Whats the capital of Thailand? -BANGKOK!
Thailand has been keeping me pretty busy for the last few weeks, but here are the highlights from the land of smiles.
Suvarnabhumi Airport: Got to the airport at 12:30 at night (which is a fun time to get there since there is no more public transport) however, I have already been initiated to shady Asia and the sneaky airport taxi scams, so i skillfully avoided all airport limousines/taxis/privates and made my way to the local bus station. Once there, i found 3 other like-minded individuals and we shared a cab to Khao San Rd –> i.e backpacker central, Bangkok.
With no reservations, i set out on a adventure to find a quality, shoestring priced accommodation, and the mission led me to NJ guesthouse, checked-in, and started my adventure on the Khao San.
Khao San Road: This is probably the image you have of Bangkok. Street signs and flashing lights and illuminated billboards blind you from every angle imaginable, street karts line the streets in no particular order creating a makeshift obstacle course of pad-thai, fresh fruit and souvenir stalls. However, to truly do Khao San justice you need to factor in the ready availability of booze; beers large and small, unique cocktails and a Thailand concoction the Redbull vodka/whisky buckets 🙂
Shopping in Bangkok Of all the places to shop in the world, Bangkok has to be one of the best. All the designer brands you could want are readily available in the many air conditioned malls (7 of which are directly connected by sky bridges to the BTS sky train so you never have to leave air conditioned glory (in the 40 degrees of humidity, smog and pollution of Bangkok). My favorite has to be the MBK mall. I’ve been there at least 4 times since I’ve come here and I plan on going back if the need arises. The mall has 7 floors and is organized like a large indoor market. 5 floors of shopping, amazing food court on 2 floors, cinema and arcade.
Other notable shopping locations are street markets in Chinatown, Khao San and of course the mother of all markets, the market that all others are benchmarked against, Chatuchak weekend market. No air conditioning here, but there is more than enough restos and cafes to make stops along the way, during and after you bleed your wallet dry with shopping therapy. Massage chairs are also lined up along the way for those that need a little pickup – trust me you need an entire day (or 2) to do this market justice.
Cinemas in Bangkok MBK mall is also where I caught the 3D version of Alice in Wonderland. I also watched the screening of a Thai movie, Nak-Prok with surprisingly good English subtitles. All blockbuster English movies are shown in English at the major cinemas, and the Thai movies have English subtitles (just watch out for the Thai dubbing of less popular English movies. The seats at Thai cinemas are significantly more comfortable than the ones we have back home, more spacious and a lot cheaper too! There is a unique practice by the Thai people to play the national anthem for the King before the movie plays, remember to stand up out of respect, all the locals do.
Street Food in Thailand: the cost of living in Thailand is lower than you can ever imagine and a big part of that can be attributed to the high quality street food at almost every street corner. Street food is also known for its good hygiene in Thailand (but still pay attention, because not all street food is created equal, and some vendors might be less dependable than others. In general, as long as there are lines at the stall (if there are a lot of locals it’s even better) than your probably good to go. Street food will generally run you 30-40 baht ($1 – 1.33) per plate and you’ve got your choice of fish, chicken, pork; spicy, tangy or sweet. Factor in a drink and some desert, and your still looking at about 3$ for a meal with Chang beer and Thai ice cream 🙂
Massages: Whether your looking for a foot massage, back, shoulder or head massage, the famous Thai massage, lotion massage, full body massage or a really full body massage (if you know what I mean) you can definitely find it all here in Thailand, and at extremely affordable prices. Similarly to other places in Asia where the cost of living is much lower than in the West, massages at the local massage parlors will run you anywhere from $4 to 8/hour for Thai and foot massages and $6-20/hour for oil massages. If you feel like indulging in a spa for the day though, the good ones will run you between $100-200 for the day. I recommend hitting up Massage Land for your spa needs though, they’re like a massage factory on several floors but offer the quality western style treatments but at great value ex. $15 for a 2 hour Thai massage and $20 for a 1 hour oil massage (See pic).
So far I’ve had one Thai massages, and couple of foot massages and an oil massage. All in all they’ve been quite satisfactory, i highly recommend the Thai massage, although we warned a traditional Thai massage is known for equal parts pain and relaxation while the trained masseuse molds you like a piece of putty; an experience not to be missed though.