From the roof top bar of the hotel I’m staying in, I gazed into the glittering megalopolis that is Bangkok. My eyes swept the skyline from left to right, taking in the sultry view of this moonlit city, wondering what the coming days held for me. I was exhilarated. Bangkok has always been an exciting city and I knew I had barely scratched its surface during the few times I’ve visited.
|GROUND FLOOR LOBBY OF SIAM@SIAM IN BANGKOK|
|MY FUNKY ROOM FOR ALMOST A WEEK IN BANGKOK|
My first day in the city turned into night as Bangkok’s infamous traffic jam kept me from reaching SIAM@SIAM [865 RAMA 1 ROAD, WANG MAI, PATUMWAN, BANGKOK | +66 2 217 3000 | CHECK RATES | GPS MAP 13.747243, 100.526937], my funky industrial-themed abode for almost a week in the city as I attend the first ever TBEX Asia. I arrived just before eight in the evening and after quickly dropping my bags, I went out for dinner along the sidewalk hawkers peddling hot, steamy noodles.
|SINGHA BEER, PERFECT FOR ANY OCCASION|
The next few days were a blur of conferences and talks as TBEX rumbles into Asia. But every evening, I’d go out with travel bloggers from around the globe to check out Bangkok’s night scene, sans Khao San Road.
|YODPIMAN RIVERWALK LOCATION MARKER|
|THE BREEZY CHAO PHRAYA RIVER RIGHT BESIDE THE RIVERWALK|
One of the places we visited was the 300-meter long YODPIMAN RIVER WALK [PHRA NAKHON, BANGKOK, THAILAND | GPS MAP 13.740777, 100.495661]. It was pretty similar to Asiatique the Riverfront in that its promenade, made from renovated heritage buildings, are also set up along the Chao Phraya River. From the viewing deck overlooking the choppy waters, I can see the famous Wat Arun, the Wat Kalayanamitr and the Sta. Cruz Church, dramatically silhouetted by the setting sun.
|I LOVE PRAWNS!|
And as evening finally sets in, we feasted on Thai delights at MAE YUI RESTAURANT. It was a lovely place to dine on sea bass, squids, tofu, garlic prawns and massaman curry; a specialized Persian-inspired Thai dish. Everything went especially well with bottles of Singha beer on the side.
|FLOWER GALORE AT BANGKOK ‘S FLOWER MARKET|
|FLOWER SELLERS WITH THEIR COLORFUL “WARES”|
A few strides away from the riverwalk is the Pak Klong Talad or the BANGKOK FLOWER MARKET [CHAK PHET ROAD, BANGKOK | GPS MAP 13.741475, 100.496251]. Blooms of colors assailed our senses as we passed through rows after rows of bouquets ready for almost every occasion. You’d probably faint with sensory overload if you’re not into this kind of thing; too much flowers, my friend.
|FLOWERS FOR ALL OCCASIONS|
|FLOWER SELLERS WITH THE TRADITIONAL THAI LOTUSES|
The place is open 24 hours everyday, but nighttime is usually where the action’s at, as fresh flowers from farms all over the country are brought here. You can get your roses, orchids, tulips, Thai lotuses and probably everything else, at very low prices. It is quite similar to our very own Dangwa in Manila.
|GETTING TOURISTY WITH TUK-TUKS|
|ROARING THROUGH ALMOST EMPTY BANGKOK ROADS|
Like true tourists, we then boarded a tuk-tuk, a traditional motorcycle-driven rickshaw popular in Thailand, to visit BANGKOK’S CHINATOWN [YAOWARAT ROAD, SAMPHANTHAWONG, BANGKOK | GPS MAP 13.740943, 100.508691]. It was quite funny to see us zipping through the busy streets of the city like we were on a parade or something; we were a big group and I reckon our contingent was made up of more than twenty tuk-tuks.
|A SEA OF HUMANITY AT BANGKOK’S CHINATOWN|
|INTERESTING ART DECO-ISH ARCHITECTURE|
From a sea of flowers, our scenery transformed into a sea of humaniy. It was my first time to visit the city’s Chinatown district and I was totally shocked into confusion. We alighted at the center of the kilometer-long stretch of a road, a fourth of which is covered with hawkers selling streetfood.
|THIS IS STREETFOOD HEAVEN|
|FRESH SEAFOOD FOR GRILLING|
It was a mad bedlam of everything as I tried to swim a meter at a time through the throngs of locals and tourists sampling every Thai streetfood imaginably possible. I’ve never heard about this place before, and as is usual on a guided tour, it was kinda hard to really sit down and have a taste of every skewered meat or pots of steaming noodles I saw.
|POMEGRANATE JUICE, A POPULAR BUT MORE EXPENSIVE DRINK IN BANGKOK|
So I basically just tried to survive the half-kilometer long parade of hawker stalls I passed and let my eyes do the eating. But I will definitely have my revenge. This crazy place is definitely on my list the next time I fly to Bangkok. This is street food heaven! My heaven. By gosh.
|THE SILOM COOKING SCHOOL DINING AREA|
On our final night in Bangkok, we crisscrossed narrow alleys, took off our shoes, donned colorful aprons and exchanged our cameras for knives and cooking utensils. We were at the SILOM THAI COOKING SCHOOL [68 SOI, 212/13 SI LOM, SURIYA WONG, BANG RAK, BANGKOK | +66 84 726 5669 | GPS MAP 13.722541, 100.524713] and this evening, we’re trying our hands on some of Thailand’s classic dishes.
|TOO MANY INGREDIENTS FOR COOKING|
I’ve attended a cooking school in Bangkok before at The Siam Hotel, but this one seemed much more legit. Sitting cross-legged on mats on the floor (which was a big challenge for tummy-challenged people like me), we made everything from zero; chopping, squeezing, crushing, milking, until we get everything to the frying pan, which really, was the easiest part.
|MY PAD THAI’S ALMOST DONE!|
|THE FINAL DISH, YELLOW CURRY WITH CHICKEN|
Eventually, we were able to churn out a course of Thai dishes from sticky rice, to hot and sour prawn soup, fish cakes, fried sweet corn cakes, pad thai and finally, the main dish, yellow curry with chicken. Everything we did was made for no one else but us! This was gonna be our dinner for our final night in Bangkok and it was absolutely the best one I’ve had. Of course, I cooked it.
And that, my friend, is how you spend a night in Bangkok without going to Khao San Road. It is indeed possible, you know.
MY GRATITUDE GOES OUT TO THE TOURISM AUTHORITY OF THAILAND FOR THE INVITE AT TBEX ASIA 2015