Hello! I'm Renee Garland. I've been traveling to Asia for the last 13 years in order to escape snowy Maine winters, hoping to live sunny adventures. My company began 11 years ago with $250 worth of chopsticks. I started selling them at craft fairs and festivals all over coastal Maine. Unfortunately, many people didn't know much about chopsticks! (or Asia for that matter.) Nonetheless, I trudged through the festival scene for several years expanding my inventory to clothing, accessories, gifts, and art. The mission has always been the same; to work with individuals, women's coops, and small home-based businesses to help support and encourage small enterprises. I opened my first store in Portland, in 2006 called "Waterlily." It's filled with Waterlily brand handmade gifts produced both from my travels abroad, and by local artists. I still go on buying adventures, 'cause that's what it's all about. . .

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

This is what I do. . . in Thailand (part 1, logistics/bangkok)

Hello out there in blogland-
I've been getting a lot of emails about travel advice for Thailand- so I'm thinking this blog might help a few people who are going, or thinking about going.

My style of traveling;
I travel basically pretty cheaply. I'm gone for about 4 months a year, so I need to make the money stretch. My avg. favorite guest houses are probably 12.00 usd/night. I might spend about $30-35 usd/day total for food, guest house, taxis, massage, clothes, etc. You can spend less, and you can def. spend more! But thinking back on the last ten years, I'd say I always personally budget for spending about $1000/month. One way to save though, is www.couchsurfing.org and other great internet sites to stay at people's homes, and really get to know the thai's. Great way to see the country, meet the people, and stay cheaply!

Lets start in Bangkok. From the airport, I either take the airport bus for 150 Baht, (4.50 usd) or a meter taxi. This will hugely depend upon where you are staying. The taxi is best (more convenient), but a bit more pricey, I prob. pay around 400-500 (14.00usd) Baht. One thing you could do is just ask others at the airport to share in your taxi. I do that a lot. Especially if I see backpackers, I assume that they will be staying in Banglamphu district (khaosan area), so you can share pretty easily for that.
Once you're in Bangkok, I recommend always to take a meter taxi. But this can be tricky for the green traveler. Taxi drivers like anywhere can be sharks! They can sense fresh prey! So, the best thing to do, is to be cool- look like you know what you're doing, hop in and tell them where you are going. Go into it assuming that they will do meter. But, if they quote you a price of any amount or don't put their meter on RIGHT AWAY, then politely, assertively say "meter." Then, if they say no, hop out and grab another. They are a dine a dozen in Bangkok. Always someone will give a meter rate. (not if you are on Khaosan rd., but that is another story, -just walk onto any other street and they will)
The public bus system in Bangkok is good and cheap! I do travel this way when I have time, or don't mind the heat. (but some have AC, and can be quicker) They are much cheaper than a taxi usually, to get around. - and can be so fun! But it's a matter of knowing where you are going and what number. I can never keep the numbers straight. Adventurers would find this a nice way to explore the city! -and every time I find I'm on the wrong bus, heading in the wrong direction- they let me go for free. Awww, the Thai's! They are soooo kind to visitors.

GET A LONELY PLANET or www.lonelyplanet.com
A great link to this website is, www.lonelyplanet/thorntree.com That's the lonely planet's online travel forum. Ton's of Q&A's. Which leads me to lonely planet. My favorite guidebook. Hands down. I would never buy another! Get one for every country that you are going to.

To be continued. . .