Our first evening in Bangkok sold us on the city from the very beginning.
We got off our plane around 6:30pm local time and, just like everyone says, it’s the warm and humid air that hits you notice first. After changing into cooler clothes and still feeling it, we went to the taxi station at the airport. After waiting in line for a solid 30 minutes at least (so many people!) we got our taxi. As is typical, he tried to scam us by saying he wouldn’t turn the meter on if we paid a flat rate. Funnily enough, the flat rate ended up being exactly what we paid in meter and toll fees for the highway.
Got to the hotel safe and sound (I’m now convinced racing teams should hire more drivers from Thailand – the way that older guy and just about everyone else wove through traffic… wow!) and then up to our room. Realized we were very hungry and decided to wander around the neighborhood to get some local food. After almost sitting down at an overpriced tourist restaurant, we said to hell with it and kept walking until we could find something decidedly less clean. Ended up walking past a very dingy place and the owner was extremely friendly and the food outside being cooked looked awesome, so we stopped for a bite. Excellent decision because we paid maybe €6 for two delicious bowls of Thai soup with noodles (add chili and shrimp sauce to make it better!) and a pair of Cokes (copyright date 2010!) and took in the city. Tourists were eating there, locals – it was a real mixed place.
After finishing our meal we needed to get some water from the local 7Eleven and wanted to wander around. Had some Thai pancake (dough with banana and what looked like sweetened condensed milk – so good!) from a street vendor and kept wandering. We ended up getting somewhat “lost”. I say “somewhat” because we knew the general area we were in but the map our hotel gave us was crappy and didn’t have any of the side streets marked. No matter, we followed my favorite tip when walking around a new city – just keep walking in a straight general direction and eventually you’ll come to a main street. Best decision because we saw all sorts of neat things: street vendors preparing delicious food, the freshest fruit for sale and just very nice people out and about. The streets were very dark but there was always light shining out of what looked like garages but were actually one-room (or so) apartments to help light the way, along with the occasional street lamp or light from a vendor.
I’ve honestly never been outside of the “first world” before, so it was all so different but endlessly interesting. Of course this was the night I didn’t bring my camera while wandering around (too tired to carry it) but I’ll be going back for photos. Like everyone says, Bangkok is generally a very safe city and not once did my wife or I feel unsafe at all. I’m not entirely sure could say the same about very dark neighborhoods in the USA.
Once we got back to the hotel, we unpacked and got ready for bed, ready to meet our first day well rested, falling asleep to the sounds of a city that never seems to sleep.