Bangkok | May 7 - 15, 2024
Chappell Roan must've based HOT TO GO! on Bangkok | Day 1
My roommate had done a 7 month co-op in Cambodia in 2023, so she told me the first thing I will notice about Southeast Asia was the heat. Whether this influenced my perception or not, it was immediately clear after landing that I was no longer in the Boston climate any more. The air, heavy with humidity, smelled green. And of course, it was hot. 
The day I landed all I did was stay at the hotel and get settled. I had gone from BOS to ICN the previous day and stayed the night in Incheon, South Korea. Now I was in Bangkok. After all that flying, I needed rest. 
The second day was our tour of Bangkok. "Wear long pants and sleeves. Westerners make the mistake of higher temperature means less coverage, but the UV is so high that blocking the sun will keep you cooler," my roommate told me. I got dressed and stepped into a lobby full of fellow students wearing t-shirt and shorts - I was either going to be the only one prepared, or I was going to need entirely different clothes than I packed in my suitcase. Embracing the sweat and staying more hydrated than I ever have before, I actually felt okay in the heat. I didn't get a single sunburn the entire trip and I felt prepared for both the blazing sun and chilled malls. 
To be honest, the Bangkok tour was overwhelming. It's a cliché to say a city is "bustling," and after Bangkok, I think it's inaccurate to say that about any city but a select few. Bangkok is bustling: the sidewalks are full of vendors calling out to you, the roads are packed with cars and motorcycles weaving between traffic, and the buildings are so dense that widely different lives live within a few square-feet of each other. There was a lot to take in all at once.
Making friendship bracelets & other cute stuff | my favorite spots
The only place I wanted to go off the group itinerary was called the "Artist House". I'm not a big city person, so I was not going to venture out on my own. Further, Thailand was the first country I had been to where I don't speak the language. In Europe, I have English, some German, and a substantial amount of French - I can find my way. Thai is a entirely different script. I needed other people to come with me. 
Luckily, a few others wanted to stay out after the group tour split and I gave my recommendation. We decided to take the Bangkok metro, which I will argue is confusing and I'm very good at public transit. After a nice air-conditioned ride and a small "are we sure this is the right way" walk, we found the river town where the Artist House sits. I think this was my favorite spot in the city because it was quiet and calm. The buildings were one-story and all had connected porches to watch the narrow river boats. We found the Artist House and made bracelets that I noticed everyone wore for the rest of the trip. Afterward we decided to take a boat cruise down to see the big buddha. I had seen photos of course but it was unexpectedly huge in person. 
Pushing the bounds of "opulence" | Thai Temples
The most interesting thing I saw were the temples. I don't believe I've ever seen a building that is so ornate and colorful. The ornate buildings I am used to are typically a consistent base color like white, grey, or black, with stimulating color and texture features. They are either ornate or colorful. The Bangkok temples are both. There is so much detail on most of the temple surfaces. I remember the room with the emerald buddha with story-telling paintings all over the wall. I sat there for at least twenty minutes realizing that hours would be required if I wanted to perceive all the detail in just that one room in just that one temple. 
Midwesterner feels at home in Asia | Bangkok Malls
I'm from the Midwest, so I love a good mall. The malls in Bangkok are a new level. I think ICONSIAM is the most obvious mall that shows the difference between US malls and Bangkok malls. The basement level was themed to be an underground cave oasis with vines and flowers growing from the ceiling. The main levels were so pristine and technologically shiny that its believable the Hunger Games Capitol does exist. Mall culture is dying in the US, but it is clear that it thrives in Bangkok. 
What's shocking is that the prices were comparable to the US prices. I know the wages are not. So malls must only get business from the wealthy in Bangkok. What's shocking is that there are so many malls that can stay in business with US prices for what I assume is limited population that can afford it. Perhaps the Hunger Games Capitol is comparable in more than just the aesthetics -  the inequality too. (Speaking of, pre-order the new prequel right now. Thank me later)

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