Travelling in a city you’ve been to a few times before is always a bit difficult. You know what to expect culturally, financially and logistically – but because you’ve already hit the main sights on your first few visits you don’t quite know what to do. Guidebooks and the internet can help you up to a point, but even then you are often resigned to joining the masses on the tourist trail. Long story short, you’re not exactly experiencing local life.
Luckily on my last visit to Bangkok I was fortunate enough to hang out with a guy I know from my hometown back in Northern Ireland. Allan bought property and has been living in the city for a few years now – but has been in and out of the region for over a decade. For me, it was the perfect opportunity to see, eat and do things I never ordinarily would have been able to as a ‘normal’ tourist. Having someone on the inside allowed me to see what it would actually be like to live in Bangkok.
I didn’t specifically want to ‘see’ or ‘do’ anything. I just wanted to wander about, eat and get a feel for the city. My first day was a blur of tuktuk, motorbike, boat and train rides from one side of the city to the other. I was blessed by a monk in the morning and sitting by an infinity pool in a high-rise condo by afternoon. I got to try unrecognisable street food I never even knew existed and learn about the daily way of life. Of course I still ventured out down the backstreets on my own – but the combination of solo travel and help from a resident was a good mix.
Deepest thanks to Allan and FanFan who made my stay in Bangkok so amazing – so much so that I am now considering an extended trip to the city to live for short period in the future. Together they have a blog, Live Less Ordinary, which you should definitely check out if you are interested in Thailand. Allan’s site, Boutique Bangkok, is also a great resource for the best hotels and street food in the city. Thanks guys, and I hope I can repay the favour in Tokyo some day…
I love Bangkok streets…
“Do you want to get blessed by a monk?” This is something I would simply never have done if I was travelling alone – largely due to the language barrier. The ceremony involved me following the monk’s instructions, repeating his blessings in Thai and surprisingly being splashed with water at the end. You should give a small gesture of thanks at the end, 100baht to the temple.
Shallow as it may sound, the main draw for me about Bangkok is the price. Thai street food is among the best in the world: safe, healthy, delicious and ridiculously cheap. You can eat a full meal for about £1, so dining out for every meal is never an issue.
Life on the streets in Bangkok is as vibrant as you are ever going to get. I took a motorbike out to Pak Klong Talat (Flower Market) and could have people-watched all day. Actually, I pretty much did. Really does pay to just wander the backstreets in this area and get lost.
You have been warned
Allan, I’ll swap your pad for mine any day of the week.
Say hello to Moo-ping for me…
And the woman who sold us the Thai moonshine out of an empty Red Bull bottle
Rot Fai Market was a complete find. Located not too far from the sprawling mess that is Chatuchak (the largest weekend market in the world), Rot Fai offers up retro oddities with retro prices to match. If I lived in Bangkok I’d come here every weekend. So many cool bars, people and fashion. This is the Shimokitazawa of Tokyo, the Greenwich Village of NYC. To get there take the MRT to Kampaeng Phet station. When you come out the exit cross the road and turn left. Walk for about 100m and it’s on your right.
Unfortunately it wouldn’t fit in my rucksack