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Bangkok

An Epiphany in Bangkok
I had already begged a woman to write down the name of her ground—what, pork?—dish that first melted my brain. She scratched a couple Thai words on my notepad. Later, I learned she’d written “lunch.”

Bangkok’s street food astounded, but I’d known it would. To visit is to know that the city’s tastiest dishes are served in the gutter. This wisdom I carried one sticky evening into an Internet café that smelled like Windex and lime. I pointed at some words on a menu and grabbed a plastic chair. One minute you’re refreshing your browser, the next you’re rethinking your values, your world, because of this soft-shell crab that’s appeared. Crispy, light, hot, tangy, weird—I don’t know what was happening in my mouth, but suddenly I saw the next level of street food, and it was bathed in fluorescent lights and tapping of keys. I’ve had good food since. Not as good.

This appeared in the August/September 2013 issue. Image courtesy of Rigmarole/Flickr

Tuk-Tuks, Bangkok
Hailing a taxi or tuk-tuk may not work if you signal with your palm up. Instead, hold your arm out with your palm facing down and move it like you’re slowly bouncing a basketball. When you catch a taxi, make sure the meter is turned on to avoid being overcharged. Your best bet is to flag down a cab that’s on the move.
This appeared in the October 2013 issue.

Bangkok’s Food Scene
Perhaps one of the greatest pleasure of exploring Bangkok is enjoying the amazing food on offer. Famous around the world, there is nothing quite like the Thai food experience in Bangkok itself. While an emerging middle class has led to an influx of new, experimental restaurants, my favorite foods aren’t found on menus, but on the streets of the city itself. Walk a few blocks in any direction and you will begin to notice small stands, often marked with an umbrella to keep out the afternoon sun, offering simple but delicious meals on the go. Language knows no boundaries when it comes to food and while I may not know the name of what I order, I do know it’s delicious. Chicken, fresh vegetables and a unique assortment of spices all come together to form mouth-watering harmony. If a full meal isn’t of interest, snacks are just as easy to find. My favorite snack is a bag of freshly chopped pineapple, served with a skewer to help avoid making a mess. The best part of enjoying these delicacies? The price. Not only is the street food in Bangkok delicious, but it’s cheap and affordable for even the most slim of budgets.

Big Foot
My view of the Reclining Buddha in the 2 seconds I had to shoot it!

The Climb
Climbing this temple on the banks of the river. Not too hard, just don't look down. The stairs are so steep, just one wrong step and your next stop is the bottom floor.

Bangkok's Street Food
Walking down the streets of Bangkok lends a cacophony of sounds and experiences for your senses; the smells, the colors, the sights. The sheer nature of everything feeling foreign, is why you travel to Bangkok: to get out of your 'normal' and wander through these streets that allow you to drift in to another place altogether, and be absorbed by it. Bangkok's street food is utterly characteristic of this place: colorful, fragrant, unusual and delicious. Stop in at any stall or small restaurant/store: they are sprinkled and lined up everywhere throughout the city, with some things that are recognizable and sweet, like coconut ice cream and the durian fruit that is repulsive to smell but has the familiar taste of Juicy Fruit gum, to vendors selling scorpions on a stick and unrecognizable delicacies.

Bangkok's Buddha Alley
When I travel to a new place, I like to get my basic bearings on a map - then, it's time to put the map away and just wander. I spent three days in Bangkok, the second stop on my recent journey with the Azamara Quest, most of which I spent ducking in to tiny alleyways, perusing markets filled with handicrafts and local food, and hopping on and off of Tuk Tuks to navigate this canal-filled, sprawling city. Within 10 minutes of leaving the touristy area of the Grand Palace and heading west towards the Chao Phraya River that splits Bangkok in half, I wandered through some alleyways that led me in to the Rattanakosin District, filled with the 10 ft. Buddha statues that this area produces. The alleyways were quiet and housed hundreds of these golden statues; I popped my head into various shops and received warm smiles from the Thai people who were meticulously painting and crafting these shrines.

