Who’s never heard of Bangkok and its night life? Long before the Hangover 2 was shot there, Bangkok had already acquired quite a reputation worldwide for parties and debauchery. Yet, this is not what we came looking for in Bangkok. Actually, we had no real expectations.
The first surprise, and what a surprise, was that our friend Dennis had come from Hong Kong for the weekend! We were of course super excited. The second surprise was that our friend Judith’s apartment, where we stayed, felt more like a 5-star hotel to us. It even had an infinity pool on the 12th floor! We thus got to taste the Bangkok expat life for a few days. To be honest, we could almost imagine ourselves living in Bangkok, hadn’t it been for the heavy traffic that you have to face wherever you go. To give you an idea, it took us around 4 hours getting to the center from the airport and Quentin wanted to get off the taxi in the middle of the highway. However, the taxi driver was entertaining us by telling us that only 1 out of 100 is a good taxi driver, and he is sometimes one of the bad ones tricking tourists to pay more. Another taxi driver gave us hugs and kisses when we said goodbye.
Judith guided us around the city most of the time, notably to the following places: Chinatown, the flower market, an Easter brunch, the Chatuchak market and Khaosan street.
Chinatown is a bustling “town in the town”, with countless Chinese restaurants, mostly serving shark fin soup. Apparently, Chinatown keeps expanding, generously fed by the important number of Chinese migrants. We carefully avoided the shark fin restaurants, and got ourselves a tiny place serving different noodle bowls. After strolling around a bit we visited the biggest Chinese temple in town, famous for its big golden buddha. Apparently its “full of pure gold but we don’t really know how much because we haven’t managed to check inside”.
Bangkok’s flower market
A few stops away with the boat (which in itself is quite an entertaining adventure), we got to the flower market, where we found piles and piles of flower bouquets meant for offerings or official ceremonies. Masses of golden chrysanthemum ready to be tied together border piles of orchids assembled in beautiful arrangements. Judith explained us that for the King’s burial last year, real art pieces (sometimes 3-4 m high) were made out of flowers and filled the streets around the flower market. Millions lined up in the streets and made offerings to bid farewell to their beloved king.
Sunday was Easter Sunday and we were invited by Judith’s friends for a real Austrian Easter brunch. Couldn’t say no to that, especially considering that there would be cheese, ham and Zopf (a rarity considering the region of the world we’re in). We even had easter eggs to do some cracking fights (Quentin calls it “your weird tradition that consists in smashing your egg into someone else’s egg…”), and had a great time meeting some Thais and expats living in Bangkok.
One of the best markets for shopping we might have ever seen is the Chatuchak market. It’s insanely big and even our Bangkok friends commonly get lost in there. You can find anything there, from designer furniture to little baby dogs (that seem way too young to be separated from their mother btw). In contrast to many other markets we had seen in south-east Asia, this time we were actually tempted to buy several things, and could have easily furnished a whole apartment with all the stuff we saw! We nevertheless managed to hold back (nope, not going to carry that 17 kg mortar in my backpack for the next 6 months!) and bought a few shirts and presents for Japan.
BKK Night life
Visiting Bangkok isn’t complete without a visit to its famous (or infamous) party street Khaosan… or not. We decided to give it a try, but were rather disappointed, as it just felt like a couple of bars next to each other, offering buckets full of diluted and overpriced alcohol, or where kids try to sell you grilled crickets, snakes and tarantulas. We also missed-out on one of those ladyboy shows but will keep that for the next time!
To continue or “Bangkok expat experience”, Judith brought us to a beautiful rooftop bar where we enjoyed some tasty cocktails.
Wat Arun Temple
Although we thought we had seen enough temples in the past two months, we decided to visit Wat Arun temple. It was well worth it because it was totally different from what we had seen until now. The main structure is a massive white stupa (prang) surrounded by four smaller prangs, all carved and painted.
We were a bit too busy eating to take pictures of all the stuff we ate, but did take the chance to have a last taste of Thai food before leaving for Japan.
In one shopping mall, we also tried out the Hong Kong chicken that caught the world’s attention 2-3 years ago for being the first street food to get a michelin star. Apparently, the owner transformed his stall into a chain in no time!
Now, finally, off to Japan!