First Impressions: Bangkok, Thailand

In his collection of essays entitled The Nasty Bits, Anthony Bourdain discussed his Platonic ideal of fast food–his preference over the Chicken McNuggets and Whoppers that most Americans turn to when they want dinner fast. To him, fast food is street food served by vendors around the world. Walking the streets of Bangkok, I can see what he is talking about. You can’t walk down a city block without seeing a vendor roasting skewers of chicken or slicing up fresh pieces of pineapple and papaya. If people have to eat fast food, Bourdain (and I) would rather this be it–unprocessed, freshly made (sometimes), and independently produced.

Today we came across pan fried omelets; vegetable noodles; mini fried quail eggs; fresh orange juice; sliced watermelon, pineapple, papaya, and pomelo; sizzling pad Thai, hot noodles with curry, asparagus, and sprouts; and  mini creamed spinach lasagnas. I would be happy eating the traditional pad Thai every day–the cook’s greasy pan filled with sharp green onions, tofu, chilis, peanut sauce, and translucent noodles with peanuts and sprouts sprinkled on top.

The traffic is fierce here, especially the motorcyclists. They make being a pedestrian interesting since they can dart past without a warning or use a sidewalk as a second road. I have an affinity for the taxis which are cheerily painted bright pink, yellow, red, orange, or blue.

The adventurous visitors use tuk-tuks–mini taxis like a motorcycle with a back cab. We used a tuk-tuk for one trip, and the experience was hair raising. The driver had no fear when zipping past taxis, semis, and motorcycles. Even some of the locals are too afraid to take these vehicles. Aside from the proximity of other vehicles and danger of death, a rider has to sit through a lot of car exhaust.

The main family-oriented tourist activites are shopping, visiting Buddhist temples, or taking a boat in the river. I am amazed by how many tailors and gemstones dealers there are here. Not surprisingly, there are also a lot of knockoff vendor markets. The saddening side to the city is seeing all of the prostitutes. They openly wait by the bus stop and at bars on certain streets.

I have found that the Thai people, as a rule, are extremely kind and helpful. I only wish that I could say more than “hello” and “thank you.”

10 Comments

Filed under New to Town, Thailand

10 responses to “First Impressions: Bangkok, Thailand

  1. Now I want Thai food! I know someday we’ll make it to Southeast Asia, and the street food is one of the things I’m most looking forward to based on what I’ve heard.

    Be careful with all that crazy traffic.

    Thanks Emily! You too.😉

  2. Oh my God! You are there! And I didn’t send you my list of top tips… Did you get this? http://www.nancychandler.net/product.asp?pId=11 If not, you must!!! And there’s one of Chang Mai too, and probably all sorts of other useful things.

    For starters here then are three things I recommend in Bangkok:
    1. the weekend Chatuchak market (using Nancy’s map to find the best of everything).
    2. the Cabbages and Condoms restaurant http://www.virtualtourist.com/travel/Asia/Thailand/Central_Eastern_Thailand/Bangkok-1445238/Restaurants-Bangkok-Cabbages_and_Condoms-BR-1.html
    3. Wat Pho’s reclining buddha – to be honest, my favourite in the whole of Thailand http://www.watpho.com/en/home/index.php

    Oh gosh this is making me want to travel to Thailand with Carlos. Very much. Perhaps we will do it once the book is published.

    Enjoy every minute my friend, Sal.x.

    Thank you Sal! This will be very helpful.

    Hope you and C. and doing well. Drink a cafe con leche for me.

  3. My mouth literally started watering at your list of all the “fast food,” street options. YUM!

    And the taxis and tuk tuks sound like an adventure!

  4. you’re on a delicious trip!

    pickles would like you to bring her a quail egg. the bear would like a skewer of chicken!

    have fun!

    Thanks Goodbear. Pickles and Codybear would love the park next to us. There are a bunch of happy strays running around.

  5. Thanks so much for stopping by my site!! Let me know if you want any advice on where to go and what to see. If you’re ever down in the South I’d love to meet up!! It is absolutely beautiful down here!! I’m heading back to Ko Tao next weekend and then Ko Jum the weekend after next! Let me know if you’re venturing down South!!

    I’m eager to read more of your thoughts on Bangkok. It is the most ridiculous city!

  6. Amazing! I’m so jealous, I’ve only spent about 6 hours in Thailand due to a layover, and I spent the whole time drowning in my own sweat, it was just miserably hot and humid. I’d sure love to go again and really explore the place… Really looking forward to the next post about your travels!

    Thanks Hannah. I’d like to post more often.🙂

  7. Oh, your description of the street foods got my stomach rumbling (in a good way!). It sounds like gastronomic adventures await at every turn. Have some Pad Thai for me!

  8. Wow…. I love street food. And for you guys, this must be a welcome change seeing as so much of it is vegetarian. Stay off the tuk-tuks and keep the posts coming. I love how you’ve described your first impressions. Besosososos grandes!

  9. Mom

    Are the Tuk-tuks cheaper than taxis?? Food sounds delicious!! Watch out for traffic!!

    Tuk-tuks might be cheaper than taxi for locals.

  10. Hola, ya me dio hambre solo de leer de comida. Eres una gran escritora. Tienes una mente muy positiva, ni una vez escribiste algo negativo. Bravo, y me encanto me comentaste a Anthony Bourdain, Quisas tu puedas ser la chica Antonia? Ja,ja. solo en broma.

    un fuerte abrazo.

    Gracias por tus buenos comentarios!

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