Transportation Around Bangkok
It seems that one of the major differences between living a place and visiting is the experience of transportation. Living in New York as long as I have, taking the subway is just a part of my day. Rarely memorable and never a goal in and of itself. But for a visitor, it is a great way to get the feel of the rhythm of the city.

In Thailand, I decided to experience every form of public transportation I could: local buses, buses between cities, trains, subways, water taxis, metered taxis, tuk-tuks and motorcycle taxis.

While riding on the back of a motorcycle and weaving through Bangkok traffic was certainly the most exciting, I highly recommend riding the Skytrain. By getting slightly above street level, it is possible to get a whole new view of the city.

Sample the Thai Moonshine Yadong
You can find street vendors with their own special mix of yadong on the streets of Bangkok. This alcohol is mixed with Thai herbs and tastes somewhat like tequila. They chase it with some sour mango dipped in chili salt. An enjoyable treat!

Canals
There are several natural canals throughout a city that is littered with skyscrapers. The people living here have done so for generations. Children can be seen playing in the water.

Midnight Tuk-Tuk Ride
After a delicious meal in Chinatown recommended by Anthony Bourdain (No Reservations anyone?) we hopped on one of the more elaborate tuk-tuk's and made our way back to the hotel. It's an awesome experience to watch Bangkok's nightlife as you speed away from one of Thailand's popular mode of transportation!

Puzzles
I was on my way to dinner by cab and saw this strange street art outside the window. I speak English and math, but very little Thai.

College Day
One of the biggest events at St. Gabriel's College in Bangkok is College Day. All of the individual grades have designated team colors and names. They compete to see who has the most school spirit, and who has created the most impressive artistic and architecturally stunning set for their individual section in the football stands. It is typical of Thailand, completely random and chaotic, but somehow seems to function for a single purpose. I took this photo of one of my 1200 students. He was tired and hot, and decided to make himself look busy by turning on the bubble machine for my second graders.

Happiness
My student, Gunn, at a school gathering.

Train Market Near Bangkok
Great to see in the morning, take a tour to see the train go through the center of the market and then purchase some great fruits and Thai treats.

Evening in China town
Evening in China town

Dog circus
Dog circus in Bangkok

Street-side Noodle Soup
Few things beat the steaming noodle soups available from street carts along the roads of Thailand. With fish and chicken balls, flash cooked noodles and local veggies, I ate this meal three times a day. Be sure to add chili, vinegar peppers, fish sauce and sugar. To me, this soup represents all the tastes and colors of Thailand. Mix up the toppings and noodle choices to avoid monotony. Either way you do it, this bowl of soup will be absolutely delicious!

Crossing From Thailand To Cambodia
Are we there yet? Most travelers going from Thailand to Cambodia take the bus. Unknown to many is the local train, which will take you from Bangkok all the way to the Poipet, Cambodia border. See the Thai countryside, interact with locals, eat fresh food from train vendors (fried rice with an egg, green mango slices with chili) and reach your destination for under $2. It's a five hour ride that will let you feel like a local.

Bangkok
Buddhas in Bangkok

Get Your Jackfruit
In Bangkok, fruit vendors can be found on just about every corner. While the pineapples and mangoes are certainly quite tasty, I was in the mood for something different this night. So I scored some jackfruit for 20 baht. These guys are posting up on Soi 11 in the Ratchathewi district of Bangkok.

OJ and Graffiti: What more can you ask for?
To put it simply, Bangkok is really, really hot all the time. One of the way locals stay as cool as possible is to indulge in some tasty, fresh street-side drinks. Iced coffee is perhaps the most popular choice--probably because it's tough to resist that ridiculous jolt of sugar. But, if I had to choose, I'd go fruit juice every time. Pomegranate juice is certainly available, but relatively hard to come by. Fresh-squeezed OJ, on the other hand, is available on just about every sweet corner and is the perfect antidote to the unbearable heat. I particularly loved how this girl's mask brilliantly matched her tasty wares.

River Taxi
In taxi to the Grand Palace.

