Our flight out of Thailand departed five weeks after we first landed in Bangkok. During this time, we traveled in and out of the country to visit Vietnam and Cambodia, but Thailand — and especially Bangkok — had come to feel like home by the time we left. It is an easy country to love, with its friendly people, delicious food, very affordable prices, and beautiful weather. We were sad to bid farewell to Thailand, but at the same time, we left feeling certain that we will return and excited for the next stop on our itinerary.
We’re still not sure how we got so lucky, but we were re-booked on a flight from Bangkok to Hong Kong on Friday, December 5, the same day that Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport resumed full operation (read more here) and only two days after our originally scheduled flight. The only signs of the the previous week’s shut-down were a line-up of security officers on the road leading into the terminal, a dance group performing next to signs thanking tourists for their patience, and many flights showing a status of “Canceled” on the boards within the terminal. Based on what we read and saw on TV, in addition to a few conversations with other travelers on our flight, we were very lucky to have faced as little inconvenience as we did.
During our final few days in Bangkok, we spent time hanging out with Dan’s friend Bill, who has lived in Bangkok for the past four years and was a tremendous host to us during our stay. We also took a final tuk-tuk ride and revisited some of our favorite restaurants where you can get a fantastic entree for US $2. We already miss all of the amazing food in Thailand, particularly the abundant and always delicious street carts. You can get everything from pre-cut & bagged fresh fruit (US 50 cents) to coconut & red-bean pancakes (US 60 cents) to grilled pork skewers (US 60 cents). But our favorite vendor has to be someone we spotted in Koh Chang, whom we affectionately refer to as the Banana Man. You couldn’t miss his rockin’ music — and his production speed was truly awesome. We can also vouch for his excellent product: banana crepe with chocolate sauce.
Koh Chang’s Banana Man in action
Due to the shutdown of the airports, the streets around our guesthouse in Bangkok felt quite a bit more empty than they did at the beginning of our stay. We are very hopeful that the tourism industry will bounce back quickly, but there is no doubt that the country has been dealt a big blow. We also saw the effects of the shutdown when we visited Wat Arun on our very last day in Bangkok, where we practically had the beautiful temple to ourselves. From a very selfish perspective, it was quite an experience to wander up the steps and around the top platform of the amazing structure virtually on our own.
Our very last stop on our very last day in Bangkok was at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel for a cocktail. It was a beautiful setting that we won’t soon forget (never mind that the bill for our two cocktails and fizzy water amounted to more than one night’s stay in our guesthouse). Until next time, Bangkok!