In 2008, I had the great fortune of arriving in Bangkok, after an amazing few weeks spent exploring Singapore, Malaysia (Malacca, Panang and Kuala Lumpur). After a long (but wicked fun) overnight train from Penang (Malaysia), I finally arrived in Bangkok. Humming One Night in Bangkok by Murray Head as I pulled into the original sin-city, I was eager to see just where my feet would take me. As it turned out, they took me on a trip that would change my life forever.
“One night in Bangkok and the world’s your oyster…
The bars are temples but the pearls ain’t free…“
Let me just say one thing: I am in big big big trouble. I love Mango Sticky Rice! Oh and Pad Thai, and spring rolls and and and. Thank goodness the amount of clothes for sale are equal to, or outnumber the types of yummy food that line the crowded streets of Bangkok. I’m sure I’m already a plus size in Asian, post-Bangkok I may have to get all my clothes tailored!
After pulling into Bangkok late-afternoon, I walked around, trying to get lost in the daylight so that I had just enough time to find my way back before the lights went out (what with my amazing sense of direction and all). I was expecting a friend of mine to meet me at our hostel and had some time to kill. So, there I was, moseying along Khao San Road (Bangkok’s famous tourist street filled with bars, clubs, eateries… you name it), and I heard my name being called. Impossible. The friend joining me in Bangkok wasn’t scheduled to pull in until later that night. But, there it was again. As I turned around, I saw, waving to me from a restaurant patio and calling my name, a girl I went to university with, back in Ottawa! Prior to takeoff, I had mentioned that I was coming to Thailand but were planning on meeting up somewhere in the South where she was teaching English in a local school. Yet, here she was, touring Bangkok with her dad, enjoying a drink on a patio at the same time I happen to arrive in the city. Coincidence? I think not.
Later on that night, around 10pm, I saw my partner in crime roll into the Lamphu House, an incredible hostel tucked nicely off Khao San Road on Soi Ram buttri. After exchanging many a hug and expressions of hunger, we grabbed a quick bite to eat (and indulged in our first local beer, Singha). We then met up with my former classmate and her man of the hour at a Moroccan bar called Gazebo where we enjoyed beer and Mai Tai’s, apple shisha and (afterwards, in Soi Rambutri) Chocolate Banana Pancakes… le yum.
The next day, after I bought some pretty sweet red hoop pants from the market on Khao San Road, we hit up the Grand Palace
(jumping over multiple highways to get there) where everything was laden in immaculate gold detail and served as a definite reminder of the love the Thai people have for their King (Rama IX – also the longest serving monarch in the world).
We then went to the Chatuchak Weekend Market which was absolutly crazy! Let me tell you – from the perspective of a girl who has no sense of direction, this place was hell – but from the perspective of a foreigner whose currency can extend far beyond her normal reach, it was heaven in Bangkok. We toured the market for 3.5 hours, got blessed by a pair of monks, ate some sketchy looking noodles and managed to run into a girl I knew from Kuala Lampur! What fun (and again, fate was on our side).
Destined as it were, we (the two of us, my Malaysian chum and her girlfriend) all met up for dinner later that night in Siam Square where we shared a delicious dinner at a traditional Thai resto and enjoyed a spinach dish, Tom Yum Soup, Pad Thai (oh so good), curry, chicken with basil leaves and papaya salad, topped with mango sticky rice and water chestnuts for dessert. Fabulous. We walked around a bit post meal and explored Bangkok shopping district and saw the four faced Buddha, accompanied by traditional Thai dancers! It was Buddha day, so there was alot to celebrate.
The next day, we visited Wat Phra Kaeo, also known as the temple of the Emerald Buddha, where we saw the reclining buddha which was at least as big as my house back in Toronto. It was incredible! After visiting the stinky river, we packed up and boarded our first overnight bus, destination: Kho Phan Nhang – Full Moon Party, here we come!
My trip to Bangkok in 2008 was an experience I will never forget! Fortunately, I had the chance to jar my memory in 2011 when a second trip to South East Asia allotted me a one night stopover in the city that never sleeps. This time however, I was traveling on my honeymoon with my husband who you’ll meet a little further on in the Thailand Chronicles from 2008 (it’s one hell of a story – stay tuned). Adding on to my experience in Bangkok the first time around, in 2011, I finally took a boat ride up the river and I have to say, it was one of the best things I ever did. Bangkok has a spectacular shoreline and taking a taxi or private boat (which, as luck would have it, was our destiny since the last taxi had departed for the night – it was a bit more expensive but seriously romantic) is a great way to see the different sides of this schizophrenic city. From the grandeur of some hotels lining the waterfront to the poverty that forces people to sleep in abandoned factories and boat houses, trudging your way through this thick river is worth every penny.