Last week, I was away from home, jaunting through the busy streets of Bangkok. Strangely enough, this was my first visit to the Thai capital, despite it being a crazy-popular tourist destination and a mere two-hour flight away. Singapore already has me complaining about the permanent summer to no end. What more for a city that averages a good 32 degree Celsius?
But the weekend all turned out better than I expected. A cap came in very handy, and it even rained heavily on Day 2. When the sun did shine, there were tons to do. Mostly, we trawled the many stalls for street food like pork skewers and Pad Thai, which were somewhat worth the scorching heat.
Well, somewhat. A huge part of me was still averse to the sensory overload, typical of many Asian cities. Massive crowds met the unending traffic of pink taxis and green tuk-tuks, particularly during the evening rush.
It was for the lack of a better word, chaotic. Even the smallest cars had a hard time navigating the narrow roads, which are lined with pedestrians, delivery bikes, large vans, and food carts. For someone who much preferred the quietude of small towns, this took some getting used to.
It did not help how humid the air was. Thank goodness for the lanes of fruit juice stalls along the way. Fresh juices became our staple in the warm weather that barely bore any wind. With drinks sorted, we took the BTS Skytrain beyond Siam.
The short journey took us into the more affluent areas, surrounded by giant malls like Terminal 21 and Paragon. Cultural displays blurred into the background of Starbucks, European luxury brands, and American fast food chains.
Like it does for many Asian cities, this modernisation took away some personality from Bangkok, usually known for its Buddhist sites and street food culture. That said, there remained distinctively Thai fixtures throughout, including several religious shrines right in front of fancy emporiums.
Lively night markets also struck a balance between the traditional and modern. Newly opened, Talad Neon housed a live stage for brilliant local bands and pushcarts selling a range of trendy tees, fashion accessories, and more interestingly, protein-packed entomophagy:
Deep fried, seasoned, and dipped in soy sauce. Arachnids and insects can be found in most night markets of Thailand and even 7-Eleven outlets. Scorpions, crickets, frogs, and silk larvae were just some of the crawlers we could find, a few more palatable than others.
A couple of brave colleagues visited Khao San specially to buy a spread of mixed species, which made up our adventurous supper for the night. While crickets were the limit for me, the crunchy feast of bugs were surprisingly almost wiped out by the end. And so our last day was all about the counterbalance we needed.
And so we visited live furry friends at Little Zoo Cafe, located in a quiet corner of Siam Square. Here, we got to interact with different exotic animals in small enclosed rooms, including four playful meerkats, a sprightly fox, and a huge raccoon.
On the dining floor upstairs, some cats and dogs – including a pair of friendly, close-knit corgis – roam freely. To play with any of them, all you need to do is to buy some café food – the cheapest therapy you can get.
The second cheapest therapy option? Movies. Our last day in Bangkok ended with a random midnight horror show, Ghost House. There is something rather chilling about watching a horror movie, right where it was set in. Thus a rare moment where I was actually thankful that a movie was somewhat poorly acted and cheaply produced. 😉
With a decent night’s rest, our short adventure came to an end. Now I am back and looking forward to my next big plan: Loud Park in Japan. Fingers crossed. Until then, I will be posting new stories when I can, so long as work does not get too busy. Till next week!