I can’t say this is going to be my most culturally adept post. I have been told Bangkok is chockfull of beautiful temples, mosques and shrines, and studded with a not-to-miss palace and breathtaking riverfront. On these I cannot report. But food, spa, party, and shopping? Got it covered.
I went with Melannie, a friend whose introduction to me is probably an even better story than my weekend in Bangkok. Here, the Reader’s Digest version: when I moved to Singapore I thought I would need a flatiron for my hair (because when it’s 500 degrees F outside, of course you’ll want a range of hot hair tools to choose from), so I posted on the Facebook wall of the expat group I am in asking if anyone had one they wanted to part ways with. Melannie, whose hair is curly, replied and said the one she’d purchased wasn’t strong enough to tame her locks, so we met up for a Craigslist-exchange, realised we are both Jersey Strong females living in Singapore, and a glorious New Jersey-rooted, Singapore-based friendship was born.
We flew off from Singapore after work Friday, ready for a weekend of fun. Upon arriving in Bangkok, we arrived at our hotel in the Silom area, an eclectic part of town with lots of stark contrasts all over the place: yoga studios next to old Chinese eateries and English pubs next to pad thai stalls. From there it was time to hit the town: José has a friend from MBA that lives in Bangkok (it was his birthday Friday night, epic), so Melannie and I met up with him and his friends after getting ready quickly in our hotel room. We went to 72 Courtyard, a cool open-plan mall area where the cool kids in Bangkok are hanging out these days. Artisan cafes, eateries, community spaces, and at night, bumping bars. We checked out a few, blah blah blah, super fun night. I was very responsible and went to bed early and had one beer only because I don’t even really like going out (I know my mom reads this blog).
In the morning we got a bit of a late start. Had a quick breakfast at an incredible cafe called Rocket Coffeebar, which anyone and everyone should visit if they are ever in Bangkok. Great, great, great coffee (Melannie and I both a bit coffee obsessed), and the coffee drinks, like the marshmallow affogado were indulgent, delicious, and perfect hangover cures. For food, we split an egg and tuna toastie, and I got a crab/avocado dish, with Melannie going for a yummy quail egg and truffle waffle. Seriously, epic menu! And the people were awesome too because they were cool with all of my coffee questions as well as the 500 menu items I wanted to ask about. Recommend!
From there it was straight to Chatuchak (ja-tu-jak) Market. I’ve seen my fair share of weekend markets in Southeast Asia, and this one tops them all by legions. It’s a tight maze of roofed lanes like many other weekend markets, but the shoppes here are fantastic! We spent about five hours here, perusing the laneways and chomping down on tasty street food like mango sticky rice and green papaya salad. The selection is incredible, with everything under the sun, from ceramics and home goods to great clothes and funky jewelry—even exotic animals (checking out this section was a tip from José’s MBA friend, who I cannot thank enough because I was able to see both French bulldog and Akita husky puppies, sending me into a tailspin of joy). I had to do an extra bit of work in the market because my beanstalk body frame is often not conducive to Asian clothing sizes, but I left the market with a few pieces of interesting jewelry, a beautiful beach caftan, some yummy-smelling soap, and some new threads. And, because I know there’s nothing that Michael Hayden loves than a good deal, I’d like to mention that nothing was priced over 15 USD!
Saturday night was a bit more chilled, starting off with dinner at—and I want to preface this restaurant name by saying that it is a real and legitimate business and name—Supanniga. I was not partial to choosing this restaurant because of the hilarity of its accidentally racist name (I was). Dinner here was YUM and filled our table with plates of Thai comfort food, everything from rice and noodles to stir fry to curry. So enjoyable throughout, so painful afterwards. We were walking noodles following the meal, so we decided to let our stomachs settle a bit at the massage parlour nearby our hotel. It was called Happy Massage which seemed incredibly sketchy, but we took the risk and were glad we went for it: a 90-minute foot massage never hurt nobody. From there it was out on the town and blah blah party party. In conclusion, the nightlife is Bangkok is fantastic.
When it comes to trying new places while traveling, I’ve evolved a bit over the last five years. There was a time when, in the name of discovery, I would never step foot in the same place twice. But now, if I like a place, I’ll stick to it. That principle applied on Sunday when we hit up Rocket Coffeebar again for an early morning java blast and delicious brekkie. In a shocking twist of events, we were feeling a bit fatigued on Sunday, so we kept the day relaxed. First thing was first, so we headed back to the massage place and got 60-minute massages and get the day moving a bit. From there, since we hadn’t eaten in a very long 90 minutes, we stopped off at Kalaprapreuk, another home-y Thai comfort food place, for more of what we came for (Thai really is one of my favourite cuisines in the world!). We had a nice leisurely lunch, but the shop closed up at 3PM, so we were booted out. After lunch we decided to really push ourselves, and head to the spa for manicures and pedicures. Gruelling day!!
Since we got a late start, after our hard work at the spa, it was time to head to the airport. We were a bit delayed departing Bangkok, getting us in close to 1:30AM, but it was well worth it! Although we saw zero cultural sites, we had originally intended to spend the weekend relaxing, catching up, partying, and eating, and we weren’t left disappointed. Since it’s such a close flight from Singapore, I know there will be other opportunities to indulgence my historical/cultural senses. What I can say for sure about Bangkok is there is so much to explore, especially given the city’s already popular nightlife scene and continually growing art and food situations. For its reputation as a dirty city with a mega-traffic problem, it really has to much to offer and serves as a great place to get away for a weekend, in my opinion.
That’s all to say: Bangkok, we’ll be back!
Some photos from Bangkok: