Whenever we take a vacation, we make a choice. We choose to scrap together our hard-earned cash and turn it into what hopefully amounts to an unforgettable lifelong experience – rather than to blow it on a new car or DVD collection or month of fancy dinners back home. And once we’re finally on that long-awaited trip, we again have a choice: do we burn through the budget quickly, pampering ourselves with all the first-class amenities, or do we draw it out, doing what we can to stretch the experience as long as humanly possible?
To me the choice is obvious. If I’m already taking the time to fly halfway around the world, I’d far rather “spend smart” and give myself tons of leeway to turn what would normally be a one-month trip into a six-month one. In particular, by skimping on lodging it becomes far easier than you might think to travel more or less continuously – plus it enables you to spend lavishly when it counts. I personally view a room as little more than a place to sleep. As long as it’s reasonably clean and comfortable, there’s not much else I care about – save perhaps for WiFi, though I recognize that’s more of an unusual criteria. In any case, I’d much rather spend $20 on a mediocre room and $80 on a day on, say, jetskiing or SCUBA diving or partying in a VIP nightclub than to stay in a $100 room and sit by the pool all day…or run out of cash five times as quickly.
Upon reading the above (and knowing me) I’m sure you’re all expecting me to head straight to Khao San Road, Bangkok’s most famous backpacker ghetto, which is absolutely overflowing with cheap and seedy guesthouses. But you’d be wrong 😉
The problem with Khao San is that it’s actually quite far from central Bangkok, making tourism and nightlife in the notoriously congested city time-consuming and inconvenient. So according to Peder’s advice (after having visited Bangkok countless times in the past), I headed to slightly more upscale Sukhumvit instead. Here I got a room at Swan Inn, where $20 buys you a minifridge, A/C, TV, Internet, hot-water shower, and double bed. Believe it or not, that’s actually not considered budget in Thailand. Most backpackers I met were spending half that much – or less!
When I arrived at the hotel just after midnight, I was pretty much ready to collapse. With 25 hours of travel under my belt preceded by several all-nighters of work, I was more than tired. I was completely and utterly exhausted.
But as I filled out the guest register and handed over my cash, the man at the desk passed me a note along with my room key. It read “Stick this SIM in your phone, call me at xxxxxx, and wear nice shoes. We’re clubbing. -Herb”
Oh lord, here we go**