I’ve been playing the tour guide this week as a woman I met on the internet has just moved to Thailand to teach English. She’s never been to Thailand before and seemed a bit lost, so I volunteered to help. You’d think it would be annoying showing that you don’t really know around your city right? Wrong! It’s been amazing and has made me realize again why I love my city so much.
We started out on Thursday by visiting the local Tesco Lotus supermarket for basic food and cleaning supplies, then Central Ladprao Mall to get sheets and pillows. She was amazed at the prices and selection and, of course, bought more than she planned on. We then had a quick dinner at S&P, a cheap delicious Thai chain restaurant, and headed home. She collapsed exhausted after jet lag set in.
On Friday, we took the sky train down to Siam sky train stop and visited all the malls down there. There are four malls together – Siam Paragon, Siam Center, Siam Discovery and MBK. Some are expensive, some are cheap but they all have pretty much everything you could ever want. At one point, she stopped in the middle of aisles and aisles of cheap, fabulous quality clothing at one of the malls and said “I think I’m going to cry”. After questioning her more, it turned out she’d never been anywhere where the shopping was so amazing and where she could get anything she wanted at about one eighth of the price of England. She’s already decided, after only four days here, she’s never leaving Thailand.
On Saturday, we both took a break but hit the road (or actually boat) on Sunday when we took the river boat down the Chao Praya River to Khao San Road. The river boat is fabulous as you really get to see the ‘real Thailand’, and it only costs 25 cents. Barges coming down from China, kids swimming in the river, little traditional Thai houses on stilts, and temples everywhere – you see on the river, all things you would never see in most Western countries.
Khao San Road is where many Western tourists and backpackers hang out. It’s not really one of my favorite places in Bangkok, but it’s interesting for a quick visit. They also have the best British restaurant, Oh My Cod, where I had an amazing beef and onion pie, mushy peas and mashed potatoes. Yum, oh yes, yum! Then we hit the market stalls and she bought fisherman pants, t shirts, a bag and some fabulous CDs and DVDs.
Afterwards, we took the canal boat back to Siam Square and went to a café for a cooling drink. A lovely caramel blended latte was only $1.25. She was, by this time, in love with life.
Yesterday, we met a friend – a fellow teacher from ajarn.com, the teaching website for teachers in Thailand – for breakfast at Au Bon Pain, an American chain restaurant that makes incredible sandwiches. He had some very good advice for her on teaching in Thailand and which jobs to avoid. In the afternoon, we did the rounds of the language schools – Inlingua, Wall Street and ProLanguage – dropping off her resume (or CV as the British call it) in her search for a teaching job. She already had two job offers before we even got home last night, with two more interviews set up for this week.
Tonight we are going to the Bangkok Book Club, which meets at a nice cafe at Central World Plaza Mall. It’s a wonderful social meeting club where you take the books you’ve read and exchange them for books others bring. It’s always a delightful night of conversation, good food and coffee, and you leave with an armful of great books. Usually mostly Western female expats, men are welcome if we could only round some up!
So, all in all, a nice five days being a tour guide. Now I have to go back to my real life, writing for a living. But the break was fun and made me realize how much I love my city. Maybe you could consider being a tour guide in your town for a couple of days? It’s amazing how you see things you normally take for granted in a new light, and really very fun.