A very festive farewell to Bangkok

The next morning, we get to wake up late since the bus doesn’t depart from Pattaya until 10 a.m., but after a long week of early mornings, there is no amount of enough sleep and even waking up at 9 a.m. feels too early. After a big breakfast, we board the bus and head back to Bangkok, where everyone is excited for a big night out on Khao San Road again before our free and final day in the city.

After we arrive in Bangkok that afternoon, our group of eight gets together and we split up in cabs and head to Khao San Road. Since it’s early when we get there, only around 8 p.m. or so, the bars aren’t in full swing yet so we spend our time cruising the food stands, buying cheap tourist souvenirs, eating bugs  of every variety as well as scorpion on a stick.

Our tour group friends. (Courtesy of Natalie Hecker)

Soon, though, Khao San Road is at its best once again, and the bars are buzzing with people using the road itself as a huge dance floor. G.R. takes to the floor after a few Changs and we all dance together to hits from at least five years ago, which is just the way that Bangkok goes. Holding our tourist purchases in one hand and our beers in the other, we dance for hours until we’re too tired to even stand. Mike, Erica, Jordan and I take a tuk-tuk home, which has been our preferred way of travel this entire trip.

The next day, Mike and I don’t see anyone else from our group at breakfast so we go it alone and head to Chinatown once again to finally see the flower market, which I’m sure was open after all on that second night that we ventured there. The flower market is very cool – packed under a seemingly very large tarp, Thai people are hard at work constructing flower bouquets, arrangements and decorations for local hotels and businesses. Mike buys me carnations wrapped around a string, usually reserved for tuk-tuks but I wear it around my wrist for the day until the flowers die.

In the daylight, Chinatown looks vastly different, and Mike and I end up in the strange underbelly of the whole place, where we see no other tourists but we do find lots of wonderful Chinese and Thai food. Mike gets a spring roll which he says is the best that he has ever had.

The flower market in Chinatown. (Photo by Jenna Intersimone)

Then, Mike and I head to Dusit, a Bangkok neighborhood known for being tree-lined, quaint and much cleaner than the rest of the city. We kill some time at the Dusit Zoo, where we check out elephants, more slow-moving lorises, bears and monkeys. It’s so unbelievably hot, though, and our sunburn and mosquito bites from being in Ayutthaya are killing us, so I feel relieved when we head back to Centara Grand – via tuk-tuk, of course.

We shower at the hotel gym before P.A. and Ken load all of us onto a bus around 9 p.m. to go to the Bangkok airport, where we will fly for about four hours to Beijing, await on a seven-hour layover and then take our 13-hour flight to New York.

For the first time that I can remember in travel, I don’t feel ready to go home. I know that it’s only been 10 days, but for some reason, I can’t really remember what it’s like to go to work, tackle my same daily obstacles, pour over my to-do list and pack on a jacket for the harsh New Jersey winter. I don’t feel ready to leave these people that were strangers 10 days ago or this city that was a stranger 10 days ago. But that’s the beauty of travel – you can always go back, do it again and do it anew.

Ayutthaya Historical Park. (Photo by Mike Politz)

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