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Every year, as I plan my travel plans, I try to seek out destinations that have a strong LGBT-accepting community, that are off of the beaten path, but are still a popular destination. Thailand was no different. I booked my trip with the full intention of taking in as much of the LGBT Bars, Nightlife, and events surrounding Songkran and Thai New Year, and managed to mix that all in while seeing the classic sites of this country and culture including the temples, street markets, and of course a side trip all the way to Phuket for Patong Beach.
The first thing to understand is that, if like me, you can not afford that lie flat first class seat, the upgrade to the extra legroom at $233 per leg on the Airline I flew may seem like an excessive amount, however if you are going to be in a seat for 16+ hours such as I was, and you are not the slender 32 inch waist-having traveler, or are standing at six feet tall, the space is a luxury that makes the long flight survivable without needing to concern yourself with a passenger in front of you choosing to join you in your row by reclining their seat back. There is nothing worse than when you witness a seat back being lowered, and that passenger then relaxing in your lap. I was ever so grateful that I had the additional space to stretch out and relax while 40,000 feet in the air.
Second comes the realization that no matter what you plan to do, how much sleep you are deprived of, this is a long, long flight. So be prepared for it. Grab snacks and bottled water on your own if you plan on sleeping, as if you miss a meal or beverage service it could be hours before they offer you anything else during the your flight, as well as the cold burrito from Chipotle in the airport may be a tastier option that what is being offered to you onboard anyways. Not only that, remaining hydrated with water is one of the key components in surviving a flight of this length.
Lastly, once those lights go out, it is time to run to the bathroom before the line begins, or at least to get in a few steps so that you can stretch those legs and cramped arms from the seat that you and they have been plastered in for the last few hours. And although the faked “darkness” may seem odd, it is frequently designed for a reason, to try to get you into the mindset, and your body tuned into that of the time zone you will be landing in. So even though it may be 11 AM on your phone, and you may have woken up to start your travels a few hours ago, I will strongly encourage you to take that nap, because for those of us traveling to Thailand, it is 11 PM there.
Once you land, there is a simple solution to Cell Service, that takes a few minutes after you land, and can be taken care of right after you clear customs and collected your luggage. Stop by any one of the numerous booths in Suvarnabhumi Airport, and they will get you on the Internet immediately. One suggestion is to avoid True H service for your tourist SIM-Card for your cell phone, as the other two national Cell Services have a much wider-ranging wi-fi signal available to you, DTAC and AIS. Once you pop the SIM Card into your phone, you are ready to go and experience the majesty of Bangkok and Thailand! Post away to Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook; all three are available with Thai service, and believe me, the sights, even in the Airport alone, are worthy of sharing.
My trip dates were selected for Songkran and GCircuit. Which during the days of both, turn the City into a Tourist Mecca, as well as a Gay Mecca. GCircuit is billed as the largest Dance Festival in Asia, and as a witness to the Parties that they hosted during the week I was in this amazing city, I can definitely agree with that assessment. The major difference between “Circuit” Parties in other parts of the world and this, is that although you will see the Gym Bunnies alongside the twink party goers, you see just as many Bears from all races and countries as well. GCircuit does an amazing job of ensuring that all of their attendees feel welcome by hosting events geared to the those of us who may have a slight belly. Each night during Songkran, GCircuit has a theme, and through these themes many people chose either to dress up, or dress down to literally nothing for the parties. From Safari, SuperPower, to Ink! each night saw a spectacular amount of skin shown, and for some of the rest of us, costuming to an extreme. During the second and third day, we saw an extreme amount of undress as many tried to beat the heat by lounging poolside at the U Sathorn Hotel for the Bear and Boy Pool Parties. Each party had live entertainment geared to the theme as well. From Bears at the Bear Pool Party, to Go Go Boys, and Men dressed as superheroes during the Superhero party, so there is plenty of stimuli for both your eyes and ears.
During the daytime, many of the tourists who flocked to Bangkok took in the Water Fights that take place for Songkran as well. From the Silom Area as well as Khao San Road, taking the time to splash (or rather soak) each other with water was a great way to beat the 100 plus degree heat, as well as part of a cleansing ritual to welcome in the New Year. Over the years, as the times have changed, we have seen the water fights change from throwing water at each other, to high capacity and high-powered water guns being used to aim more directly and efficiently. Vendors line up along each area, ensuring that reinforcements are available to refill your choice of “weapon” to drench your fellow revelers with ice water, which in most cases is a great way to cool down and party. They also sell protective gear to ensure that your cell phone remains dry and your eyes remain safe, as well as water guns, including the “penis gun,” I bought for giggles.
Overall, the experience of Songkran, as well as GCircuit is something to witness firsthand. Whether you are into clubbing all night, or partying in the middle of the street all day, Thailand has enough culture, history, and shopping to offer any tourist who is looking for almost any type of excitement.