Wrapping Up Bangkok
This being our third time to Thailand, and having spent each visit at New Year’s in Bangkok, we had a good idea of what we wanted to get out of this visit.
Our first priority was to relax, eat lots of street food, and hit some of our favorite restaurants. Sightseeing – not so much. We didn’t want to really do much in the way of shopping either.
So rather than cover our day to day activities in Bangkok, I’ll try to wrap it all up in one bite-sized package here.
We were definitely interested in seeing what the situation would be like in Bangkok since the King of Thailand had passed away in 2016. I had heard that the activity in bars, nightclubs, and sex districts would be curtailed during a year of mourning. From what we saw, things were getting back to normal, but still a little cautious. At one point we walked through the neighborhood of our old hotel, which is surrounded by lots of massage shops (both erotic and regular) and also near Soi Cowboy. Most shops were open, but they didn’t have lineups of girls outside trying to pull people in. Semi-open for business, I guess.
Everywhere we looked there were memorial posters and signs for the late King, and even a few pictures of the next King. He will probably start to appear more and more prominently leading up to his coronation, but in the posters that we saw of him he looked more than a little nervous to be wearing the royal clothes.
Kuniko had found a new hotel down Soi 12, near the end of the avenue. Turns out it was almost next to Cabbages and Condoms, which is one of our favorite restaurants in Bangkok. That made it convenient to stop by anytime. We were also close to Asok station, which is a hub of shopping, street food and activities.
The hotel itself was a little odd. The room and location were great, but there were lots of little issues that came up during our three night stay. Our WiFi connection was weird, so they had to send staff up to install a temporary access point while we were staying. Sometimes the lights would respond to the switches, other times they didn’t. And New Year’s Eve when we came back home late from partying apparently all the locks failed to respond to the guest’s key cards. Weird. But the price was right, the pool was quite nice, and we enjoyed our stay overall.
Usually when we stay in Bangkok we eat mainly at restaurants, and this was the first time that we really concentrated on street food instead. Thanks to the internet it was easy enough to track down good locations were street food vendors gathered. We tried all kinds of dishes, mainly noodles, salads, and rice dishes, and drank our weight in cold Thai beer. At first we ordered the regular sized bottles of beer, but by the end of the trip we were going straight for the big bottles.
We found our favorite food stand of this trip near Thong Lo station, around Soi 38. At first we arrived a bit early, and we were the only customers around. We had bowls of noodle soup – one spicy with plain. Both had liberal chunks of grilled pork, won tons (fried and soft), and veggies. Mine had crab meat on top, too. The noodles and broth were just perfect, and I think we’ll never forget that place. We also ordered some chicken rice from an adjacent stall, and that was just as tasty as the Singaporean version we had earlier this year.
After eating there we walked down the street a ways and then circled back to head to our hotel. At the end of the street was a stand selling sweets. They had many open containers of sweet sauces and desserts, and I have never seen as many flies in one place as I saw there. The flies attacked the food like lions on a wildebeest, and we were glad we had already eaten down the street, otherwise we’d have lost our appetite.
We liked the food stand that we tried so much that we ended up going there again on our last night in Bangkok. We panicked at first when it wasn’t there, but it turns out that on Mondays he moves indoors because they do street cleaning on Mondays. It was just as delicious the second time.
Another of our favorite restaurants served us a seafood salad that almost burned my tastebuds off. It was delicious, hot and painful, and I think we had to order another round of cold beers just to wash down the fire. I guess I had forgotten how hot Thai food can get.
It was so much fun to explore so many different places to eat, and we generally tried five or so places a day. We ate only 1-2 small dishes at each place, and if it seemed really good we’d stick around for more. It was a good strategy for us.
For New Year’s Eve we went across the street to the Westin hotel to sit out on their seventh-floor terrace and watch people coming and going through the Sukhumvit district. Despite there being a memorial observation, there were still a few fireworks and ceremonies around us. In the Westin hotel they had some singer rocking the night away right up to the countdown, and there were a few people getting up and hitting the dance floor. We didn’t quite time our sparkling wine correctly, but still it was nice to spend the New Year countdown on the town.
After we went to bed, at around 3 am or so I heard some commotion from outside our hotel room door. I got up and looked out the peephole, and the hotel guest from the room across from our had partied a bit too hard and collapsed outside his door in the hallway. He probably couldn’t get his door open because of the keycard problems, and he was a little noisy talking to himself in a horizontal position. A few minutes later I could hear the hotel staff or police urging him up and into his room. In any case, he was gone when we left the next morning.
Besides eating and drinking and swimming we did manage to get a massage, shop for some souvenirs for our neighbors and coworkers, and do a lot of walking in flip flops. Bangkok had changed a bit since we had last visited six years ago, but all our favorite places were still around. We had fun getting back in touch with the town, eating everything in sight and spending days next to the pool. It was the perfect way to wrap up a great holiday trip.