I’ve been staring at that sentence for at least 10 minutes….I honestly have no idea where to start with this first post….this place is just beyond words…and I doubt what I write will even do my experiences so far justice.
After an unexpectedly exhausting 9 hour flight, over the red Australian desert, the Timor Sea, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Cambodia, we finally landed in Bangkok, Thailand, flying in over countless rice paddies and blended regions of industrial, rural and mini villages dotted with glistening golden temples. Karina and I were literally glued to the tiny plane window and clinging to each other, grinning as the plane taxied to the gate. Departing from the plane, we found our way to Immigration and Customs with ease considering the signs were both in Thai and English and joined the seemingly endless lines of travellers, passport in hand, feeling nervous at what to expect next;
“Why are you in visiting Thailand”
“I am a student Nurse, here on a two week scholarship for my study”
The words, kind of felt a bit like cotton wool in my mouth, I was so nervous! He looked over my passport, smiling, stamped it and handed it back to me and said “Enjoy yourself”.
The contrast between socioeconomic status is blatant. As we entered Bangkok city, numerous shanty houses and run down seedy looking apartments are established between well-kept gated homes, new construction sites, and towering money-making buildings, where skyscrapers loom in the distance. It is an absolute melting pot of varying wealth and trades, all kept connected via complete nightmares of electricity wires which would make any Western sparky’s brain implode, not to mention make any OH & S Officer have a meltdown.
Getting off at our stop we walked downstairs and found ourselves in a sticky, hot, bustling street market adjacent to Siam Square. The smells, the sounds, and colourful sights were a mix of western designs and authentic Thai handicrafts, pirated DVDs and street food I couldn’t even begin to describe, all situated under the Skytrain tracks. As we made our way through the congested pathway, we crossed back over the train station and found ourselves in the middle of Siam Square illuminated under giant screens, and glistening fountain displays. This place serves as Bangkok’s shopping district, humming with nightlife, shops, designer boutiques, restaurants and food courts, as well as housing Maddam Taussauds and the Siam Ocean World Aquarium. It was so busy and I was surprised at the people coming and going. We hung around the main square for at least 20 minutes, taking photos, watching the insanity of the traffic below, in awe of everything around us before making our way into the food court, Food Republic that housed hundreds of varying cuisines. Where was I to begin? I had no idea and all I knew is that I was aching to get as much delicious authentic Thai food in my belly ASAP. To purchase food from vendors, we purchased prepaid cards loaded with 190B (roughly 7AUD). We found a small kitchen with men working away at preparing noodle dishes; I ordered a Vermicelli Noodle with Seafood….3$ AUD……I could not have been more in heaven if I tried…it was spicy, burning my mouth off, but it tasted so good and I couldn’t help continuing to eat it.
This entire afternoon could have been a dream….but it wasn’t. Weirdly enough the fact I was in another land still hadn’t completely set in. I closed my eyes and tried to imagine what the next two weeks would draw into my path.
Thailand….come at me
•Never assume that Pedestrian Crossings are actually Pedestrian Crossings; cars will rarely stop….for anything, even other cars. It’s best to just stand and wait until the traffic lights change and the cars to bank up before crossing…..sometimes the locals stride out into oncoming traffic, but it’s definitely more safe to simply wait…even it that means 2 minutes on the side of the road.
•Keep to the right when walking down stairs – customary, there are signs that indicate to do so. Some people don’t do it when it’s not busy, but it’s good to get into practice.
•When eating, particularly in a public place, it is customary to be using a fork and a spoon. The fork is used to push the food onto the spoon and the spoon only transports food to the mouth.
– Kate, Health for Wealth Nursing Program, Thailand
This is an excerpt from Kate’s blog about her experiences in Thailand on the Health for Wealth Nursing Program. Visit her blog The Nurse with the Birds to read more.