Thailand / by Ash G

We flew to Bangkok in late December, clueless, having done zero research prior to the trip. We always have an 'oh we'll figure it out later' mentality, which is super chill most of the times, but once in awhile comes back round and bites us in the ass. 

Things we learnt about Bangkok: Street markets are everywhere. Street food is great but extremely un-vegetarian friendly. It also took me about 3-4 days for my stomach to get used to eating meat again. Tuktuks are expensive but fun for its initial novelty. Taxis are really cheap, and are more value for money than the public trains if you have a party of 2 and up. ONCE AGAIN HOSTEL IS THE BEST PLACE EVER (STAY THERE). 

We hit up Wat Pho, which houses the reclining Buddha, Chatuchak market, Khaosan road (overrated), Soi Cowboy, a shit ton of markets and a mall that had themed floors (Terminal 21??) to name a few. There's also this pad thai place near our hostel called Thipsamai, a legendary pad thai place that is probably a better landmark than the Grand Palace - think queues that lead to the side of the road - but we, or at least I, never have the patience to wait that long for my food. So we just had pad thai at a neighboring little street stall, and that was pretty fucking dank already. Basically, all street food is dope, and you never go wrong with pad thai.

We left Once Again hostel on New Year's Eve for the airport to hop on a flight to Ho Chi Minh. When we went to the check in desk, the guy takes a look at Garson's American passport and goes, "Where is your visa?" Awkward pause. "Visa?" "Yes. You need a visa to go to Vietnam. You can apply for it online." I guess that's what happens when you've gone to war with another country in the last 40/50 years? We do a mad dash to go find an Internet cafe, having only an hour left to go back to the check in desk, only to find out that it takes about 1-2 days for the visa to be processed (there is no visa on arrival for Americans) and because it was NYE, even if we chose the same day option, the embassy or whatever wasn't even going to be open until January 4th. We were fucked, basically. After a lot of sitting around and twiddling our thumbs and dry laughing at our predicament while crying on the inside, we eventually accepted that we weren't getting on that plane and headed back to Once Again Hostel.

Life pro tip: always check if you need a visa to go to a country.

New Year's was fun though; we joined in the celebrations on the rooftop deck of the hostel, met some really cool people, drank a ton (of free drinks heyyy) and watched fireworks go off all around us. Wouldn't have changed anything.

We spent 2 more nights in BKK. By then we were ready to head out of the city, so we (read: Garson) decided we should go to Koh Samed (read: I'm not keen on beaches).

We spent a day snorkeling, drinking beers and chillin' hard. We found a pretty cool vantage point on one of the islands nearby and at some point I found myself remarking that tourist beach towns aren't so bad... at least for a day.