Journey to the Land of Smiles (Part 1)

It was Tuesday (29 November 2016) and my flight to Bangkok, Thailand is scheduled at 3:00 PM. I left home with my parents sometime at 9:00 in the morning. I remember not being too excited about the things happening next despite attending an international conference for the first time. I had my earphones on. I was sleeping for the most part of the trip to the airport.

When we finally got there, even I cannot spot a hint of excitement in my face. Perhaps it was too hot to celebrate (the weather in the Philippines is frustrating!). We were waiting outside Gate 2 of Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) for my fellow Filipino participant, Rejinel. We agreed to meet at 11:00 AM, but it was already 11:30 AM (not much of a big deal though).

Perhaps I was also a bit hungry since it was almost lunch time. After a few more scroll-ups and downs on Facebook, I received a call from Jinel. He’s already looking for me inside the airport. Can you believe that?

We are both attending an international conference for the first time. Everything was fully funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The conference is called Youth at the Heart of the 2030 Agenda: The Case for Space. Over 200 participants are attending the said 3-day event. (Read more here:…)

It was crazy in the airport. We were aliens in the jungle of international travelers. It was a good thing that we were able to successfully check-in our baggage, get our tickets, and the like. Now, it was time to wait for the scheduled flight.

While waiting, I  got to know Jinel. We are both from the premier university in the Philippines. He is older than me. On the downside, he is still on season 2 of How I Met Your Mother (sorry Jinel! haha). We are both communication majors so we easily took the role of comm nerds talking about communication theories although I will not discuss it here because you know… it is a bit complicated.

During the course of our discussion, a Chinese man sitting across us suddenly interrupted our conversation and talked with us. He is scheduled to fly to Xiamen, China just before our schedule (yes, we were a bit early). As expected, we talked about our trip. Jinel and I thought that the conversation is gonna be that way for the rest of the hour. But the conversation became interesting. But it was not my type of conversation so for the most part, I was just nodding and smiling.

Boarding time, the excitement starts to build up. It has been a while since I went abroad. It was definitely a nostalgic experience as I walked towards the doors of the plane. After a while, the plane’s ready for take off.

These young bros, having their first international conference in Bangkok, Thailand

Since it is a 3-hour flight to Bangkok from Manila, we have enough time to sleep like many would probably do. Well, Jinel got himself busy by watching HIMYM. I got interested in reading the book I Am Malala. Reading a book that is not part of my class readings is indeed a relief.

Three hours later, we have finally landed to the Land of Smiles. Everything became real as f***. The excitement is all over my head. Walking towards the Suvarnabhumi International Airport has never been more surreal than ever. Jinel even took a photo of his “first step” to Bangkok. It was funny, but I can really see how excited he is. Still at the airport, we already took many photos and videos. We actually had this catch phrase “proper documentation” to remind us that we have to document everything that’s gonna happen for the rest of the week.

Rejinel’s first step to Bangkok, Thailand (with my foot on cameo). (Photo by Rejinel Valencia)

To our surprise, Thailand’s international airport is really huge as compared to NAIA back in the Philippines. The architecture looked modern and stylish (disclaimer: I am not an expert in architectural design). It was overwhelming. After accomplishing papers at the airport, we looked for a taxi that will bring us to our hotel.

The taxi fare costs 500 Baht all in all from the airport to Trang Hotel Bangkok. It was almost an hour and a half travel. The traffic’s a bit similar to Manila, but it was tolerable at this point since we are in BKK! Our taxi driver was interesting. He knows how to speak in Thai and English so Jinel and I took the opportunity to learn a few Thai phrases.

This is our brilliant taxi driver who taught us a few basic Thai phrases.

In Thai sentences, end with Krab if you are a male speaker. If you are a female speaker, end sentences with Ka.

Khob Khun Krab means “Thank you”
Sawasdee Krab means “Hello”
Phom (male)/Chan (female) Rak Khun means “I love you”

Here’s the video we also watched on how to learn basic Thai phrases.

In Thailand, there are a lot of black billboards and signs since they are still mourning over the death of their ruler, King Bhumibol Adulyadej. From one corner to another, you can really see the great respect they have for their late king. It was incredible.

When we finally got to the hotel, we went straight to our rooms. It was cool although we did not stay there much. We immediately checked out the neighborhood and looked for a place to have dinner. Surprisingly enough, we cannot find a good (and cheap) place to eat. Most eateries have prices ranging from 80 Baht to 120 Baht. After a few more walks, we found a small eatery which serves food for only 40 Baht to 70 Baht. Although the area and even the food did not look 100% safe, we are sure that we’re eating authentic Thai cuisine.

As part of “proper documentation,” we took a photo of our dinner. I ordered Thai Red BBQ Pork Rice which was spicy. I was not warned about the level of spiciness Thai cuisine has. Nevertheless, it was delicious for an eatery down the street. The serving size was also enough for the price I paid for.

Jinel having his #sliceoflife in the streets of Bangkok.

After dinner, we went home to have some rest. It was an exhausting day for us, and probably another one the next day. The conference will open tomorrow. What is in store for us? Find out on my next post.


All photos in this blog post are mine, otherwise mentioned.
More photos HERE.


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