Most travelers agree on their feeling toward big cities in developing countries: traffic, pollution, tons of street markets selling all kinds of things that no one needs with tons of people everywhere. Bangkok fits the bill, but add the Thai flavor, canals, temples (more than one can handle), intense heat and naughty nightlife. It’s also very travel-friendly with amazing food everywhere, affordable and safe.
Some memorable moments:
Unexpected dancing at a Thai restaurant/cooking school. Before I get into the story I want to give props to Thai food. So good and so cheap! Adam was finishing his all time favorite, green curry extra spicy with rice, when a lady with a golden crown came to our table and asked us to stand up and follow her dance moves. Adam pretended not to hear, but she insisted and I had to stand up while Adam started to take pictures… good excuse Adam! It was fun but I am much better at salsa 🙂
FOOD, FOOD, FOOD! (re-reading this I found out I am a Thai piggy!).
Street entertainment and people spotting (including Koh San Road). One of the things that I liked the most when I first arrived in Bangkok was all the stuff going on in the street. It can get old after some time, but as a first experience in Thailand it was fascinating to see! Lady-boys, lost tourists looking at maps, temples, palaces, street food that I couldn’t guess what it was, sex-paths (old man with young Thai women), the typical European tourist backpacking in Southeast Asia with a fluorescent shirt and a hungover face, more street food, Buddhas, the Hip-Thai type, more Buddhas, the professional Thai type, all very entertaining to watch.
A 20 baht (70 cents) all day Tuk Tuk ride. We were a little surprised when a tuk tuk offered to take us to four different temples and palaces for only 20 baht, it sounded too good to be true, but at the end we took the risk. True to his word we visited the different places he said he would take us to. A big Buddha temple, a happy Buddha temple, another Buddha temple with amazing city views and a gorgeous marble palace. Then, of course, the “too good to be true” part kicked in.
Tuk tuk driver: “Let me take you to the jewelry/fabric/tourist store.” Us: “No thanks, we have no interest in buying anything at the moment, plus we are very tired.” (it was extremely hot btw). Driver: “Please, please, do it for me, only five minutes, they pay me gas.” Us: “Ok, only five minutes…”
And the same story happened again and again. We ended up spending five minutes in two different suit/fabric stores, one jewelry shop, and a travel agency. All the while pretending we were interested in custom-made suits (when we are wearing surf shorts and Adam has a homeless man beard!), precious gems and tourist info. Sigh. Adam and I still agreed in the end that the extra half hour of visiting shops was worth the four-hour tour of town for less than a dollar.
Some other notes:
-Transportation: A taxi is a good way to go in Bangkok, but be aware of the ones that refuse to use the meter, they will charge triple the price. This happened to us one time. We got into a taxi and asked to take us to the train station. He said “300 baht”, we said “meter”, he said “no, 300 baht”, we got out of the taxi and took the next one. He had no problem using the meter and the price was only 60 baht!
Sky-train and metro are other options, but not as accessible because you can only take them from certain parts of town.