STOP 10 | Day 23 to 26 |
We headed to Bangkok on a late afternoon flight from Luang Prabang, excited as our friends K&B were flying in from Hong Kong to spend the weekend with us! Flying in we were a little concerned as to whether we would have an issue given we didn’t have an outbound flight (we hadn’t planned our path through Thailand yet); thankfully when checking in and going through customs there were no questions or issues (neither of us required a visa as well). The line up for a cab into the city reminded us of the inefficient taxi lines of LaGuardia or JFK airports as we waited close to an hour. K had also warned us to make sure the cab driver turns on their meter as they are notorious for trying to scam tourists into a flat charge (which is usually double the meter fare). As we finally made our way into the city, we were greeted by high-rise buildings, heavy traffic and the busyness one would expect of a large urban city. We arrived at our hotel (the A-One Inn Guesthouse) and were greeted with friendly and hospitable service. Our room was located on a 3rd floor walk up and as we entered our tight and stuffy room, J realized it wasn’t his best effort in terms of budget accommodation. The bed was rock hard and the bathroom consisted of a shower on top of the toilet. The a/c barely functioned and the bathroom reeked of a septic tank – J got an earful from A!
After quickly settling into our budget accommodation, we decided it was best to spend the least amount of time in our room as possible, so we ventured out to get our first taste of Thailand’s culinary magnificence. Our first food stop with K&B was to Thipsamai, which is ranked #1 for its famous egg wrapped pad thai (Pad Thai Haw Kai Goong Sot) and fresh orange juice. The queue spoke to the popularity of the restaurant, we snacked on a sweet mini crepe filled with fried coconut as we waited for a table. The line, although daunting, moved quickly and we weren’t disappointed with the food, a great way start to our food filled weekend! After some haggling with various taxi drivers we jumped into a taxi to take a short trip to Chinatown. Once there we wandered around and enjoyed a shaved ice dessert (topped with grass jelly, red bean and fruits) from a street stall.
The next day J was continuing on a downhill spiral and lacked energy to participate in any activities. Although A was convinced J had a “man flu”, we decided that since we were in a city with accessible and reputable healthcare to make a trip to the doctor. We made a trip to Bumrungrad International Hospital, since in Bangkok access to healthcare professionals is best obtained through the hospital system. We were impressed by the efficiency of the hospital, from being checked in and directed to the Ear, Nose and Throat department, J was seen by a doctor and diagnosed with acute pharyngitis, otherwise known as “strep throat” (this explained why eating food was a struggle). After a few “told you so” from J to A, we picked up his antibiotics, made quick payment and jumped back on the BTS (Bangkok public transit system) to Siam Paragon to meet K&B for lunch at Ros’ni (recommend the spicy shrimp noodle soup!).
The multitude of malls in Bangkok offer some of the best food courts and restaurants in the city, inside the food courts you can find street stall like food for slightly higher prices than outside (this offers a nicer dining experience as the malls are air-conditioned and appear to be slightly more sanitary). Post lunch we went to the Chatuchak Weekend Market , which is a maze of 8,000 stalls selling everything from clothing to pets and of course food! It can be a bit overwhelming, especially in the heat, but this offers a good excuse to cool down with shaved ice or mango ice cream. That evening as J stayed home to recover, A headed out with K&B to Bo.Lan (one of Asia Top 50 restaurants). The rustic restaurant which is tucked away from the main street had us stuffed with its six course tasting menu. We were even invited into the kitchen to be served one of the dishes by the chef. After dinner, J met up with us and we headed off to the notorious Patpong district – of course our visit to Bangkok would not be complete without a ping-pong show (NSFW – do not google!). Be warned that this area is crawling with people looking to scam you, so be on your guard and recommend you do a bit of due diligence beforehand!
The next day as J still wasn’t a fitting image of health, we spent the day poolside with K&B at the St Regis. As K&B headed back home that evening we headed to Terminal 21 for dinner. Terminal 21 is an airport-inspired mall with each floor a different themed international destination, we enjoyed the food hall here having 6 different dishes (including a Thai oyster omelet) for just over $6USD. The mall is also right beside Soi Cowboy, the street with go-go bars which was featured in the movie Hangover 2.
We decided that we needed to do some sight-seeing during our stay in Bangkok, so on our last day we went to see the Grand Palace. After getting a bit lost on route, we managed to navigate our way to the correct canal taxi and to the complex of buildings that make up the Grand Palace. The country is still in its one year mourning period (until October) for King Bhumibol Adulyadej, so the normal tourist volumes are also compounded by citizens who have traveled to pay their final respects. Even through the mass of visitors it is hard not to be amazed by the buildings within the complex, all which are very elaborate and covered in gold and ornate, glass mosaics.
We definitely could have spent more time in Bangkok (although not sure if our waistlines would agree) and were thankful we had K&B to act as our tour guides as the city can be overwhelming without any direction/guidance!