Asia, Backpacking, International Travel, Thailand, Travel

August Travel Series Pt. 4: Wats, Markets, and Foo Fighters in Bangkok!

So here we are, onto my last leg of this August series: Bangkok! To be honest, I never thought of going to Bangkok because I was thinking of going there next year. Also, I already had a return ticket back home from Singapore. However, my I changed my mind and booked tickets right away. Now looking back, I’m glad I did it.

Out of my city trips, I stayed longer in Bangkok – 10 full days. I could have used my extra days to explore other parts of Thailand but I figured it’s best to stay longer and go slow for this one. Besides, this city is so big and there are so many places that I actually wanted to explore.

The language barrier was another issue that I had to deal with. Every time I ask strangers for directions or see if the food was spicy or not, they immediately think I’m Thai and speak very fast. I had to stop them nicely, be apologetic, and explain the dilemma. Thankfully, most Thais I ran into were very friendly and they didn’t mind going the extra mile to make you feel comfortable.

Anyway, I’d like to continue on with some of my highlights of this trip.

Spending time with cousins!

Over the years, I kept getting invites from my cousins to visit them for a vacation or even find work. Back then, traveling abroad was close to impossible because I didn’t have a passport and I was still living with my family (obligations and all). Also, I was scared traveling solo. I was a worry-freak. I used to travel with my best friend (or with someone else) and I often hear comments that I was a nervous wreck. It got better during my 30’s as I started to worry less and traveled on my own.

When I told one of my cousins, Amelia, about my trip, she was ecstatic. She offered to let me stay with her and I was very grateful that she went above and beyond for me. There were days when she got a bit sick, plus, she had to work in the hostel, so we didn’t get to go out that much. Her vacation leave application was denied so we simply had to do with her available time and mine.

Still, it was all good because we planned to meet up with a few other cousins who lived in Bangkok for a couple of years now. We went on a Sunday night at Khao San Road. What went on that night was truly amazing and unforgettable. Even though it was raining, that didn’t stop us from having fun. I tried eating a scorpion, got drunk with them, partied and danced in the rain, and rode a tuk-tuk home. Fun times, right?!

Two days later, we met up again at my cousin’s rented condo. We used the pool for an hour then went straight to dinner. They took me a nearby restaurant that offered “mookata” – a buffet where you can grill meat, seafood, and much more. Not only was I hungry that night, but I was also craving for seafood – lots of them!  And of course, we documented that night with more photos.

Sure, we only got to hangout for a limited time. But those short bonding moments were very special for us. I can’t wait to plan another trip and see them again!

Lots of “Wats”!

I could not stress this enough, but every district in Bangkok has their own Buddhist temples, otherwise known as “wats”! Like, seriously, 400 wats in Bangkok alone! Since Thailand is one of the countries that practice Theravada Buddhism, it’s not surprising that there are so many wats (big or small) around.

I don’t recall how many wats I visited or seen (especially the boat tour that I did), but aside from having similar temple structures and Buddha statues, the designs are pretty amazing and intricate.

Sadly, I skipped out the famous ones like Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of Emerald Buddha) and Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha) because these require entrance fees. It was still fine because I still got to see other amazing temples like the Wat Arun and Wat Yannawa.

Night markets!

Aside from the temples, Bangkok is also famous for their night markets. So when nighttime came, I got excited and explored a few night markets.

One of the busiest was the weekend market in Wachira Benchathat Park. The locals mentioned that this market usually operates every weekend so I was just lucky to witness it on a Saturday. Majority of the stall vendors were sell vintage products – from clothes, to appliances, to cameras, everything! I was floored on how everything was cheap there!

Another one I checked out was the Train Night Market with my friend Drexel and his roommate, Icko. They took me to this market place and roamed around for awhile. I also noticed that there were more Thai locals than “farangs” or foreigners, which made the experience more local and not that touristic.

The Asiatique Night Market is a combination of night bazaar and a mall – and it’s my third favorite. I went there twice in a row and even watched a circus show there! Although it was quite funny that the audience turnout was low (pretty low, like 4 people only) that night, the performers still gave it their all.

The most memorable one was the Silom night market – because I went there during my last stay in Bangkok. Aside from the cheap finds (clothes, keychains, Thai silk scarfs, bags, etc), you can also eat street food there. Also, if you’re looking for something “naughty” (like strip bars), might as well go there!

Boat tour!

I wasn’t expecting to go on a boat tour, but for some weird reason, I joined the one at Wat Yannawa with a friend. I didn’t know boat tours existed there until I found a wharf nearby.

