I had about 3 weeks for vacation so I went to Bangkok for a few days to visit my friend Kate, then to Ko Chang (and island about 5 hours south of Bangkok near the Cambodian Border) and then to an Organic Farm for a 3-day Vegetarian Thai cooking course and farmstay.
I always find it amazing how, once you hit a certain city size, they all start to look the same. Except for the Thai script on signs, I could have sworn I was in Toronto (and knowing TO, there's probably a "little Bangkok" where you would see Thai letters). Bangkok is known for it's shopping, and so part of our orientation was to check out the Malls. There are several of them in one area connected by walkways above the street. You start on one end and you can walk for at least an hour going from one to the next, gradually increasing in ritzyness until you see names like Prada and Gucci. There's a lot of hi-so, rich people in Bangkok and travelers as well; and again you could be anywhere in the world when you're inside.
In on of the ritzy malls, we decided to do it right and see Bangkok Dangerous in Bangkok
While it was quite the terrible movie in it's cheesiness (sorry Nicolas Cage, you're just not professional hitman material anymore), seeing it gives you free license to use the title as an adjective synonymous with badass, like: "whoa, that was so bangkok dangerous" or "tonight's gonna be bangkok dangerous." Watching it in BKK amped up the cheesiness because in the opening scenes Nicolas Cage says in a dark, intense voice "Bangkok: dirty, corrupt, dense" and then there's a montage of city scenes that's supposed to be shocking and drive home the dirty, corrupt, scary message, but it loses a lot of it's power if you can say "I think I ate at that street stall for dinner" or "hey Kate, don't you live down the street from there?"
Forget the Grand Palace, forget the Reclining Buddha, the ultimate, true Bangkok experience is sitting in traffic for over two hours just to get out of the city.
This is Kao San Rd.
otherwise known as Backpacker Row, where you can get everything from a sarong to a fake degree from Oxford. Most backpackers never leave this area, but it's really just a bunch of souvenirs shops that has more expensive version of what you can get at Chaduchak Market. Chaduchak is HUGE, and completely overwhelming, it has pretty much anything you could ever want and if I ever open a coffee shop/restaurant, I'm coming here to decorate it!
I realize that my whole life I've been buying clothes, jewelry and decorations that come from Thailand. Of course they're much cheaper here, but it's not just the import cost, I think basically you're paying someone to come through here and pick stuff out for you, narrow your options, because it's utterly overwhelming (for me) to find so much cool stuff so cheap. I've made the commitment to myself not to buy anything I don't absolutely love because otherwise I'd get sucked in by the cheapness and end up with lots of stuff and no money!
I think my favorite thing about Bangkok was watching about 200 Thai people do synchronized aerobics in Lumpini Park.
The pollution sunset wasn't too bad either.