On a recent trip to Bangkok, I learned something. Like many people, I have a love/hate relationship with cities. I love their diversity and the opportunity. I loathe the cacophony and the musty air of exhaust mixed with concrete.
Luckily, Bangkok has plenty of things to take your mind off the drudgery of the smoggy atmosphere.
Like dining at a classy restaurant, much like one you’d find in Seattle (see: Spur/How to Cook a Wolf/ or Quinn’s). Where drinks are on par with the food, where the dishes are thoughtful and artfully created, and, honestly where an entire afternoon can be whiled away in a satisfactory haze. Or the latest restaurant in the posh neighborhood at the end of the BTS line stuffed away in a residential street. Where the brunch menu was literally only a half-page containing four different styles of eggs benedict.
Or like traipsing through the multitude of temples dotted through the city like a redhead’s freckles. There’s Wat Arun, right on the waterfront, a spectacular and glittery temple with impossibly steep steps. There’s Wat Pho with the massive reclining Buddha with mother-of-pearl feet and a meandering courtyard with plenty of solitude to be found.
And then there’s the shopping. If ever you wanted ten times more clothing stores than you could ever possibly need, then Bangkok is the place to be. I’m not much of a shopping type, but I found myself browsing endless windows of smartly adorned pasty-white mannequins, and black-market sales tents stuffed in the tiny sidewalk space down Sukhumvit, home to rows and rows of pirated DVDs, likely stolen electronics, and bizarre knickknacks.
Bangkok is the city of plenty, of over-stimulation and a certain satisfying filth. Of posh status-climbers and street-walkers. Of traffic so miserably slow it takes hours to cross only a few miles, even in the subways and on light rail. Of denizens who seem far too friendly to be city folk, yet offer you a kindness you might only find in remote or rural areas of the States.
Bangkok is a city I despise, and yet it’s a magnet. I don’t think long-term residency there would suit me but I enjoy what the cacophony provides, in its dark alleys, its hidden corners…