I was excited to return to Bangkok and Thailand for the first time in over a decade and half. During my childhood, my family had traveled here for a mixture of business and vacation. My dad founded and operated an undergarment business (think underwear and pajamas), so many of our family vacations involved visiting factories in countries like Thailand and Turkey. An additional wrinkle to this visit was added as my mom even texted me adamantly to let me know that I must visit Erawan Shrine with its famous four-faced Buddha and pay my respects which typically involves paying for chanting dancers and bowing with incense at each of the faces. My father had famously prayed to this same deity in Bangkok many years ago for a son and a daughter and lo and behold, my sister and I were born.
Our flight from Tokyo wasn't particularly noteworthy, besides the fact that Sid opted to nap as close to me as humanly possible as the passenger next to her was incredibly flatulent over the course of 6.5 hours. We arrived at Don Mueang International Airport, one of the world's oldest international airports and maneuvered our way deftly through a sea of kindred budget travelers. After a long wait through customs, we withdrew some bahts and jumped in a cab towards the city.
We stayed at my family's condo in the south of Bangkok, off Rama 3 Road and near the Chao Phraya river that snakes through the middle of the expansive city. This location would prove to be impossibly difficult to explain to any taxi driver, and of the few that understood the area, even fewer wanted to make the trek there. We also adapted to my fear of running out of potable water at the condo by making daily stops by Bangkok's plethora of 7-Elevens and purchasing water by the pallet.
Our first stopover here was just for one night and we grabbed a quick and delicious bite at Nalin Kitchen before calling it a night and heading off to Phuket the next morning. On our return stay our good friend Mike met us after his solo excursion to the Philippines. He sarcastically recapped his experiences on a recommended sailing excursion from El Nido to Coron with the bespoke group Tao Expeditions—which for anyone else would be the equivalent of a glowing review. As a group we explored a mixture of cultural and culinary sites, the latter of which happened to focus on trendy, upscale cafes, and then parted ways as Sid headed back stateside and Mike and I onward to Myanmar.
- Nalin Kitchen, Never Ending Story, and Nara were great Thai restaurants we sampled.
- Greyhound, Nikko Cafe, Casa Lapin, and Karmakamet are all popular and well recommended cafes. Karmakamet is worth a visit alone for its interior and decor.
- Vesper and Gianni were two solid Italian restaurants I tried, with Vesper more chic upscale European with a trendy cocktail bar and Gianni more of your classic white tablecloth Italian.
- Other restaurants we wanted to visit but didn't get a chance to try were 24 Owls, The Deck, and Eat Me.