Thailand. I’m not even sure where to begin. While my love and loyalty will always lay with the Philippines as my favorite Asian country, Thailand comes to a very close second. The beaches, the islands, the people, the food (!!!), are all so wonderful and amazing. Not to mention, I celebrated my birthday on this trip, reunited with my best friends who have been scattered throughout the globe. I started the trip off in Bankok. Before I had left, I had heard from many people that Bangkok was a city worth spending a day or two in, not much more. They didn’t like the size of the city (13% of Thailand’s population lives in its 600 sq miles), the casualness of the thai lifestyle, the traffic (jams that rival LA), the heat, the cockroaches, etc etc. However, all of these things are of no annoyance to a New Yorker, and I found Bangkok to be a vibrant, eccentric, and buzzing city. It’s filled with beautiful and historic temples, streets lined with shops and restaurants, the most delicious street food you’ll ever eat, markets that hold any sort of knockoff item you may ever want, and it’s all dirt cheap. Did I mention that before? Bangkok, and Thailand in general, is ridiculously cheap. Like, $1 best pad thai of your life cheap. Couple that with the friendliest people in the world (they can tell you’re a tourist and approach you on the street to offer directions and sightseeing tips) and markets filled with amazing (cheap) clothing, and I am in heaven. Delicious, trendy, curry-filled heaven.
I spent only one night in Bangkok at first, since we were coming back at the end of our trip. I stayed in the Samsen Nai district in the northeast part of the city. It’s a quiet residential area, a bit away from the more touristy parts of town. The hotel I stayed at was the Baan Neung @ Aree 5, very cheap yet luxe.
It is common (and polite) to remove your shoes before entering Thai households and some establishments.
A ticket for the BTS, the Bangkok metro.
The most amazing sweet, eggy pancakes handmade by a little old lady that cost only $.30 for a stack.
Motorbike is the transportation of choice for many Thai people, who somehow manage to fit a family of four and a week’s worth of groceries on them.
Two words: Street. Food. Thailand takes that concept to a whole new level. Full kitchens on a mobile 2 sq feet. This woman is making traditional thai omelettes.
Southeast asia does fresh fruit better than any other region in the world, like these beautiful dragon fruits.
The busy busy intersection of Siam.
A mall in the shopping district of Siam Square.
The heat gets to everyone.
Wat Saket, or the Golden Mount, one of the many golden and intricately decorated temples in Bangkok.
From the top of the Golden Mount.
Tuk-tuks, or motorbike cabs, were my primary mode of transportation. Negotiation in price is key, and if they offer you a lower price if they can make just “one stop,” don’t do it. It’s usually to a shop that sponsors the gasoline for their tuk-tuk.
Casual street sculpture.
Some of the beautifully ornate buildings at Wat Pho, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha.
Must remove dirty Birkenstocks before entering the temple.
The GIANT reclining Buddha. Just look at that tiny person in the bottom left hand corner. Photos do not do this 15m high and 43m long sculpture justice.
As you walk through the temple, you can hear a choir of clanging and ringing. It comes from the iron pots that line the walls where people drop in 1 baht coins.
Fresh squeezed pomegranate juice at another street market.
10 baht ($.30) fried pork belly on a stick.
Yuuuum dried squid (not my favorite).
The next morning I got coffee and an insanely delicious matcha (green tea) almond croissant with Natasha, one of my friends from college.
Outdoor food stalls near the local BTS station.
Kathy going in on her tom yum soup.
Best. Red. Curry. Ever.