10 Things I love about Bangkok
1. Spicy chicken noodle soup:
From the street food stalls of China Town to the fancy food courts of swanky Bangkok malls, Spicy chicken noodle soup is available everywhere. One spoonful of this delicious dish will make your taste buds dance. Different exotic Thai spices, glass noodles, small pieces of chicken, some green vegetables, and a bit of lemon are the ingredients that I have been able to figure out. Needless to say, a lot more probably goes into this dish, but who cares, I am not a chef. I am one of those guys who pay 50 Bahts for a bowl, and remain happy the rest of the day.
2. Wat Pho
I first looked up Wat Pho when I saw the image of the Reclining Buddha in “The Beach”. I don’t know whether it was Leonardo’s voice in the background, the Wat’s magnificent golden colour, or just the fact that I have never seen Buddha lying down (it reminded me of the way I like to watch TV), but I made it a point to visit Wat Pho the moment I touch down in Bangkok. And I did. 7 times. There is something magical about this Wat. Even though, it has now become a popular tourist destination due to which it is almost always crowded, for me visiting this Wat has always been a nice serene experience.
3. Siam Paragon Food Court
There is nothing more satisfying after a day of sightseeing than having the food that your heart desires. Incidentally, desires of the heart can be quite unpredictable (sometimes even creepy), but if I had to put my money on a place where we will have the best chance of finding the food that we want, I’ll put my money on Siam Paragon Food Court. Located on the ground floor of the super swanky Siam Paragon Mall, it has the widest range of cuisines I have seen under one roof. It doesn’t matter whether you want Arabic, Japanese, Korean, Indian, Pakistani, European, Fast Food, or just good old Thai, they have it all. With ample sitting area and a friendly vibe, it is almost impossible to not fall in love with this place.
4. Playing Video Games with the locals in MBK Mall
Located on the 3rd Floor of the Mall, there is a small video game parlour where you can play the latest Xbox and Playstation Games and challenge the locals. Earlier, I used to think playing video games while in Bangkok was a waste of time. I mean you can play video games at home. But that perception changed recently when I decided to enter the parlour on a rainy Thursday evening. There is nothing more enjoyable than beating an 8 year old Thai kid in a game that he loves. As I beat his character, John Cena, into a bloody pulp with his parents and little sister looking on with horrified expressions on their faces, I felt ashamed. Ashamed of the fact that I didn’t visit this place on my previous trips to Bangkok.
5. Chang Beer and Live Music at Khao San Road
There are quite a few places in and around the Khao San Road, each with its own identity and character, where you can just sit back, knock down a few bottles of Chang Beer, while listening to some soothing live music played by the in-house band, and give yourself some much deserved break from the chaos and madness of Bangkok. My personal favourite place is the Rooftop Cafe located right in the middle of Khao San Road. As the name suggests, this place is located on the rooftop of one of the shops. It is not hard to find. Just stroll around in the Khao San Road anytime after 8 P.M. and if you hear some classic Bryan Adams music coming from the roof of one of the shops, you are at the right place. Just find the narrow iron staircase which is big enough to fit just one person at a time, find a nice seat, and order some Chang Beer and Pad Thai, and relax!
6. The Bangkok Podcast
Hosted by Tony and Greg, this show is about the issues that a farang deals with while living in Thailand. There have been shows with inputs on the Thai Language, information about transportation, scams, culture, etc. They have also been interviewing some really interesting people from all backgrounds and industries, from time to time. The chemistry between the hosts and the choice of topics are probably the reasons why I find myself downloading the show on my iPod whenever I get a chance. The show was temporarily put on hold when Tony moved to Japan but now the show is back on air again. For more details just visit www.bangkokpodcast.com
7. Respecting The King
I don’t know his accomplishments. I am not even sure whether the constitution gives him any real decision making power. But, the Thais seem really happy with their King. In the times when overthrowing the people in power is in fashion, I love the fact there is a small country which still adores and respects its King.
8. Staying at Lub D Bangkok and Getting to know the world
Located next to the National Stadium Station, Lub D Bangkok is consistently been voted among the top hostels in Asia. Equipped with all the amenities that a visitor might need, coupled with clean toilets, bathrooms and super amazing staff, it made me extend my stay here over and over again. Here, you can share your room with people from around the world, share experiences and listen to their stories. Till now, I have stayed with Germans, South Africans, Cambodians, Chinese, British, Spanish, Americans and of course, Thais. My trip to Bangkok is incomplete if I do not spend a night at the Lub D.
9. Visiting the pet section of Chatuchak Market
Ever since I heard that there is an entire section of the Chatuchak market dedicated to pets, all sorts of crazy ideas of bringing some animal back home were doing rounds in my head. From squirrels to guinea pigs, puppies to small rats, Chatuchak market has it all. You would see lines of shops with cute puppies, kittens various other animals and birds in small cages, ready to be sold and shipped to any part of the world. Of course, they charge extra for shipping.
10. People Watching:
Be it outside a small street food stall, or in front of a tacky Go-Go bar, the best way to spend an evening in Bangkok is to grab your favourite drink, get a good seat, and just look around. You will be surprised at how relaxing and fun this can turn out to be. (I have tried this in Sukhumvit, Khao San, Siam and Nana. It is fun everywhere!). It gets a bit more interesting when a lady boy from the nearby Go-Go bar joins you.