I’d lived in Bangkok for four months or so when I had a hankering for something new.
After all, I’ve been to the Grand Palace and to the other top tourist attractions in Bangkok, explored the cities outside the capital, went on a street food tour, joined a Thai cooking class, and had structured my days based on the schedules of my Crossfit class and the cheap Wednesday movies.
The difference was that I (and my boyfriend then) was living in hostels and didn’t have much depth in interacting with Bangkokians.
I smiled and said Hi and Hello to the hostel people and the vendors near the hostel, but due to the language differences, our conversations didn’t amount to much.
This changed when I had a chance to try With Locals, a start-up that matches travelers with locals who are willing to share their talents, passions, and skills to visitors in their city.
It’s for a fee because they want to create sustainable income for local people in Asia, while giving travelers the opportunity to experience something “authentic.”
At the time that I wanted to try out the site, they had a “food revolution” where they gave 200 dinners across Asia. I immediately grabbed the chance and booked a dinner with Tui Yutdanai, a young Thai guy living in the center of Bangkok with his partner. I set the date and time, and in a day, the booking was confirmed. It was to be my last dinner in Bangkok and I couldn’t wait.
I chose Tui’s dinner because of the location. Their apartment is just a few minutes walk from Chong Nonsi BTS station, just five minutes away from Silom Art Hostel where I stayed for months. When I arrived, Tui was still cooking dinner, so I passed the time by talking to Tui’s partner.
As we talked about Thai weather, politics, and the beauty of being a freelancer, I realized that I should have made an effort to book a meal with the site before. Truly, there’s nothing like sharing dinner to connect you with the local people when you’re traveling.
The meal consisted of Thai favorites: delicious and filling pad Thai with fish balls and fried tofu, chicken in yellow curry, fried dumplings, and dessert of fresh fruit. It was all quintessentially Thai, and it was more special as it was prepared by a Thai who truly loved cooking.
I left Tui’s home full with more than just food. I love the idea of With Locals, and even though I already left Bangkok the next day, I knew I would book another meal, tour, or activity in another country. After all, With Locals is already in Indonesia, Nepal, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and of course, in the Philippines. Who knows, I may sign up as a host, too! (When I do, please book a tour or activity with me. :D)
What do you think of this idea? Would you book with them?
Disclaimer: I had the dinner for free as part of their promotion (which they made available to everybody, not just to bloggers, on a first come, first served basis), but the opinions stated here are mine alone.