Bangkok is not your average city.
Boasting the longest name of any other capital in the world, holding the record for one of the world’s hottest capital cities (on average), and the birthplace of Red Bull, Bangkok is one of the most vibrant, colorful, larger than life metropolitan cities in the world.
Known internationally as ‘The City of Angels’, Thailand’s capital is the gateway to Asia, and it certainly was the gateway for me into this whole lifestyle of travel and adventure.
1569km2 in size, and home to 15% of Thailand’s whole population, I think Bangkok is a place best described through the 5 senses:
Driving on the highway from Suvarnabhumi airport, the eyes are instantly drawn to the illuminated advertisement billboards that light up the roads. Erected next to them are various warning signs for tourists that tell you to not disrespect the Buddha. The contrast of intimidating signboards telling you that you could face X number of years in prison for a certain type of tattoo is a stark contrast to the animated images for toilet paper or the comical adverts for skin whitener next to them.
After a while the billboards disappear and high-rises built with a mixture of western and Asian architecture are visible for as far as the eye can see,
But, as you get deeper into the city, just like peeling an onion, another layer is revealed.
Markets selling everything from food to fake designer goods, slum housing raised above the Chao Praya river on wooden beams, traffic made up of cars, bikes, tuk-tuks, endless temples and shrines– This is the Thailand you see, and don’t see in the holiday brochures.
Visiting one of the renowned sky bars at sunset will offer the greatest view of Bangkok. An orange backdrop makes the entire city appear golden, adding to the pleasure of watching the city gradually transform from day to night.
The best way to experience Bangkok is to eat your way through it, whilst trying to (if possible) avoid Bangkok Belly; a type of food poisoning that requires you to never be more than 5 minutes away from a bathroom.
From world famous curries, spicy street food, mouth-watering Pad Thai, fresh seafood to even scorpions and tarantulas, Bangkok has something for every tastebud!
After all that food, why not wash it all down with a tower of Chiang beer, a bucket of vodka or Durian smoothie?
The food scene in Bangkok is notorious because of the sheer amount of cheap, delicious dishes conveniently available on the sidewalk or street corner.
I don’t think there is a person that exists who has not visited Bangkok and complained about the smell.
The source of the various stenches is a mystery with perhaps obvious answers; stale urine, discarded trash, stagnant water, the (lack of) drainage system… all the above?
Luckily, the nose curling smells don’t creep into every corner of the city, so it’s not something anyone would be constantly dealing with, but if you’re hungover, or have a case of Bangkok belly, it will for sure add to the misery.
Welcomingly, the aromas originating from the streets stalls and food markets are also everywhere, making a short walk or taxi ride more enjoyable.
Bangkok is a loud place. Silence is a foreign concept that doesn’t even exist in the quieter neighbourhoods.
Just when you think you’ve escaped the car horns, banging of Tuk-Tuk exhausts, and revving of scooter taxis, you’ll be greeted with live music from a nearby bar or club, the barking of streets dogs or the infamous screams of ‘massage!’, no further comment needed there.
Holding an icy cold beer in your hands on a sweltering afternoon, grabbing a spoon to scoop up the last of the khao pat on your plate, tapping onto the gats at the sky train station, holding on to the sidebars of a Tuk-Tuk as it races through the streets, feeling the refreshingly chilly aircon in a 7/11, hitting the pillow after a full day exploring!
Personally, I love Bangkok. The city makes me feel alive through all my 5 senses.