The boat was large enough for about 8-10 people so its spacious enough. During the tour, there were 5 more people aside from me. I was pleasantly surprised because the boat ride was very cozy and breezy. Also, we passed and cross paths with a few dozen ferry boats or taxi boats who were either doing a tour of their own or dropping passengers off in other wharfs.

I never experienced a boat tour so this was new to me. The tour was a balanced mix of temples, a river cruise on the canals, local homes, and orchid farms.

One thing to note: it’s best to join a group one especially if you are alone so it gets cheaper for you. Haggling for the rate can be very tiresome especially if you’re a tourist and there’s a bit of a communication barrier. I was just lucky that I had company during the cruise.

The “Foos” Experience!

Let me tell you something – the Foo Fighters concert was definitely the BIGGEST highlight of this trip! If not for them, I wouldn’t even include Bangkok to my backpacking city tour!

On the day of the concert, I was very excited and nervous. I didn’t really know what to expect because this was my first rock concert ever. An added bonus to all of this was watching them play live in a foreign country. I wasn’t even sure how to get home, but I was like “to hell with it” and just go with the flow.

I took a taxi to the concert arena in the afternoon and I wanted to be early for sure. I also had to collect my ticket that I purchased online. When I got there, there were hundreds of people already milling around and waiting for the merch area to open.

After retrieving my ticket from one of the ticket booths, I immediately lined up to the merch area. There was never an intention to buy a merch, but since I was already there and I might end up regretting not buying something from the Foos, I finally caved in. An hour (or two I guess), the concert staff opened the merch area. The line was very long and I don’t know how long I stood and waited, but I played it cool and was relaxed the whole time. My turn came, bought one pink T-Shirt with the words “Foo Fighters” on it, and was totally satisfied. While others grabbed a few more shirts, I settled for one because… well, I’m on a budget here!

It also took us a long time until the organizers opened the doors for us concertgoers – at 7PM. Although I can say the organizing was a bit lacking (we waited a whole lot), I didn’t complain. Besides, there were two front acts: local bands Silly Fools and Ebola that kept us entertained. I really enjoyed listening to them even though I had no clue what they were saying!

After the front acts, there was a 30-minute delay because of last minute sound checks. Finally, when the Foo Fighters came out, the crowd went absolutely nuts! I remember not breathing for a moment because it was very surreal seeing them in flesh (although I was a bit far away but the big monitors helped). When they started playing “Everlong”, I was like “Yes, this is it… I’m finally here and I’m going to rock it out!”

Every song on their setlist was amazing and I had a grand time singing along to the songs – even shouting at some point. I took a few photos and videos, but the rest was just me standing like the rest of the crowd and belting out their hits. During their talk segments, Dave was really funny (and cursed a lot). He even surprised the rest of the band by playing the first few notes of “Generator” because it was not included in their setlist. He almost forgot the lyrics at some point but laughed it off afterwards.

When they ended the night with the song “Best of you”, I got a bit emotional because I didn’t want the night to end. When the crowd sang along to “Woaaahhhhh…” so many times, it was magical. We – the crowd – banded together at that moment and just sang back and forth with Dave.

Overall, they played 24 songs (3 from Taylor) and had at least one or two songs from each of their album. I noticed that most Thais knew the old hits but they were quiet when the band played a few Sonic Highway stuff. I guess they were not aware of the newer stuff they made, excluding the latest ones (Run and The Sky Is A Neighborhood).

Another adorable moment during the concert was becoming acquainted with this one lady who sat next to me. She was also alone like me. She clarified that she’s not really a HUGE fan of the Foos but she knew most of the stuff. But boy, was I surprised when she knew majority of the songs and screamed aloud as well.

Since this was my first, rock concert, I wouldn’t know how to compare it to anything else – but I knew that it was an enjoyable night to remember! Dave, Nate, Pat, Chris, Taylor and Rami were f*cking amazeballs and I hope they make it again in Asia to hold another concert for us.

Before I forget, go check out their newest album, Concrete and Gold which you can purchase now on iTunes and in other streaming sites! If you’re a Foo Fighters fan, do lend your support!

In conclusion…

Well, to end this travel series, here’s an excerpt from my Insta photo that I posted on the day that I left Bangkok and headed back to the Philippines.

Here’s what I felt in a nutshell:

Well, what can I say… this marked the end of my 26-day journey. I did 4 countries and 3,470.17 miles in less than a month. I soon learned the art of packing and unpacking my stuff in between hostels, got acquainted with the different currencies and budgeting my money so I won’t go broke, got lost and confused with public transportation, and tried new dishes that were delicious. I also had to squeeze in work along the way and almost left my laptop at the immigration office.

Traveling for me became more meaningful and unforgettable.
Overall, not bad for a Filipina traveler – a nervous one, at that. I’m so stoked that I did this and I hope to do this again next year!

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