Street food Travel

This Is How It Is in Bangkok

This is how it is. You land in Bangkok one afternoon when your head and stomach think it’s midnight the night before, and your internal thermometer goes nutso, rising precipitously, quickly, because it’s accustomed to frigid climes. Your ankles swell. Your clothes grow itchy, your hands and feet sweaty, your skin glistened from a damp it hasn’t felt in months (it thinks you’re still in the high, dry desert). Thus, you stumble through the motions to lug bag after bag from airport to taxi to hotel. You’re in a daze as you sign your name and show your passport and pay for the room. A quiet young man brings you a glass of frothy pineapple juice, freshly squeezed. It’s the first thing to hit your tongue.

Mmmmm mmmmm! Yes, you are back in Asia, and it’s all right there in that little glass: pure, fresh pineapple, so sweet without a hint of pucker. And so it begins.

A nap. A pot of coffee. A tasty $2 Indian dinner at a food stall up the road. A whole platter of fresh fruit the next morning—no cardboard papayas, no starchy green bananas with origins 2,000 miles from home. Lunch is what you see above, a fine pork green curry, a spicy Issan-style pounded fish dip with chile and green onion, a plate of fresh vegetables, and later, a grilled chicken. Eaten beneath a clear blue sky (in Bangkok!) with mynas hopping about. Street food at its best: great taste, cheap price, friendly service.

You’re on a mission now. You’re off to find the world’s best ice cream, the thing you’ve been craving for ages. It’s there, of course, right where you left it many months before. You order the beloved black sesame, plus a pert green scoop of pandanus, and it’s gone too fast. Your husband gets the passionfruit sorbet and declares his undying love (for the sorbet, not for you). Then both of you grab a charcoal-roasted coffee at the bright little cafe beside Kinokuniya books before donning a pair of 3D glasses and slinking into the comfy Cineplex seats to see the best movie of the year.

That’s the first 24 hours….

(It isn’t always this way. I’ve been working ever since. Really.)

12 replies on “This Is How It Is in Bangkok”

In exactly one week, we will be landing back in Bangkok after more than a year away– I think your entry captures exactly the mood and the rush I’m anticipating! And of course, iberry is firmly planted on my planned itinerary. -X

This brings me back to Bangkok instantly. I love that place. We were just talking with some newish friends thinking of moving there for a few months and couldn’t shut up about how great the food, fruit and just pace of eating and life was there.

Although I’m enjoying the food in Buenos Aires, I realize my heart is in Asia when it comes to food.

We arrive in Bangkok in two weeks, can’t wait, especially after reading this
Can you recommend a cheap and cheerful hotel?
all the best

…and would you believe, after all these years, I’ve just discovered a little alley that leads to a market I’d never seen before. Lots of yummy looking food. This is a huge city with new layers unfolding every day.

Xander, have a great trip. We’ll miss you by a few days.

Ezzirah, come on over!

Jer, you know me….

Audrey, I understand. We’ve considered Bangkok many times…. if only we could breathe the air. Too tough on our lungs.

Paula, what’s your idea of cheap? I hesitate to recommend without a better idea of your ideas. I’ve definitely discovered that one person’s “cheap” is another person’s “posh.” And vice versa. It’s all relative.

Francine, wanna do lunch?

Hi Karen,
We moved here from Oregon in Nov. Your post really captures the essence of what is so hard to convey to those back in the U.S. We are constantly exploring and finding new food finds and just really enjoy our time here. BTW, can I also get your recommendations for cheap and cheerful accomodations? We have a friend visiting from San Miguel de Allende for 2 months and she’s also looking for a comfy place, $30-$40.

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