Our first full day in Bangkok started with a food tour, mostly in the section of the city called Silom. So here is something I didn’t know. What I had thought was ALL Bangkok the night before is actually 2 cities divided by the Chao Phraya river. In the east side of the river is Bangkok and on the west side is the older city of Thonburi. Collectively can be referred to as Bangkok, but some locals on the Thornburi side do not consider themselves part of it.
Out first stop on the food tour was at a place run by an old farmer who retired, found a knack for cooking duck, an opened a restaurant. So sure enough we had roasted duck on rice with a sweeter sauce. It was pretty good but the best part was the free waters that we got…we may or may not have been feeling the effects of the previous night.
The second stop on the tour was a side street (called a ‘soi’) fruit stand to sample some exotic (to us) fruits. Mangosteen was everyone’s favorite (or not I dunno) an was a purple bulb egg plant looking Thinger that required a knife to open. We also had some rambutan which looks like a hairy booger, and lychees.
The next stop was a Muslim restaurant owned and operated by the third generation of the family, around the corner where we had the most interesting dish of the day. It was a green Indian style curry served over a hard boiled egg. Despite being quite good, there was little doubt that I would pay for that meal….later….if you know what I mean…you know, in the bathroom…get it?
The next stop was across the river on a side street that if you didn’t know about you would walk right past. This place was chosen or the tour because it show cases Eastern Thai food, and it was hands down the best food of the tour. First up was a crispy fried catfish that looked like a tangled bundle of fried onions. To make the dish they first bake the catfish, then shred it, toss it in flour and deep fry it. Wow. Next out was a dish that has become a staple of our orders in Thailand. It was a spicy mango salad made from green mangos which aren’t as sweet as their yellow counterparts. These are tossed with greens and maybe some chicken and topped with a mildly spicy sauce that gets after you after a few bites.
We crossed back over the river and walked a ways into the Silom district to a bit of a change of pace, meaning a restaurant by western standards called Kalpapruek. Here we add some red curry dish with pork which was okay (Napasorn!!!!) and some coconut ice cream which was better. That was the end of the tour so we parted ways and headed back to the hotel to get cleaned up a bit (we woke up kinda late…)
We remobilized and headed down the to Little India and Chinatown areas. A lot of text on the area calls in inhospitable, but that wasn’t my impression. It was certainly overwhelming though, and not at all catered to tourists; we saw very few non-tourists while there. This is the part of town you probably thinnk of when you think of Asian mega cities, large signs in strange text (Thai, Chinese, Japanese, San Skrit) hang out into the street, crammed streets, even more crammed side walks, an uncountable number of food carts, seedy back alleys, and marketplaces selling everything from “gold” “jewelry” to Angry Birds themed backpacks. The statement was made more than once about how much crap exists in the world if you can buy a 6′ stuffed Winnie The Pooh in a back alley of Sampeng Lane in Bangkok.
We were notionally on a walking your of the area and we ended up in an area that I dubbed where old cars, engines, and you go to die. It was kind of seedy, but we eventually found our target, The Riverview Guest House, just before sunset. The hostel was right on the river and afforded a great view of the city from its 8th floor restaurant. A common tourist thing to do in Bangkok is go up to the roof top bar of a fancy hotel and have a $15 drink…like you would at say the Sears tower in Chicago. This place however offered the same views and $2 beers…sold. It wasn’t until we say down, ordered some appetizers, and had a few overlooking the city that I really felt comfortable in Bangkok. If time and tide wait for no man, Bangkok seems to trample those they leave behind.
We hoped a cab back to our hotel. The road we were on was somewhat of a local strip on the outskirts of the Khao San road craziness and offered a few restaurants with strong recommendations, and a few bars with live music. We decided to go to a restaurant called Hemlock on one end of the street and had a great meal of curries and pad Thai. I would totally recommend this restaurant as both the food, atmosphere, and service left nothing to be desired.
We were thoroughly beat and decided the best possible course of action would be a $2 half hour foot massage. I was a little nervous because I’m extremely ticklish, an Erin enjoyed every minute of my agony. I almost kicked the poor women given the massage like 3 times. I finally settled down and when we were done my legs felt brand new. Best $2 ever.
We finally finished up the night with some street food dessert: a crepe like pancake wrapped around bananas and covered with chocolate sauce and…well, some kind of liquified sugary syrup good awesomeness. It lasted about 10 seconds.
Finally after a long day (and a pretty long ass blog post I think) it was tie for bed…….
1- Street market produce
2- Wat Arun. We never actually went here but we passes it on the river ferry a bunch. Pretty impressive looking…Wat.
3- Indian curried egg
4- the fried catfish goodness
5- seriously there are cool buildings like this EVERYWHERE…we just happened to randomly stumble across this little feller
6- duder on the street making pancake dessert crack goodness that costs like a dollar