After a week by the beach and in little mountain villages, Bangkok was a bit of a culture shock. The hustle and bustle, the skyscrapers and the high tech public transport was far away from the tuk-tuk filled roads of Sri Lanka. Even the fact we were able to get an uber from Bangkok airport made the city feel ultra modern. Plus the fact that there was free wifi everywhere.
We were welcomed into the city with the most torrential rainstorm I have ever experienced. Unable to check in to our apartment until 2pm, we had gone to the nearby Terminal 21 shopping centre to have a look around and find some coffee. It was on the walk back that the heavens opened on us.
Thinking wistfully of the anorak that I’d left in my backpack at the hotel, we plunged into the rain and ran the mile home.
I knew that we were mid-rainy season and I’d heard of the thunderstorms that can cause traffic to come to a stand-still. However nothing quite prepares you for the rain until you actually experience it. We arrived at the hotel sodden, dripping and desperate for a hot bath.
A few hours later, after sleeping, showering and generally recovering, we decided to treat ourselves. We got the Sky Train to Lumpini park, where there’s a restaurant I’d read about that specialises in spicy Thai payaya salads. The food did not disappoint – it’s a small restaurant called just around the corner from the park. I got the original veggie papaya salad, Tom got his with minced chicken. They really were delicious and surprisingly filling.
Continuing our night of luxury, we wandered a couple of hundred metres down the road to the Banyan Tree hotel. They have a sky bar there called The Moon Bar on the 64th floor. The drinks were suddenly London prices again, but the service was brilliant and the views spectacular.
Thinking of our budget (or lack thereof) we only got one drink each before heading to PatPongs night market about a 15 minute walk away. It was as far from the glamour of the sky bar as you could possibly get! Patpongs is something of a notorious night market in Bangkok, known for its rip off designer items and ‘adult entertainment’. It was good fun though and interesting to see a completely different side to the city!
The next couple of days were spent in a blur of markets, temples and noodles. The Grand Palace, Wat Pho and the Wat Arun are absolute musts. The Grand Palace closes at 3.30pm but if you can, I’d recommend doing the other two in the evening- around 6pm- which is right before they close. You’ll find that it’s much cooler and much less busy, making for a more enjoyable experience!
We had one great night on The Khaosan road. As expected, it was buzzing, lively and full to the brim of backpackers. We got our fill of cheap food, drink and clothes from the bars and market stalls. Still, it was something of a relief to be able to leave at the end of the night. I was thankful that we’d booked our apartment in Sukhumvit- far, far from the alcohol fuelled chaos that is the Khaosan road.
Bangkok is a cool city, but very overwhelming. I’ve lived in London for several years but Chinatown in Bangkok made me feel about as small town as you can possible get! The only major disappointment was a restaurant called Thipsamai. One of those small-with-queues-out-the-door type. I’d read about it on numerous occasions as being home to the best Pad Thai in Bangkok. Which it was not. I was so disappointed- Pad Thai is one of my favourite dishes and in a rare moment of optimism, I let my hopes soar. Neither Tom nor I are massive seafood people, so the fact that the dominant taste of Thipsamai’s Pad Thai was the millions of tiny beady-eyed shrimps that had been ladled in was not a pleasant experience! Just goes to show that you shouldn’t always trust the guide books I suppose.
Unexpectedly, I’m actually quite glad to be leaving. Bangkok is great and lively and fun- but it’s also loud and overwhelming and far, far away from the peaceful tranquility that we’d experienced in Sri Lanka. I like being out of the big cities and away from the glamorous shopping malls, exploring the smaller villages that make you realise how big the world is.
Chiangmai is next on the agenda- along with a trip to an elephant sanctuary! We’re getting the sleeper train up tonight, in fact, so I suppose it’s about time that I sign off, and pack my bags for the next part of our adventure.