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Bangkok: rest and relaxation before business (#1).

It’s been 88 days since I left Taiwan, the longest I’ve gone without traveling in the past year. Since April, my role within the company has gradually shifted towards product management, and I now spend most my time in R&D. This has resulted in less traveling, more manning home base.

My visa exemption was expiring, so I scheduled a three week trip out of the country. First stop: Bangkok (Jul-19 to Jul-26), followed by Berkeley (Jul-28 to Jul-30), then Orange County (Jul-31 to Aug-10), and finally back to Taipei.

On Saturday, July 19, I landed in Bangkok at 12:30pm and was already exhausted. Didn’t sleep enough, woke up early for the flight, and watched a terrible movie (Need for Speed) instead of sleeping against better judgment.

Therefore, I spent the day mostly recuperating.

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I arrived at a hotel called Siam Society Hotel & Resorts. Have a pretty large room with an indoor jacuzzi. This place is in the suburbs, very quiet neighborhood. The hotel folks hardly speak any English, so it is difficult communicating. This looks to be a hotel used primarily by locals, as even the taxi drivers have trouble finding the place.

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Nevertheless, I’m easy to please. My hotel requirements have dwindled down to fast internet, air conditioning, and breakfast. Having traveled this past year, I can’t help but quote Holly Valance from the 2008 movie Taken, “After all the [glamour], it’s just a lot of hotels and airports.” Luxury hotels are great, but they don’t give off a sense of identity. I’ve found the local hotels and AirBNBs to have more flavor.

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I was starving, so I walked around my area looking for food. The menu was completely in Thai, cook spoke no English, so I pointed to the chicken and let her handle the rest. I think I ate vermicelli noodles, chicken drumsticks, some boiled roots, and delicious soup. All for 30 Baht ($1 USD).

After that, I didn’t have to look far to find what I was looking for: a massage parlor.

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A one-hour foot massage cost 250 Baht ($7.77 USD). It felt so great that I asked for an additional one-hour Thai massage, which cost 200 Baht ($6.22). I tipped 50 Baht, so two hours of heaven cost about $15. The quality surpassed both the Jakarta, Indonesia and Colombo, Sri Lanka massages.

Ate an early dinner afterward. Scoured around the neighborhood. Again, the locals didn’t speak any English, so I just pointed at some items.

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Was still hungry after the first meal, so I pointed at some noodles. They said “Pad See Ew” which I agreed to. Something I understood, hah!

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Before I had moved to Taiwan, I was always pitching the deliciousness of Taiwanese food. Perhaps I’ve grown bored of the food there, or that my views have simply changed, but I think Thai food and Korean food both taste better. I love the spiciness and the rich flavors.

I really thought I could handle spice. No, I really can’t. One single pepper got me teary. These guys can hold their own.

Went back to my room to do some research of places to see around my area. I really didn’t plan my living accommodation very well. I booked my hotel location out of convenience for business, not for pleasure. My hotel is 15 kilometers outside of central Bangkok, so it takes time to get in.

There was a Crystal Shopping Center 1.5 kilometers away, so I Googled the directions and departed.

India trained me well. My mom would have been very upset to see me do this, but it turns out that the Google directions involved running across an 6 lane highway with a center divider, no traffic lights, lots of cars traveling at ~45 mph.

Took me almost 10 minutes to run across the two, but I made it.

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Crystal Mall was a letdown, resembled more of a community towncenter with lots of restaurants, a grocery store, and some department stores.

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After that, I walked back to my hotel. Crossing the highway took 15 minutes this time, heavier traffic. I almost got hit, but the driver braked. I would have become pancake in India or Jakarta.

Excluding public places, I sat in the first jacuzzi of my life. I pictured The Sims, having bought that indoor bath in your house, then using it for the first time. Felt immense guilt for the amount of water needed to fill the tank. The water was also way too hot, I was still sweating when I got out. Hygiene down. Comfort down. The Sims fail.

First day of R&R success.

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