Updated: Aug 26
Tales from Solo Travel Part 2: I’m finally in the air after waiting anxiously at my gate for an extra 2 1/2 hours.. The cargo door on the airplane had been damaged during loading, they had to fix it before anyone could board.
Normally this wouldn’t make me sweat- But my layover in Guangzhou China was only 3 hours! Which means I could miss my transfer to Bangkok if we don’t arrive early enough! I’ve never missed a flight, so this of course gives me a bit of tightness in my chest. This is my first solo trip! Already the curve balls have begun flying. (No pun intended)
We land in Guangzhou with 30 minutes to spare until my boarding gate is supposed to close! I’m in full panic mode- I need to get off this plane ASAP. I strap a backpack to both sides of me, tightening the buckles for the sprint I have ahead.
Finally I’m off the plane- and I begin RUNNING Feeling like people on the Amazing Race- chasing that plane they need to catch! I’m a big girl- been walking 3-5 miles a day to plan for this trip..but sprinting across a HUGE airport I’m unfamiliar in, with two backpacks strapped to me was not a pretty sight
I look at my watch, 10 minutes to go! I hit immigration- it’s empty but there’s 20 rows of zig zagging I have to do before I arrive at the front. I strip my bags off of my back like lightening to go through the scanners- as I whip out my passport and boarding ticket. All while panting and out of breath.
I get the stamp that means GO- and walk through the body scanner. Only to then be told to stop- I had to take something out of my bag. What was it??? I had no idea- we were at a language impasse. They were gesturing, I was gesturing..finally I figured out I had a spare battery in my bag I had forgotten about So in panic with 6 minutes left I am digging through my bag like a mad woman! Stuff is going everywhere- AT LAST I have the battery! Then I’m let through! *cue me running again*
Everything is haphazardly shoved into my bags- I am running while looking at my boarding pass, reading the signs to find my gate. Seriously, does this airport ever end? If you've been through this airport, please let me know If I was just so out of shape that running through that airport felt like forever.. OR if it really just is huge! I'm passing people casually strolling, my backpack on the front is nearly slapping my in the face, my face is red with sweat and I'm panting. I lock eyes on it! The gate! It's down the escalator and in the far corner from where I am. 1 minute..That's all I have left until they're supposed to stop boarding. I book it down those moving stairs, and run up to my gate ticket in hand. The gate agent smiles and takes my ticket, welcoming me aboard. She then tells me not to worry, they were going wait for those of us on the late arrival plane. So..I just ran, amazing race style, across an entire airport and frantically through immigration for no reason. Well..At least I have a fun story now!
The plane is packed tight, and I crawl into my window seat while turning the vents above me on full blast and catching my breath. I am so happy to have made it.. Now I just have six hours until I'm in Bangkok! I lay my head back and relax for the rest of the flight, anxious for my arrival in Thailand. I had been planning this trip for months, working nearly every day for the whole winter. I was excited and nervous. Going from an Alaskan winter, to April/May in Thailand was going to big a huge temperature change. When I arrived in Thailand, it was about 101F outside, and the humidity just laid itself across my face like a wet towel. The smells of a new city, baking in the sun, full of people and strong food hit my nose when I walked to the nearest taxi.
When deciding on accommodations I had spent weeks deciding between Hotels, Airbnbs, and Hostels. I finally went with booking a private room in an airbnb/hostel because I snore. I chose somewhere that was a short walk from both the Royal Palace, and the famous/infamous backpacker party spot- Khao San Road. I was exhausted from the 19 hours of flying, and nearly 24 hours of travel time..But I was eager to get out and explore! I put my things down in my room, and hit the streets. I wanted to check out Khao San Road and eat some scrumptious street food. As I'm walking down the streets to my destination I realize it has been a while since I ate a meal, and I began to feel a bit ill as the mid day sun beat down on me from above. When I made it to Khao San Road I was surprised to see it mostly empty besides some shopping stalls..Apparently when the sun goes down is the time to be there. There was one street food vendor, but the idea of sitting outside in this blistering heat and trying to enjoy warm food made me feel even more sick. I needed shade, and cool air..Fast. I was honestly probably a bit dehydrated from traveling too.
That's when I set my eyes upon IT..Golden Arches raised into the sky, a building lined with enclosed glass, and air-conditioning blasting inside. It was there, that I was met with the sweet relief of cold air! My kneecaps were glistening, and when I crossed the threshold from outside, I could have wept with joy. Sweet mercy of air con was upon me, and that is where I had my first meal in Thailand..freaking McDonalds. Am I ashamed? As someone that considers themselves a major foodie.. Uh yes. Would I do it again? 10/10 yes! I needed to cool off, have some water and food.. I was looking like a wildebeest, crossing the desert in search of an oasis..that just happened to be McDonalds. I'm only human people! At least we can laugh about it together.
After seeking refuge inside the Golden Arches, I was reenergized to make the short trek back to my accommodation. The woman in the office was fanning herself, and said they were having a heat wave. For a Thai local to say it was hot, WHEW, that's saying something. It was then that I decided I needed to partake in future adventures in the morning, or when the sun was down. With it being 3pm, and having a while until the sun set and it cooled down outside, it was nap time. My clothes were drenched in sweat and sticking to me in places I had never experienced, So as soon as I arrived to my room, I stripped down to my birthday suit, clicked the "arctic blast" button on my air con remote, and spread eagle on the foot of the bed where the fan was blowing! Ah..refreshing.
That night I went out to Khao San Road, it's amazing how different the city is once the sun has gone down. The sidewalks are bustling with people, street food carts, and bazaars have popped up everywhere! I stopped for some fried spring rolls and pad Thai from a cart that had a lot of people, sitting down on some plastic chairs at a little table I sipped on a can of cola waiting for my food to be ready. The people watching is 10/10 there..It was a bit overwhelming at first, hundreds of people, loud music blasting from several different bars lining the streets. After a bit though, you kind of fall into the groove of things. All sorts of people were there..Couples both young, and old. Kids that you can tell are here before they start college, some on a break from school, solo travelers, groups of bachelors looking to get into shenanagins. They were all there. My food arrived, pulling me out of my people watching daze.. The fried spring rolls were hot off the pan, crispy and scrumptious..Served with chili oil and a sweet/sour dipping sauce. My pad Thai came with the standard garnish of lime, cilantro, and beansprouts. The chili flakes, peanuts, sugar, and vinegar are on the table so that each person can adjust it to their liking! I knew I'd be coming back another time, So I made a mental note that I liked this place.
It was getting late, and I was tired so I headed home by midnight..Which is early for a Khao San Road rendezvous. The next day, I wanted to hit the Grand Palace in the morning.. Before It got to the predicted 105F heat of the day (RIP self.). Off to sleep I went..and you'll hear about the rest, next week!