Nicky's balcony
Bangkok 2011

Turtle eggs - the lesser known donut holes
Okay donut holes are the closest American food item that I can compare this stuff too. It's honestly ten times better/completely different AND better. Walking around, you'll see street vendors deep frying these "turtle eggs" and they may not look like much but MAN! Sweetened with condensed milk, chewy with a light crisp texture. Where can I find these again?!

Favorite Restaurant In Bangkok @ Chatuchuk Market
A visit to Chatachuk Market on the weekend in Bangkok is well worth it, reportedly the largest market in the world with 9,000+ stalls selling everything you could possibly imagine, and there's even a DHL right there, so you can ship whatever you buy home.

And just when you can't make it down one more aisle of shops, it hits you - Cafe Ice. Tucked in Section 7 of the market, the food here is wonderful, the service friendly and the smoothies, well, hot and humid Bangkok doesn't have a chance.

For under $10, you can have a full and tasty lunch, and rest your feet for another assault on the market.

Temple
As I was looking around a bunch of school kids boys and girls not older than 11 were approaching the temple. They were kids being kids having fun and being a bit loud, but as soon as they entered the temple they all went silent took an incense as an offering and prayed together. It was peaceful, and beautiful to see...

Mystery Meat
Best thing to do in any foreign city... check out the grocery store... this particular shop just off Ko San Road in Thailand's Bangkok, had all sorts of awesomely disgusting looking treats!

Offering Alms to the Monks at the morning market
Early in the morning in the markets you will see people giving alms to the monks. They wait with offerings for the monks to come around. Typically, it seems that they put their offering in the bowl and then pray at the monks feet.

Bangkok Skyline
Sunset in Bangkok viewed from Anantara Sathorn Hotel. Not bad, eh?

The Big Buddha of Wat Pho
The largest reclining Buddha in the world resides here at Wat Pho, which in itself is remarkable. Beyond that there is so much more to explore and see here within this beautiful gem of temple grounds set amongst the many temples of Bangkok.

The grounds of Wat Pho are made up of several temples, within its compound beyond where the reclining Buddha resides. It is also home to more than one thousand Buddha images. The many stupas and courtyards are beautifully tiled with intricate designs that reach up to the heavens.

Getting to Wat Pho was easy. I took an orange river taxi which run frequently and I got off at stop #8. The taxi cost 15 Baht, which equals about .50 cents US. The entrance fee to Wat Pho was 100 Baht or $3.35 US. From the river dock it's about a block away and easy to find. I was lucky the day I decided to visit as there were only a few tourist besides people making reverence.

Make a Splash at Songkran
Thai New Year takes place in April, one of the hottest, driest times of the year in Southeast Asia. It comes as no surprise then, that the time-honored tradition of making water offerings to elders and cleansing monasteries and Buddha images has evolved into a raucous and joyful water-splashing extravaganza. Strangers and friends alike douse each other in the streets in celebration. In the evening, the wet-and-wild atmosphere gives way to a carnival environment with live music, food vendors, and dancing.

Cruise the City Streets in a Tuk-Tuk
A ride in a three-wheeled tuk-tuk is an essential experience for visitors to Bangkok. One part rickshaw, one part motor trike, these iconic vehicles were imported from Japan after World War II and named for the puttering sound of their two-cylinder engines. In the early morning, you’ll see them transporting produce to markets around the city, but they are available for hire at all hours. Ride like a local: Negotiate the fare with the driver before your journey.

Learning to Cook a Real Pad Thai in Bangkok
Yesterday we were whisked by minibus to the outskirts of Bangkok to a Thai Cookery School called Baipai. I thought, when in Rome. And I'd always wanted to know how to cook a proper Pad Thai, one of my favourite dishes, not as easy as you'd imagine considering it's basically a stir fried noodle dish. I've had so many versions of this dish in many Thai restaurants all over the place and have tried to cook it myself plenty of times, restaurants nearly always and my efforts certainly always, disappointing. I wanted to make it the way they cook it in Thailand, it's name, after all, meaning, noodles cooked in the Thai style. Simple enough it would seem.

