands and feet of elders in jasmine and rose water and in return they receive their parents’ and grandparents’ blessings.

To wash away one’s sins and bad luck from the previous year, this cleansing is also performed on a Buddha statue.

In the city’s heavily trafficked areas there are Buddha statues set up for those who’d like to participate in bathing of the Buddha. Of course I participated knowing I’d be traveling for a long time.

Bad luck be gone!

A stop at Erawan Shrine

I walked a lot further along the BTS green line towards National Stadium station and made a stop at Erawan Shrine near Chit Lom station, about two stations away from my final destination.

There is a large crowd and a festival happening.

Thai’s are coming here to pray in droves and the beating of the drums can be heard a couple blocks away. The whole place is filled with yellow marigold flowers and incense that smoked the area.

The ladies wearing the Thai headdress chanted prayers and blessings to every individual person who left a donation. The donors would kneel and pray as they received the blessings.

You can see that Thai’s take spiritual traditions seriously and with whole heart. I think that’s what makes this country unique and easy to love. People seem to be very happy here.

Made it to National Stadium

The sun is setting and I’ve finally made it to National Stadium.

It probably took over 4 hours to get here on foot because of the extra time it took to explore other parts of the city along the way, but I think I have a good sense of which areas I’d like to revisit again tomorrow.

There’s a large mall here called MBK which is full of knock off goods and electronics. Super great deals to be had here, but I’ll come back another time.

Where to go for dinner?

Being that it is only my second day here, the street food was an obvious choice being that it’s abundant and easy. Dinner is waiting for me in an alley somewhere, I can smell it.

I ducked in and out of alleys and small markets picking up anything that I fancied. Food is cheap and good, it’s like I’m in heaven!

I needed something to wash down all this food so I popped into a 7-11, made a B-line to the cold fridge in search for anything that looks weird.

One of my favourite things to do is trying sugary drinks that have weird branding or just looks like I shouldn’t have it. It’s a lot of fun, especially when it turns out really good.

I settled for this Sarsi cola, which tasted like a cross between a Dr. Pepper and Cola. You can distinctly taste both in one gulp. Weird.

And why does sugar here taste so pure? It’s a good kind of sweet.

My legs feel like jello with all this walking.

Time to head back to the hostel. See you tomorrow!

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