Breezing Through Bangkok
Crowded concrete sidewalks and alleys line this wild, gritty, bustling metropolis. This is Bangkok.
There is a fascinating juxtaposition between the modern shopping malls and the gleaming palaces to the dilapidated homes along the canals and street side food stalls at every corner.
In just the greater Bangkok metropolis alone, there are an estimated 10 million inhabitants in the 1,500 sq km area. Bangkok pulsates with life on the streets and its underground. Yet despite the crowds, the heat and the traffic, the natural warmth of the people continues to make it one of Southeast Asia’s favourite destinations.
If you’ve been to Bangkok a few times now and want to enjoy something less intense but still hit some of the key points that make this city what it is, here is a 36 hour weekend schedule you can cram in for a breezy Bangkok experience.
ARRIVING IN BANGKOK
Getting around, you’ll want to familiarise yourself with the BTS Sky train to avoid Bangkok’s notorious traffic, which can easily leave you stuck in your taxi or tuk tuk for hours at a time for an otherwise 20 minute drive. The BTS Skytrain connects the major areas of Bangkok and for the most part runs smoothly.
Conveniently next to the BTS SkyTrain Chit Lom station is the new RenaissanceHotel, containing a gorgeous interior pool, spectacular gym and attractive suites. And located next to the hotel is Central Chidlom, the flagship mall of one of Thailand’s leading department store chains and part of one of the largest retail groups in Thailand.
Upon arrival on your first evening, hop in a tuk tuk to nearby Nahm, David Thompson’s semi-controversial Thai restaurant. The restaurant has a contemporary interior, but there are touches of traditional elements with natural woods and warm colours in the centrally located Metropolitan Hotel. Since opening, David Thompson has caused a stir in the local dining scene after his claims that he creates some of the most authentic Thai. Being that he is Australian, he has caused many local Thais to sniff with doubt.
Thompson heads Nahm in London, the only Thai restaurant in Europe to win a Michelin star, and has been quoted to say that even many of the Thais have lost touch with their culinary roots. One might question the authenticity of Nahm when one sees that most of the patrons at Nahm are non-Thais, but regardless of the surroundings, Nahm Bangkok does an excellent job producing authentic Thai flavours, using ingredients in a very local manner.
Each dish is clean and to the point. You can taste the freshness of the beautiful regional ingredients and the flavours stand on their own in harmony. The balance of sweet, salty, sour and spicy is just right, staying true to Thai flavour profiles. Despite the controversy, Nahm prices are not exorbitant and Nahm Bangkok is much more casual. While the starters are not earth shattering though, the coconut and tamarind curry comes highly recommended. The curry is sour yet savoury with tamarind while the sweetness of the crab rounds off for the perfect bite.
Afterwards, follow up with a stroll throughSuan Lum Night Bazaar to haggle over hand-made products, clothes and knick-knacks. Next to it is a popular beer garden, for those who want to drink cold local beers into the night. However, the market will be closed over the second half of 2011 and will undergo a relocation to Ratchadaphisek Road.
This story was first published in the Appetite May 2011 issue. To see the full article, pick up the magazine now!