The thing is, everything hinges around the sauce, getting it right makes the difference between a real Pad Thai and a basic noodle dish. And then of course getting all the ingredients right. Then it actually is simple enough. Baipai has really got it down running it's Thai cookery classes. Everything runs like a well-oiled machine in getting the logistics of having eight people cooking with equipment they have never used before and they manage really well to make it a great experience. Set in beautiful gardens, the Japanese style kitchens were amazing. They use local produce and grow all their own herbs. Including holy basil, something not readily available in Ireland. Apparently the Buddhist monks used to boil this herb, the intense aroma from which was thought to enhance meditation.

Temple Hopping in Bangkok
Outside, the evening was hot and heavy, but my taxi was cold and very, very fast. I kept noticing speed signs that read ‘60’, which my driver was very successfully ignoring, driving in the fast lane over a hundred and up the arses of the cars in front. It wasn’t exactly as if I was in a hurry. Around the speeding car grew this enormous sparkling city that was sitting down in the last lick of light from the setting sun, behind which the night followed in shades of deepest blue.
The night was becoming panoramic.

A million people were out on the Silom Road. I decided to take the water bus on the Chao Phraya river.

Four hours later I had still not seen the Grand Palace, but, thanks to a crazy tuc-tuc driver who wouldn't let me go I had got a chance to visit two jewelry bazaars, two tailors and a tourist agency. In between fulfilling his quota with his ‘sponsors’, my tuc-tuc driver, whose name I never got, did manage to take me to two amazing places, the first of which was Wat Saket ‘The Golden Mount’. An artificial hill constructed under King Rama III (1824-51) the Golden Mount was a burial site during the plague under his reign, and thirty thousand people were cremated here.

The Marble Temple, Bangkok
Wat Benchamabophit gleams white and gold in the late morning sun, two huge singhas (lions) guarding the entrance to the Bot (ordination hall). The marble it is made from came from Carrara in Italy and is a working temple where Buddhist monks with an intellectual turn of mind go to study. I felt like I was on the set of 'The King and I', the old version with Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner, and every minute I expected to see the march of the royal Siamese children, accompanied by appropriate gongs and asian flutes. Thailand must have been an absolute paradise even a hundred and fifty years ago, and when you enter the walls of these temples you get a strong sense of that vanished world. I leave whistling a happy tune...

Temple of the Reclining Buddha, Bangkok
Wat Pho, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, is in a suburb of Bangkok, right beside the Grand Palace. There are always lines, apparently, and why shouldn't there be. This huge golden statue of a smiling golden Buddha is something to see. He lies, casually holding his great golden enlightened head, which is a full forty three meters (129 feet) from his golden toes (inlaid with mother-of-pearl). Surrounded by majestically colorful tiles he casts a bemused glance at the hordes of unenlightened that pass before his great shimmering body. Around him, flowers, dancers, elephants, exotic plant life. Beautiful beyond belief, the resplendent Buddha blesses all who come...

Temple Trailing in Tuc-tuc Hell
Bangkok, in search of temples. Outside the Grand Palace I met the person who turned out to be my host for the next four hours, a tuc-tuc driver who told me his first lie of the day, that the Grande Palace was not open until 12.30, but in the meantime he could take me to a few places (nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more). I readily agreed, looking forward to my first trip on one of these colourful converted motorbikes that are everywhere in Bangkok. Four hours later I had still not seen the Grand Palace, but I had the opportunity to visit two jewelry bazaars, two tailors and a tourist agency, fulfilling the tuc-tuc drivers quota for the day. I was so glad to have made him happy…

Buy a Nancy Chandler Bangkok Map
About my friend Nancy Chandler. If anyone knows what to do in Bangkok, it’s her. A co-worker tipped me off to Nancy’s intricately detailed, hand-drawn maps the last time I visited. Not only does Nancy identify and index every nook, cranny and alley in this city, but she also provides useful, firsthand advice on transportation, shopping, eating and entertainment. Her guide is not just a resource – it’s a companion – and I couldn’t imagine navigating Bangkok without it.

