If you don’t know the story of how Peter and I first met here is a brief version.
I was living in Newport Beach when one day two young men with a zest for life and tremendously outgoing personalities moved in next door to my apartment. Tristan, Ian and I became fast friends. We hung out every day. I would literally ‘get in trouble’ if I ever locked my door. They ate my food, drank my wine, used my BBQ, took the remote control of my big TV, but treated me like a sister. I loved them. Tristan would always enter my apartment with the same gusto as Kramer on Seinfeld. After awhile I caught myself accidentally calling them my roommates instead of my neighbors.
Fast forward two months and they came storming home after a night out with some friends. Peter was one of those friends. Tristan and Ian banged on my door insisting that I come hang out, as they always did. Peter and I were introduced and talked briefly before I headed off to bed.
The next day I found out that Peter had a business in Bangkok and lived there half the year – his business partner living the other half (they rotated between San Diego and Bangkok every 6 weeks). I was leaving for Bangkok a week later to go on a solo trip to Thailand. I reached out to Peter for travel tips and he couldn’t have been nicer and more accommodating. He wasn’t going to be in Bangkok upon my arrival, but his business partner Andrew was. He put me in touch with Andrew to ensure I knew someone upon arrival.
We kept in touch while I was traveling over email. He was very sweet, checking in on me and wanted to see how the trip was going. He was also reading my blog and told me that I seemed like a fun traveler, down for anything and always up for an adventure.
As fate would have it three weeks later we both ended up in Bangkok at the same time. We met up and both expressed that we liked each other. It was actually me that asked him, “is there something going on here?” It would be a month before I returned to the States so we made a pact that we would get together when I got back and stay in touch in the meantime. We did exactly that. And as they say, the rest is history.
Needless to say Bangkok is a very special place for us and we are always excited to come back. Peter had spent at least half of the year in Bangkok since 2007.
This time I saw Bangkok differently.
Most people’s advice on Bangkok: get in, get out. I had kept that in mind on my first trip to Thailand and it was echoed by most travelers I would met on the trail. However, I found myself in Bangkok frequently, passing through to the North of Thailand or the South and really liked the city. But this time I actually fell in love with the city.
After traveling the world for five months I truly realized how much Bangkok has to offer with so much to compare it to. It’s a huge city and can be overwhelming, but if you can figure out how to maneuver and attain your bearings, Bangkok will become the most entertaining and exciting place you will ever visit. There is such a positivity and liveliness to it. When you visit New York or Vegas you instantly feel the energy. Bangkok is the same way. It has a strong pulse. Its hard to describe but its energy is unique, vibrant and instantly excitable.
There is an unpredictability of Bangkok that will keep you always guessing and constantly entertained. One minute you’ll see a gorgeous woman with legs for days in a red mini dress who will turn around and you will discover she is in fact a man. The next minute you’ll see a monk getting his phone fixed at a mega electronic store. Or you might watch break dancers take over the street and stop the traffic to perform. Then find your self nestling into the most harmonious zen like garden for one of the best massages of your life. You can find delicious street food for less than a dollar and then go another block and eat at the world’s top restaurants in every cuisine category. It has everything.
Shopping extends from the low-end local designer wears to the high-end luxury brands. The neighborhoods are just as varied with an enormous China Town, an active Middle Eastern District where the call to prayers still sing that is nestled up right next to the Nigerian district. There are hip neighborhoods like Thong Lor, Ari and Phrom Phong and every type of drinking establishment you can imagine from small dive bars to mega clubs. You can attend concerts, catch the latest movies and enjoy the splendid nightlife while also integrating the Thai culture and cherishing the embrace of the Thai smile. I follow other travel bloggers and have noticed that almost all of them name Bangkok as their favorite big city. That is no coincidence. Bangkok has it all. It took me traveling the world to realize my love for the city despite Peter’s years of insistence.
So here we were back in Bangkok having flown from South Africa with just a few days to enjoy the city before our flight back home for the holidays. After being in the African bush for almost a month with not too many food options, I was thrilled to be in the capital of Thai food. We visited many of our favorite restaurants while we were there.
The first night we ate at Taling Paling in the Paragon mall. We way over ordered, but I couldn’t help it. Everything sounded amazing. We feasted on papaya salad, green curry, cashew nut chicken curry, massaman curry, and mango coconut sticky rice. I was so uncomfortably full afterwords I wanted to lay down in the restaurant.
On our short trip we also visited the Middle East District which is one of the more livelier neighborhoods with shops, restaurants, bright lights, food carts, and crowds of people. Peter and I love going here for the atmosphere, people watching, and great food options. A frequented restaurant for us is Nasir al-Masri. The restaurant boasts a large menu that is a combination of Arabic, Thai, and Indian.
