Bangkok, Thailand – The first thing we noticed about Bangkok after stepping off the night train from Chaing Mai was the heat. It was hot (upper 90s) and humid (upper 80s) and would rain every afternoon for about 30 minutes. It reminded me of growing up in Florida. Incidentally, according to a couple sources, Bangkok is the hottest capital city.
The second thing we noticed was how huge this city was. Since leaving Shanghai four months ago, most of our time has been spent in little towns with less then 100,000 people. Bangkok has millions. And they all love going to malls – which also might number in the millions – downtown is full of them! If you went to a different mall each day, it would take at least three weeks to see them. And most are connected so you can move to a different mall without going outside. Which is great when you want to escape the heat.
We headed over to Little Arabia for dinner and right when we got off the Skytrain – Bangkok’s elevated rail system – a downpour begun forcing us to go into the nearest mall. The mall’s information sign noted a rather large food court, and since the rain didn’t sound like it was letting up anytime soon, we decided to take our chances and hoped for somewhere interesting to eat.
Now, back home, the last place you want to be eating on a Friday night is a food court of a mall. But this place was packed! It was the place to be. And all the restaurants were fancy and there was even a gourmet grocery store. We found a Mexican restaurant and, not surprisingly, tried the tacos before scrounging around the grocery store hunting for good chocolate with no luck.
* * *
The rest of our time in Bangkok was mostly spent exploring the city while trying to avoid the rainstorms and the heat (usually by ducking into one of the malls). We met up with Matthew – a good friend who used to be a camper at a summer camp back when I was a counselor – who’s been living in Bangkok teaching English and had a couple days off to show us around.
He was a great guide and took us around the major sites like the Grand Palace and Khao San Road – the backpacker hub of Thailand – and showed us some great places to eat including a little hole in the wall over in Little India, a Japanese hamburger place and a yummy Korean BBQ restaurant where we cooked the food at our table, and where his girlfriend, Megan, and some of their friends made for splendid company and lively conversation.
While seeing the Grand Palace, Matthew and I spent the whole time catching up so I don’t remember much other then the Grand Palace was shinny and crowded, and Kho San Road was also crowded and not so shiny.
We ended up making it back to Little Arabia for dinner and had some shawarma that was out of this world – we even had seconds. Little Arabia was a unique mix of women in hijabs passing prostitutes slouching against the wall waiting for their next john – who usually happened to be a Western tourist.