I can’t believe how derelict I’ve been in chronicling some of my adventures. I went to Bangkok for a week for a conference and took 2 days after to explore. It was one of my all time favorite trips but it will be too boring to describe in detail so I will give you the highlight reel:
1. International Leprosy Summit/photojournalism. I went to help with the International Leprosy Summit. My not-so-secret dermatology nerd was immensley pleased to marry my twin passions of derm/infectious disease with global and public health. The meeting was a great success and I was so excited to see that a photo I took was used on a giant poster that will also be distributed internationally and was used in international newspapers!
2. Bangkok/street food: I stayed in a budget hotel right next to one of Bangkok’s night markets, Patpong, in an area called Silom which boasts some delectable street food. I am not a foodie by any means (my “cooking” is more along the lines of eating raw veggies and trader joe’s frozen dinners with the occasional sauteed spinach or brussel sprout/stir fry/kale chip thrown in) but WOW the food in Thailand was good.
Street food in Thailand is safe, hygienic, delicious and very cheap so I availed myself of every opportunity. Some favorites: the fresh fruit, lod chong, sum tum and BBQ street meat. I had a fabulous experience near one of the temples where a som tum vendor took a shine to me (I had tried to entice some other tourists into trying her amazing dish) and gave me all sorts of free food.
3. The joy (?) of being a solo traveler. I was hell bent on taking advantage of this work trip and seeing a bit of Thailand. Problem? I didn’t have anyone to sightsee with as my boss was ill and the rest of the people at the meeting were honorable ministers of health etc. Solution? Strike out on my own! One thing I am amazed by is power of the internet (please read that sentence a if it were said by the people in this video …”what is internet?”). I used TripAdvisor and other message boards to figure out the best (read: cheapest) hotel to stay at, where to change money for the best rate, how to navigate Thailand’s public transportation and which attractions were a must see. To get to the temples, for example, I had to take the skytrain to a river port and hop a local public boat bus and figure out which station to get off on. The bonus about traveling alone is that you meet all sorts of amazing people and in my experience people were kind, generous and eager to help. The best part was when I asked directions from 2 women, one Thai and one American. “I’m from Bangkok but I live in the US now- we both do,” the Thai woman explained. “Where in the US?” I asked. “Boston,” she replied. “No way! I grew up in Boston!” I exclaimed. “Well, not really Boston, we live in a small town outside of Boston called [she named the exact small town outside Boston where I grew up].” “ME TOO!!!” Seriously, what are the odds? Gotta love it.