Arrival at Suvarnabhumi Airport after only an eight hour flight direct from Melbourne - fantastic! Arrival without knowing the address of the expat friend you're staying with for the next seven days - not so fantastic. Some smooth talking with customs (and a few looks of desperation) and a little miss finds herself in Bangkok to visit said expat friend (let's call her M). Slight confusion over where to find M, but soon enough we're nattering away in the back of a taxi, with broken seat belts in crazy traffic, on the way to her home in Thonglor. A bottle of Chandon, a couple of pad thais and many chats later, and it's bed time in prep for tomorrow - a thai wedding!
Day 1 - a Thai dress code
I battle through a few hours of work then head out to explore the expat area of Thonglor. The best way to avoid death by busy intersection is scurrying after several locals also taking the leap of faith to get across the road. Alternatively, close eyes and hope for the best. Will probably have the same effect. Not even making it a kilometre down the road, I find myself in a day spa for an hour long traditional Thai massage at 350 baht – around $12. Soon enough it’s time to head back to base to get ready for the evening’s festivities – a Thai wedding! We journey by private bus for 2 hours and reach our destination. I become rapidly aware that my beige and black dress and neutral shoes are not bright, white or glittery enough for a Thai wedding. Family and esteemed guests are seated at the front quarter of the room while the remaining space is filled with friends, associates and a random girl from Melbourne. This part of the room is a standing, networking, eating extravaganza with no less than seven food stations on offer. Post wedding, we continue on about 40 minutes further by cab to the party town of Pattaya. Here we stay at the very fun and impressive Hard Rock Hotel resort. For a night cap or two, we head to Hilton’s roof top bar, Horizon. The night is warm, the drinks are expensive, the view is incredible. I have trouble believing it’s only my first full day in Thailand. On the walk back to our hotel I notice an abundance of working girls - one at least every 10 meters along the path. Standard business on a Friday night in Pattaya.
Day 2 – life’s a beach
Departing Hardrock Hotel we catch a big ole puffing ferry to Koh Larn, an island just off Pattaya. The ferries have been known to not always survive the journey so lifejackets are in abundance and people aren’t shy about wearing them. In the far distance is a boat billowing out black smoke and I can’t help but wonder if it’s an ill-fated ferry. I keep a keen eye on the left over lifejackets. Thankfully, we arrive with ferry intact and we aim straight for a private beach which is slightly more expensive than others (by $6) but allows us to get a sun bed in the second row of only a four row deep beach – as opposed to 30. The day is spent snoozing, floating in saltwater, observing the different cultures around us and enjoying fresh, steamed squid in soup, crab fried rice and a few good old Bacardi Breezers on the beach. There is no work happening today. I’ve officially entered holiday mode. As the sun starts to set, we peel ourselves off the sunbeds, ferry back to Pattaya then bus to Bangkok. A long and incredible day of experiencing just a fragment of Thai life outside of Bangkok.
Day 3 – brunch, shopping and another rooftop bar
Within Thonglor is a brunch spot likened to what you might find in Melbourne. Needless to say, Roast is very popular with expats in and around the area. We patiently wait with an allocated number that doubles as a philosophical pep talk. Cute. The coffee is good and I opt for poached eggs with a pulled pork and onion rosti - incredible. It’s a nice change up from Thai food and preps us for a day ahead of mooching around the Chatuchak weekend markets. The market is hot and busy and one of our troops is desperately hungover; there’s a lot of fresh coconut water consumed, happily so at just $1.20 a pop. After a couple of hours, we arrange to meet up with others at Sala Rattanakosin, a gorgeous hotel, restaurant and rooftop bar along the eastern bank of the Chao Phraya River. We sip cocktails across from the famous temple of the dawn (wat arun) as the sun goes down. Then it's back into another taxi ride back to Thonglor to indulge in some amazing Sunday night street food. The food is fresh, light and flavoursome and knocks us back a whole $13 for an array of noodles, chicken, rice, vegetable and seafood for two. We go home will a full tummy and feeling good.
Day 4 - relax
Insomnia rears its ugly head on the evening of day 4 so the next day's remedy is lounging by the resident roof top pool with a good book. Some street food in the afternoon, another Thai massage and then it's already time for dinner. Bellino is a cute Italian wine bar on Soi 13 in Thonglor owned by an expat American who clearly loves hosting his guests. The meal is divinely scrumptious as is the wine - bellissimo. Dessert is cocktails at Iron Fairies, a fantastic bar with a lost boys theme. M sings karaoke. I refuse. We both appear in Bangkok social pages the next day. Fun.
Day 5 - dumplings finance
What's a trip abroad without a visit to Sephora? I rack up 7,000 baht in two hours and feel somewhat relieved the first Australian store is launching in Sydney instead of Melbourne. Visiting M at work, we head for dumplings in Ploenchit at Din Tai Fung, within the Central Embassy. So, so good and I absolutely eat more than is necessary. My food coma is the only thing that holds me back from credit card suicide in Chanel at Central. Thank god for food comas. Nibbles and gin suffice for dinner.
Day 6 - the last supper
My last full day in Bangkok, I spend a couple of hours eating, working and writing with the help of free wifi at Full Stop Cafe. What a great little spot. At 6, I meet M at the rooftop bar of the Marriott as I take in a final elevated 360 view of Bangkok. It's utterly sublime. We have dinner at Soul Food in Thonglor - which I highly recommend; a must try - then hunt down a very well-hidden boutique bar of which I've promised not to reveal the location...IMPO, these are the best cocktails in Bangkok. Mr Boroski, you've done a fine job. The night becomes a blur of bars and laughs. I need to get on a plane the next day.
Day 7 - bye bye Bangkok
Bless my good friend, she sticks to her promise of taking me to temple Wat Poh the following day to have my fortune read. Not surprisingly, he tells me I'm going to get married and have two children. At this point I begin to highly doubt the lovely old man's judgement until he tells me I need to drink less, and meet an international man. Maybe he knows me after all. After a long hot taxi ride with two massive hangovers, it's home to pack, head back to the airport and finish my Bangkok journey where it all began.
I never thought it would be a city for me, but I've fallen in love with Bangkok. The Thai people are beautiful as is the authenticity of their culture. What started out to be a cost-effectively holiday away from the cold served to truly warm my heart.