Tag Archives: Bangkok apartments

With a little help from my friends – Bangkok with the hookups

blast from the past... my friends from the good old days in the Philippines

The mist of confusion lifts when you make friends in a new city. Everything becomes easier.


We headed to an English-speaking church in Bangkok this weekend hoping to meet as many people as possible.  Because we had taken the wrong route to the church we got there super late. So instead of actually going to church we started talking to those outside.

We asked all the questions that the language barrier had kept us from asking earlier in the week:

“Are there any good apartments around here?”
“What’s the best way to navigate Bangkok?”
“What are some cool charities that we could volunteer for?”

Luckily they had lots of answers and ideas. We started exchanging numbers with people and jotting down suggestions.

Blast from the past

And then it got even better. “Hi Bjorn!” I looked up and in front of me were some childhood friends that I had grown up with in Philippines.  One of them worked in Bangkok and this weekend the whole family was visiting from the Philippines.  I couldn’t believe it! The relief at seeing familiar faces was immense. We were automatically invited for lunch and then a potluck for dinner.

Want a job?

By the end of the day we had two work opportunities and some info on an NGO (non-governmental organization) for which we could volunteer. Both work opportunities required fluent English – one was for office work for an international company, the next for English language teaching in one of the leading Bangkok universities.  The breakthroughs were mind blowing.

just looking at this Saturday night potluck pic makes me hungry again....

Bottom Line: the 80/20 Principle

This experience really drove home what is commonly called the 80/20 principle.  Here’s how lifestyle design blogger and bestselling author, Tim Ferriss puts it:  “80% of the outputs result from 20% of the inputs,” or, “80% of the results come from 20% of the effort and time.”  This has definitely been true of our time in Bangkok so far.  All our time spent reading and hunting for info did not produce anything near the results of a handful of conversations with the right people.

Nowhere was this more true than with our Bangkok apartment rental efforts:

We had spent hours online, pouring over Bangkok apartment listings. We had painstakingly narrowed down our search to the options that fit our budget. We spent a lot of time looking up locations on Bangkok Maps. In all the time we had spent so far we hadn’t even gotten to calling any of the landlords up (I was dreading doing so because I was anticipating a mountain of language barrier problems.).

One conversation on Saturday made all the difference. “I’ve got a great, cheap apartment that I think could work,” said the husband of one of my childhood friends. He then hooked us up with one of his friends that negotiated an amazing deal.

It was humbling to realize that this one conversation had produced far better results than our hours spent wading through online listings. The Bangkok apartment our friend found us cost $130/month (less than half of what we had budgeted). It was in a safe area and right next door to a friend.


Our next major priority is finding some nonprofits to work for. We will be pooling the suggestions we get as well as visiting a few different organizations. We will be giving all recommendations submitted on this blog special preference so please submit your ideas in the comment section.

Please leave a comment with your suggestions. Know of a good Bangkok-based orphanage? An after school program? A program working to prevent underage human trafficking? We don’t need pay. Just an interesting project. Have a think. Maybe you can help us….

Looking forward to hearing from you…



Bjorn Karlman

Bangkok, Thailand

Leaving on a Jet Plane for Bangkok Today

Let's hope this little gem never comes in handy...

Today is the big day. Our upcoming 11 hour and 5 minute flight to Bangkok has us feeling all jittery.

Here’s what we have planned for our first few days. (I’ll let you know if the real thing actually works out the way we thought it would.):

Arriving in Bangkok

pic by Facebook user "BANGKOK" - click pic for url
Pic via Facebook user "BANGKOK" - click pic for url

The fact that I am in a different country typically hits just as I am walking out the doors of the airport. We plan on getting a taxi straight into the part of the city where our hotel is. As much as we’d love to be cheap and take the bus to the hotel (approx $5), a taxi costs $10 or less and is way quicker.

Hotels – Here’s a site (or app) worth using if you aren’t already: Booking.com. I first came across it in Oxford when I was hanging out with Jammie, my sister and some close friends in Blackwells, the largest bookstore in town. I compared what we found on Booking.com to some other hotel sites and the accommodation listings in some travel books and in the end the winning hotel had the following:

1)  A very solid average rating out of 2000 reviews.

2)  Gorgeous rooms with all the amenities

3)  Gym / hot tub / steam room

4)  Fitness center / Private theater / international restaurant

5)  LAST AND BEST:  We got four nights for a very reasonable $57, so $14.25 per day.

Will the actual experience live up to how the hotel was advertized online?  Look for my review in a soon-coming post:)

Apartments – This was a tough one.  We only want to spend $300 or less on our longer term housing in Bangkok. You can pretty much get anything you want in Bangkok – from shack to palatial – it is all there. We have been researching apartments options with a blend of excellent price and location (we want something fairly centrally located) and excellent natural light.  There are a lot of apartment rental sites for Bangkok and many are in English as there is such a huge expat population.  We haven’t decided on anything yet.  We will visit a handful of apartments in person in the first few days following our arrival.  Then we will make the decision in person.


Jammie and I with my sister and her husband chilling at a Thai restaurant in Bath, England earlier this week

It was all I could do not to put this at the top of the post. We are so excited about this part since we both love Thai food.  I’ve been doing some research on where the best spots to get Thai food are.  What I’ve been finding so far is that the best eateries are often not the upscale joints catering to wealthy tourists.  Often the hole-in-the-walls are best.  We will shamelessly be soliciting suggestions as soon as we land.

If you have any good ideas for where to go in Bangkok for the best of the local cuisine, let me know in the comments.  There’s nothing like a personal recommendation!

Making Friends  – Currently we have a handful of friends living in Thailand, none of which are Thai.  Our plan is to hit local churches, Rotary (business networking) clubs, Toastmasters (public speaking) clubs, Chambers of Commerce and the Swedish, Filipino and American embassies as we kick off our round of networking.

Do you know of anyone that could be helpful in terms of finding worthy nonprofits for which we could volunteer?  We are looking for ideas.  We would be good for tutoring, writing, fundraising and English-based PR work.  Let us know if you think of anything.  In an upcoming post I will share some info about a Thai-based anti sex-trafficking nonprofit that we will be volunteering for in our quest for savvy, global do-gooding.

OK, gotta wrap this up as my sister and her husband are coming to pick us up for our airport ride in under an hour.  If you have any other tips for navigating the first few days in Bangkok, let us know in the comments.



Bjorn Karlman