Hey everyone! The blog has been silent as I’ve (sadly) not been in Asia in about a year in and a half. However, we are back at it and hitting up three countries this time: Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. The blog should really be called the “two and a half weeks of Pad Thai and Pho” but starting over and customizing again isn’t as fun as you might suspect.
That being said, for the next two weeks I’ll be writing about our experiences, any hijinks, and posting photos of some of the most beautiful things we see (and eat). Starting with: our arrival in Bangkok, Thailand!
We landed in Bangkok super late and made our way to the hotel at around 1am. After settling in and attempting to sleep off the 21 hour travel time, we awoke and wanted to explore Bangkok before we continued on to Chiang Mai for the next several days.
Breakfast at the hotel is incredible – a huge spread, with everything from sushi to a Chinese dumpling station to a clay pot noodle station, and that’s just the buffet. We eagerly tried several options before heading out to the popular weekend market north of the city.
The weekend market is a pretty typical sight for anyone who has spent time traveling in touristy parts of Asia (or Latin America for that matter). A variety of open air stalls, some tents, and generally the same wares at each stall with just a few variations. Our favorites were the wood carvings and the beautiful flower displays throughout.
It was also fun to see the different food vendors putting on shows – for the locals, the paella making demonstration by a Spanish restaurant blaring music was quite the scene.
Then, we headed to something we had spotted from the “Skytrain” (Bangkok’s subway system): the mall! There was a food festival happening and it looked like it might be pretty interesting to check out. The big feature were tuk tuks decorated by various Thai food brands and restaurants, including one from my favorite coconut milk brand (#itslegit).
Malls are a huge deal in Bangkok, and as soon as we entered it, it was pretty easy to see why. They have a ton of different floors and are as much about the design experience of walking around as they are about shopping. These malls are a one-stop-shop for everything from lunch, to coffee, to department stores, to high end shopping, to the movie theater, to language lessons classes, to children’s dance classes.
After wandering around the malls (we spent time in about three), we headed to the Jim Thompson house, which is the remaining home of a CIA agent from the 1960s who lived in Bangkok until he disappeared in Malaysia. He was a prolific collector of Asian artifacts, and his home was in the traditional 60s style for a Thai house. It now functions as part art gallery and part historical museum, all of which was fun to explore. On our way there, we ended up of course getting lost among the many underpasses, overpasses, and short, unmarked walking paths that criss-cross Bangkok. After re-orienting ourselves, heading back inside the mall (of course) to find the skybridge to cross the major highway, we finally were on our way through a darkened tunnel under the highway and next to the canal.
The home itself was beautiful, and includes several beautiful wooden buildings and a gorgeous garden. Jim Thompson also brought Thai silk to the US and European markets, so there are a lot of remnants of the silk trade and of course his products for sale as well.
After the Jim Thompson house, we headed back to the hotel. We went to acclaimed restaurant Issaya for dinner, which was a neat experience. We did a tasting menu that incorporated Thai flavors with some pretty creative techniques.
Then, it was off to bed to save energy for our early flight to Chiang Mai the next morning.