สวัสดี from Bangkok: Bigger Bang for your Buck!
Just to reintroduce myself briefly, I am a third year undergraduate student at the University of Washington participating in a month-long exploration seminar in Thailand in order to study a curriculum of community and psychosocial health in a developing nation through the UW School of Nursing. This is my first time studying abroad, and I’m pretty excited about every aspect of the experience! After months of anticipation and a long yet relaxing 16 hours of flying international for my first time, I have finally arrived in the renowned Land of Smiles! The flight itself was amazing in terms of hospitality and customer service: The personalized flat screen tv/movie selection and hearty asian meals served were nothing to complain about. We had no trouble finding a cab from the airport to the guest house as there were about 20 or so drivers eagerly waiting outside for customers and the cabs themselves came in all sorts of bright, happy colors. Luckily, quite a few of us were on the same flight, so we were able to share cabs and split the fare. As we entered the downtown area, we noticed a ton of outdoor food vendors, beggars and tourists who filed the sidewalks. 7-11s occupied literally every street corner. And once we got out of our cabs, the humidity hit. Fortunately, the Bangkok Christian Guest House that we are staying in tonight (and most every other indoor place) is air conditioned so that we won’t sweating through our clothes 24-7.
Being the typical girls that we are, the first thing we all agreed to do after settling in our rooms was to go shopping, especially since the exchange rate makes everything so affordable (1 US dollar= 30 Thai Baht), and especially since the largest shopping mall in Bangkok, MBK, was only a ten minute sky-train ride away. MBK,or Mahboonkrong, is basically a shopper’s paradise: the first four floors consist of an indoor swap-meet combines with high-end boutiques and other mall-related shops while the upper two levels consist of a large food court. We spent our day bargaining for a few sarongs, designer makeup brands (that claim to be “authentic”), getting discounted manis and pedis, and eating our very first authentic thai dish-chichen pad thai, of course! Tomorrow, we’ll be leaving from Bangkok bright and early and head to the coastal city of Pattaya for the 21st World Conference on Health Promotion. Time to hit the sack and rest up for the week ahead!