A Weekend in Bangkok
My first week of classes is over! However, it wasn’t a typical school week. I had classes from Monday-Wednesday, but Thursday the students took a Buddha test all day and Friday was Sports Day, so there were no classes. On Friday, the students participated in the first of four days that are dedicated to playing sports and cheerleading. The second day was Saturday (which we did not attend), and the third and fourth days will be Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.
Sports Day in Thailand happens every year in the second semester, and at our school it's quite competitive. All the students are on separate color teams – pink, yellow, purple, green, or blue - which I think they're assigned right when they enter school in grade 7. They kicked off the start of Sports Day with cheerleading performances from each color group. Just imagine 2700 students all screaming for their team to be the best and loudest. It was definitely interesting to watch the students get so excited, and to see the Thai traditions and compare them to US traditions. For one, the students performed some cheerleading stunts with NO mats. If they fell, it would be onto concrete floors.
The rest of the day they play each other in different sports. One of the other foreign language teachers told me that the pink team has won for the last three years in a row. Throughout the day we watched students play basketball, volleyball, ping pong, and a bunch of other sports. We even got to play one of the assistant directors in ping pong before the games began.
After a ~tough~ week of teaching for only three days, Kaitlin and I decided to go to Bangkok to meet up with a couple friends over the weekend (hayyy Laura and Emily if you’re reading this). Unfortunately, we had to “sign in” at the school Saturday morning, so we’d only be spending one night in Bangkok.
Around 1:00 pm on Saturday, we got on a bus and made the 2-hour journey into the city. When we got there, we met up with our friends at the Chatuchak Weekend Market. Almost immediately I had to buy some coconut ice cream and sticky rice – which is almost the best combination after mango and sticky rice. Next, we had some pad thai and fried rice and eventually we were able to meet up with Laura and Emily.
After some hours spent shopping, we took the BTS towards the places that we were staying. Laura and Emily were staying with a friends' uncle who lived in a fancy apartment, while Kaitlin and I stayed at a nearby hostel. If you’re planning on going to Bangkok and looking for a cheap, clean and fun place to stay, I HIGHLY recommend going to Bodega Bangkok Hostel. I’ve stayed in my fair share of hostels during my travels, and this was definitely the best one yet.
The reception and bar area is a cozy, adorable space outside with plants and seating. The walls are decorated with cool art and crazy expensive receipts from past visitors. The owner, Ben, has hostels of the same name in Chiang Mai and Phuket, and he was extremely welcoming and fun. He had just launched a bar crawl at his other two locations, and we were the guinea pig group for Bangkok. We paid 300 baht for a large bucket of vodka redbull (so nasty), a beer for the road, and various shots of coconut/pineapple rum (so delicious).
A group of about 15-20 of us left the hostel around midnight and walked to the first bar. Unfortunately, the bar had just closed, so we hopped in taxis and went to The Australia. There was live music with two women singing some awesome throwbacks. The next morning, we checked out at 11 and treated ourselves to an egg, cheese and bacon sandwich on an everything bagel. I can’t tell you how much I miss bagels so this was literally the best thing that could happen to me. Yet another reason to stay at Bodega.
Kaitlin and I had the day to ourselves and we quickly decided that we needed to find ourselves a pool to relax by. We walked 20 minutes to a hotel we thought had an open to the public pool, but we were turned away. After calling around, the Marriott said we could pay a fee to use theirs. We hopped in a taxi to go there, but a minute later our driver decided he didn’t want to take us. So he made a U-turn and dropped us off where he picked us up. We were having such bad luck that for a minute we really thought we wouldn’t be finding a pool at all. Hot, sweaty, and desperate, we finally found a taxi that turned on their meter and drove us to the Marriott.
Thank god we stuck it out, because we had the best, most relaxing Sunday ever. For a fee we had access to the pool, the gym, sauna and the showers (yay hot water). No surprise, we didn’t take advantage of the gym, but the option was nice anyway.
On the rooftop was an infinity pool that overlooked Bangkok, a bar that made great mango and rum smoothies, and the perfect chairs to relax in. We really had ourselves a day. That will probably be the most luxurious thing we do for our entire time in Thailand, and we were okay with that.
One reason being that Kaitlin and I have to teach for the next 5 Saturdays due to Sports Day taking up the students’ time during the week. We get a long weekend in December that we will be using to visit Krabi, but until then we can mostly only take day trips or one-night trips on weekends. So in our minds, it was justified spending a bit more money to have a nice day to ourselves.
We ended the weekend with a quick hour and a half ride home, a banana crepe, and much needed sleep before going back to school on Monday.
We’re not sure where the next weekend will take us – maybe Ayutthaya, or a national park, but no matter what, we’ll make it work and always have fun!
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