The food in Bangkok– oh my gosh I can’t even begin to explain. I’m jumping straight into it today because I’m so excited about how amazing the food is and I know if I lived here I would be obese. It’s the best food in the world!
First of all, they have these massive food canteens, which are full of different food stalls with tables in the middle that they all share. They sell everything from Pad Thai, Tom Yum, fried rice, smoothies, stir fried vegetables, waffles- EVERYTHING! Me and Jenny had already decided we were going to have Pad Thai on our first night before we’d even got to Thailand; it’s one of our favourite meals.
Thailand know how to do their signature dish properly- the beansprouts, spring onion, tofu and sweet, sticky noodles were wrapped in an egg omelette and you could put your own peanuts, sauce and chilli flakes on top. It was sooo good. My moment in heaven was spoiled at first because halfway through I convinced myself that the tofu was pork (it looked slightly different to the usual tofu), but the next day confirmed that it was actually tofu. I went back to the same canteen tonight thinking I’d go for something different but the Pad Thai was so good I ended up getting it again.
Another interesting thing about these food courts is that you pay with a card that you buy at the front desk. You can top up however much money you want on it then use it to pay at each stall! What’s even better is that they have a TESCO upstairs! I don’t know what it is, but me and Jenny always get so excited in foreign supermarkets and spend so much time skipping up and down each isle in amazement like we’re in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory or something.
Having a Tesco meant sweet chilli crisps (not Sensations unfortunately, but still), pink ladies apples and decent chocolate. It’s mostly just packet long-life stuff they sell like pasta, crisps, biscuits etc. which mean they have no hummus 😦 I will find some eventually!
On our first day here we explored our new surroundings for a bit, looking to see what was on our doorstep and passing down different alleyways. Our hostel, Eco House, is based in a nice, quiet neighbourhood. After that nasty hostel experience in Ho Chi Minh, we were so lucky that Jenny’s boyfriend, Bilal, had booked us into a private room with our own bathroom in this lovely place as a surprise.
I cannot explain how nice it is to be able to have your own room so you can unpack your bag, have your own space and walk around naked after you’ve been in shared rooms for a few weeks. Our bed in this hostel is so comfy as well, it’s actually on par with my bed at home. We have a nice balcony snuggled into lots of trees and leaves, with free hot and cold water and microwaves. I’ve enjoyed sitting out there in the morning with a coffee; it feels like luxury compared to the last haha.
The surrounding neighbourhood has lots of food markets selling fresh fish and meat and so much fruit and veg. The most common fruit we have seen in Asia is Durian, which we are still yet to try. It’s a yellow-y colour, spikey and smells like sick so it puts me off trying it, but I refuse to leave Asia until I’ve at least given it a go.
Thailand has lots of pineapples too. There were piles of piles of them in these markets. They also sold freshly cut up fruit in little plastic pots. I’ve since tried some in this tomato curry-like dish and they’re so juicy and fresh. I’ve also heard through the grape vine that the fruit smoothies in Thailand are the best in the world so I can’t wait to try.
Following our neighbourhood stroll we went to Central World, the tenth largest shopping mall in the world and it was huge. It was actually like a maze; there were so many different sections we found ourselves getting lost a couple of times and even wondering if we were still in the same mall.
It was evident how westernised Bangkok has become, seeing that all the shops consisted of M&S, Topshop, Miss Selfridge, Boots and every other store you’d see in the UK. It felt like we were in a bigger and much better West Quay. For some reason it was so exciting being somewhere like that, even though it’s just like something we would get at home. There are so many other large malls surrounding Central World too. If we had the time we would probably go in each one, but they’d probably be pretty much the same as the next.
By far the best part about the mall was the street food market outside. Oh my gosh me and Jenny were in our element! Thai food is one of our favourite cuisines and they have every stall you could possibly think of from Pad Thai, Tom Yum, fresh seafood, curries, skewers, fresh fruit and smoothies. Everything is cooked in right front of you and the smells as you walk through the market change every few steps and it just makes you want to buy everything then sit in a corner alone whilst you scoff it.
I went for a spicy Tom Yum noodle soup with fried shrimp and it was just how I expected it to be (except maybe a little bit spicier). Everything tasted sooo fresh and it was just what I needed whilst me and Jenny sat under a shelter outside the mall whilst the torrential rain and whip-cracking thunder passed.
