BKK – wow, where do I begin.
Today is Wednesday, August 30th 2017, which means that I arrived in Bangkok exactly 4 weeks ago. Although it may seem like a fairly short time, I feel like I could already write a book about all the crazy experience of the last couple of weeks. Actually, I could probably write an entire book about my first DAY here in Bangkok – which was more than eventful. On the way to going out for our first Thai meal I was involved in a traffic accident and shortly afterwards I found myself on my way to the Bangkok Christian Hospital. While walking on the side of a narrow alley, right around the corner of our residence a car hit my right foot – apparently there wasn`t enough room for the both of us and he was in a hurry. Luckily, I was not seriously injured and got away with a swollen foot and a couple of bruises. So yes – Bangkok traffic really is THAT crazy!
Our “Ajarn” – the Thai expression for teacher – said something fairly funny the other day. “Thailand has a lot of 3 specific things: 1. Taxis 2. Food – food everywhere and 3. Transgenders” – although it might sound fairly strange, I can say that he is definitely right!
Taxis are super cheap and a great way to get around Bangkok – if you avoid rush hour and the huge traffic jams of course! However, the prices are not comparable to German taxis at all. A taxi from our residence (iSanook) to Chula for example (5–10 minute drive, depending on the traffic) will cost us around 40 Baht, roughly 1 Euro! Nonetheless we take the bus to uni most of the time. The bus stop is only down the street (a 2 minute walk) from our residence and I pay 11 Baht (= 0,28Euro) for a one way ticket. Furthermore the bus ride is like a new mini–adventure every day. The tuk tuk`s are really fun as well, although many drivers will ask for a higher price than the taxis. A good tip is wearing the Chula uniform as often as possible, skipping queues and cheaper tuk tuk prices are just a couple of perks worth mentioning.
Speaking of Chula – short for Chulalongkorn University , it is a public research university, ranked as Thailand’s number university from various organizers. Being founded in 1917 the university is celebrating its 100 year anniversary this year, making it the oldest institute of higher education in Thailand. The campus is huge, encompassing of 19 faculties, and nothing like our Macromedia campus in Germany. Luckily all of our courses are in our “own” faculty – the Faculty of Communication Arts, which makes finding your classroom in the early mornings a lot easier. Other than that there is a gym, including a yoga room, a huge swimming pool, a library and even on campus health clinics and councling, supporting local and international students.
One of the highlights concerning campus life was definitely the trip to Hua Hin last weekend. Ajarn Hong organized a trip for our faculty to go to the “beach resort town” of Hua Hin, where we spent two days visiting temples and environmental parcs, as well as fun evenings at the beach. Although it was really hard and pretty exhausting the visit to Phra Nakhon Khiri Historical Park on Sunday was really worth the trip. The name Phra Nakhon Khiri means Holy City Hill, but locals know it better as Khao Wang, meaning hill with palace.
Living the crazy life: iSanook Residence
I live in an apartment (or “family suite”) in the iSanook Residence here in Bangkok, with 2 other Macromedia students and could not be happier about this choice. First of all the residence is very modern, clean and the staff is very nice and always ready to help in every situation – if one of your roomates locks herself into your bathroom and can not get out for example!
The iSanook is located next to downtown Bangkok, near Chulalongkorn University and Chamchuri Square, where you can find everything from a huge Tesco to a good dentist. The big shopping centers MBK and Siam can be reached by foot in about 20-25 minutes or in a couple of minutes by taxi or tuk tuk. Right around the corner there are several street food “restaurants”, including our go to place called “Chehung Kitchen”, where they know our order the minute we walk in. You could say, it`s almost like mom cooking lunch for you every day! The food is amazing, I do not think I will ever get tired of it. Additionally there are many small “cart–stands” with fresh fruit, meat and drinks, as well as a small market right down the street – fresh coconut, dragon fruit, pineapple and mangosteen every day!
So, what is my overall first impression? Thailand is absolutely crazy – and Bangkok is insane! I mean this in the best way possible. If you have never been to Asia before and have no experience in this part of the world, coming here is definitely a major culture shock. Nothing will prepare you for it, believe me! The mindset and character of the people here is very different to the German standard and absolutely worth getting to know. Not speaking the native language here can be difficult at times, but you grow with every challenge and communication attempt and even pick up a couple of Thai expressions yourself! If you are open and respectful you will not only get to know many natives here, but actually establish real connections with a lot of different people. Bangkok is very dynamic, fast moving and pretty unpredictable at times, which makes every day here a new adventure. I am more than excited to see what the next couple of months bring – next stop: Chiang Mai on Friday!