What do I do in Bangkok when I can't really DO anything?
June 23, 2014 10:29 PM   Subscribe

I am in Bangkok for another week and a half. I've been here 18 days already and have been confined to my hotel recovering from surgery. It was fine, but boring, but now my fiance has had to return to the US ahead of me, and I find myself wondering if I can keep it together and maybe even have some fun while here. I've been cleared to leave the hotel as of today, but can't go far. I'm also having anxiety and some post-surgical depression (that's a thing, right?) that's making me wonder what I can do in this situation to stay sane?

I brought books and a few games, but I've been able to read only like 10 pages while cooped up in hotel the last 11 days or so. I've mostly been sleeping and compulsively facebooking. My fiance had to leave Friday, so I don't really have anyone to talk to in this time-zone now. There's a big mall (Seacon Square) near the hotel, but I'm afraid to do too much shopping lest I spend too much (also never really figured out how to enjoy shopping for shopping's sake).

I can probably only walk a few hundred or thousand meters. I haven't actually tried yet, having just been given the OK to go out by a nurse. I speak no Thai, but while that hasn't been a hindrance in the hotel, with its English speaking staff, I am not sure how much that would would be the case elsewhere. Is anyone familiar with things in this specific area of Bangkok? Also any suggestions as to how I can pass this time alone, away from my home, and while emotionally drained and physically healing, in a way that's mentally healthy (location specific or in general)? I thought a bunch of sci-fi/teach yourself Spanish books would be enough, but I guess not!
posted by polywomp to Travel & Transportation around Bangkok, Thailand (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Have a tailor or seamstress come to the hotel and make you some custom clothing?
posted by fshgrl at 10:44 PM on June 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Remember that the act of just lying around (like when recovering from surgery) can MAKE you depressed. ..sometimes just keeping that in mind can help. Get out a little each day...try local restaurants, some place you can sit...
posted by sexyrobot at 10:50 PM on June 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you can't lose a week of your life screwing around with the random addicting games that have been posted here with the flash friday tag, you're a better person than I am.
posted by foodgeek at 10:50 PM on June 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

Are you American? Call up the American embassy and see if the American Womens' Association can help you out.
posted by alonsoquijano at 11:10 PM on June 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'm also having anxiety and some post-surgical depression (that's a thing, right?)


And anesthesia can make you feel pretty unhappy for a time.

Also, was this a cosmetic surgery? You could then be having extra anxiety about whether you made the right choice? What the outcome will look like?
posted by misspony at 11:17 PM on June 23, 2014

Great suggestion re calling the embassy. Even if you are not American, most embassies have some kind of community association and might be able to send someone by to have coffee with you, offer activity suggestions, etc..
posted by rpfields at 11:19 PM on June 23, 2014

When you say "can't go far", I assume this means some kind of mobility issue?

You could easily hire a taxi driver (the hotel will help you to do this) to take you around all kinds of interesting places in BKK, each of which would only involve a small amount of walking. You'll just hire him for the day, and it'll still be pretty cheap by western standards.

It's a fascinating city with wonderfully friendly people and incredible food - don't waste your time there in a hotel room unless absolutely necessary!
posted by modernnomad at 11:27 PM on June 23, 2014

Get a massage. Nothing that'll interfere with surgery, but get a hand/head/foot rub. Super cheap.

If you are up for going outside, get a ride to the nearest 'soak your feet in small fishes that nibble at your toes' (fish spa). It's completely pointless, but kind of hilarious, and not very expensive.
Also, there are tuk tuk taxi's everywhere, so don't walk any further than the entrance of the hotel. Get a ride, sit while doing one of the above, then get a ride back.

If you can cope with that, do the same for meals (so, so cheap. For realsies).

If you can cope with that, go see a short performance, or dance or something. Anything where you just go somewhere, sit, and can then come home again.

Rather than worrying too much about whether you are paying the 'correct' price for anything, just convert it into US dollars, and realise how little money that is. You don't need to worry or bargain over taxis or meals at all, really. They're still 'cheap'.
posted by Elysum at 11:29 PM on June 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Okay, I will try to post more later on, but if you are near Seacon Square, you should really go to the awesome night market this weekend - Talat Rot Fai. It is right next to the mall (if you are at the mall, it is sort of to the right of the entrance - just follow the direction that almost everyone will be walking in).
posted by Shebear at 12:01 AM on June 24, 2014

To clarify, I have a lot of sutures in my lower pelvic region, so while I can walk just fine, they can start to tug and become irritated even lying in bed, so I definitely don't want to walk much. Short trips.

And yes I'm American, and painfully shy at times, otherwise I'm sure I'd be out there being social or something.
posted by polywomp at 12:25 AM on June 24, 2014

Some suggestions for things that don't require much walking and which might be fun - not sure if you're up to them or not. Don't worry about not speaking Thai, it is not a significant barrier to you doing things. I'm not sure what you mean by 'can't go far' - is that just walking or are you ok to cab about?