Whilst we’re still on the topic of food, I have to mention the toasties you can buy from 7-Eleven out here. Our friend Zi recommended them and they’re sooo nice and cost 27 Baht, which is about 61 pence! The perfect cheap snack if you’re on a tight budget. We also tried out some of those charcoal face masks from there. Note to self- next time do not accidentally put in on your eyebrows.
Bangkok is home to some of the most beautiful temples in the world. They are jaw-droppingly beautiful. Today we visited Wat Pho, one of the oldest temples in Bangkok. The temple grounds were huge, which I wasn’t expecting at all. It was amazing because it meant there was so much more to see and you could slowly walk round each part.
Inside the temple itself lies a ginormous, golden, reclining Buddha. Like literally one of the biggest things I have ever seen. The Buddha stood tall and the walls and ceilings protecting it were so colourful and detailed like hundreds of mosaics put together.
Other tall towers and pillars pointing towards the sky surrounded the temple. The attention to detail was so intricate and full. Whoever contributed to making them must have had a lot of patience! Looking closer I saw that they were decorated by small coloured tiles and fake flowers.
There were a couple of other small buildings in between these towers, guarding the temple. Their roofs were the shape of sharp, upside down V’s and resembled multi- coloured fish scales. Monks wondered around in their bright orange robes.
The only sad thing about my experience here is that I bought a gorgeous floor length skirt from a shop outside that was gold and green with elephants on it and I’ve somehow managed to lose it! I’ve traced back every single step and I have no idea how it’s happened; it was in my shoulder bag all day so it makes no sense at all! But it was really cheap and I’ll be able to buy another one. As frustrating as it is I’m just so grateful it wasn’t my phone or purse.
We also took a quick look around Chinatown today! I swear every city has a Chinatown?! But it was quite cool. It had everything you’d expect it to including the stereotypical large vertical advertisements in Chinese which would light up at night.
Food stalls sold things like birds nest soup and whole chickens, there were Chinese medicine shops, a shop selling shark fins and, of course, plenty of authentic shops selling bright orange lanterns, golden waving cats and enough incense to last you a life time. Older men lay themselves out a sheet on the floor and placed their goods to sell- vintage rings, heavy lockets, second hand Nokia bricks and Blackberry phones.
Once we’d beaten the Bangkok traffic we headed to the Jim Thompson house and museum. Jim Thompson was an American architect who volunteered himself to the US army during WW2. He was sent to Asia after campaigning in Europe, but he the war ended before he saw any action. He fell for Thailand after being sent to Bangkok as a military officer and decided to live there permanently.
He designed and built this stunning wooden house, tucked away in a vibrant tropical garden pouring with leaves and trees. The wood has a red-ish hue to it, the ceilings are relatively high and the walls bend in slightly at the top. He devoted himself to reviving the silk craft after a long-neglected cottage industry caught his attention.
Jim Thompson lived in this unique house for about eight years before he went on holiday to Malaysia and went missing. What happened to him still remains a mystery to this day. His house is now a museum. Most of the furniture and objects still remain in the rooms and there are shops selling bags, scarfs and clothes made from silk in the garden. There are actually people pulling apart silk cocoons outside, putting into perspective just how long the process is and how much effort is put into making silk products.
The house itself has such a quirky look to it; it’s built relatively high off of the ground due to Thailand’s floods, some of the doorways inside are easily mistaken for mirrors and the windows and structure bend in slightly at the top. You’re not allowed to take photos of the inside of the house, which is why I haven’t got any. But it’s a good excuse for anyone to go and see it with their own eyes!
I have a feeling this is going to be my second favourite city in Asia (after Tokyo). I’m really enjoying my time here so far and the overall feeling of being in this city. It’s definitely more of a ‘me’ place compared to some of the places we have been so far. There is so much to do, so much to see and so much food to try. Tomorrow we are going to volunteer at the Wildlife Friends Foundation with elephants and other rescued animals! That’s if we get there okay! We’re a bit confused about buses and a bit worried about making the right one at the right time with the traffic etc… but I’m sure we will get there and it will be fine and amazing!