There’s one thing that travelling has taught me: don’t listen to everything people tell you. Others had painted a picture of Bangkok as a missable city unbearably clogged up with sweat, motorbikes, people, pestering Tuk-Tuk drivers and seedy back-streets. This was all there. But, in Thailand’s capital, this to me, all went without saying. If you arrive, expecting and accepting all this, you will look past it, enjoy Bangkok a whole lot more and find a plethora of things to do that will overshadow Bangkok’s seemingly aggravating characteristics.
Temple trekking can get tiresome and once you’ve seen a few it’s hard to maintain the momentum and enthusiasm. It’s quite sad once you lose that pang of awe when seeing a Buddhist temple magically dazzling with a million colours whilst brightening up its surrounding city or rural scape.
My advice, just see the best: The Grand Palace in Bangkok. The Palace and the Pagodas are so bright, vibrant and intricate its unbelievable to the naked eye, several times I went to re-adjust my 3D glasses to realise that no, these are not CGI effects, these structures are real…a concept just as unfathomable to grasp as skipping Bangkok altogether! And I’m so glad I ignored other people’s advice.
A food-lover first arriving in Bangkok will find it hard to cope. If arriving via train take a local bus (for about 7p) from the station towards the Koh San Road. You will spend a while weaving through streets and passing several districts en route, but do not fear, time passes fast as your dialated pupils skim the hundreds of food vendors spilling out of the streets and squeezing onto the road side. It excites as much as it tortures, as the tragic reality is…seeing isn’t tasting.
One word: SNACK. This really is the best way to try more without over-consuming. In fact, this way, you can simply eat your way through the city streets all day. Nibble through a gyoza here, chew on a sugared doughnut there, crunch into a fresh pomegranate over there and slurp on noodles everywhere…
Here’s where my serial snacking led me:
My ultimate food highlight was enjoying a post-night out snack with some locals who we drunkenly encountered and followed to a street food stall. They lead us to Soi Rambuttri to a typical street vendor whose plastic tables were laden with pots of dry and fresh chilli, vinegar and sugar pots. They ordered us a pork, won-ton and noodle soup in a coriander and spring onion broth. Our new local friends demonstrated the correct ratio of sugar to spice adding in two heap spoons of dry chilli and one spoonful of fresh chilli and sugar, enough spice to quickly snap myself out of my drunken state.