Today is Sunday, at least in Jack’s and my part of the world.
At this hour, our friends and families in California are most likely getting ready for bed. However, in Bangkok, Thailand the sun is shining and shortly it’ll be lunchtime.
It’s hard to imagine that our trip to Asia started exactly a week ago, and that tomorrow we’ll bid adieu to Thailand’s bustling capital. At 6am we’ll be boarding a bus to Chumphon, a small city along the southern Gulf of Thailand, then hopping a ferry to a small island named Ko Tao.
Our farewell to Bangkok commences a two-week excursion around three Thai islands: Ko Tao, Ko Pha Ngan, and finally Phuket. All three are in the countries’ southern region and they’ll offer a pleasant contrast to the massively populated Bangkok.
We chose Bangkok as our trip’s starting point for a handful of reasons: It was one of the cheapest airports offering flights from San Francisco, and more importantly because one of our best friends happens to be residing there.
Eric Umile has been a close buddy since first grade and he’s been an expat in Bangkok for a couple years now. He offered to show us around and we felt like that was an opportune way to catch up with a great guy and also start things off.
Thanks to Eric, we’ve managed to get a taste of Bangkok and see why he’s chosen this city as his home. After one week, here are a few things I’d like to share about this interesting city in the Far East. Bangkok is a city of abundance; not only there exists an abundance of people, but there are plenty of other things.
Exiting the Singapore Airlines flight and walking through the airport in Bangkok, the first thought that scurried through my mind was:
Frick, it’s hot.
Bangkok’s high temperatures are unforgiving. The humidity is also dense like an invisible curtain that you can’t seem to walk through. If you’re someone who doesn’t break a sweat from Mother Nature, then a second source of burning might come from the wide variety of savory yet spicy dishes that exist in a typical Thai menu. The food here is on point, however, I have burned my palate a handful of times since arriving here.
Some of the most impressive aspects of Bangkok are its abundance of super malls. It’s natural to assume that a cosmopolitan capital of over eight million people enjoys shopping, however mega centers such as Terminal 21 are so much more: They’re gathering places for all classes of Thai citizens, a destination for buying every product known to humankind, equipped with expansive cafeterias, bars, and nightclubs. If the zombie apocalypse ever occurs, you can find me in the Gourmet Market at Siam Paragon.
3. Rooftop Escapes
Perhaps my favorite aspect of Bangkok is its bountiful supply of rooftop lounges, bars, restaurants, and clubs. A week wasn’t enough time to acquaint ourselves with the complete scene, but Eric showed us some fun places such as Above Eleven and Octave. Taking in the lights of Bangkok after dark, a chilled beverage in hand, while a DJ spun Reggaeton records, was a memory that will stand out in my mind for a long while.
Despite the existence of a well developed public transit system such as the Sky Train or buses, plus waves of tuk-tuk taxis, motorcycle taxis, and Grab ride-share cars, Bangkok suffers from a mind-numbing traffic jam epidemic. The bumper to bumper congestion is heavy enough that pedestrians can be seen wearing masks to protect themselves from car pollution. A muggy haze engulfs the horizon at all hours and the air quality is visibly lower than back home, but I’m not sure if this is solely a result of excessive car emissions.
Bangkok is a hive of distinct landmarks. On one hand, a visitor can easily be left speechless from historical wonders such as the Grand Palace or Temple of the Emerald Buddha. A similar sensation can be gained from an elevator ride to the observation deck of the recently designed MahaNakhon, a pixelated skyscraper that stretches seventy-seven stories towards the clouds. The city has as many Wats (Buddhist temples) as it has construction sites where the sound of hammers and drills ring in progressive harmony. Additionally, stray dogs could be seen scurrying outside the Mandarin Oriental, a 5-star hotel where Jack and I treated ourselves to a memorable breakfast buffet. Despite the noticeable chaos of historical and modern, clean and dirty, poor and wealthy, everything seemed to blend together like a savory cocktail called coexistence. I must also add that nearly every person we’ve encountered has been very helpful and friendly.
So, after this random blog post, why should you go to Bangkok?
Besides offering anything from an extra plate of spicy chicken balls, boom boom, foot massages, or fried scorpions, this curious place can give you something else:
A feeling that you’ve reached a land of opportunity for adventure, for new beginnings, and for a reminder that we need to enjoy life as much as possible.
Thanks for reading, more updates on Jack’s and my whereabouts are coming soon!