Waking up in Bangkok on the first morning was very interesting. Our first glimpse of the city in the daylight was nice but not much – the highway we arrived on, the surrounding buildings and the main street where the hotel is. Not much to go on, to be honest. We headed down to breakfast to see how breakfast is done here – apparently quite nice! They had a nice spread to cover just about every palette – there were Europeans, Chinese, Thai and Americans (and everything in between, heard so many languages at the buffet) all picking something from the buffet.
After getting our fill and packing our backpacks for the city (or rather unpacking them after the flight), we went out to go and find somewhere to exchange our cash. We’d seen a few places the night before and our hotel told us to go to a specific area, so we went. Walking out into the Bangkok morning, though, our first thought was the heat! I had sweated so much walking around the night before I brought a small hand towel with me this time to help stay dry and after only a few minutes outside it was already in use (I sweat easily).
Our second thought was that no one seems to be afraid of moving traffic. The traffic lights don’t always have crosswalk signals, so you have to try to get a look at the signals for the cars and hope for the best. What did we do? We watched the locals. If a Thai walked into the crosswalk, you had better believe we were hot on their heels.
We got our things squared away and then headed off to Chatuchak Market to do a bit of shopping. Already walking to the train station I was having a bit of sensory overload. The sights, the sounds, the smells – I literally had to stop for a minute and reorient myself. We got to the market and then it started almost all over again. So many people milling about, so many delicious smells from the food stands and then all of the stands selling almost anything you could think of – from plants, to clothes and all the way to pottery. It was awesome. But distracting. So distracting that my wife had to remind me to actually pick up my camera and press the shutter button a few times. Can’t say that’s ever happened before.
The market was brilliant, though. Got a few odds and ends to wear and use for the trip. My favorite interaction was with the gentleman who sold me my linen shirt – he commented on me sweating and I told him we just got in last night from Austria were the temperature different was almost 30°C. He seemed to be a bit surprised and my comment was, “That’s why I need a Bangkok shirt for the Bangkok weather”, which got a laugh out of him.
Once we finished shopping and eating around the market, we headed to a shopping mall just to walk around and see how Thais did indoor shopping. Turns out they do it very well – the two malls we were in (Center World and Siam Paragon, the latter had normal shops but also some very upscale places) were awesome. Plenty of shops, no one being rude and pushy and the salespeople were always looking to take care of you (i.e., make a sale). Take note, Vienna, this is how you do things. The temperature in both malls was also perfect. In the USA, the air conditioning in the summer is always too cold and in Vienna in the winter, it’s always too hot (little to no air conditioning in summer). I’m not sure what the Thais are doing differently but the rest of the world should take note.
We headed back to the hotel for a couple of hours of rest before deciding what to do with the rest of our jetlagged evening. We were already quite exhausted but needed dinner after some rest. Around 8pm, we headed out to Sukhumvit Soi 38, which is famous for its street food and swiftly found out why. We ended up having snacks, three entrees and dessert at three different stalls. The portions are a bit smaller here and although we somewhat overdid it, we regretted nothing. Easily one of the best curries I’ve ever had and sticky rice with fresh mango.
When I die, I hope Heaven is catered by Thais.
Back to the hotel to watch a bit of TV and now, it’s almost 1am on Sunday, 8 March, as I write this and it’s time for bed.
Some other random things that I really noticed throughout the day, though:
- People around here like wearing shirts with pistols or submachine guns on them. Not sure if they’re locals because I’ve seen what looked like Chinese tourists wearing them, too, but there were quite a few shirts with the Glock and HK logos out there.
- If you order two entrees as a couple, you’ll get them one after another rather than simultaneously. Thais are big on sharing food on a table together.
- I have not seen a single grocery store. Do Thais always eat out or do 7Elevens and the markets really have all the bases covered?
- Just like in Vienna, burgers and steaks are a thing here, too.
- Coffee stands are everywhere. Whether it’s any good, though, I have no idea. I have no idea how you could drink a hot coffee in this heat.
- 7Eleven is literally everywhere. I was told this before arriving and read it, too, but they are practically ubiquitous.
- Thais hate smoking. There are “No Smoking” signs even at outdoor markets and the fines are hefty (approx. €70). If you decide to buy a pack of cigarettes in Thailand, though, prepare to be confronted with images of dead babies, blackened lungs or other disgusting facts of the effects of smoking.