Strangely enough, I live in Asia again. After about 19 years of living elsewhere, I’m back. Although, I’m not sure I can count living in India/UAE roughly from the ages 0 to 4. Of course, Thailand is completely different from The Motherland. Now that I have had a chance to
make eat my way through the city, I feel like I can compile a small, visual diary of my favorite places to share.
If you’re curious–I moved to Bangkok on April 4th and will leave on July 10th. I’m here to collect data and conduct interviews for my MBA dissertation on gender parity in business leadership. So, most of my time is taken up networking for interviews, writing papers for my courses, attending class, and writing my actual dissertation of course. However, a girl’s gotta eat. And chill. And shop.
Asia is the best place for cute cafes. I mean, I thought that Europe was aesthetically pleasing. I was wrong. Decor is less expensive in Asia, so people go ALL OUT when designing these adorable cafes. Trinkets and plants and art and photos and lights and magazines everywhere. If you want to be happy, go straight to Silom or Ekkamai/Thong Lo areas and walk into an indie coffee shop. The ones pictured above are Mix & Munch, Saladburi, and A Lot Like Love Cafe (near where I live). Also, Thai employees are so kind and thoughtful. Of course, prices vary, but if you go off the beaten track (AKA further from malls / MRT / BTS stations) you can get great iced lattes for 55 baht (around $1.50). And free wifi! Always free wifi.
Have I seen a temple yet in Bangkok? Nope. I have seen Buddhist temples in India and other parts of Thailand. However, the fact that I have to cover most of my body makes it quite inconvenient. One day, I will make a plan and climb The Golden Mount.
However, the Bangkok Art & Culture center was a massive block of culture and art focused on Thailand/Southeast Asia. We went straight to the top and then walked the spiral staircase downwards until we reached the floors with the stores. Most of the art was extremely modern/contemporary, interactive, installation, or just a bit obscure. I enjoyed sitting and watching a very strange film for a bit. I wrote something on a brick and added it to an installation. We saw many children there as well, so it’s fun for the whole family. It’s kitty-corner from MBK and Siam, so you can do a massive bout of shopping afterward.
As much as it pains me to talk about it, it would be grossly remiss if I didn’t mention that Bangkok is boiling. I grew up in Houston, Texas. Moving here, I thought it would be like Houston. I did not think about the gross differences, though. The weather may be similar (though Bangkok feels hotter and more humid and rainier), but the lifestyle is not. I don’t have a car here, not every place is centrally air conditioned, and I don’t speak the language. Without some patience and determination, it’s easy to get overheated both literally and figuratively by the high temperatures of the city.
However, you’re never more than a short walk form a mall to cool you down. AND sometimes the city becomes overcast without raining and has surprisingly cool nights!
Now, the photos above are from Khao San Road on a normal day (packed with tourists, stalls, hostels etc), Khao San Road during Songkran (Thai New Year! Water festival! Very fun, but very dangerous for electronics), my rooftop, Lumphini Park, and the Ratchada Night Market. Lumphini Park was a pleasant surprise–even though I was drenched in sweat by then, we saw massive lizards, fish attacking leftover greens that food stall owners threw at them, many people exercising on the outdoor & free machines, massive group jazzercise-type classes, and swan paddle boats on the lake. It felt like a normal park, but everyone was embracing and accepting the sweat.
The night market was one of my favorite yet. The market itself is a grid of 3 rows of food stalls and 3 rows of clothing/accessories stalls. They have many meat sticks, smoothies, hot pot stands and lots of chinese/thai/asian dry dishes and whole fish. I also bought some handmade sandals for a price comparable to Chatuchak Market (not pictured, but also great massive choice for the weekend/souvenirs). The best part is that the market is surrounded by bars on three sides that are playing music and just full of life. I honestly think I could go there alone and have a good time–that’s when you know it’s a keeper.
The part we all want to know about: FOOD. Okay, the amount of food available in the city is overwhelming to say the least. You can get pretty much any cuisine you desire. My favorite food court thus far is the hip The Commons in Ekkamai. The first floor has a few air conditioned establishments, but zig zag your way up and pass boutiques, plant houses, and go to Roots for brunch. There was a small kids’ orchestra playing outside on the Saturday that I took my boyfriend. He ordered a salmon eggs Benedict on a croissant that came with some bomb rocket salad. It was a very happy day and I plan on going back with my girlfriends. There was also an art class for kids going on next door which warmed our hearts. Explore this building and then walk around the hip neighborhood, you won’t regret it. We went to the (un)fashion cafe afterwards to complete our hipster dreams.
The Terminal 21 food court holds a special place in my heart because it is unbelievably cheap (most meals will not go over £1 or so), central, and full of options. The whole mall is littered with cafes, dessert places, food stalls, and restaurants. Also, best public toilets I’ve ever experienced. I don’t even want to say more than: heated seats, themed decor & vaulted ceilings.
Finally, Karmakamet feels like a well-kept secret hideaway brunch spot. The attached aromatherapy and general amazing curiosities store permeated an amazing smell through the restaurant. Such an oasis. I read reviews for this place before going that made me feel it was ethereal, and it didn’t disappoint. I took many more pictures of the custom-made furniture, random bed that seemed to serve no purpose except make me envious, and lofted bathrooms. But those are just for me ❤
Not pictured: Iron Fairies — a steampunk, extremely interesting bar and restaurant. I had fish & chips and their Burning Bush cocktail. The fish n chips were just as good as the best I’ve had in London, so props to them. My friends had burgers (with fries!) and thought they were well worth over $10 as well. Overall, extremely pleased with the food, we explored the rest of the bar. Hidden passageways, stairs, and bookcase doors–it’s a treasure. I’ll be going back for sure. Apparently, it was open mic night when we went, but we couldn’t stay late as we had school in the morning.
Starting with the *not so glitzy or beautiful* nightlife. Bangkok is full of bars. So many that it’s pretty difficult to decide where to go. And that’s a common theme in Bangkok, having so many options that you actually feel anxious and stressed. However, the pictures above are from Skybar. I won’t wax on too much about this bar, because I actually didn’t have a drink there. My friend Bri’s mum was staying in the hotel below, so we just moseyed on up to the bar and took loads of pictures (some with their free resident lighting expert who grabs your phone and takes 820423 pictures. Dedication, man). Hands down the best view of the city. If you want to pay a bit less (around $10 for a cocktail, so still pricey for Bangkok), Above Eleven was also a great view. We showed up on a Friday night with a large group and no reservation. And they were so accommodating! They let us walk upstairs and sit on nice outdoor (but covered) cushioned couches. Wonderful service all around. Pictures are just below (I’m sorry they’re not the highest quality).
Although my friend planned this, we paid him about 400 baht each to procure a place on a party/night boat. It was SUCH a good time—just an hour, but beer & food was included. The food was finger food like fries, chicken fingers and fish. But the boat was relaxing fro April, the hottest month in Bangkok. And a good way to see the city at night. It leaves from Yodsiam / Asiatique pier.
This is a rolling post, I’ll keep adding to it as I take photos of places. Also, I’m missing a shopping section! But I don’t really like taking photos in malls, so might need to skip that. There is a large wealth of knowledge on shopping in Bangkok.