It’s late February. The winter in Europe culminates, but here is 30°C. The plane landed around 8 PM and I touched Southeastern-Asian land for the very first time. It’s dark. I have to watch out the time, because sunlight is approximately from 6 AM to 6 PM. On passport control I handed my Arrival card to customs officer and carefully stored Departure card in my purse. From luxury airport Suvarnabhumi goes metro exactly where I need it to go. Just one change. Yes! It took one hour and cost 2€. Wait, what!? I get off at Hua Lamphong station which became my Alpha and Omega. Always pick at least one check point known by locals and learn how to pronounce it. It will help when you have no clue where you are.
Impossible to lose
If I liken Bangkok to any European city, by its area and population, London would be the closest. Everything is marked, and written also in Latin alphabet. Metro is modern, with cooling air-condition, clean, tidy, and well-organised. Maps showing the exits are on each station, what I miss in many European cities. Almost everybody speaks at least basic English, so you’ll most likely get an answer on your question. Just that accent―it’s like Thaiglish. Sometimes I had to ask them to repeat the sentence multiple times. If it didn’t help, I pretended I understand.
Where to let yourself go?
Lumphini park was my first and last visited place in Bangkok. This green piece amongst the concrete jungle impressed me with its fauna. When I first saw one-and-half-meter-long lizard, I almost sh** my pants. Then I realized that I’m in public place and nothing dangerous would be allowed here. But those hefty guys in outdoor gym could be. I’m kidding, dangerously looking Thai guy?
Benjasiri park was occupied mainly by youth and kids. This spot amidst of skyscrapers has playgrounds for volleyball, basketball, football, running track, skate park, and outdoor gym. Ideal place for spending your leisure time after work or school.
The House of Jim Thompson
The man who revitalised silk industry in Thailand and raised thousands of people out of poverty. Nowadays his house is available for guided tours. Our tour guide funnily pronounced his name as Tim with very soft T. Apart from that she was awesome and told us a lot of fun facts. For instance, men peed to porcelain cat and women to porcelain frog. She also clarified small shrines seen everywhere―widely said when people begin construction on landed property, they don’t know who lived there before, so they build a new house for the ghosts to not irritate them. It makes sense.
Luxurious three nights
Most of the time in Thailand I was with my friends, so I moved from hostel to hotel to be with them. The hotel with a rooftop swimming pool. A big city classic. Here in Thailand it’s a bargain. Next to swimming pool, handling the heat was a piece of cake.
To floating market
Khlong Lat Mayom is a district interconnected by water canals, which we explored by supervision of professional Thai ship-owner. We tasted local foods at the market but it was hard to decide which to buy. Eyes would eat but stomach has limited capacity. First, do the research and then buy stuff. Smart strategy.
Spiritual fulfillment. And beer.
Wat here, Wat there. Temples and shrines are everywhere. Of those more famous, we visited Wat Arum and Wat Pho (here I didn’t go inside and regret it, because they have 46-meter-long lying Buddha). Those two temples are split by Chao Phraya river, and we crossed it over for ridiculous price―4 bahts (0,10€). On the east embankment we were drawn into pub by Thai Singha. Its glamorous kitchen didn’t stay unnoticed. Gordon Ramsay would award it with Michelin star!
What is done on Sundays? Shopping.
It wasn’t shopping like on Sunday afternoon in Aupark. The booths with original products and colourful food every weekend in Chatuchak park. We were lucky it was Sunday. Not being at the beginning of my journey, I would buy a pile of souvenirs. Sources say there is up to 15,000 booths. Insane!
Night Bangkok for the price of water
See Bangkok at night from rooftop of the skyscraper was one of the best moments. Vertigo & Moon Bar didn’t ask for entrance fee, they just expected the guests will sit and order.
“Would you like to drink or dine?“
“Alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks?“
I’m curious what happens when we‘d change our mind. They gave us clothes to match the dress code. The guys got trousers looking like jogging suit, and me something like skirt. Firstly, I was upset, but when I saw that breath taking view with the millions of lights, I forgot everything. Oh yes! The cheapest thing to order was 0,75 l bottle of water for 390 bahts (approx. 11€). Totally worth it!
One of the things I was excited was Asian cuisine, bistros where only locals eat, and of course low prices. I tell you one thing―send to hell all the restaurants and search for the places where kitchen is aluminous desk with wok and bowls, tables and chairs are exclusively plastic, and table manners don’t exist. Go where locals eat and you’ll get the best meal.