After 30 hours of flights and airports my friend Frank (who happens to be a wonderful photographer so you will notice all of the actually nice photos are credited to him), arrived in Bangkok.
A quick word about the actual travel to Thailand. Japan Air is an amazingly thoughtful airline (mini tooth brushes and tooth paste in the bathroom?? Sweet), but they couldn’t serve a decent meal if it killed them. Oh there was food. But even I wouldn’t eat it if given any kind of choice… and I enjoy a few spoonfuls of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup straight from the can. That’s right. The condensed kind. I’ve done it, and I’ll do it again. And even I was stopping after a few bites of their ‘salmon in white cream sauce’.
If she can feed me for $1 on the side of the road and it actually be awesome, what the hell is wrong with airplane food.
Also, you know that feeling you get when you are about to fall asleep but you think you are falling?? Did you know that if that happens to you while you are on an airplane you will scream? Or in my case yelp and jump? Knowing is half the battle I’m told.
Back to the trip. We left Ottawa Monday morning at 6:40 am and arrived in Bangkok Tuesday evening around 11 pm. Needless to say we felt disgusting. So straight to the hotel, a shower and a bed were in order. And, if you are me, and addicted to the inter-webs, a few minutes of surfing before you hit the hay.
I was leery of the next day. My experience has always been that the very worst meal I ever have while travelling is that first one. You don’t know the area, you are on a different schedule then everyone else and probably starving after snubbing your nose at the disgusting airplane ‘food’. (Seriously… a cold can of Chef Boyardee would have been better.) So this time I took a daring leap forward and did something I’ve never done before. I let someone else decide where to eat.
Squid curry – all thanks to Lee
Not just anyone. Lee. A cab driver Frank and I met on the side of the road. We asked him to take us somewhere we could get something good to eat, so he did. Then he showed us a really nice spa that we could get our first Thai massage at, and left us to our own devices.
I should mention that Thailand works on a bit of a different system with their cab and tuk tuk drivers (a tuk tuk is a little scooter like cab). Many of the drivers work on a system with business owners that if they bring in clients to the business they are reimbursed with a gas card. So many times when you are looking to price out how much it will cost to go from A to B, you can get a much cheaper rate if you make a pit stop on your way.
Didn’t matter in our case. We only wanted the pit stop and Lee was happy to oblige. Was it the best meal I had in Thailand? No. Was it the cheapest? No. BUT, it beat the daylights out of the salty, nasty strip burger I had in Vegas or the cold beef dish I had in Rome.
Bangkok Street Food – Pad Thai with Spring Roll
We spent the first day just getting a lay of the land. Figuring out where we were on the map and taking it all in. We tried to go to a movie, but ended up with a fish massage and some papaya salad.
The next day we were a touch more adventurous and headed out to find a tailor to have some clothes made – a very good deal if you are looking for something custom, but it was not as cheap as I had been hoping for. Don’t worry though, there were plenty of good deals to be had on already made clothing that fit me just fine!
That journey took us to the famous Khao San Road – a haven for back packers. We ended up here several times during our stay in Bangkok. Mostly for the bustle and how quickly we became familiar with the area. Also for the abundance of decent bars, restaurants and street food.
We actually left Bangkok the next morning but returned for several days at the end of our trip. We filled our time in Bangkok with Buddha statues, shopping, prison museums, authentic Thai food and of course – roof top patios. A staple in Bangkok.
The two we visited couldn’t have been more different from each other. The first, Phranakorn Bar, a 4 level bar with a patio on the upper level was a hang out spot for many Thai locals. It was grubby, but beautiful. Playing the soundtrack from the Forest Gump movie and offering bottle service – I would have been a regular here if given the chance.
It’s hard to do justice to just how cool this was. This is one of those swanky Frank pictures… mine came out pitch black because I have no idea how to work my camera.
The second was Red Sky, a two level bar on the 55 and 56th floor of a hotel. They were classier and more sophisticated than our first roof top bar and luckily had a happy hour where I could get two glasses of wine for the price of one, because there was no way I was rushing out of there. Watching the city light up as the sun set, was beautiful beyond words.
In Thailand most bars offer bottle service. Whiskey is the drink of choice and if you can’t finish your entire bottle (shame on you!) then the bar will save it for you the next time you return. You then just order your mix and you can sit a the table pouring your own drinks all night. One night a storm rolled in and Frank and I found ourselves doing just this in our hotel room with itty bitty hotel glasses, some Mitch Hedburg stand up comedy and a bottle that took us 10 minutes to realize how to pour out of it.
Does that look open to you??
Bangkok was a perfect way to start our vacation, but it wasn’t the highlight for me. That was still to come…