Bangkok: A first look
Day 1: 18,749 steps and 11.2 km Day 2: 6,845 steps and 4.2 km Andrew and I decided to walk our first day to get a ground view of Bangkok. Here's what we saw.
We started off the morning walking a few blocks to get familiar with the neighbourhood of Sathon we were staying in. We saw kids headed to school in their uniforms, car shops custom cutting car parts, construction material shops, street food vendors of all kinds, lottery ticket sellers and people moving around getting to where they were headed.
The walk around the block gave us a sense of the types of foods being sold.
We smelled some delicious grilled meat and wandered over. Welcome to the city where you can eating freshly grilled meat skewers for breakfast. Let's make this a thing in Canada, please!
A bit more wandering and we found a cart selling soup. It was a popular place with the locals especially the motorbike taxi workers. After a little bit of a struggle ordering, I basically ordered whatever everyone else what having. It's important to know most street food vendors cook up one or two types of dishes so you get what they're going (with a bit of customization if it's a dish with mixed ingredients). So we were seated at a foldable metal table with stools as chairs. Now we just wait for our soup to cook! The soup was the first traditional dish we had here containing a flavourful light broth with chicken, pork, blood cubes, small intestine and some chewy meat, little greens and chives served with a side of rice. I was a bit nervous about the unfamiliar bits but glad I got out of my comfort zone to taste something new.
Day 2 was a breakfast that made me believe in eggs again. For those who don't know, I'm just on the boarder of disliking eggs -they smell funny and normally don't offer much in flavour (Unless drenched in a sauce). I'm now a big believer of fried egg on rice with a side sauté. The egg is perfectly crispy at the bottom with the yolk being just runny enough -and no egg smell! The sauté (we got shrimp and chicken) had a nice balance of chili, sweetness, fish or soy sauce interspersed with little greens. A little bit of rice, egg and sauté is carefully portioned onto a spoon to provide the perfect bite. A vinegar chili bowl accompanies this dish for seasoning (if desired). The vinegar isn't strong at all but does pack some heat with those Thai red and green chilies in there!
The traffic here was the first thing that really stood out. How the cars, buses and motorbikes zip around effortlessly as pedestrians cross between without stopping traffic! After watching the locals do this a few times and remembering that traffic drives on the left side (not he right lane like they do in Canada), we managed to cross the road like pros! But let's get back to the motorbikes. I still have this image ingrained in my mind of seeing a dad with baby held in front of him as he waved through traffic. Or a mom with daughter balanced on the back on her phone. I'm in awe while realizing that's part of everyday life here.
The city is busy in some ways but much more relaxed than any other big city. There are lots of cars and motorbikes but little honking. There are many people selling their street food but no yelling. The Thai are a gentle and hard working people.
Getting cash in Bangkok is really easy -we went to a bank atm but noticed there were also tons of tourist atms in it streets. Now for everything else there's 7-Eleven. This place has everything you could need -hygiene products, baby supplies, food, and (as our friends told us over lunch) even plane tickets!
We did quite a bit of research before this trip but were lucky to also get connected with a local couple. They are Canadians who have been living in Bangkok for the past few years. They gave us lots of great recommendations and tips for getting around over lunch while sharing about their life here. And yes, lunch (green curry for me and a coconut/ginger-y soup with fried rice for Andrew along with butterfly pea drinks and dessert) was delicious too! Butterfly pea is tasty and quite famous in Asia. I haven't quite found a way to describe the flavour but will update once I do. :)
Bangkok has everything from cheap to high-end foods, massages, shopping malls/markets and hotels -there's bound to be something for everyone.
On our first day, I had a freshly made taro milk tea for 25 bhat ($1 CAD) during our afternoon walk. It was so good and had lots of flavour options. This trend continued and showed no signs of stopping as I fell in love with bubble tea over and over. [Link to To all the bubble tea I ever loved.)
A few blocks later, we walked by a series of barber shops and one was free so Andrew hopped in the chair to get a haircut.
With the help of a photo on his phone, Andrew told the barber what he wanted. Then we were off again feeling fresh and fine as ever!
After a long day, we decided to take a cab back. Normally we would use Grab (the uber of South East Asia) but decided to give hailing a cab a try! How hard could it be? But you know that everyone has a cab story in Bangkok. We hailed one down and got in before someone could snag it (which does happen!). We showed the driver a google map with our address but this did not work out. If you ever take a cab, take your hotel's business card with you because that has the address writen in Thai and always make sure they use the meter to make sure you don’t get overcharged. Long story short, things ended up okay as the driver pulling off to let us out after a few attempts at explaining the address and we ordered a car through the trusty Grab app.
Bangkok's version of Central Park with exercise machines, an outdoor gym, large running path, benches and a playground for the kids. The jogging and natural gym culture I s huge here!
A boutique open air market with fashionable buys and a variety of restaurants, food trucks and stalls on the beautiful riverfront. This place has quite the aesthetic and is enjoyed by many tourists. I loved walking around and seeing all the cute clothing (which I'll likely buy next time we're in Bangkok). We enjoyed ending the evening with some fried wings along the waterfront watching boats go by. A good end to the day.
Our second day was a bit more low key as we focused on meals and resting -we had a strong start exploring the first day in Bangkok but the jet lag would get to us. After sleeping in and breakfast, we walked the streets again and decided to explore the alleyways that the motorbikes kept zipping into. It was like discovering a whole new world (sing with me now!)...
"A whole new world a local place I never knew And it's crystal clear from way down here That now I'm in a whole new world with you! Unbelievable markets and Indescribable smells Tumbling through fish and veggie stalls and homes with lovely flowers Tell me darling Is this what you came for Because now we're in a whole new world (together)"
That song remix goes out to my love and partner in adventures: Andrew who finds joy in my enthusiastic off-key singing. Thanks for being just crazy enough that we took on this adventure to see a new part of the world (Out of our backpacks! For 4 weeks! Solo for the first half of the trip!).
That's all for now folks. This has been a first look at Bangkok. Check A taste of Bangkok for food profiles. There's lots to see here in Bangkok so we'll be back again with friends very soon!