After all the jungle and nature in Borneo and Indonesia Bangkok (with 168 latin letters the longest town-name in the world) was quite a contrast. I was happy to finally explore this city which I had flown into and out of so many times (the last time I wanted to visit Bangkok was 2008 where I got stuck in Nepal due to the riots in Bangkok and the closure of the airport). We spent 4 days in this huge bustling city and I really enjoyed many aspects of it. It is a modern, lively city with the positive aspects of amazingly good food (particularly the street food stalls where you get good typical Thai food for ~1 Euro/dish – sticky rice with Mango: an absolute MUST!), good and clean public transportation system (sky train and underground), a good mix of culture (temples) and at the same time a shopper’s paradise – ranging from fancy shopping malls to really wonderful and fun-to-visit markets (the huge – and I mean huge – Chatuchak weekend market and my favorite market, the Rod Fai night market which is set amidst abandoned railroad tracks and which has a great mix of antique furniture, hip fashion and kitsch). My highlights were Wat Pho with its 46 meter long and 15 meter high reclining Buddha (the amazing artwork of the mother-of-pearl inlays in the foot soles of the Buddha are in itself a masterpiece!), the Grand Palace with its amazingly artful carvings, paintings and mosaics and the cooking course we went to – cooking with Poo. Poo (short for the common Thai name Chompoo), the chef, is a wonderful, lively, positive woman who has her cooking school in one of the slums in the heart of Bangkok and who supports the locals with the profits from the courses (and who also gives quite a few people the opportunity for a job within her project). After a short tour around a local market (seriously local because I have never seen such a variety of things we would never consider eating – crickets, cockroaches, worms, ants and eels were only some of the many creepy creatures!) we learnt how to cook 3 dishes – each of them takes no longer than 5 minutes to prepare – and the outcome was really surprising. Such a wonderful flavor with so few ingredients! If you ever head to Bangkok and want to learn some yummie Thai dishes then I would highly recommend this school!
One morning we went to see a floating market (I always thought that they were in the center of Bangkok but that is not the case –the biggest and most famous one is about 80 km outside of Bangkok and since we didn’t want to spend that much time on a bus we decided to head to one of the smaller ones 15 km outside of Bangkok). It was a nice experience to watch locals cook up some delicious seafood and Pad Thai’s on the boats but it didn’t match that picture in my head of hundreds of little boats floating around in the canals, selling veggies and fruit.
On my birthday I got a wonderful treat in the afternoon: Tony&Guy. No, those are not 2 Thai boys but a really great hairdresser and it was a real pleasure getting the full-on again – and us (my hair and me) leaving that place like reborn. In the evening we had a cocktail at the wonderful Sky bar of the Banyan tree hotel – and the most amazing few I have ever seen of such a big city. Since it was already dark the whole city was glowing like diamonds and this truly was a magical place. We also went to see a “Cabaret”, meaning a group of about 30 drop-dead gorgeous transsexuals with legs longer, butts firmer, hair fuller and shinier and boobs more perfect than any woman’s perform on stage. We both stared at them with dropped jaws, amazed at how feminine most of them looked. Only when we had photos taken with some of them after the show and hearing their “hello Miss/Hello Mister, would you like a photo?” in a voice 2 octaves deeper than mine it gave us a bit of a creepy feelingJ.
The next morning we headed to a temple to participate at a meditation class which foreigners can participate at – but the monk never showed up so we took that as a sign and a lesson in itself (i.e. be patient, even if things don’t work out as you initially planned) and enjoyed our last Pad Thai together. Now it was time to say goodbye to my friend Franz who was going back to Vienna while I continued my journey up north –to Chiang Mai via night train.
P.S. this posting is dedicated to Franz: thank you so much for the 6 weeks of travelling together – and I hope your first visit to Asia will be the first one of many more to come!:)