Asian mega-cities. Oh man. Imposing and intimidating they can be no matter where you are on the continent. But after spending a month in rainy, still emerging Yangon, my heart slowed to a more comfortable pace when the scape of a thumping populous city, home to over 6 million, came into view. And then my taxi driver informed me that there had been another bombing.
Nonetheless, I was still determined to make up for lost time, and I wasn’t going to let acts of terrorism get in the way of that. But I would have to be wary and listen to the advice of others. I hadn’t visited Bangkok for over 18 months, and I was doing it with new eyes. This trip was no longer limited to 72 hours, nor was it constrained to the tiniest of budgets that would have relegated a much younger me to the famous Khaosan Road backpacker bubble or other more tourist-ridden areas. 23 year old Tiff was going to be high-fiving 30 year old Tiff big time.
And for the whirlwind of a day that I spent with my pal Jane, it never felt like it. Both of us were taking a breather in the big city. Catching up, spinning wheels and looms of ideas. Jane’s spent more time in Bangkok than I have and she was super keen to show me to her favourite haunts while discovering new ones with me. With the bounty of very efficient public transportation at our feet, I was so incredibly thankful (after hours spent in traffic in Yangon) to go hard and fast. I wanted to share some favourite new bits of the city I discovered on this trip, adding more proof that Bangkok is one of the hippest cities this side of the Pacific.
Besides hang out with these cool kids, the first thing I did in Bangkok was to get settled. And where else than the emerging, hipper than thou neighbhourhood of Ari? Recommended by nearly everyone in Yangon (who know their Bangkok well after more than a few visa runs), I found a perfect homey little AirBnb hosted by foodies Sara and Alex. Upon arrival, they swept me off on a little food tour of the very walkable neighbourhood. I loved staying here and if I ever relocated to Bangkok, I would definitely want to call Ari home. Start with very good coffee at Porcupine (among others). Or have an espresso with some high quality bicycles at tokyobike. Spend all of your money at Vick’s Weekend. Grab an apertif and perhaps even a delicious Thai seafood dinner at Summer Street. Finish off the evening with whimsy and delicious cakes at Puritan, or maybe an artisanal hot dog on a charcoal bun, right on the street. Ari I heart you.
As a hyphenate, there’s always some work to be done and Jane had the perfect place to do it. The Thailand Creative & Design Centre’s library sits on the top floor of the Emporium Shopping Complex at Phrom Phong BTS stop. It’s a bit of a maze through the food stands to get to it, but when you do, it totally pays off. Your first visit is free of charge (so long as you bring your passport), with free wi-fi and design resources up the wazoo included. Your neighbour could be one of these guys. Plus respect for the quiety, plenty of desks and power outlets. It made the productivity side of my heart very happy.
Before you head into your work-related headspace, consider having some slow coffee and an indulgent ode to the eggs Benedict at Roast just below the TCDC. Do it with a very good friend you haven’t seen in a while, and share stories and plan future travel together while that frozen cube of espresso makes friends with milk.
And invite others to join you for an even more generous dinner at Neverending Summer on the other side of the Chao Phraya river. While contemplating dining options, Jane jumped at the chance to introduce me to this family run, Thai resto housed in part of an old jam factory complex refurbished into an epicentre of design and food in the Klong San neighbourhood. We were greeted by the matriarch of the establishment and thus began a night of slow food, with each dish deserving a good amount of time to ruminate over, be amazed by, (and on my part – photograph). I’m still dreaming about that chicken.
All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use. We are not liable for expenses incurred for sudden relocations to Bangkok.