Luang Prabang & Bangkok trip report: http://bit.ly/17Q0Cup

Bangkok: Eating My Way Through Thailand
Bangkok. Home of every vice or want you could desire. After arriving to Banglamphu and finding a hotel after a long search through sign after sign of “No Vacancy” and “Full” (with a mattress that was about as comfortable as a dining room table), I headed out to explore the notorious Khao San road and surrounding area.

Sensory overload. Life on Khao San starts when the sun goes down and does not stop until the last dregs of the large tourist community head home in the early hours of the morning. You pass tourist after tourist. Thais surround you with their roaming food carts, in clothing stalls, or offering bracelets or tuk-tuks or ping pong shows.

If you can get used to the music, the lights, and the crowds, your attention will immediately be drawn to the vast amounts of carted street food that cram into every corner. There is fresh fish, grilled fish, dried fish, smoked fish. There are noodle carts where you can get some of the best pad thai for under $1US. There are banana pancakes, pastries, ice cream, and fresh fruit carts that make a darn good fruit smoothie. There are noodle soups with vegetables, beef, and pork balls. There are dumplings, meat satay, and spring rolls. And the cart I dare not approach – the scorpion, grasshopper, larvae, creepy crawly cart. Kabob carts can also occasionally be found if you want to switch up tastes and textures. The smells and sights are amazing.

Bangkok will steal all of my money make me a fat kid for sure.

Gain an Appreciation for the 'Art of Eight Limbs'
English Premiership soccer teams such as Manchester United and Liverpool may be widely revered, but nothing sparks the passion of Thai sports fans quite like Muay Thai. Known as the ‘art of eight limbs,’ the form of combat is characterised by use of fists, elbows, knees, shins and feet. Watching a Muay Thai contest in Bangkok at the city’s two main venues Ratchadamnoen Stadium or Lumpini Stadium is an undoubted highlight of a visit. Bouts are preceded by a pre-fight ceremony where boxers show their respect to their trainers and the sport. The fights themselves are equally visceral affairs with the cries of gamblers in the stands sound tracking the often-brutal action in the ring.


Massage to Rejuvenate Both Body and Mind
If there is one thing Bangkok isn’t short of it is places to get a massage. While some of these venues may err on the naughty side, most are completely above board and do a mean line in nuat phaen thai, or Thai-style massage. Regarded as one of the most distinct styles of massage therapy, nuat phaen thai has been influenced by the traditional medicine systems of India, China and Southeast Asia, as well as by yoga. Claimed benefits are many and include relief from ailments ranging from asthma and migraines to strains, bruises and anxiety. There are hundreds, perhaps, thousands of places to get a decent massage in the Thai capital but for high-end stretching you might want to consider Thann Sanctuary, the award-winning spa extension of the Thai-based wellness provider.


Take a Stroll Around Some of Bangkok’s Less Frantic Neighborhoods
Although not regarded as a great walking city, Bangkok nevertheless rewards those who are willing to endure a little bit of perspiration. Ari is often regarded as one of the city’s up and coming neighbourhoods, but it has thus far managed to retain a relaxed ‘village’ feel. You could do far worse than to while away a few hours strolling around the leafy streets, making a few stops at the area’s handful of laid-back cafes along the way. Another great place to stretch your legs is Banglamphu. Famous as a hub for backpackers, the riverside ‘hood’ is also popular with Thai university students who go to smoke shisha and listen to acoustic sets from singer-songwriters at the bars that line the area’s Phra Atit Road.


Get in the Swing at a Bangkok Golf Course
Thailand is a favorite choice for visiting golfers, with great value layouts throughout the country. Bangkok is no exception to this rule, and there are a multitude of options within and just outside the city. Renowned courses include Thai Country Club, Alpine, Summit Windmill and Riverdale.


Watch Sports from the Comfort of a Bar Stool
There needn't be much effort involved in enjoying sports. And thanks to Bangkok's array of dedicated sports bars there rarely is for many fanatics. Options vary—emphasis on Australian, American and European sports depends on the nationality of the owner or clientele—but all have beer and conviviality in common.


