Thursday, June 30, 2016
Hollerrr! City of squalor!
Just kidding. Although this was exclaimed during the Hangover movie, Bangkok is so much more than a party city with questionable morals.
So we kicked back a few beers at the airport, some more on the short flight, and hit the streets ready to experience Bangkok nightlife.
But first, food. We walked to a nearby restaurant called P Kitchen. It was the best Thai food we’ve ever eaten. Better than the Thai at our wedding. Better than anything we tasted in our previous trip to Phuket. The raw shrimp appetizer was unlike anything we could find in the states. Recently caught shrimp with fresh cut garlic and chilies made for a wonderful combination (so good we had to get the raw crab at another meal). I had Pad Thai. Basic, I know. But I could cry thinking about it and wishing I could have it right now. The noodles were perfect and the whole dish was in a scrambled egg pillow case. I’m a sucker for eggs. Chris ordered the super-mega spiciest cashew nut shrimp and cried (joyfully) the whole meal. Off to a great start!
We chased the spicy food down with a few Chang beers. Did I mention how cheap food and drink is in Thailand? You can eat and drink like kings and queens. And we did ALL WEEKEND.
So we’re a little tired from the work week and we want to be ready to pack in a full day of exploring on Friday. But after dinner, we’re just not quite ready for bed yet. “Let’s grab a nightcap!” and we’ll head back. As we saunter along the streets, we realize how close we are to Soi Cowboy, the street made famous by the Hangover movie.
Naturally, that’s where we went for a “quick” drink.
Soi Cowboy is a bright neon street, like a piece of the Las Vegas strip got caught in the Honey I Shrunk the Kids machine. The sights and sounds are packed in tightly, activity buzzing all around. Tourists walk down the street eyes wide with wonder. While the locals are hawking street food, copious amounts of booze and sex, girls (or very good imitations of/transitions to girls) are scantily clad enticing you into their bars for cheap drinks and shows. The people watching is top notch.
We really did mean to have just one drink. Really. The cheap whiskey (especially compared to Singapore prices) and never-ending parade of people kept us seated and ordering more. This wouldn’t be so great for our Friday plans, but the moment was too good to not stay for just one more.
I get up to use the restroom, leaving Chris to fend for himself. When I walk back, he’s engulfed by a crowd of thirsty ladies. I find this hilarious! So I keep my distance, order one more drink at the bar, and just watch his failing efforts to keep them at bay.
I finish my drink and return. He gives me a look, knowing I stranded him for longer than necessary for my own entertainment 🙂 The girls scatter fast as they realize they’re not getting the deal they hoped for. Sorry ladies!
It’s a short walk back to the hotel, Hotel Windsor Suites. Fortunately, it’s a nice hotel because I would spend most of Friday morning here regretting that one last drink from the night before.
Ughhhh I didn’t want to get out of bed, but I knew I should. Chris is reminding me that I’m wasting a trip. Not that I needed reminding, I needed a cure for the hangover. We
eventually make our way out of the hotel that afternoon. I don’t make it far before I ask Chris to buy me a Gatorade from 7-11. While he’s in the store, I walk across the alley and puke in the grass of the Lexus dealership. Classic move, Jen! I didn’t get caught and it was the last hurdle to recovery. I downed the Gatorade and we were on our way.
We stop at a coffee shop (I wish I could remember the name!) for some fuel. I’m not sure how, but each meal is better than the last. Chris had basil chicken and I had soft shell crab green curry. The soft shell crab was expertly fried and the green curry was the perfect balance of spicy and savory. This dish moved into my top five all time favorites.
You know what else is cheap in Bangkok? Massages! They are offered everywhere. We’ve been out of bed for about an hour now, and our stomachs are full, so let’s go lay down again.
After hours of being pampered at the tropical Divana Spa, we are back out on the streets. Like raccoons, we are off to find our next meal. I’m not kidding. Hunger is irrelevant. We’re gonna eat again.
We found Green Garden. A nice little outdoor spot across from a German restaurant, which oddly enough there are a surprising amount of in Bangkok. Who knew?
Not wanting to be too boring, instead of green curry I go wild and order red curry. It was amazing. Not quite as good as the green curry I had a few hours before, but I could have drank the red stuff right out of the bowl. But I don’t act like a trash panda in public*, so I just fantasized about it while watching Chris tear through a whole steamed sea bass. This is where we found the raw crab dish prepared (or not prepared?) similar to the raw shrimp dish but with some mango to complement the always spicy Thai chili. Another Thai delight we never had the pleasure of devouring before.
*There are always exceptions to every rule.
After dinner we walk back to the hotel on the brink of a self-induced food coma. We crash hard. Dreams of red, yellow, and green curries danced in my head.
Saturday is here! I wake up feeling brand new. And hungry. But we’re saving our appetites (weird I know). Chris and I found a driver to take us out of the sprawling city of Bangkok to the Amphawa floating market. The second largest of the Bangkok markets, this one is about an hour drive from the city and tourists are rare. The market draws mostly Thai people looking for the freshest seafood served straight off the boats.
Colorful and narrow boats dot the shores of the market along the river. I wish I knew the names of all the different foods we tried. The seafood was so fresh. How could it not be? The shrimp were delectable but do you see the horseshoe crab?! Freshly caught, they crack it open, add chopped and pickled Thai veggies, mix it in with the crab’s eggs, and serve it up right off the boat. Such a unique dish. As a walking snack we had tiny fried crabs – full shell and all – tossed in some fish sauce and a number of spices, served in a plastic bag like peanuts at a carnival. They were uniquely delicious . Varieties of bugs were also available but we didn’t try any. Only because you had to buy in bulk– neither one of us wanted pounds of dried bugs– so we had to pass.
There were these waxy circles served on banana leaves. They poured the warm, white substance over the leaf and cooled them under the fan. People lined up waiting impatiently for them to cool and walk away a box of these little bad boys. They are slightly sweet with a hint of coconut.
Meandering through the market, we were just about to leave when the mouthwatering smell of something on the grill drew our attention. The lady was making grilled scallops. The smell of the smoke from the grill mixed with the spices and fresh seafood could not be beat. They were the most exquisite scallops Chris and I ever had. We wished we bought more! We were in a hurry to not miss our ride back to the city.
If you have the opportunity to visit Bangkok, the food is the highlight and the Amphawa floating market is a hidden gem worth the trek away from the bustling streets of Thailand’s capital city. We made sure to visit Soi Cowboy Saturday night, meeting up with some fellow US expats who are living in Bahrain, to cap off the trip before flying back on Sunday.
The result was the same. Soi Cowboy is just too wild to stay away.
Until next time, fellow travelers… Cheers!