Bangkok is amazing. It feels weird saying this as just a few months ago we had the opposite opinion of any big city. Of course, there is traffic, noise and pollution, but somehow they’re nicely balanced by beautiful urban things like architecture, green spaces, and fun things to do.
We live on a quiet street with predominantly working-class Thai families with kids, therefore this makes our experience so much more interesting. Observing the kids playing outside, witnessing the impressive triple-parking system, or just exploring the local market seems like enough of Bangkok for new residents with busy schedules.
I felt quite embarrassed telling somebody that we live in Bangkok and we haven’t seen anything touristy yet. Bear in mind though, that for months we were looking for a decent place, job hunting, sorting all the paperwork, visa-runs, bank accounts, etc. But now we’re able to find some time to explore the surrounding areas.
Saturday. As always, first things first, we were discussing how many coffees to buy. After my dental check-up at Thong Lo we bought 3 coffees for the two of us and sat next to some shop on the street. Coffee at 7-11 is surprisingly good, and for 25 baht (50 pence) per cup you don’t really mind sitting outside a random shop! We also had some biscuits, but they weren’t enough to quiet Auste’s rumbling stomach. Next stop was some grilled sweet potatoes from a wandering street vendor, but they had some living things in them (since when do worms like potatoes??), so I knew Auste wouldn’t think of anything but food anytime soon.
We got off at BTS Chidlom and somehow by accident (or faith?) ended up at the Central Food Hall. 3 massive sections of cheese, a huge quality bakery, several deli bars with plenty of tasty choices… We were like two kids in a candy shop. We wanted to buy EVERYTHING. You see, we love food. We love good food. We left with a bag full of freshly baked bread and all sorts of other goodness. Nibbling the bread bite after bite, walking past various posh hotels, we followed the BTS Silom line all the way PAST Lumphini park without a single coffee shop in sight, until we reached Sala Deng. More coffee, and MORE FOOD. We walked back to the park and stopped by the gate. Of course there were loads of street vendors with surprisingly low prices, so… we got fried egg with rice. MORE FOOD.
Can you believe we were finally AT the park, and not at another food shop? But it wasn’t an ordinary day at the park. We came to explore the Discover Thainess festival organised by Tourism authority of Thailand. As soon as we walked through the main entrance… we decided to find a green patch of space for a picnic. Now I know it sounds silly, but just laying down on the grass in the park with our feast of food was the best part of the day!
And then we went to explore the festival. There were women spinning silk and weaving linen next to stands of beautiful scarves and traditional Thai clothes to purchase. There were others carving wood or even using popped rice to make all sorts of beautiful things.
It reminded me of a similar festival in Lithuania – where you have all sorts of craftsmen dressed up in traditional costumes demonstrating how tools and things worked in the past. Then there were performances – even more beautiful Thai costumes and traditional dancing.
Everyone, even the food vendors were dressed in traditional Thai clothes. And there were tons of food… we even found some nice vegetarian options! I couldn’t resist the coconut ice-cream served in a coconut, with fresh coconut shavings – one of the very few Thai sweets that we both like.
Everywhere we looked there were so many vibrant colours and sounds, and everyone seemed to be having a good time. It was also strange (and nice at the same time) seeing so many Thai people and very few foreigners, even though it was a tourism-related festival.
You can find more photos from the festival on our Flickr page here.