Bangkok is the craziest city I’ve ever been to. Period.
It’s dirty, smelly, hot and humid. Our guest-house was not on Koh San Road, but on one of Bangkok’s million other bustling busy street. Still, to Koh San we went, for a quick gawp at one of Asia’s most famous streets. It is a circus of sales men, backpackers and the inebriated. You can pick up almost anything you should want; hand-tailored suits, tickets to a sex show, or a deep-fried scorpion kebab. Trying to find some sort of middle ground…we indulged in a fishy foot spa. For me, it involved less putting my feet in the tank of hungry fish and more squealing at the thought of it…
So what would I do in Bangkok again? Well, this lot for starters –
The Grand Palace
The Grand Palace is an absolute must for anyone visiting Bangkok and arguably Bangkok’s main tourist attraction. Consisting of an abundance of temples and statues, all encrusted in dazzling gems or gold leaf. I recommend going here in the morning, we went around midday and it was stifling hot. Also, ignore anyone (and you will come across many) who tell you the Grand Palace is closed or opening later for whatever reason. I can’t quite get my head around why they are so anti tourist’s getting there, as most didn’t appear to want to sell us an alternative trip!
The first tuk-tuk was an adrenaline filled, fast-paced, noisy and hair-raising ride but it is amazing how quickly you become acclimatised. Our first driver knew what he was doing and was able to sell us, clueless tourists, a ride from the Grand Palace to Wat Po (only a 20-second walk round the corner). They can be a little unscrupulous, if only for small change to us, but never great to know you’ve been had. Must be better at reading maps.
An evening under the stars, 59 floors up, at the appropriately named Moon Bar at Banyan Tree led to a night of delicious cocktails, questionable inforced attire and some celebrity spots, with us, bumping into Gok Wan (UK Fashion TV Personality) as we were leaving. The views out over the city are stunning from this height and a sunset trip here is well worth it, just don’t turn up in flip flops or shorts because they will enforce their dress code!
The MBK shopping centre is probably the largest mall I have ever been to (8 floors with 2,000 shops) and sells a heap of knock off brands. You can spend hours walking the narrow walkways between independently owned stores across its multiple levels. If shopping is your passion, this is where the real Bangkok residents head and there is nothing like MBK, just prepare to haggle hard and don’t be put off by it’s slightly jumble sale/ market appearance.
Jim Thompson’s house stands proud as a miracle to modern urban planning. It is a traditional Thai style home surrounded by modern concrete high-rises and the fact it wasn’t levelled years ago, is quite a campaigning feat by the people who love this building. As an American officer who fought in World War II, Jim moved to Thailand in the 1940s and collected furniture and antiques from across Asia, going on to supply the Thai silk for the film The King And I. His death is surrounded in mystery as he reportedly disappeared on a jungle trek in Malaysia in the 1960s and was never found. The house remains open today for the public to see his beautiful collection of antique Asian furniture and there are insightful tours on all day, which last about 40 minutes.
Restaurants For A Cause
Cabbages and Condoms, based in a busy metropolitan district of Bangkok, is a Thai restaurant with a twist. Guests dine alongside several celebrity models that are made entirely out of different coloured condoms.
After polishing as many delicious Thai dishes as possible, guests are supplied with after-dinner condoms instead of after-dinner mints. You’re probably wondering what is with this slight latex fetish. Cabbages and Condoms is a restaurant with a message. That message being to practice safe sex. It was set up by the Population and Community Development Association, an NGO aiming to promote family planning in Thailand, especially in areas where knowledge and access to family planning services is scarce and has achieved amazing things through this initiative.