Thursday, 16 February 2012

Bangkok, Thailand (1)

A note on film photography: I am not very good at it. I'm also not really in the habit of taking photos very frequently, which is why I have maybe 4 photos at most (digital and film) of Bangkok.

I feel so awkward taking photos when there are lots of people around, and I feel like a creep taking photos of other people, especially strangers ("Hey, person I've never seen before, wanna sit still for 10 seconds so I can objectify you and keep these photos of you forever?").

That said, here are some bits and pieces.



I also got ill for two of the three days we were there so I didn't see as much as I should have (Reclining Buddha, flower market, the rest of the city). As a result, I don't have very much I can say about this huge city that would be fair or accurate; but here two things I can try to talk about:

In every city we visit, we make it a habit to check out its Chinatown. After being rejected by about four taxis, this tuk-tuk driver approached us and said he would take us. I've never been in one of these before, but now that I have, I've come to the conclusion that people in Bangkok are the best drivers in the world. 

Whether you're in a car, a tuk-tuk or on a motorbike, at first you think the drivers are weaving in and out of traffic because they're impatient; but it becomes apparent that they're driving like this because they can. And because it works. You're getting from A to B in a reasonable amount of time in the worse traffic you've ever seen, and you're still alive. 

So our tuk-tuk driver is funny and talkative, and seems to be taking us from A to B in a reasonable amount of time. And we were seeing more of the city than we had previously. But then we realize that it's taking longer than we had thought. We bring out the map and point and discuss with our driver but it's no use, he seems like he really wants to show us something. And for some reason he asks Will if he's going to buy me an engagement ring(??). After 20 minutes of driving through dust and exhaust,  we realize we have been taken to C and not B. C is a gem retailer mall tucked away in a nameless alley and is probably 15 minutes from Chinatown. We have been swindled in exactly the same way the Lonely Planet guide said we might be. 

We get to Chinatown eventually, mostly because we act pissed off and tired. 

Q: How do you eat Thai food when you travel to Thailand with someone who is deathly allergic to fish?
A: Order room service and hope for the best.

And it was the best. It was seriously the best Thai food I had ever had in my entire life. I get frowny when I think about how much food I missed out on in Bangkok due to my constantly upset stomach; but then I think about this tiger prawn salad, and I can't really say I missed out on anything because my eyes were opened to what food could taste like.

Why doesn't Thai food taste like this in Vancouver? How come food doesn't taste like this everywhere? (Ingredients that I could pick out: tiger prawns (huge ones), chilli, lemongrass, lime leaves, pineapple, coriander, winged beans, toasted coconut, lime juice, fish sauce, sugar; nothing too out of the ordinary, right?).

Even the yellow curry on our Thai Airways flight from Seoul to Bangkok was better than anything I've had at home. Is there something wrong with us? The idea of authenticity in food is a widely discussed and, at times, controversial topic, but I've always suspected that anyone could make anything with enough practice and the right ingredients. I don't think I could replicate food like this even if I really, really tried. Thanks, Bangkok. 

We stayed at The Metropolitan and it was amazing. 
27 South Sathorn Road
Bangkok 10120

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