Bangkok - tasty, tantalising and tremendously alluring transformations
Bangkok is one of the world’s premier metropolitan cities. Our trip wasn’t to explore the historical side of Bangkok, we wanted to explore the new emergence of it’s food scene and the creativity that surrounds this exceptional dining experience. This vast business district is abundant with change and transition spanning decades - it is now embracing a dining culture that is exemplary; creating a superiority and sophistication that you would expect from any international top end establishment. These incredibly creative and dedicated Bangkonian’s have most certainly embraced world views on high end dining experiences to wake up our tastes, share desirable decors and encourage our memorable moments in.
Our main area of exploration was Sukhumvit - this is the most important road in bangkok named after the most important road builder ever to have lived in the country. It runs from Mo Chit through the Silom Line interchange at Siam Square. This area is popular with an expat community and international travellers.
Bangkok is a place that constantly remains in rapid transition, our trip encouraged a game of cat and mouse finding these hidden gems. Thank goodness we had researched the area and brought all the references, weblinks and print outs necessary (armed with old school methods, we were very proud to flick through printed maps and articles relating to chosen hot spots). With temperatures soaring to 36 degrees, it was incredibly frustrating too. This heat paired with the lack of logistic knowledge meant that we were arriving to a destination VERY hot, bothered, ‘hangry’ and most definitely dehydrated. Cab drivers don't even know where these places are, so not only is there a language barrier to contend with but also a logistics barrier to boot.
Which brings me on to mention the Thai culture and how hospitable and friendly the people of thailand are. You only have to get a map out and you are joined by a Thai person only too willing to help you find your chosen destination. On one occasion a Thai business man flagged down a cab for us, spoke to the driver in Thai, wrote where we needed to go and also wrote his mobile number down incase there were problems on our journey. This whole exchange took almost twenty minutes of his time. His only wish was that we continue to enjoy our day.
One always feels incredibly ignorant when reaching a far away place and indigenous peoples being fully competent in communicating with it’s tourists. My observations and experience isn’t down to thai people understanding the english language, they understand the importance of body language too. They are incredibly intouch with your needs - they want to help anyway they can - they really do promote happiness and this shines brightly from their strong buddhist beliefs.
The BTS skytrain opened in 1999, it cuts through a valley of skyscrapers and thank the heavens it does what it was designed to do, strike through the heart of the traffic that pumps fumes and chaos daily at an incredible rate - you can be sitting in a cab for an hour and occupied fractions of hot tarmac. Thankfully, unlike central London they don’t cost you the earth as soon as you sit in them, but the bahts can soon mount up on a small trip if you get caught in traffic (the jam’s start at around 3pm and continue to at least 9pm).
Tuck-tuck’s really haven’t changed much since pictures taken of them dating as far back as 1969. They are a good way to cut through the traffic, however you have to barter over the baht. They will charge you twice as much as any other form of transport - but a tuck will duck and dive out of the traffic (hold on tight!) and definitely worth the experience - breezy too. ( all done with good humour usually!)
Once we had found our dining destination they all had equal amounts of surprise and interest. What I found most endearing was the way these places had an interesting pulse - it told a strong story, not only with the cuisine but with the curator and how it connected all the important elements; it’s past and its pasture - all built on so much more than ‘just a pretty face’.
I will be writing more about this incredibly inspiring trip because we really didn’t stop; walking, tasting, smelling, looking, feeling our way through this busy and bustling city for ten hours a day at a mighty pace, this is a mere taster (excuse the pun) of the experience we endured and enjoyed immensely. What I am sure of is this tantalising city has most certainly opened my eyes, rebooted my creativity, given me greater visual awareness and emphasised the need for design to improve life.
Top tip: If you are going to Bangkok for the first time - be sure to take this with you - the most content-rich guide to the colorful and chaotic city. Nancy Chandler's map is designed to inspire you to get off the beaten path and make the most of your stay, whether it be for a few days, weeks or years. (do bare in mind with the pace of change some new places haven’t made it on this 2015 edition. So you may need your print outs also!). You can buy it here: http://nancychandler.net/bangkok-map.html