Bangkok, Old & New


Starting the week on old Rattanakosin Island, before relocating into the exploding high-rise jungle of Eastern Bangkok.


In response to Noe having three respiratory infections in a short time, we made appointments with specialists at Bumrungrad International Hospital. We were impressed by the level of sophistication, but less impressed with the specialists.

 

 

We were very happy with our visit with the pulmonologist, but less than impressed with the other two physicians. Regardless, we left satisfied with the appointments, which largely confirmed what we had suspected — no underlying issues.

After an eight hour day at the hospital (most of that time spent waiting and trying to put Noe down for naps), it seems that Noe’s string of infections are merely a product of age, exposure, and bad luck.

 

The highlight of our day (besides Noe receiving a clean bill of health, of course), was discovering that La Monita Taqueria — the best Mexican restaurant in the whole huge city of Bangkok (according to hundreds of TripAdvisor reviews), and perhaps the best in Southeast Asia — was just a short walk from the hospital.

And yes, my friends, it was quite amazing. Not cheap. But worth every Baht. And, they have one of the most extensive salsa bars I’ve ever seen.

On our way to breakfast the next day, something along the sidewalk caught Lori’s eye.

A hat for sale in a sidewalk stall in Bangkok, Thailand emblazoned with the name of our hometown. But there are lots of “Roseburgs” in the world, right? We were thinking, this couldn’t possibly be “our” Roseburg, until we noticed more hats on an adjacent rack bearing logos from around the region. It appears this shop got a shipment of “donations” at some point in time from somewhere in Southern Oregon. Oh Bangkok. You never cease to surprise.

 

The night before, we had dinner at Cozy House, just off Samsen Road, and noticed they had a pretty tasty looking breakfast menu. So, we returned the next morning.

Related Article:  Chiang Mai

In keeping with the Oregon theme of the morning, Rogue and Deschutes breweries are actually represented in this Shrine of shrines (to the left of His Majesty). R.I.P. King Bhumiphol. You’re in good company.

After breakfast, we thought it might be nice to take a stroll along the canal to get to the Golden Mount, rather than taking the congested high street — and, we’re glad we did! Bangkok seems to be packed with endless interesting neighborhoods to explore, and this one so far tops the list.

The public footpath passes right through a middle class Bangkok neighborhood, and when I say “through,” I mean literally right between residents’ living spaces. On the left, dining and cooking area along the canal, on the right, bedrooms and other living space. Nobody seemed to mind us walking through their living space as it is the main pathway used by everyone (even motorbikes) and people here seemed quite accustomed to the traffic.

 

Our destination for the morning in the distance — the Golden Mount.

 

 

 

 

Lori and I visited Wat Saket (a.k.a. the Golden Mount) in 2012. We rarely return to landmarks, but loved this one so much the first time, we decided to make an exception. Fortunately, it lived up to our memories, if not surpassing them.

 

 

And just as it had during our visit five years ago, the winds kicked up and a storm approached.

Wat Saket has a quality unlike any other Buddhist temple complex we’ve been to. It’s extraordinarily imposing and peaceful at the same time, even loaded with visitors. It’s smack in the middle of the city, affording a commanding 360-degree view of the incredible sprawl of glass and concrete high-rises that have come to represent modern Bangkok, with its oldest neighborhoods at the foot of the mount.

Related Article:  Koh Tao: Chalok Baan Kao

There are few places we’ve been in Bangkok that bring to life the deep and constant tension that exists between old and new in this massive city at the dawn of the 21st century. The mount, itself, is an excellent symbol of Bangkok’s growth and transformation — a 20th century structure built upon previous failed attempts at an imposing chedi (stupa) in the 18th and 19th centuries.

 

 

 

 

 

Back in the Khaosan neighborhood, we pay a visit to Starbucks to cool off and check one more guilty pleasure of globalization off the list before we return to Laos.

 

Khaosan Road, baby!

Party time! Excellent!

 

 

Noe is less than thrilled to be getting his picture with a “knopping” Ronald McDonald, and you know, that’s okay.

Collecting our luggage at Rambuttri Plaza Inn just before heading out east to Bang Na where Lori has a work conference over the next three days.

After a quick check-in at our new hotel, we turned around and boarded the BTS Skytrain west to Terminal 21. Lori had a meeting at an event with colleagues in the adjacent hotel, so Noe and I were going to check out this “Terminal 21” next door.

What is Terminal 21, you ask? To say it’s a big mall would be over-simplistic. Terminal 21 is an experience!

To begin with, upon entering there was a guy dressed in a Navy dress whites-style uniform that saluted Noe and I as we went through the metal detector. I got a kick out of it, but Noe seemed to think it was a bit much.

Next, every level of the seven (?) story mall is themed along the lines of a different world city: Paris, London, Istanbul, and San Francisco, to name a few.

Related Article:  Arrival in Bangkok

On the London level, the shops are laid out like a shopping street in a small city. The Istanbul level is made to feel like you are walking through a bazaar. And the San Francisco level, well, it has the whole friggin’ Golden Gate Bridge!

(Complete with traffic! — but sadly, no fog).

There’s even a “Mexican” restaurant, though I doubt nothing on par with La Monita.

In keeping with the standard layout of 21st century Thai malls (e.g. Central Plaza, Central World, Central Festival, etc.), the top level is a cineplex, the third- and second-to-the-top levels are upscale restaurants and food courts, and the ground floor (below the main floor) has an upscale supermarket and grab-and-go [upscale street-foodish] food court.

Even in 2017, I’m often surprised at the number of Westerners who think Thailand is still some backwards, third-world cesspool (much of the way many of my fellow Americans seem to perceive Mexico, South Africa, and pretty much any other country outside of, well, the United States). Thailand is a highly industrialized country that is the envy of its neighbors, with many of the benefits (and pitfalls) that come with the territory — and they’ve got the high-society elite and material consumption to prove it, hence places like Terminal 21, which very much caters to these people…

…along with swanky hotels like the one shooting out of the top of the swanky mall, as viewed in this framed flat screen placard in the elevator lobby.

I was a bit surprised they let a couple of disheveled street people like us walk right in, but honestly, a cute baby will get you in to almost anywhere in this part of the world…even one who’s having a minor meltdown, apparently. Now, off to find mommy, stat! Something tells me it’s dinner time.

Adventures Along the Sukhumvit Line
The Ancient Siamese Capital of Ayutthaya
Share this Post: