12.18.2015 - 12.20.2015 86 °F
We arrived in Bangkok at about 5pm and did not get to our hotel until 8pm. The taxi line wraps around the ground transportation section as every group has to filter through one person printing a ticket and assigning a stall number to catch their taxi. By the time we finally got to our car, we were in the heart of Bangkok rush hour, which maybe deep down made us long for Los Angeles traffic (never thought that day would come). By the time we finally got to the hotel, we were ready to crash after a quick dinner.
The next morning, we got up bright and early for a Thai cooking class. Karly is pictured here enjoying the morning breeze on our little balcony overlooking the Chaom Phraya river and wearing her new pants with elephants on them (she probably won't be happy about this picture's inclusion):
Our cooking class with Chef LeeZ was hosted in the more historic part of Bangkok, Banglamphu (Bang-lam-poo). We took a tour of a small farmer's market and got the rundown on some local produce that you won't find outside of Thailand and also which produce was safe to try for visitors.
About halfway through the cooking class, Karly began to feel really ill. Chef LeeZ didn't mess around, she quickly sprung into action by spreading out a mat for Karly to lay on, with periodic massages and other nausea remedies. We believe this was caused by the malaria prescription (more on this later). Apparently Karly was not the first visitor to Thailand to feel sick during the class, the chef told us that she once had someone pass out in the middle of the farmer's market. Karly did miss some amazing food and cooking techniques. Chef LeeZ was great about having us making all ingredients from scratch and tasting them against their packaged/process counterpart - the most striking different came from fresh squeezed coconut milk versus the coconut milk available in stores. We'd definitely recommend this class to anyone visiting Bangkok for a fun experience and a taste of the building blocks for Thai cuisine. One last note is that Chef LeeZ introduced us to the phrase "same same but different" to describe the transgender folks that have a strong presence in Thailand (and Bangkok specifically).
After the cooking class the priority was getting Karly back to the hotel. Unfortunately, the fastest and most efficient way back to the hotel was via boat, which is really great when you feel sick to your stomach. We did take a few pics of the riverbank along the way.
That night we met up with one of Karly's former colleagues, Arm, who is originally from Thailand and is back in Bangkok now. She gave us some great advice and suggestions for our overall time in Thailand and had some time to meet up for dinner. It was great to have a quiet dinner with a local and have some time to ask stupid questions that we were too embarrassed to ask anyone else. For instance, everyone bows as a greeting and we weren't sure if it would be offensive (or lame) for us as tourists to bow back. After Arm's advice that it would be much appreciated by Thai folks, I went on a bowing spree for anyone willing to engage for the next few days.
The next morning we headed out to Hua Hin - this will have its own separate blog post.
After Karly felt sick in the cooking class, she stopped taking the malaria medicine and got better within a day or so. I kept taking the prescription and managed to get sick at the second most perfect time (after a riverboat ride) which is a two to three hour car ride through Thai countryside. By the time we arrived back in Bangkok, I was feeling very ill. Our second hotel in Bangkok (Hotel Muse) was very cool, it had an exotic outpost circa American-prohibition-era vibe and was in the center of the city near the main shopping centers, whereas our first hotel was tucked away a bit more on the river.
After a nap, I thought I was feeling well enough to do some sightseeing, so we ventured out to Jim Thompson's house. Jim Thompson was an American architect that spent some time in Thailand while he was in the service and decided to move back and revitalized the Thai silk trade in the 1950s and 60s. He provided the silk garments used in the King and I movie and has a compound of several traditional Thai houses that he connected in Bangkok to house himself and his art and antiquity collections. Even more intriguing is that he mysteriously disappeared in 1967 on a trip in Malaysia, which is still unsolved despite vast land searches prompting lots of intriguing conspiracy theories. Despite this awesome story, I only made it halfway through the tour before the malarone maven came roaring back (I felt sick again from the malaria pills) and had a to duck out of Mr. Thompson's second story (right when the tour got good apparently).
Karly got me back to the hotel via the longest tuktuk ride anyone has ever taken (apparently I may be biased by being sick and it only took ~20 mins). Tuktuks in Bangkok are known for being decorated with flashing lights and music, which usually are not on during the day but you can see party tuktuks zipping around Bangkok all night. We started our tuktuk ride right around the time the sun set, so each progressive block our driver would flip on a new decoration - first the perimeter lights, the some flashing lights (which illuminated the (joking?) warning labels depicting stick figures in a variety of vulgar sutra positions not to be attempted within the confines of a tuktuk), and I think we hopped out right before the Thai party music switch was flipped.
Overall, we both really enjoyed Bangkok but were each separately sick on the two full days we had intended to tour the city, so we didn't visit everything that we wanted to see. We do believe it would be a great trip to come back and visit this corner of the world (Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam) more thoroughly on its own dedicated trip and maybe we can take another crack at Bangkok.