Bangkok. Just the name itself immediately conjures up images of craziness, dirty streets, and delicious food. Well, one of those three is correct.
The most people know about Bangkok from movies like “The Hangover 2” in which “Bangkok’s got him now” is said in a sinister voice followed by mayhem and disaster. In reality, it’s not that bad.
Bangkok is the capital city of Thailand and is often referred to as the gateway to Asia. Pretty much smack dab in the middle of all Asian countries it’s nestled along a large river with canals snaking through it. Its significant development and expansion started in the 1960’s and its population has boomed from 2 million to over 10 million. Its demographics have also changed; nearly half of its population is under 20 years old, and about 1/3 of the city’s population are expatriates.
With this booming growth there are some noticeable infrastructure problems, but they seem fairly minimal. The traffic lights are obeyed, there’s limited honking, streets are clean and there are sidewalks to walk on. Granted, we have mainly been in the touristy areas but so far the city looks well put together. One issue we’ve noticed is public transport, especially the ferry boats. Jammed in and herded like cattle we traversed the river. We did not take the ferry back across, we opted to spend $3 and take a clean, air-conditioned taxi.
The young population makes it a city for nightlife and partying. There are particular roads which do get a little crazy. You can buy laughing gas, do some shots served by lady-boys, eat some deep fried insects (Alayna tried a cricket), get a massage and jump in a tuk tuk and cruise around under a disco ball. For us, the most enjoyment can be had by sitting on a patio and people watching.
Bangkok is also world renowned for its street food. Sweet, salty, and savoury dishes, with the freshest ingredients, are cooked up right in front of you in a small wok on a cart, or even from a boat if you go to the floating markets.
Absolutely everything you could think of, and many things that you never would have thought of, are available for you to purchase.
Most street food meals are about $2-4. If you want to sit down in a restaurant then the same meal will cost you $6-10. The best way to do street food is to grab a few dishes from a few places, sit down at a plastic chair, and feast. The only issue with that is they do not provide any plates, cutlery, napkins, and sometimes your soup will come in a plastic bag (geared towards locals taking it home to eat, but you don’t find out until after you ordered it).
If the street food is not enough to get you out to some of the markets, the shopping will. Bangkok is home to the world’s largest weekend market: Chatachuk market. It houses over 15,000 stalls spread across 27 acres. We were one of the 200,000 visitors when we went. You endlessly wander through the stalls, not trying to go in any particular direction because that would be a hopeless endeavour. The stalls are vast and once you’ve wandered in the heat for long enough, there’s that beautiful stall of fresh coconut ice cream awaiting. The cool, creamy, coconut tastes like chilled heaven after squeezing your way through the alleys. The mango is also to die for. It melts in your mouth.
So we bought some stretchy pants and loose shirts. We’re going to need them.