Everyone on this new Northern Frontiers trip (Online Itinerary) has traveled with Kasma at least twice before. I look forward to seeing a few old friends and making several new ones. But first, since I’ve arrived in Bangkok a bit early, I need to successfully navigate between hotels and manage to feed myself once or twice more.
Today I will devote myself to eating excellent Thai food around Bangkok. And it must also be an amazing value, so I’m continuing to work my way through “Thailand’s Best Street Food.” Diversions happen, but I will not go to bed hungry. (Not that I remember the last time that happened…)
Our time in Thailand is drawing to a close. A bit more shopping and eating is all we can fit in before boarding our onward flights.
We have just one full day in Bangkok and we’re going shopping. With hundreds of vendor stalls, Chatuchak weekend market almost certainly has what you’re looking for (even if you don’t know until you see it). But with its confusing layout and crowded walkways, will you find it before the heat and stuffiness force you to the periphery for a refreshing beverage? Fortunately, refreshing beverages are everywhere you look. You might even find a full bar nestled among the souvenirs.
On this final morning in Bangkok, there was little time to roam the streets for last minute tastes of the deliciously familiar. Instead, it was the challenge of securely packaging precious souvenirs in a manageable fashion that compelled me to check the 7-11 for rope, twine, handles, or anything to supplement my packing tape. In the end, more tape would have to do. After a last breakfast of rice porridge in the hotel restaurant, we loaded into the van for the airport.
I needed a little time for the internet, so I arose early, showered, and somehow crammed everything into my roller bag without having to use the expansion feature. The Krabi Maritime’s breakfast buffet offered one last bowl of rice porridge, and the weirdest looking pad Thai I’ve ever seen, in a very unnatural shade of red. Surely the food choices will improve when we arrive in Bangkok.
On the first Saturday morning of her trips, Kasma likes to lead bewildered Americans down the crowded sidewalk of Sukhumvit between Soi 55 (Soi Thonglor) and Soi 57, where a market blossoms at dawn. Fragrant grilled pork, strings of flower buds for Buddhist offerings, and knick-knacks beckoned, but we were on a quest. We picked up plump pan-fried dumplings stuffed with garlicky Chinese chives, chewy glutinous rice chive cakes, fried bread (a kind of unsweetened doughnut), grilled bananas, and khanom krok, the deliciously rich coconut milk pancakes (in this case topped with a few kernels of corn or bits of green onion). Oh, and two trays of mango and sticky rice.
Our flight landed on time at Suvarnabhumi Airport, but the lines at immigration were insanely long. When we emerged from the terminal onto the walkway to the parking structure, the heat didn’t seem so bad. By the time I was in full sun, and full humidity, the memories flooded back. I will need more bottled water.
Bangkok (February 10, 2010)
I awoke very early, and decided to catch up on some notes and recharging. This always is dangerous because delaying a shower and packing can least to last minute madness. And so it went. Luckily, a few fellow travelers were able to accommodate my overflow of clothing in their duffel bags, so I didn’t need to visit the shrink wrap machine at the airport to improvise a larger bag.
Krabi (February 9, 2010)
After one last visit to the breakfast buffet for a last bowl of simple rice porridge (with vinegar, chillies, cilantro, ginger shreds, and pork meatballs), we loaded into two vans for the ride to the Krabi airport. Its souvenir shops seemed somehow more authentic (and certainly were more homey) than the large luxury brand duty free shops that dominate the airport terminal in Bangkok. Alas, there was not enough time to try out the massage station, but I did pick up a reflexology chart (and wooden stick) showing how a Thai foot massage is supposed to relate to the rest of the body.
Bangkok (January 23, 2010)
We only have one full day in Bangkok on this trip, and because we will mostly be snorkeling from here on out, we need to squeeze in as much souvenir shopping as possible. Or other shopping: I would like to find some magical pants that provide good sun and mosquito protection, and yet are very lightweight and breathable, and clean themselves. Well, at least some of these things might be possible.
Bangkok (January 22, 2010)
Today we begin our Southern Trip! But I have most of the day to myself for running errands, further recovering from my cold, and eating.
Bangkok (January 19, 2010)
My sniffles of the past couple of days turned into a very unpleasant cold overnight. Nevertheless, I scrambled downstairs to say goodbye and beg for baht. (Thanks to all who sold or donated!)
Chiang Mai (January 18, 2010)
Our drivers were well on their way to Bangkok by now, so we took the hotel’s dilapidated van to the airport — after a quick bite of congee and fried noodles from the hotel’s breakfast buffet. Security at Chiang Mai International didn’t require shoe or laptop removal, and no one cared about the weight of my backpack. Thus, the lines moved swiftly and we had plenty of time to watch (but we could not really hear) the telecast of the Golden Globe Awards, and to check out the local English-language paper. While our 747 was packed with passengers, the Thai Airways cabin crew was very efficient and dispatched a snack and hot and cold beverages with a smile. I’m fairly certain this was my first creamed spinach sandwich (if that’s what it was), and it wasn’t bad. I passed the time by reading Buddha, by Karen Armstrong. I’ll probably have a better chance of finishing it this week or on the less hectic Southern trip. Whether I personally will be any more enlightened seems doubtful: extinguishing the ego sounds like hard work.
Bangkok (January 3, 2010)
There is much to see and do in Bangkok, only one more day to do it, and so much traffic in the way. We would begin with a market walk in Chinatown, followed by a dim sum breakfast. Then we would tour the newly renovated temple housing an enormous solid gold Buddha. Leaving Chinatown, we would make our way through thick traffic to a pier on the Chao Phraya River for a charter boat to take us on one of the larger canals, Bangkok Noi, to the Royal Barge Museum and sites beyond. Somewhere, we would squeeze in a quick lunch before returning to the Grand Tower for one more massage before one more remarkable dinner at My Choice. Or would we? Schedules have been unraveling since day one due to the New Year holiday…