Not Los Angeles, Bangkok! To be honest, my first day here was brutal. On our way here we had two flights : Boston – Zurich , and Zurich – Bangkok. On the second flight I got sick and well… threw up all over the place. It was pretty bad , and embarrassing to say the least. In hindsight, I should have prepared better for the long journey. The day before we left was Easter Sunday and I ate like it was my job. I probably should have went a little easier on the Pizza Cheina ( the best part about Easter Sunday in my opinion. Google it if you don’t know what I’m talking about ), which dried me right out. To make matters worse, we had gone out to see our friends one last time the night before and I was downing gin and tonics and tequila shots all night. I said I would drink water in between, but of course that never happened. Needless to say, I was dehydrated before we even stepped foot on a plane. Add to that a lack of fresh air, shitty airline food, and no sleep and you have a recipe for disaster. Moral of the story : drink lots of water and get some sleep before you fly! I hope to never have a first day like the one I had ever again.
Once I finally came back to life, we went out and explored the neighborhood where we’re staying : Chinatown , or Yarowat as it’s called here. I think it’s safe to say it is the biggest and most interesting Chinatown I have ever been to. Our first real walkthrough was at night, which was perfect because that’s when it really comes to life. There were hundreds ( and I mean hundreds! ) of street stalls lining the roads and alleys with every kind of food you can imagine. Unfortunately, very little was in English so we had to take guesses as to what’s what. This is normally fine by me, but with my (starting to doubt I have it) peanut allergy, I have to be a little more cautious than most. Picking something to eat was almost impossible. It was like being at a restaurant where the menu is a small book, there’s so many options you can’t decide. We ended up doing what I usually do in a city where I don’t know the food : go to the place with a long line. It ended up being a Chinese noodle stall, and it didn’t disappoint. Luckily there was a young kid who spoke a little English who told me there were no peanuts, but after the first bite I really didn’t care either way. It was amazing. The broth was so rich and flavorful, with perfectly cooked noodles, crispy yet tender pork belly, and loaded with chopped scallions. As i’m writing this I’m thinking about walking down the street to find them and buy some more, but its noon here and it will be another 8 hours or so before they open up. The food has probably been my favorite part of the city so far. We have seen some temples, and even a Buddha made of 5.5 tons of solid gold, but after a while its like churches in Europe: seen one ya seen em’ all. Bangkok is a food lovers paradise. There is something for everyone, even my buddy Danny who religiously eats chicken tenders and french fries.
To continue our food journey, we went to the Chatuchak Weekend Market today. This was by far the biggest market I have ever seen in my life. Over 10,000 stalls and 200,000 visitors come every weekend to buy just about anything you can imagine. Like the rest of Bangkok, there were street food stalls everywhere and it didn’t take us long to grab some grub. Like everything else I’ve had so far, I really don’t know what it was. All I can say it is was spicy and delicious! We could have literally spent hours at the market, but after a while the heat got to us and we left. If you’re ever in Bangkok I would highly suggest going even if you don’t plan on buying anything. Just walking around and seeing it first hand was worth it.
As much as I’m enjoying eating my way through Bangkok, there are a few things that have thrown me off since we got here. First, there’s always someone nearby trying to scam you. I get it, I’m a tourist and you want to take advantage of my naïveté it happens everywhere in the world. What drives me nuts is that it’s always the same scam! We’ll be walking and someone friendly will approach us and tell us how today is a special day and the temples are free because of some holiday i’ve never heard or read about and we should do this this and this and get a tuk-tuk to take us around for really cheap and all of a sudden out of nowhere a tuk-tuk shows up and they’re pushing us to get in! It’s all about kickbacks : some friendly guy convinces you to take one and the driver throws the friendly local a little somethin somethin for making the sale. It’s all part of the game, but they really need to find a better con. Another thing that is a little aggravating is there are barely any trash barrels. For a city with street stalls every 10 feet they really need to put some barrels out for people to throw away their things. Because of this, some parts of the city are a little dirty when they really don’t have to be. To me, this seems like an easy fix, but maybe there is something I’m missing.
One thing I didn’t know about until I got here and will maybe gross some of you out, was the sewage system in Thailand doesn’t support toilet paper. What do you use you ask? I present to you : the “bum gun”!
They still have toilet paper, but you have to throw it in the barrel next to the toilet and it’s really just for drying yourself off. Not gonna lie, there was a little bit of a learning curve there, and you have to make sure you know the pressure of the gun or you could be giving yourself an enema without trying. It’s kind of like Asia’s version of a bidet I guess. Just something I thought people would find interesting! ( or disgusting )
Overall I have to say I like Bangkok. It hasn’t blown me away like some other cities, but it has its own charm and grit and I could see myself hanging here for a while and getting to know it a little better. What it lacks in touristy things it makes up for in food, friendly people, and an endless amount of sunshine. We’ll be traveling through the city more than once while we’re in Southeast Asia since it’s the hub for many flights so we didn’t go out of our way to pack in each day with as much as possible, but I feel like we’ve seen a lot in the short time we’ve been here. The city is huge, so you could spend months or even years here and not see it all. I always say to leave a few things out so we have an excuse to return, and I think we have many reasons to come back to the City of Angels ( or the Big Mango as some call it ) very soon.