Roast on Thong Lor Soi 13 was our go to for coffee, breakfast, or lunch.
This is a special spot for Peter because when he was running a Bangkok lifestyle website called KohSpot.com with Andrew he interviewed the owner days before it opened. The owner was dedicated and passionate about bringing quality coffee to the Bangkok world. Peter being a coffee lover himself was excited by this idea and in full support. Roast opened their doors in April 2011 and has had so much success that its nearly impossible to get a seat on the weekends and still tough during the week. Its been popular for over 4 years which is an anomaly in Bangkok, a city where restaurants and bars turn-over so fast. They have just opened up a second Roast in the new Emquartier Mall. Good single origin coffee isn’t always easy to find when we are traveling, but this place has coffee covered.
A Thai restaurant with a bit of a quirky theme was where dined on our last evening, Cabbages and Condoms. So named to promote understanding and acceptance of family planning in efforts to reduce poverty, Cabbages and Condoms donates some of their proceeds to supporting this cause. The restaurant gets this point across with the condom decor spread throughout the restaurant. Since we were there in December, and Bangkok goes all out for Christmas, we were greeted by Santa and the Angel Gabriel made entirely of condoms. This was definitely a first.
I had to hand it to whoever put those together. There is some talent involved.
We enjoyed dinner on the patio which is lit up and made cozy by fairy lights hanging from trees. Plus the Thai food here is excellent. Its admittedly geared towards foreigners and most Thais might not consider it authentic, but my western taste buds love it. It was another night of over indulgence and overeating. The first picture is spicy papaya salad or som-tom-thai, which is one of our favorite Thai dishes . After paying the bill, the restaurant opts to give customers condoms instead of mints.
Another favorite activity of ours besides eating in Bangkok is going to the movies. There are a number of different theaters in Bangkok, but the one at the Paragon Mall offers VIP seating with couches or reclining leather seats. You’re also offered pillows and blankets. You can curl up get comfy and even enjoy a glass of wine. There was one time that I got so comfortable while watching a movie in Bangkok that I literally fell asleep the entire time. Luckily I managed to keep my eyes open this time while we watched Jennifer Lawrence kill it in “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1.”
It really was fun to be in Bangkok around the holidays. I am a big lover of Christmas mainly because I get to party with my favorite party-people, my family. Now being married I get two families, the Hodges and Fotheringham’s. So lucky! The spirit of the holidays is something I always get into and Bangkok allowed for the holiday cheer with the variety and number of decor blanketing the city.
Of course we also indulged on daily inexpensive massages. I went for a Thai massage one day and I realized I am not a fan. I find it a bit stressful. The therapist pulls you in all sorts of positions while cracking your body. Not so relaxing. I learned to stick with Swedish oil massages after that. Peter still indulges in the traditional Thai massage from time-to-time.
Our stay in Asia was brief but we had one more night to look forward to as Peter had timed a 23 hour layover in Hong Kong (limit 24) en route to Los Angeles. He cashed in all the points he had accrued from the various hotels from the year and booked us at the Four Seasons which is conveniently located on the Airport Express line in Hong Kong.
While we were checking in the receptionist gave us a huge surprise and early Christmas gift by upgrading us not only to a suite but also one that looked over the iconic Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong. Yes!
With such a great room and a view we decided to cancel any tentative plans in the city and just stayed in and lapped up the luxury.
The next morning Peter finished up some work before the long plane ride while I finished up some yoga practice overlooking the harbour.
Before we left for the airport we opted to get massages to relax our bodies for the 14 hour flight ahead of us. The Four Seasons spa is beautifully done and the masseuses there have magic fingers. Peter and I both agreed that it was one of the very best massages that we had all year. Peter still claims it was the best massage he has ever had. We were super relaxed and felt like butter. We took the elevator downstairs to the Airport Express and seamlessly boarding the plane for our long trip across the Pacific Ocean.
Long flight days are a treat for us and one of our favorite things about traveling, especially Peter. He’d prefer to be in the air than on land. There is something so thrilling and surreal to think about floating in a tube in the sky over the Pacific Ocean at 500+ mph for 2/3 of a day. All the different places, countries, and oceans you pass over on your way can catch you in a day-dream. The isolation with your thoughts, void of any distractions, is also very unique at 30k feet.
We were also cashing in airline miles in business class on Cathay Pacific which makes these long flights more enjoyable. We settled in, watched some movies, ate good food, and slept in a fully lie-flat seat.
Up next…home for the Holidays. We hadn’t been back to the states for over five months, the longest for me ever. I couldn’t wait to get back to all the smiling, beautiful, familiar faces of friends and family. I was also excited to be in a country where everyone knew English.
Merry Christmas from mine to yours including Santa Condom. Sorry Mom.