I was prepared to dislike Bangkok from the minute I stepped off of my Air Asia flight from Krabi. During my weeks on the Andaman Coast, no one I met had anything positive to say about Thailand’s capital, resorting instead to one-liners about the plethora of tourists, dirty streets and prostitution. Having arrived from a month of lazing around and learning to enjoy the beach for the first time, Bangkok was certainly an assault to island life. However, once you scratch past that first layer of grime and wintry, wary stares Bangkok becomes a lot more inviting and a lot more fun.
Since the city fans outward from the Chao Phraya in an overwhelming mix of people, food and places to explore, the best way to summarize many (numerous) times there is a good old fashioned top 10 list (inspired by The Lost Girls’ own list for the capital): 1. Amazing street food: From a daily dose of pad thai for $1, to the melt-in-your mouth sweetness of the fresh pineapple sold all over the city (15 cents) to the puffy, savoury coconut pastries filled with corn at every street corner, Bangkok has a ton of food at your fingertips, and it won’t break the bank to indulge. In my trips to the city, I can’t think of more than one time that I ate at a proper restaurant. Street food: fast turnover, cheap and delicious. Definitely the way to go. 2. Sticky rice and chicken for breakfast near Wat Chana Songkhram: I had to break out the sticky rice and chicken because it was my breakfast pretty much every day, and I got a lot of shit for it from other tourists (most of whom were eating muesli and yoghurt). I never liked eggs or pancakes for breakfast, and would eat dinner leftovers in the AM when I was a kid, to the dismay and confusion of my family. Sticky rice and chicken with monks in Bangkok is a great way to start the day!. True story. 3. Thai or Foot Massages starting at $4 an hour: There are plenty of spas to choose from in the city, and a huge spectrum of quality on offer. I ended up going back to a spa on Rambuttri Road several times during my days in Bangkok, drawn in by the stupendously good foot/reflexology massage I got from a woman named Bang. After a long day of wandering, the head, neck and shoulder massage is a decadent pre-dinner appetizer and costs less than a sandwich in New York. 4. The Chao Phraya river: The Chao Praya River separates Bangkok and the former Thai capital city of Thonburi, and remains the most relaxed, pleasant way of touring parts of the city. Staying near Phra Athrit pier had many benefits, most notably the ease with which you can see the city – without the crushing, traffic-filled, smoggy roadways to negotiate. Hopping on the water taxi (there are two types: express and local, delineated by the colour of the flag atop the boat) was a lovely way to explore other areas of Bangkok, from the crowded, churning Chinatown to Wat Arun (The Temple of Dawn)’s dazzling 79m tall stupa on the opposite side of the Chao Phraya river.
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