Tate came to visit us from England for three weeks, spending two weeks in Bangkok and a week in Koh Samui, having the best time. We asked Tate to choose one of the main highlights of his trip to write about and he decided on the Muay Thai he watched. It’s a massive part of Thai culture and brilliant entertainment…
When I booked my ticket for three weeks in Thailand, the first thing on my list was eating as much Thai food as I could and the second was to watch some Muay Thai – so when Charlotte and Sarah told me about MBK Fight Night I felt like quite a few Christmases had come at once. This Muay Thai showcase is held every Wednesday at 6pm right outside MBK. It’s free, next to the National Stadium stop on the BTS, and attracts a lot of attention from tourists, travellers and Thai natives alike.
Knowing that we’d soon be leaving Bangkok to travel through Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos, our Thai meals were numbered! There was no way we could leave Thailand without learning how to cook some of our favourites. With Tate in tow, we booked a day’s course at Silom Thai Cooking School, costing just 1000 baht each. This even included a trip to the market to buy all our ingredients.
The Thais know how to do shopping malls and at the top of these skyscrapers, you’ll nearly always find a cinema to match the standard. You can see a film for just a couple of hundred baht, or alternatively go for for one of the more high-end options. Tate was visiting us from England, so we splashed out on two tickets to the fancy Bangkok Airways cinema, at the top of Siam Paragon.
The most modern and popular areas of ‘new Bangkok’ are accessible by the skytrain (BTS). This floating train network is a really simple and comfortable way to travel, with long trains and some serious air conditioning! Also a great alternative to swinging off the back of a motorcycle in a haze of fumes, if you want to get somewhere quickly. It’s one of the few places in Bangkok where you won’t catch a whiff of food – strictly no eating or drinking. It’s refreshingly cool, clean and crisp (except for rush hour and the inevitable face to armpit stampede).
Looking to extend your visa? We’ve done it plenty of times now, here’s the essential rundown:
Thailand is a huge and exciting country, and any backpacker who plans to visit will very quickly realise that their planned length of stay is just not enough! Before leaving England, we purchased a 60 day tourist visa, thinking that that would be sufficient to see all the southern islands and Bangkok, before moving on to Cambodia. However, we hadn’t counted on Bangkok’s bustling and chaotic charm seducing us to the point of wanting to live here for a few months!
For those with expiring visas, there are two options to make sure you can stay longer. Firstly, you could take a day or two ‘running’ to another country to cross the border and back again, and steal yourself another few days. However, the easier, and usually cheaper, option is to visit an Immigration office, and apply for a visa extension.
Now, to say that we have failed in our role as budget backpackers is a gross miscarriage of justice – we’ve slept with bedbugs, we’ve couchsurfed where possible, and we’ve frequently held our evening meal at the local supermarket feasting on every free sample available. Yet, last night, after reading of an offer in BK magazine, we ventured to the St Regis Hotel, specifically to their 12th floor Decanter restaurant…
Their ‘free flow’ evening offered unlimited red, white and rosé wine and some beautiful prosecco, along with an unending cheese board, bread basket and meat platter. In a country where all the cheese and wine is imported, at just 665 baht a head, this was a bargain (a small block of cheese costs about 200 baht and a bottle of average wine 500 baht).
1. Be really careful which student you give the marker pen to when inviting them to draw on the whiteboard
2. If struggling to occupy a child, just give them a stack of paper and scissors
3. If someone brings a puppy to the class, don’t bother trying to salvage any part of your lesson plan
4. Don’t ask the students what they’d like to do next, chances are it has nothing to do with learning English
5. When gesturing enthusiastically with the left hand, don’t forget the right, which is now chucking water over a student’s head
6. Before acting out the word ‘fetch’, decide whether you’re prepared to live the rest of your life having panted like a dog with a pen in your mouth, whilst clambering on the floor in full suit attire
7. Check appearance between classes for marker pen Hitler-esque moustache
8. Don’t pretend to know how to spell something when you don’t
9. Remember to clear the board after class, especially when teaching essential body parts and someone has just asked how to spell ‘nipples’
10. Don’t laugh when hearing a student’s name. ‘Porn’ means ‘blessing’ in Thai and ‘Poo’ means ‘crab’
It’s difficult to select Bangkok’s number 1 forte; the food, the weather, the people, the architecture, the nightlife… But a strong contestant has got to be the shopping centres. Our firm favourite is Terminal 21 next to Asok BTS station.
After previously extending our tourist visas, it was approaching the time for me to leave Thailand and reenter on an official working visa (Sarah had been back to England for a wedding and so had solved her visa problems). Having been told that the easiest place to do this was at the Thai Embassy in Laos, I met up with my friend Ben who was in a similar situation for the much hassled visa run. The plan: get in, get out, and spend as little money as possible. Of course, things don’t always go as planned.