There are plenty of cinemas in Bangkok and at the major cinemas in Bangkok, English language films will be shown with the original soundtrack and Thai subtitles. The VIP cinemas have big super comfy (almost bed-like) seating - it's called Grand EGV at the Seacon Square mall. Do be aware that you should stand when the national anthem is played at the start of the film.

Not sure if you are up to it, but cooking classes are fun (not much walking, just standing, and I'm sure they could arrange for you to do it sitting down if you prefer). I went to Bai Pai Cooking School and it was good fun. They'll pick you up and drop you back.

For a great change of scenery, maybe a longtail boat ride? You can get a taxi to the river and then just hire a boat - there are tours you can take, but you might prefer to be in control and hire your own so you can finish up or not get off to see anything if you prefer. The longtails will take you down lots of small canals where you see a very different side of life, and don't need to walk around or do too much. Plenty of options, but broadly described in the Thai Airways magazine.

I love going to the Saxophone Pub which has live jazz and blues music. There often seem to be other people there by themselves, just enjoying the music, and I've found myself chatting to people a little. Not really close to Seacon, but definitely taxi-able.

There is also some pretty interesting people watching in Bangkok if you pick a good bar or coffee shop. THere's plenty of wifi available too. Also calmer places to sit in a nice garden etc. If you want suggestions, let me know.

If you find something to do/somewhere to go, just get the hotel staff to write down instructions for taxi drivers - the taxi driver won't necessarily be able to read it, but they'll find someone who can.
posted by AnnaRat at 2:04 AM on June 24, 2014

You could start a travel journal that represents your last week alone there. Buy a small writing pad, some tape or glue, some colored pencils or markers, and wherever you go, you'll have something to keep you busy and somewhat engaged. Write a note about how you feel physically and emotionally, and describe the location from which you're writing. Any scraps of paper available to you-- candy wrapper, paper menu-- can be glued into your book. You can make notes about the interesting things you experience, and the journal will represent a very special, maybe strange, time in your life.

Good luck!
posted by little_dog_laughing at 3:36 AM on June 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

Mani/pedi. Or just get your hair washed. It will come with an awesome head massage. Get a facial! Go outside the hotel and find a local salon. Usually the prices are posted in the window. It will be fine.

Okay, looks like the American movies showing at EGV Seacon are: Grace of Monaco, Edge of Tomorrow, Malificent, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Million Dollar Arm, X Men, Spiderman 2. Can't tell if they are in English with subtitles or dubbed but it will be posted at the box office on the 4th floor. Tickets are way cheaper than in US and theaters are much nicer. Matinees will have very few people and it's a great way to beat the heat. You chose your seat from the seating plan. There will be a notice onscreen when to stand up for the King's song at the beginning.

There is also a Tesco supermarket in the mall. Could be interesting to see what food products are for sale, pick up a few snacks. You can lean on the grocery cart if you get tired. It will be a huge store.

If you do take a taxi somewhere, bring the business card of your hotel, which will have the address written in Thai, so you can find your way back easily. The biggest problem will be the traffic. Fortunately taxis are super-cheap (make sure they use the meter) and have air-con. Though sometimes they will refuse a fare if it's (for example) cross-town during rush hour.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 5:46 AM on June 24, 2014

If you decide to hire a driver or do a tour beware of gem scams and tours that are run by gem companies. In addition to the gem scam described in the wikipedia article, gem companies are now running their own tours. They own vans and hire tour guides to take you to wherever but 3 hours into your four hour tour they say "We have one more stop..." (not listed on the schedule of course) and take you to a warehouse where you and hoards of other tourists on "one more stop" get to listed to a high-pressure sales-pitch/movie and then buy gems.

Note that the tour booked through our nice hotel was a gem company tour, so there are no guaratnees that booking through a hotel means you won't be jewelery shopping.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:25 AM on June 24, 2014

Thirding going to the movies. I have never recovered from surgery in a foreign country, but I have enjoyed going to the movies by myself in foreign countries while bummed out. Sure, you could watch movies on TV in your hotel but it's easier to be undistracted in the theater - it feels like more of an occasion or an indulgence.
posted by mskyle at 6:26 AM on June 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

How has no one suggested getting out to an island yet? You could literally get from your hotel to BKK in about 20 steps and 1 taxi, get wheelchair service at BKK, and hop on a ~1 hour flight to some of the world's greatest beaches. I'd recommned Koh Chang, personally, but there's literally hundreds of beach destinations to choose from. They'd probably be as cheap or cheaper than your hotel in BKK. And you only need to pack a light bag of a couple swim suits and changes of clothes. Go have cocktails on the beach for a week. Enjoy the fresh seafood. Mabye feed a baby elephant or two.
posted by allkindsoftime at 1:19 PM on June 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

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