Sa-wat-diii-kaa! Welcome to Thailand, the land of smiles. And the land of smiles it is!
Indeed, the people welcome you with a smile and folded hands, while saying hello in a sing song way which sounds a lot like… “sa-waaa-diikaaaaaaa”, a greeting you will be familiar with from the moment you land. The charm, madness, traffic and yes, the pink cabs that are so symbolic of Bangkok that whizz in the streets capture your heart in a way that only Thailand can.
Christmas day 2008, M and I set our footsteps in the noisy, polluted yet charming capital, Bangkok. Our hotel, the then newly built S15 Hotel, is located right in the heart of Sukhumvit, the street to be, smack in the heart Bangkok! A great choice for a first visit to Bangkok – this is a glimpse into Bangkok all on one street – there are a tonne of fantastic local places to eat at, shopping malls a few blocks down, and best of all – more than one foot massage parlour right opposite our hotel! Could life get any better?
When in Thailand, you eat Thai Curry! So Christmas lunch 2008 was a change from mum’s usual Turkey and all its trimmings – instead we indulged in one of the best tasting Thai Red Curry(s) I have ever eaten. Pity I can’t remember the name of the restaurant but I do remember that it is based in the mall right opposite S15! A stroll along Sukhumvit afterwards was the perfect way to absorb the chaos and excitement of Bangkok, with its pink cabs, tuk tuks and traffic merging perfectly with the serenity of all the temples outside people’s homes, and the statues of Lord Ganesh with offerings placed abundantly in front of Him in the streets. Majestic indeed and unlike any other place in the world!
At night, Sukhumvit is transformed into a mecca of sorts. Vendors display their wares on carts – all sorts of beautiful crafts, paintings, street food carts, and yes, the inevitable knock offs of designer handbags and wallets. S15 had some comfy seats right outside, an ideal perch for people watching…and believe it or not – elephant watching!!! I couldn’t believe my eyes when not one, but quite a few great big elephants walked by – with their keepers of course, it was almost surreal!
We found that Bangkok is a friendly and safe place to walk around in at night, and we ambled along for a couple of hours, absorbing it all in, stopping to buy some beautiful paintings and in the process becoming savvy to the art of bargaining with the Thais – which is simply to type in a figure you feel would be worthy for the item on the ever handy calculator…and walk away if the vendor doesn’t agree…works like a charm! Sadly we were not brave enough to try the street food and though we’d have loved to indulge in some more Thai food, we ended up eating dinner at Limoncello’s, a charming trattoria with the best tasting pizza that side of the globe! Not your traditional Christmas day, but rather a footstep and a glimpse of life in another part of the world!