BANGKOK TRAVEL GUIDE
DATES TRAVELLED | April 2019
Of the five countries/places we visited on this trip, Bangkok was my most favourite. Some may see it as this sprawling almost horizonless city, but there was indescribable spiritual energy here that I felt connected to - in the same way, I feel about Bali. It's a huge city, yes, but you find these cool pockets within the suburbs that make it feel like you are in a little bubble. Yaowarat was our bubble on this trip, and after only a few days, we had street food vendors remembering us, having jokes and laughs with them as we passed by. It's those joyous interactions that help you feel grounded somewhere.
There's a vibrancy to this place and the people are so friendly and happy - 'land of smiles' I see why now, and you feel that positive infectious energy. And the food, oh my effing goodness, THE FOOD! Some of the most incredible food I have ever eaten in my life. Like for real for real, the food here is crazy good. The only bummer is that we visited the day after Songkran ended, so a lot of the food places I had researched and had planned to go to were closed because of the holiday. I then stupidly watched the Bangkok episode of the new Netflix series 'Street Food' when I got home, and every place filmed were the places on my list that were closed. Torturous. Oh well, Aary, I'm sorry, but we have to go back now ;)
We stayed at a cool Airbnb in Chinatown on an up and coming street called Soi Nana. The street was lined with beautiful historical buildings with plant packed balconies and tons of cool little bars, and street food vendors were dotted around selling delicious food 24-7. I woke one morning at 3 am and a street food cart across the road which I had never seen before was absolutely pumping, all local customers, and by the time I woke again later that morning, it had disappeared. Bangkok does not stop and you'll see different versions of it depending on what time you choose to explore. Our accommodation building was four levels - on the bottom floor, the owners operated a 'darker than the Matterhorn' bar called 'Ba Hao' which was tinted with red lights and filled with vintage Chinese shop house type furniture matched with expensive drinks. The next three levels up were for guests and we had to go through the bar to access the accommodation, which I loved, as the staircase was sectioned off with a red velvet rope, so it probably looked to others like we were entering some special VIP area, when in fact we were just going to bed. Ha! The second floor up was a common room / shared kitchen for guests (with loads of complimentary food and drinks), the third floor after that was ours (this room HERE) and then the top and fourth floor was this room HERE. We loved coming home for aircon breaks, sitting at the large floor to ceiling window enjoying a cold drink and still feeling like we were still part of it, watching the street below. I did take room pics, but they were all super bright and blown out, no editing saved any of them, and they just didn't do justice to the gorgeousness of it IRL. So I don't have any to share in this blog, but the room links above have great photos, and I also did a room tour video on my Instagram Stories, which you can see HERE.
What I loved about this city is that it felt like it had a surprise around every corner and you just never knew what you were going to see next. It made me feel like if this big city can be this great, imagine what the coastal and jungle regions of Thailand has to offer. I can say now say that Bangkok has a special place in my heart and in my memories - one of my favourite places in the world.
ABOVE : On the streets of Chinatown we walked passed this pastel toned roadside salon. I think they are doing threading, but I have no clue what all the white stuff was on the face was? Is it a numbing cream or maybe a whitening treatment? I do love how many plastic combs they used to hold the client's hair back...one headband would also work, but it wouldn't look as awesome haha. Also, totally living for the boss lady's pink lace, pearls, orange highlights and faux daisy chain ensemble!
ABOVE : The very first thing we ate in Bangkok was this herby dumpling which had the most satisfying pully texture to it, and with that soy / fish sauce / chilli dressing it made it a perfect little sunshine snack. BELOW : This was hands down the best thing I ate in Bangkok. It was a random street side stall I found when we got lost looking for a famous Thai fish cake stall in Yaowarat. I, unfortunately, didn't get the name of the stand (I'm sorry!) but we stopped because the owner sold maybe 12 or more dishes and it all looked super tasty and it was packed with locals - always a good sign. We asked her what her speciality was as she said with a proud smile that she was known for this fish dish. I’m not sure what fish it was, maybe snake fish cut into chunks (?) as it had a long spinal bone through the centre. It was crusted with the most amazing spices, so complex but balanced, a good chilli heat, a little sweet too and it was crispy almost like pork crackling in parts. She paired it with her coconut lemongrass chicken curry and it mixed so beautifully with the fish. Thai food here is unlike anything we’ve experienced back home, it’s so crazy good and this meal cost us only $5 NZD with a drink. This is one of those dishes I will dream about for many years to come!
ABOVE & BELOW : One of my most photos I took on our trip is of this boy escaping the thick and sticky sauna-like heat in the 7-Eleven drinks fridge. I didn't want to take my camera out this particular night as I was hot and it was getting heavy, but Aary said, "bring it, you might see a candid moment that you can never see again". Literally his words, and 15 mins later, this happened. Love him!
ABOVE : Because a lot of the food places I wanted to try were closed due to the public holiday, we just wandered around Yawarat Road and ate street food and at places that looked busy. We loved our meal here at T & K Seafood where we got crispy fried fish with fish sauce, crab meat in a yellow curry powder sauce, morning glory (greens) in a ton of garlic lightly spiced with chilli. We washed it all down with cold beer and fresh tangelo juice. It was amazing! BELOW : Thai fish cakes at the weekend Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market, served with tangy crisp cucumbers, fried herbs and it had a chilli dipping sauce on the side.
BELOW : While in Bangkok, we took part in a traditional tattooing process called Sak Yant (there’s a video saved in the Bangkok highlights on Instagram, HERE). It was really moving and an emotional cultural experience, rich in history and spirituality. We brought offerings in the morning for the ceremony (and the different offering meanings were explained so we could choose the ones we wanted), and we learned about the history and also the magic that comes with the tattoo. After giving offerings and prayer at the studio, we discussed what sort of symbol Aary should get. Sak Yant is normally tattooed by ruesi, wicha (magic) practitioners, and Buddhist monks, traditionally with a long metal rod sharpened to a point called a khem sak, and they come with magic - almost like protection, luck or good omens. For your symbol, you can choose anything from money, business success etc - Aaron chose health (as money can’t buy health right?!) and this also included protection around the work that he does and being balanced. There was only enough time in Arjan’s appointment book to do a small one - but we felt this was perfect. After the tattoo, gold leaf was applied and Aaron was blessed and the ceremony was complete. During this final ritual, I was sitting on the floor opposite them and felt tears come down my face from such a positive and moving experience. So grateful to have had the opportunity to be apart of this. To keep the magic of the tattoo there are now 7 rules Aary has to follow, including being grateful and respectful of his parents, no adultery, not to use any addictive synthetic drugs (however natural ones like mushrooms and Marijuana are ok), and praying. Because I didn’t get a tattoo, I was given a rope ceremony where the master spelled magic and put it on my wrist to have a good and safe journey. When I arrived back home I was told I can put the rope on a top shelf to keep me safe in my home.
ABOVE & BELOW : Snaps from the Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market, only on Saturday and Sundays.
BELOW : Our evening at Octave Rooftop Bar, 59 floors up and getting 360-degree views over the city. From 5 pm - 7 pm they have
1/2 price cocktails to enjoy too...always a bonus!