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Bangkok Burnout

Food! More than anything, this was the main focus of our time in Bangkok. The city is so big, and even though January is one of the coldest months for the region, we didn’t want to spend too much time running around town. When we weren’t scoping out our next meal or ice cream spot, we often found ourselves in malls, taking breaks in the AC, or swimming on the rooftop pool of our second hotel  (a steal, by the way — it was categorized under “affordable luxury” and while it was more basic than SO Sofitel, it cost only $25/night, met all of our needs, was perfectly located in Silom and had ZERO cockroaches — Trinity Silom Hotel, thank you!).

Yes, we only did one temple (Wat Pho and the Reclining Buddha, or, as Josh liked to call it, the “Lazy Buddha”). We walked a ton, took the skytrain, metro, taxis, and water taxis, and then gorged ourselves on sweets and pad thai. After Bhutan, we were feeling a little tourism burnout, and the last places that we wanted to be were the ones with long lines, entry fees, and vendors accosting us. But we still wanted to experience the city as best we could.

Thankfully, eating didn’t really ask too much of us. Our second night in Bangkok, we splurged on Nahm, which has been called the best Thai restaurant in Bangkok, maybe the best one in the whole world. (The chef is Australian, fyi.) Man, was it good! We did the set tasting meal, which included 18 different dishes to try over 5 courses. Over flavors of lemongrass, smokey chili, fish, prawns, garlic, and spice, we indulged until our bellies hurt.


One night, we walked in the warm rain to Eat Me, another fancy restaurant, for sticky date pudding and a Moroccan-spiced bun, both a la mode


iBerry in the nearby Silom Complex became our favorite ice cream spot (they have Thai flavors like durian and spicy mango). Of course, we tried as many pad thai dishes as we could, as well as spicier meals (Isan) and coconut desserts.


Our cooking course in Silom was a highlight for me. Our chef, Jay, was engaging and flamboyant, and very thorough at explaining the differences between Thai cooking and other culinary practices. Even cooking-averse Josh had fun. The class included five meals and a dessert.

We did avoid eating most street food out of fear of getting sick from it. However, at the end of our warm stay, we were completely satiated with tasty thai food, and ready to move on to a cooler climate that better facilitated outdoor activity.

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Shit happens. And then it doesn’t.

Consumerism! Luxury! I’ve contradicted a few core assumptions about myself in Bangkok.

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For one, I usually hate shopping. I’ve never liked the sanitized endless store choices found under hard white fluorescent lights at malls, and I bristle whenever I have to pay more than $20 for an item of clothing (seriously — I very rarely do this, and when I do, it’s painful for me). Ergo, I usually shop at my tried-and-true discount and thrift stores, or score free hand-me-downs from friends.

There are still endless choices in Bangkok, and yes, they too have fluorescent lights, but at places like MBK (our first stop after dropping our bags at our hotel, sweaty and warm) and the Chatuchak weekend market (our first activity on day two in Bangkok), there’s this chaotic organization to everything, and, when compared to USD, everything is cheap.

MBK contained hundreds of stalls/stores (I’m not sure what to call them) set up indoors, with  narrow walkways for shoppers. When we ventured off the main drag, we had people soliciting us, trying to sell us an old iPhone 5 at a discounted rate. There were bright flashing lights and stacks on stacks of stuff, and it was somewhat easy to get lost if you weren’t paying attention; for us, it was frenetic and fun. While there were many options, we saw that many vendors were selling the same items for the same prices, so it became a matter of who spoke English (or who wanted to try to sell to English-speakers).

Did you ever see that episode of Community where the make the giant blanket fort? That’s immediately what came to mind at the Chatuchak weekend market. Again, it was easy to forget your relative position as we navigated the open-air narrow corridors between stalls. When we would want to venture off the the main streets, we’d turn to the other and say, “Let’s dive in here.” Dive in. That was the best way to describe it, side-stepping and pushing past the throngs of people to the relative calm inside the blanket fort-esque market (for the record, there was a roof — it was not a blanket). There was more variety there than at MBK, but I don’t think it was nearly as wild as we anticipated (we tried and failed several times to find where they sold the live animals). We had one traveller tell us that the Chatuchak market was too touristy and expensive, but I loved seeing beautiful jewelry and clothing for 100 baht (approximately $2.75 USD). And yes, I did buy myself a pair of Thailand tourist pants because I had always wanted a pair and it seemed like the thing to do.

2017_01_13_0940Sampling a delicious coconut treat at the Chatuchak market

 

Secondly, I’ve never considered myself high-maintenance (and, as recent evidence of this, see the Bumdra Trek post). When booking a hotel, especially while traveling, I’m apt to say, “Don’t book anything nice; we won’t be spending much time in the hotel room anyway.”

Josh obviously didn’t do that with our first hotel in Bangkok, SO Sofitel.

2017_01_13_0968Chilling in the lobby with our welcome drinks at check-in

 

Holy moly, was it fancy! And hip, too. They played this mellow techno music in the lobby, and perfumed it with lemongrass so that it hit you like a sweet-smelling club the moment you stepped off the elevator. The whole place touted a design theme of elements (earth, wood, water, and metal), and their claim was that no room looked the same. Lil’ old austere me was giddy.

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Our first hotel room in SO Sofitel. I gleefully snapped and shared a pic the moment we arrived. 

 

Unfortunately, this is where the shit happens. We came back after our first full day out and about (Chatuchak market) to find three dead/dying cockroaches in our room. Our bed was freshly made and our fridge stocked (they stock it with free bottled water), so we figured that the hotel had recently sprayed for cockroaches. They were cleaning the room next door to us, so when I asked one of the women to come over, she repeated, “I’m so sorry!” when she saw the roaches and hastily scooped them up with a trash bag. No harm, no foul. We were both shrugging, assuming that cockroaches were normal in a warm climate like Bangkok’s.

However, as we were getting ready for our dinner plans, a very much alive cockroach scurried out of the bathroom. As Josh attacked it with one of the hotel slippers, I ran downstairs to notify the front desk. They were absolutely horrified and told us that they would immediately move us to a new room.

2017_01_13_0329New room on an even swankier floor — our windows overlooked Lumphini park
2017_01_13_0327There were cool lights outside the door of our new hotel room — like a new media installation in the middle of our floor.

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The next day is when shit didn’t happen. Tune out now if you’re squeamish about bodily functions .

Basically, I hadn’t pooped for 7 days and was starting to panic a little. When we were up on the mountain, I had taken some pills to stop some traveller’s diarrhea, and hadn’t had a BM since.

To help things along, Josh and I went for a humid run in Lumphini park. Then, I grabbed a grande hot coffee from Starbucks, and we lounged at the pool, drinking lots of water. On Instagram, I did a little social media makeover, posting a pic of me at the pool and saying that we were having a lazy day. In reality, we basically put one day in Bangkok on hold for my body to figure shit out.

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Instagram is full of partial truths, amirite?

Great news: shit happened! I’d like to thank that hot, strong cuppa joe from corporate America.

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One Night in Bangkok

Our 12 hour layover before Bhutan 🇧🇹 
We parted ways with Sam at the airport. He’s headed to a hostel in the city for NYE; we’re crashing at an airport hotel, resting up before we begin our trek in the mountains.

It’s very warm here! It was at least 80 degrees when I climbed into the pool at 5pm. Best winter ever. 

We imbibed on poolside drinks (mine was actually called One Night in Bangkok) before a quick dinner where Kevin and Josh debated the qualities of what constitutes a good life. Nothing conclusive, but for now, it looks like this:

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