So after months of talking about it, I’ve arrived and the adventure has begun in Bangkok. After a hellish flight with Norwegian Air (don’t ever fly with them!) I settled in to my guesthouse and have been exploring the capital for the last few days.
I wanted to explore the food markets more than anything else so I started in the MBK centre, a huge shopping complex near Siam Square. It’s more an indoor souk than proper shops but on the 5th floor is the ‘International Food Avenue’, where I headed first. You get a card when you go in that you can use as a credit card at all the food stalls then pay when you come out. I had a delicious Thai Red Curry with rice and, randomly, an omelette on top. It nearly blew my head off but was great to taste something authentic. There are loads of options on the floor, and you can have anything from western food, to Arabic, desserts, cocktails and more.
I had some time before meeting my friend Donna who lives in Bangkok, so I visited Jim Thompson’s house (Jim Thompson is hailed as the man who kicked off the Thai silk cottage industry and bought international buyers to Thailand to buy silks for the couture collections), the Bangkok Arts Centre just opposite MBK, and Siam Paragon, where I met Donna.
I was impressed with the MBK food hall but the basement floor of Siam Paragon was out of this world. Every food, drink, ingredient, stall and flavour was down there. I could spend days in the Gourmet Market (something like Whole Foods but bigger and better), and there are also loads of food stalls where you can get anything from macarons to Wagyu beef and some amazing desserts and pastries. I had Donna’s favourite for dinner, beef noodle soup that she spiced for me with fish sauce, vinegar and chilli flakes.
We took a tuk-tuk ride home and I went back to my guesthouse where I discovered my room is conveniently located about 50 metres from a nightclub – what did I expect for £15 per night! Thank goodness I bought earplugs.
The following day I did a walking tour of the old city area, through the Maharaj and Amulet markets, the Wat Pho (aka the Reclining Buddha), over the river to the Wat Arun (the Temple of Dawn), then I took the commuter boat down the river to Taksin bridge. Bangkok has a metro system called the BTS or the Skytrain, and I took it up to Siam Square and back (you get great views of the financial district on that little stretch).
In the evening I headed over to the Banyan Tree Spa where my colleagues at work had booked me in for a balancing massage. It was perfect timing as my back was killing me after the long flight and carrying my bag around. I met Donna again afterwards and we headed to the 52nd Floor for cocktails, tapas and great views over Bangkok.
Tomorrow Donna and I are taking a road trip to the historic city of Ayutthaya in her car then I’m heading up to Sukhothai on the bus – the monsoon is lingering on here, later than usual because the typhoon in Hong Kong has affected things, and there have been reports that the roads are flooded on the way up there so hopefully it will be ok. It’s still 30C though, so at least it’s warm!