by Ally - Savvi's Growth Manager (check out her personal blog SpreadSomeSun)
Greetings from Bangkok, Thailand! Yes, I somehow made it back here less than 2 months after I left. What in the world am I doing here, you ask? This trip has an entirely different purpose than the last... I'm back in Thailand launching a travel app called Savvi (you can download the app here). This experience is AWESOME because I'm staying pretty stationary, which already has taught me a whole different array of things about traveling, marketing, developing an app/coding (believe it or not), Thai culture, and Asian city life. Backpacking for 8 weeks was wonderful in it's own regard, but having the opportunity to live and chill in Bangkok for an extended period of time was an opportunity I couldn't pass up.
Anyway, I thought it would be appropriate to delve a little deeper into the reasons why this experience is so different from my previous trip to Asia, which brings me to the perks of "becoming a local," or at least trying to...
Making friends with locals
I believe I can speak for the whole Savvi team when I say that the locals we've met here have made our experience especially great. The staff at our hostel/co-working space is full of fun-loving, super friendly 20-something chicks. They've been a joy to hangout with for the past 3 weeks while working, in addition to showing us some pretty fun nights out. It goes without saying that going out with a local automatically eases your mind- they know the good spots and you don't have to make any decisions!
Making local friends is also helpful when you're entirely clueless about how to speak the local language (Thai in this case). Since Thai is a tonal language, it's especially hard for english speakers to adjust to it. The girls find it hilarious when we attempt to speak in Thai because 95% of the time we end up saying a completely different/wrong/bad word. I think I've mastered hello though, it's pronounced sa-was-dee-ka, in case you were wondering.
In addition to the practical benefits of getting to know some locals, more importantly, it's just nice to make new friends. Traveling can be lonely and sometimes you feel really far from home, so connecting with new people makes it so much more worthwhile. Shout out to the staff at The Quarter, you guys are clearly doing it right!
Having time to actually explore
Considering that part of my job description at Savvi is to create content for the app, we've had plenty of time to explore the city. We've found TimeOut Bangkok to be an incredibly good resource (Chrissy found this gem on it). We've walked aimlessly around the city for hours on end, in search of hidden nooks of the city and cool neighborhoods. Not having an agenda always leads to wonderful discoveries.
Getting your bearings
One of the most challenging aspects of visiting a new city is trying to figure out how to navigate around it without spending a fortune doing it. The convenient option is obviously to take a cab, but like the majority of other cities, Bangkok is no exception to the fact that cabs are way more expensive than public transportation. ALSO, traffic here is ridiculous- like the worst traffic I've ever seen in my entire life (yes, i've been to New York City), so cabs take way longer than the trains do. That being said, sometimes taking a cab is your only option. If you do find yourself taking a cab, one of the standard transportation tips I share with people visiting Asia is to use the metered cabs! It took us basically until our last day in Bangkok (8 weeks in) to figure out that using the meter is far easier/cheaper than trying to bargain a price with the driver. This seems obvious, but the cab drivers will approach you and ask "how much you pay," so naturally, you assume that the meter system isn't a thing here. Wrong! They just know you're a tourist so they can make some extra cash on ya.
Anyway, on to my point... after living in Bangkok for just a few short weeks, we're easily able to navigate the city using the train system. It's liberating not being "that girl" staring aimlessly at a huge map in the middle of the train station. Enough about transportation. I could go on (but I won't) because transportation plays a huge part in your day, your stress levels, and your wallet, so learning how to use public transportation has made such a difference in my experience here in Bangkok.
Buying a SIM card
^Pretty much speaks for itself
Everyone knows the struggle of running out of data before the end of the month, now imagine that happening every time you left the house. Why didn't we get SIM cards when we were over here backpacking? No idea. It's been so helpful having data outside of Wifi zones. Thanks for the SIM TrueMoveH!
Becoming a regular
Anyone who has ever bought a juice knows that it is one of the most ridiculously priced drink ever (~$10 for a BASIC A$$ drink from Juice Press). There's a juice guy across the street from our hostel who sells 16 ounce, freshly made juices (literally right in front of your face) for 1 DOLLAR. It's insane and delicious. We buy one just about everyday. Aside from the benefit of buying the cheapest juices on the face of the earth, it's also so nice to see the same guy all the time. He already knows our order when we approach the stand and is super friendly and nice. It's fun not being confused every single time you order something in a foreign country!
I think it's safe to say that packing up and temporarily moving to another city is a really hard adjustment. Oftentimes I think that the adjustment part of traveling is really swept under the rug and not talked about as much as it should be. I would be lying to you if I said that everyday is totally awesome and I never missed home and I could live wherever, blah blah blah. Transitions are really hard and scary, but that's the beauty of it. Whether you're moving across the world or hopping over to the next city, it's a huge change. Just try to embrace it- remind yourself of all the positives in your life and learn to love differences.
Of course now that we're all settled here in Bangkok we're picking up and heading down to southern Thailand to continue the Savvi launch tour. We're going to be on an island though, so can I really complain? More to come soon! & if you feel like doing yourself a favor, download Savvi. It's AWESOME!