Stretch Yourself With Some Yoga
From morning poses in Lumphini Park to boutique studios, yoga is widespread in Bangkok and is one of the best ways in which to unwind and exercise. Indeed, Yoga Fly, an amalgamation of yoga, Pilates, and dance where a hammock is used to provide support during poses, was actually invented in the Thai capital. Recommended studios include Absolute Yoga and Yoga Elements.


Catch a Thai Soccer Match
Thais, like many other nationalities in the region, are crazy about their soccer, or "football." While their fanaticism tends to focus on big English Premiership teams such as Manchester United and Liverpool, they can still drum up a fairly lively atmosphere at domestic fixtures. If you are a fan try to make it along to games that involve Bangkok big guns such as Muang Thong and Army United.


Tom Yum Goong
Arguably Thailand's most famous dish, this hot and sour soup is packed with shrimp, mushrooms, tomatoes, lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime leaves. The healthy version, tom yum gung nam sai, comes without coconut cream. The more indulgent one (tom yum gung nam kohn) is loaded with the good stuff.

Photo by Matt@PEK/Flickr.

Gang Massaman
A rich, sweet curry with strong hints of peanut, cinnamon and nutmeg, Massaman originated in Southern Thailand, probably through contact with Arab traders. Its Muslim origins mean that it is commonly made with beef. However, chicken, tofu and duck versions are also popular. There are countless great versions of the dish to be found around the country. A particularly fine take can be enjoyed at Baa Ga Din in Bangkok where Thai street food is taken to a higher level by the team behind Le Du, one of the city's top restaurants.

Gai Yang
The heady smell of chicken being grilled can be enjoyed all over Bangkok and some of the best gai yang is served up at street-side stands. For the full experience, enjoy with some tangy som tam (papaya salad) and sticky rice.

Photo by Arnold Gatilao/Flickr.

Kao Ka Moo
Essentially just braised pork served with rice, kao ka moo transcends its prosaic nature by dint of it sheer deliciousness. A pig is boiled for hours in a sweet soy sauce base and the result is an alchemy of juicy, fatty, unctuousness. To locate the dish look out for the soy-sauce stained pig legs sitting openly in large metal pans.

Photo by Charles Haynes/Flickr.

Larb Moo
One of the two most popular dishes from Thailand's north-eastern Isaan region (the other one is som tam), larb is a refreshing salad of minced pork and liver dressed with lime juice, fish sauce, onions and chilli. Toasted rice, meanwhile, adds some extra crunch.

Photo by Jessica Spengler/Flickr.

Pad See-ew
One of Thailand's great lunch dishes, this Chinese-influenced concoction of wide rice noodles wok-fried with garlic, meat and broccoli and dark soy sauce offers tasty ballast for the rest of the day. A scrambled egg adds a dash of extra protein while chili flakes, vinegar and sugar are also favored extra additions.

Photo by Kristen Taylor/Flickr.

Kao Niew Ma Muang (Mango Sticky Rice)
If Thailand's desserts don't transcend to the same level as the country's savory options, perhaps it is is because they are overshadowed by this wonder of simplicity. Sweet, ripe mango is placed lovingly on a bed of sticky rice then drizzled with some coconut cream. The dish is ubiquitous and deservedly so.

Photo by Eric Molina/Flickr.

Pad Thai
So inseparable is pad Thai to westerners' notion of Thai cuisine that it surprising that it only sprang to widespread popularity in the 1940s when it was promoted by the country's then government as its nominal national dish. Whatever its history, the concoction of rice noodles fried with egg, tofu, shrimp, tamarind pulp and topped with peanuts and beansprouts is fully deserving of its current popularity.

Photo by Winfried Mosler/Flickr.

Gang Keow Wan
Along with its close counterpart Gang Phet (red curry), this soup-like curry made from green chilies has become synonymous with Thai cuisine. Packed with a variety of ingredients that include galangal, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, the coconut milk based concoction is a rich and fragrant treat.

Photo
by
href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/scaredykat/">Krista/Flickr.

