What to expect as a student in Bangkok besides ladyboys and questionable massage parlours
You’ll be sweating all year round
Bangkok is known as one of the largest sex capitals in the world: walk past its red light districts and you’ll see the streets inundated with outdoor strip clubs, “happy ending” massage parlours, go-go bars, sex shops and ping pong shows – which all make a perfectly suitable environment for any teen, right?
Its worldwide reputation can be misleading because it reduces Bangkok to a sex tourism destination and hinders all the other enriching aspects of the place. The reality of it really doesn’t look like a scene from The Hangover II as most people expect it to be, but reflects the daily life of any vibrant metropolitan city.
Here are some of the things you would expect if you’re a student living in Bangkok.
You’ll eat ridiculously cheap food 24/7
You can basically eat an entire feast for under £4 and you can buy a big plate of noodles or a green curry for just over £1. Not only is the food ridiculously cheap in Thailand, but it is incredibly tasty as well.
Bangkok is the street food capital of the world for a reason, and the street food stalls that sell authentic Thai food is better and a lot cheaper than going to an actual restaurant. And no matter what time of the day, people are always eating.
Everything ends in “krap”
Thai locals say “krap” at the end of each sentence as a sign of politeness. If you’re a male, then you say “krap” and if you’re a female, you say “khaaaa.” Thai is a very musical language and everyone sounds as if they are singing to you all the time because they love to drag out the vowels of words: for example, taxi becomes “taxiiiii” and “stop” becomes “seeee-top”.
It’s hot all year round
It’s a pretty well known fact that people come to Thailand for the weather: it feels like it’s summer all the time. On average, the temperature ranges from 26 to 38 degrees C˚ and the lowest it can drop to is 15 C˚.
The weather makes it perfectly acceptable to strut around in your Forever 21 tank tops and denim shorts everyday. The only downside to the climate, however, is the awful amount of sunburns and hideous tan lines that can last for months.
You’ll go to the beach (even on school trips)
If you’re feeling a little stressed because of exams, then don’t worry because you can always plan a cheeky escape to the beach. And your teachers will make sure you go too. After a few hours in a car, you can bury your feet into the sand, dive into the warm water and get a nice tan in Hua Hin or Pattaya before you go back to school.
Believe it or not, my prefect trip was in Hua Hin where my teachers booked beach villas for the prefects. At around February time every year, my school organises expeditions to Koh Chang, Phuket or Koh Tao where we get to do activities like sailing, waterskiing or diving. Oh, and it’s a totally normal thing for us.
We’ll definitely know if you’re on your gap yah
If you talk of “finding yourself” and you’ve just come from the UK, and if you’re buff, sunburned, blond, male of about 20 wearing a racy tank top, khakis and flip flops, *ding ding ding*, you’ve guessed it: you’re most likely a gap student.
Traffic is a nightmare
I’m not going to lie but the traffic in Bangkok is horrendous. It’s rated as one of the worst places in the world for traffic, and it could get up to three hours on a bad day getting from school to downtown in a car if you’re unlucky. The earliest that the school buses run are from 5:30 am so students wake up twice as early to get to school on time. Well, at least we’re blessed with the Sky Train system called the BTS.
Going on the sky train (BTS)
Comfortable yellow seats, ads about delicious food, air-condition, the endless choice of food and drink inside the station…What a top-notch experience. Bangkok is probably the only place where you can shop for clothes, shoes, grab a big Mac or get your nails done at a train station. It’s like a mini shopping centre in itself. My favourite stations are “Mochit” and “Asok”, and amazingly, the highest price for a single ticket is only about 95p.
Chundering on Khao San Road
If you’re in secondary school, then there is a 99.9 per cent chance that you have already visited Khao San Road. It’s basically a street with open-air bars, massage parlours, fast food restaurants, outdoor markets, massage parlours and clubs. Also, no one will tell you off for being underage and for drinking or if you’re doing laughing gas. And it’s such a communal thing, so everyone will have done laughing gas at least once.
If you can’t get into a club, then you can purchase a fake ID on this road with the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of being creative with your nickname. The best name I’ve ever heard is probably “Mr. Rupert Fecknugget.” Everyone in secondary school will have a chunder at least once on the magnificent, glorious, and grotty Khao San Road.
Do I need to mention the nightclubs?