Bangkok high

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My recent visa run to the Thai capital is best summed up as: Things to do in Bangkok when you’re not with children:

Bangkok high1. Travel everywhere by skytrain (BTS). This fast, clean, efficient system makes it possible to do several things in one day — at one time unthinkable in Bangkok. Walkways around the skytrain stations mean you can get to nearby landmarks without having to go down to street level, instead touring Bangkok via its second- and third-storey footpaths. The drawback: way too many stairs for little legs and anyone with a mobility impairment.

2. Scale the ladder-like staircases of Wat Arun (the Temple of Dawn) for fantastic views over Bangkok. From halfway up the 82 metre prang (Khmer style tower), Wat Arun view of 'old' Bangkokyou can clearly see the juxtaposition of ‘old’ Bangkok — wats, royal buildings, low-rise residential areas and trees, nestled between the railway line and a bend in the Chao Phraya River; and ‘new’ Bangkok — condominiums, expressways, skytrains, skyscrapers and smog, east of the railway line. [A word of advice to women visiting Wat Arun: don’t climb the tower if you’re wearing a skirt unless you want all the world to be your gynaecologist!]
View of 'new' Bangkok from Wat Arun
3. Take a fast tail-boat ride along the Chao Phraya River to the klongs to see riverside life; make sure the boat driver goes really fast so the boat leaps up and slams down on the water in the wake of other boats. Double the thrills by having leaping fish splash river water into your mouth.

4. Drink cocktails at Vertigo, an open-air rooftop bar on the 61st floor of the Banyan Tree Hotel. Ying & Angela at VertigoThe name of Bangkok in Thai is Krung Thep, ‘City of Angels’. Perched on a stool with only a narrow bar between you and the entire city makes you feel like an angel, especially after a couple of frozen margharitas.

5. After cocktails together, go out for dinner at 9 o’clock at night with a dear friend — in my case, Ying, whom I hadn’t seen for 10 years — to Thanying, a restaurant established by a third-generation Thai royal and former chef to the Queen of Rama VII. Eat delicious, spicy Thai food like green curry fishballs stuffed with salted egg yolks, tom yum goong, and winged-bean salad in a setting that manages to mesh regal with homely.

6. Sleep in!

7. Visit the fertility shrine at the back of the Nai Lert Park Hotel. If like me you don’t want to pray for a baby, you can petition the female deity who lives in the sacred tree to grant you fertility of another kind (e.g. for writing fiction). Just be sure to bring a phallic object to appease her — she has an impressive collection. And being sans children, there are no awkward questions to answer.

8. Having returned to Phnom Penh and secured the correct visa this time around, take a motodup (motorcycle taxi) home in peak hour traffic. (I’ve gotten over my earlier qualms).

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4 Responses to “Bangkok high”

  1. khim Says:

    Angela & Ying – you two look “suay ngaam” ! 10 years haven’t changed much…

    wish i was at Thanying with you….boy, do i miss Thai food, royal or not

  2. angelasavage Says:

    Tu es trop gentil, mon ami. Our grey hairs, which neither of us care to cover up, cannot be seen in the photograph!
    And we would have loved you to join us for dinner. At it was you were there in spirit as we did talk about you that night.

  3. Paul Coffa Says:

    Hey Angela,

    Great to bump into you and Andrew the other night!

    I was going to ask you for top eating tips in Bangkok and I noticed in your blog you mention Thanying. How would I go about finding this restaurant?

    Do you have any other top eating tips for Bangers?

    Take care

    Paul

  4. angelasavage Says:

    Hi Paul,

    It was very funny bumping into each other like that, wasn’t it!

    To find Thanying, try this link: http://www.thanying.com/ty-map.htm It’s between Silom and Sathorn Rds. Someone else was paying so I can’t tell you exactly how much it costs, but the food is the authentic and delicious and the place is quite lovely.

    Other places I recommend:

    * The Inter Cafe in Siam Square – I think it’s Soi 9. Unassuming little place but fabulous Thai food. Try the winged bean salad (yam tua poo) and/or spicy catfish salad (yam pla dook foo).

    * Tak Sura (sign in Thai only) – it’s off the Victory Monument circle; head for the northwest quadrant and down the street behind Victory Monument circle and Tak Sura is in an old wooden building; great food and atmosphere (assuming it’s still there!).

    * The Old Phra Artit Pier – a newish place that replaces my old favourite, Ton Pho, which no longer exists. The Old Phra Artit Pier is, as the name suggests, on the site of the former pier off Phra Artit Road near the UNICEF office in Banglamphu. Very nice ambiance – right on the river – and good Thai food; ask for it spicy if you want authenticity.

    * Cabbages and Condoms – Sukumvit Soi 12 (from memory): not just supporting a good cause, the Thai food here is good, too, and there’s a nice garden restaurant.

    These are my picks. Your best bet is to make for places with lots of Thai people in them – apart from Dunkin’ Donuts, that is!

    Enjoy your travels,
    Angela

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