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Wish you were here: A week in Bangkok

2 Comments 02 October 2012

Wish you were here: A week in Bangkok

Dear Readers,

So we never made it to that drag show last Friday, but the night definitely took us somewhere. After Ric and I taught Luke and Felicity how to play beer pong at the condo, we headed out to Bar 23 for cocktails.

Bangkok is one of the most surprising cities I’ve ever visited. It literally has everything. It has your dive bars and seedy sections, but it also has mega posh malls and fancy roof bars. I was stunned again by the cities versatility with Bar 23. As I walked into the dimly lit bar, that can be found on a desolate street with zero signage, I felt like I was transported to Brooklyn.

Hipster bartenders, notes in permanent marker written all over the walls and a mix of second-hand retro furniture. It seemed to be a favorite among 20-something Westerners living and working in the city. It’s another side of the very trendy city that I never expected to see. Plus they sell THB200 Long Island Iced Teas, so there’s that.

Needless to say, we did very little during the day on Saturday. But we did make it out to Soi 5 for one of the best kebabs I’ve ever had for only THB 60. Ric and I watched a video about this kebab vendor months ago, so the meal was a long time coming.

That was good food, but nothing could top our food experience on Sunday.

Since we arrived in Bangkok, Luke and Flick, friends we’re staying with, kept secret their plans for Sunday. They gave us little clues throughout the week, but we never would have guessed something this spectacular.

They took us to a buffet at the Grand Millennium Hotel, but this wasn’t just any stuff-your-face free-for-all. For starters, the Grand Millenium is a classy establishment with a few different style dining areas from a wine room to a very modern room with a wall of windows looking out to the city.

The spread at our table by 3 p.m.

Now to the most important thing: the food. Gourmet favorites from all over the world, this buffet wrapped around the restaurant. You could literally eat anything there: sushi, dim sum, tapas, steak, lamb chops, duck, cabanara, three different kinds of caviar, even cotton candy. And it gets better, not only is the food endless for three hours, so are the drinks. This includes wine, beer and cocktails.

The meat section at our buffet. Made to order.

The buffet is available every Sunday from 12-3 p.m. and costs THB1400 per person, but they sometimes offer a deal where for every two people another two eat free. I can’t imagine a better idea for a double date.

From the buffet we headed to the nearest sports bar to watch Liverpool play Manchester United. Ric is a big Liverpool fan and living on New Zealand time for the past year, this was the first game he’s actually been able to watch live since Cambodia in May 2011.

Most of Monday was spent recovering. Good thing we have a rooftop pool! We did manage to get out to visit a Mexican restaurant called Tacos and Salsa on Soi 18 at the end of our street. I was very surprised at how good the place was. It’s really hard to find good Mexican food around the world, but this place did it right.

On Tuesday, Ric and I did some major exploring. We started out in Lumpini Park, then headed to Chinatown. After visiting the area, I read an article about the top ten things to do in Bangkok, getting lost in Chinatown was one of them and we definitely did that. We spent at least 30 minutes walking past metal shops. Eventually we made it to China Gate or Odeon Circle and started walking down Yaowarat.

There are a few Wats and museums, including the Museum of Siam, in this section of Bangkok, but honestly just being there is enough to keep you excited. Wandering down dark alley ways, lined with street food at the bottom and laundry hanging on the balconies of apartments above, walking just a little bit faster as the smell of fish becomes too strong. Experiences like this are why I travel, to get a peak into a way of life completely different to my own and just take it in.

You can find pretty much everything in Chinatown from fabric to stereo equipment. We were on a mission for food and found the best pork buns either or us have ever tried. Ric is a bit of a pork bun connoisseur so that is saying something. I wish I could tell you where exactly the food cart was where we found them and I think the vendor probably moves around anyway. Below you can see a photo of the cart we visited. Yes those are green and purple bun as well: green tea and I believe taro buns.

Best pork buns in Chinatown, Bangkok.

After hours in Chinatown, we were both exhausted. I always I get more tired than usual touring Bangkok, I think it’s a mixture of the heat and how busy the city is. Good thing we headed home too, as it started pouring rain, minutes after we walked in the door. It’s rainy season in Thailand at the moment, so pretty much every day it will down pour for about one to three hours.

Luckily, the rain cleared up long enough for us to meet up with Two Oregonians at Suda on Soi 14. One of the nicest things about being in the travel blog community is that you pretty much have someone to bump into all over the world. We’ve been Tweeting with one another for a year at least, so it’s good to put a face with a name. Maybe we’ll see you guys in Chiang Mai.

We booked our tickets to Chiang Mai on Wednesday, which I am so excited about. That’s the one place I was really sad about missing on my last trip to Thailand. We traveled by bus around the country last time, but thought we would upgrade to trains this time around. Train tickets to Chiang Mai can be purchased at Hualampong Railway Station which is at the end of the MRT line.

For all those who plan ahead, The Man in Seat Sixty-One is a really great resource for transportation in Thailand, but you really don’t need to plan too far in advance. Just visit the station a few days ahead and book then. There is a tourist information desk at the entrance to help foreigners. They pretty much take you over to the counter and buy the tickets with you. We paid THB791 and THB881 for 2nd class sleeper. The difference in price is for top and bottom bunks.

After sorting out some travel plans, we headed to The Jim Thompson House. Originally from Delaware, Thompson was an architect turned secret agent (Office of Strategic Services, precursor for the CIA) after World War II.

He was stationed in Thailand in 1945 and fell in love with the country. He found the Thai Silk Company and to this day his name is still very big in the silk clothing industry.

He started building his home in Bangkok in 1958 and the house remains extremely well-preserved. Walking around the grounds and through his living quarters is like stepping back in time. The teak house was built in traditional Thai style and filled with Asian paintings from the 17th century, porcelain from his private collection and an amazing collection of Buddha statues dating back as far as the 7th century.

The main living quarters in the compound. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

There’s an old-world side to Bangkok that I absolutely love. It’s a bit lost amongst the sky scrapers and malls that cover the city today, so it’s nice to find little gems like this here and there. Entry costs THB100 for adults.

Taking advantage of the sun, Flick and I went for a walk around Benjasiri Park, a very well-maintained sanctuary in the city. That night we headed to Soi 5 for round two of our favorite kebab vendor then over to Soi 11 to visit the touristy, but still cheap and full of character, Cheap Charlie’s for a few drinks, then stopped at one of the many VW bus/bars along the street for a few cocktails. As you can tell by the design of this site, I’m a fan of VW buses, so I especially enjoyed these bars.

It’s not called Cheap Charlie’s for nothing. Think THB70 spirit drinks and THB60 Changs. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Cocktails served from a VW bus on Soi 11. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

The next day, Ric was the first victim of Bangkok belly. Eating food so different from your own and as many chillies as he does, it’s bound to happen. But it’s never any fun.

It’s Friday and the skies are just starting to clear up. On the agenda today is a complete makeover and ladies night with Flick, which means the boys are on their own in Bangkok. Uh oh…

Until next time.

Lots of Love,

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- who has written 310 posts on Heels and Wheels.

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  • Bethany & Ted

    Those VW cocktail bars are stylin’! So fun to meet up with you guys at Suda. :)

  • Bobbi Lee Hitchon

    They were so cool!! I think we went to that street about four nights. It was so great to meet you guys too. Hope the rest of your travels are great :)

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