Som Tam
The humble little dish that conquered the world, som tam remains one of Bangkok's most popular street food dishes. Many versions are available but the base is always garlic and chili to which shredded green papaya, tamarind juice, lime juice, peanuts, tomatoes, dried shrimp, string beans and sugar cane paste are added.

Photo by Neajjean/Flickr.

Flynow
Although FLYNOW is now a venerable old age, the pioneering Thai fashion label still retains a youthful thrust. The brand's voguish, feminine tailoring has opened some of the world's leading fashion weeks and main designer Chamnam Pakdisuk manages to inject an element of hip quirkiness to even his most glamorous creations.


Fresh cocos!
I love coconut water, and of course the best way to have it is straight out of the coco. Whats better? Cocos with orchids. These were a refreshing (and hydrating) delight while wandering the streets of Bangkok.

Tuk tuk!
Yes they are a rip off, and yes they try to take you to places where they will receive a commission if you buy a silk suit. BUT - they are also really fun. If you can handle the exhaust fumes, which are pretty much unavoidable anyway in downtown BKK, riding around in a tuk tuk is a fun way to travel between some of the major sites. One time is probably all you will need!

Early morning food market
Locals would come out and start kneading dough for some sort of pastry at 5 AM. I found out about this when I arrived from Nong Khai to Bangkok's train station the day before New Years.

Bangkok Floating Markets
In Thailand’s capital two worlds coexist: a bustling, contemporary metropolis and a more traditional Bangkok, which can be experienced in its incense-scented temples and many floating markets. On the city’s canals, life unfolds in the markets as it has for centuries, as merchants sell produce and fish, and juices and noodles from their boats. Order some dumplings from a passing boat, and then float through the scene. Note that Bangkok has two cruise terminals. The one for larger ships, Laem Chabang, is about two hours from the capital. Another for smaller ships, including Azamara Club Cruises®’, Khlong Toei, is in the city itself.

Dining al fresco in the Bangkok skyline
Splurge on an indulgent dinner 59 storeys above the streets of Bangkok at the open-air Vertigo Restaurant and Moon Bar.

Festivities & Fun on an Overnight Train to Bangkok
After a month cycling through Laos my brother and I took this train ride across Thailand to catch our flights home out of Bangkok. It wound up being one of the most memorable trips I’ve taken. The well-worn train cars were all packed with festive travelers, locals, and plenty of food vendors who boarded and walked through the aisles at every stop. After most passengers retired to their sleeper cars, we shared libations and many laughs with the train officers, who were eager to hear of our travels and share their jars of Lao Lao. When I look back on that trip I feel like I took part in a Wes Anderson film.


(photo: Kuruman/Flickr Creative Commons)

24 Hours in the City of Angels: Bangkok, Thailand
Let’s be honest: Bangkok, Thailand has kind of a bad rep. And given what most travelers choose to do in Krung Thep--the “City of Angels”--it’s easy to see why. When the itinerary for a day in Bangkok (the average timeframe vacationers give to Thailand’s capitol) consists of a jet-lagged afternoon touring the Grand Palace and a night of drinking on Khao San Road, it’s small wonder that the city seems like a “crowded” and “dirty” tourist trap.

Having read these sorts of negative reviews of Bangkok, Justin and I were braced for the worst when we decided to spend a great deal longer than 24 hours in the city this past April. We knew it would be blisteringly hot (which it was...oh...it was), but we certainly didn’t expect the beauty of the Chao Phraya River at sunset; or the flavors to be found at local street-food-mecca, Tha Din Daeng Road; or even the quirky delights of the city’s cinemas and shopping malls.

In short, we found that it’s not difficult to have a wonderful experience in this diverse and dynamic city (even if you do only have a single day)...you’ve just got to know where to look! With that in mind, we’ve come up with a one-day itinerary for a non-cliched Bangkok experience: Uncontained Life’s pick of the city’s best sights, as well as some things to see and do that will take you beyond the tourist hot spots.

