Bangkok, With a Pinch of Salt

When we travel, we like to talk to others that have been where we are headed and get their opinion on the place. Sometimes we find that our feel of the place differs greatly from theirs, and other times our opinions coincide. For example, a lot of people said they loved Siem Reap and hated Phnom Penh. Our feelings were just the opposite. We found Phnom Penh to be a cool and exciting city while Siem Reap was a tourist hole replete with beggars and hawkers.

We were told before we got to Bangkok that 2 days would definitely be enough in the city, and that it wasn’t a very nice place. Now, we take each warning or recommendation with a heaping helping of salt because we have come to realize that everyone’s tastes are different.

We got to Bangkok at about 10pm and headed straight for the tourist street with lots of shopping and guesthouses, because we figured we’d be able to find something cheap. Now, there we could see why some people might not like the place. It was crowded and loud and not very cheap at all. We ended up finding a room for $12, which is more than we have paid for a room since we left China.  We pretty much went straight to bed after arriving, having been on buses for about 14 hours that day.

Because recycling, that's why.
The next day we found out what tends to be true for most large cities we’ve visited—there is so much more to the city than the one tourist area that features numerous bars and McDonalds.  See, a family friend of mine has been living in Bangkok for 13 years and invited Ricky and me to spend a few days at his place. We took a taxi over, well outside the downtown area of the city, and were pleased to find a more mellow and welcoming area.

Ducks, just hanging out.

Like I say, we were pretty lucky in that we knew someone that could show us around. Thursday and Saturday we enjoyed Thanksgiving feasts with various ex-pats. I was able to get a taste of home, with a deep-fried turkey and pecan pie, and Ricky got to experience the most gluttonous holiday on the planet—twice.(He’ll write more on that later!)  On Sunday, my friend took us to the largest outdoor market in the world.  We walked around the place for a few hours, and still did not even see 1/20th of the place.

As an extra bonus, this friend of ours owns a Mexican restaurant, Que Pasa. Everything I ate there was the best thing I’ve ever put in my mouth.  Travelers, if you find yourselves in Bangkok, you need to visit this place. It’s a ways out of the city, but well worth the trip, especially if you want to venture out of downtown and away from the tourist areas.

Ricky and his new BFF, killing zombies on the iPod at Que Pasa.

We ended up staying in Bangkok for about 4 days, and could easily have done more if we had more time on the visa. As it is, we are on the 2 week land border crossing visa, so we’re headed up to Chiang Mai for the sky lantern festival, where we’ll hopefully figure out what to do next!

I know this post is a bit of a rambling, but there are a couple of points I’d like to make. First, don’t take anyone’s word as gospel on where to go or what to see or do. Find out why they did or didn’t like a certain place; it could be that you like what they don’t, or vice versa. Second, get outside of the tourist areas! Eat local food with local people and enjoy the non-downtown areas of a city; there are lots of secret treasures to be found out there.

Like this place. 


  1. And by local food you mean burritos and turkey, and local people...expats? JK. Loving the blog and your adventures inspire me.

    keep entertaining me and travel safe.

    Matt in the Marshall Islands

  2. Ok, Bangkok was a special case...but yes we ate local too! I had some great stuff at the local market we went to!

    Keep reading, Matt!


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