Read more at: http://uncontainedlife.com/what-can-you-do-with-24-hours-in-bangkok-a-non-cliched-guide-to-thailands-city-of-angels/

Ancient Kingdoms of Southeast Asia
Our Ancient Kingdoms: Thailand, Laos, Cambodia & Vietnam journey offers up fascinating frozen-in-time scenes like farmers bringing crops to market along the Mekong River, a historic and culturally rich waterway. Even in the bustling city of Bangkok, a canal ride in a Thai longtail boat gives travelers a sense of everyday life in an urban village. Traveling like a local along the waterways and byways of these Southeast Asian countries opens the door to many fascinating discoveries.

Thailand Travel Tips - Massage
When you think of Thai massage two images are generally conjured up. One is a serene place with candles light, bamboo all around, where a deep massage relaxes the body. The second is much seedier, a place where a lady will take you into a booth, rub you down a little bit, then offer some kind of sexual favour for extra money. In Thailand, both of these services are offered, and it can be difficult to tell for sure what might be on offer at any one particular massage location.

In some places, it's very obvious, it can often be read on the signs outside. If a place is offering "testicular massage" chances are it's the seedier choice. If it's unclear about what they offer, other than simply telling you "massage", and the girls are scantily clad, it's also likely a seedier massage place. Then there are the places in between, they're kind of seedy looking, but it seems like they offer regular services. Your first sign at that point is how well you can see into the establishment. If you see the massage chairs and other people getting massages inside, you're probably OK. These middle ground places do however sometimes offer both legitimate and seedy services. In that case enjoy your massage, and maybe the experience as well.

If you're worried about accidentally getting involved with a seedy place you can always play it safe. There are several spas in Thailand that give you the full serene experience, candles, calm music, all that relaxing stuff. These places look very fancy and are often more expensive than the local street massage place. A good place to be really sure, if you're worried, is to go to a reputable hotel. Hotels and resorts in Thailand often offer spa (including massage) treatments. You'll pay a lot more for them, but it's likely that there will be nothing seedy about these places.

Thailand Travel Tips - Train, Bus, Or Fly
Getting between cities in Thailand can be very simple. Most people take airplanes, and most tourist cities have airports. Flying in you'll probably have to transfer in Bangkok, then it will be followed by a short flight to your final destination. Flying is quick, however it's pricier than other options and you'll miss out on seeing some of the country side.

Travelling by bus and train can be much more affordable, and if you take night trains or buses you'll save a night in a hotel. The ride from Bangkok to Phuket or Chaingmai could take as much as 10 to 12 hours.

Both the buses and trains offer several class levels, the 1st and 2nd class trains and buses will offer air conditioning, beds in overnight rides, and snacks, drinks, and meals. In all cases alcohol is not permitted on the vehicles. The advantage of travelling at night is that you have a place to sleep and you'll arrive early to your destination. The disadvantage comes to anyone over 5 foot 6 (due to the size of the reclining seats on the vehicles). Daytime travel while taking more out of your travel time gives you the opportunity to see the country a little more.

Thailand Travel Tips - Street Food
Thailand is truly a street food country. There is not one street corner or large public space that doesn't offer you some kind of street food. Life in Thailand revolves around street food with many Thai people eating street food as one or more of their daily meals. For the foreigner in Thailand, street food might come off as intimidating. While a majority of the food on the streets is likely safe for you to eat, you should keep in mind that sanitation conditions aren't the same as back at home. Depending on the person making it, you might have a problem explaining any food allergies you might have as well.

Having said that, experiencing street food in Thailand is more often than not safe, and is a great way to get into the local culture. For the most part, street food vendors offer one food item, sometimes they'll have a few variations, however variety is rare at each street food vendor. Because of this you'll often find street food vendors in groups each offering something different. This can be a great way to sample different dishes in a group. Often what you see is what you get, so don't be afraid to watch them cook other people's food, to get an idea of what to expect.

Many street vendors also offer a few low tables to eat at. At busy times, at popular vendors, these seats can fill up fast. The seats are nothing fancy, but will allow you to take in the local atmosphere while eating dinner. In some cases, when vendors clump together, you'll find that they have almost a mall food court situation for dinning. This can be a great way to relax and maybe meet a few locals.

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Bangkok, Thailand
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