Bangkok is hotter than the mouth-scorching, blistering insides of a Hot Pocket right out of the oven in its metallic-coated paper sleeve of temperature-insensitive doom. Water from the tap is an instant bowel emptier. Fumes from tuk-tuk, scooters, motorcycles, taxis, police trucks, tour buses, and every other kind of “brot” imaginable deposit themselves into your lungs, partying, until you too are purchasing an assortment of cough suppressants in 7-11. In Bangkok, you are more likely to find a warehouse full of viagra-imposter street drugs than you are to find your way back to your hotel on the first try.
You’ve walked in circles all day long on an infinite loop of beverage-purchasing and bathroom-searching. Your feet are sore and dirty. You’re dehydrated. Your brain is cracked out with overstimulation. You’ve been fixated on what, exactly, those grayish chunks in your soup actually were and why your tofu tasted like eggs. You need to recuperate, but you don’t want to sit around your hotel all day.
I’ve got your solution in the form of a day-long itinerary that no one will ever actually follow.
Today you need to stop overachieving with your breakfast and just eat the damn toast and yogurt in the hotel while surfing the internet. You might still be waking up at 7:30 am, jet-lagged and unused to the harder Thai beds. Chill out. Read a few chapters of your book. Take a shower. Slow down. Don’t leave until you’re actually bored. And for the love of everything pure and just, start drinking water NOW.
A Leisurely Tourist Morning.
When you’re finally ready to face the day, chug some water. Leisurely stroll or Skytrain to your nearest Pier. Don’t run to catch the next boat if it’s leaving when you arrive. Instead, sit in the shade and drink a fizzy water you purchased on your walk. Board the next boat, and take it to the Tha Tien pier to zen out in front of the giant Buddha at Wat Pho. While the temple is incredibly busy and touristy around this main attraction, the grounds are large with plenty of opportunity to get lost in the side temples. Shade abounds; use it wisely. You can continue to drink water without fear because of the easily accessible toilet on the grounds.
After you’ve gotten your fill of Buddhas and art, go to the massage school on premises. The Wat Pho is intimately tied to Thai Massage, as the grounds were one of the first centers of public education. Take the 30 minute option for 260 baht, and leave revitalized, before visiting the bathroom again. Lots of misery in Bangkok can be avoided by knowing where the nearest bathroom is.
Outside Wat Pho, street food vendors abound with a couple indoor, traveler-friendly cafes scattered about. Pick up a quick snack here before taking a tuk-tuk or taxi to Th Khao San (it ran us about 100 baht, steeper than the 50 baht from Wat Phra Keaw, though only slightly further away).
Find a cafe with comfortable seating around Th Khao San. We went to an adjacent street to find a bit more chill atmosphere. Yes, these are all aimed at tourists, but you want a place to sit down and order things at will. From what I’ve observed, Thais don’t seem to sit around aimlessly for hours on end in coffeeshops or bars like people do in other places. When you’re visiting, and especially when you don’t have a lot planned, you’ve got plenty of time to chill. I find the sort of venue on the skirts of the backpacker area perfect for ordering back-to-back coconut waters while reading a novel. If you’re hydrated enough, you can switch to beer.
If you’re getting antsy after all that sitting, walk back over to the main drag and pay 150 baht for little fish to feed off your feet for 15 minutes. Try not to kick the attendant while giggling and jerking around due to all of the tickling.
Go back to your hotel to rest up a bit and drink more water. Since it will probably be rush hour, I’d recommend hopping on a boat, depending on where you’re located. If you’re feeling gross and dirty when you arrive, take a cool shower and change into something decent. No shorts, dirty flip-flops or back-packs.
Dinner and Drinks.
You should probably focus on eating some vegetables. It’s too easy to forget the rules of basic nutrition when we’re abroad, but so often our energy levels and sense of well-being reflect our dietary choices. Choose a Chinese restaurant with a menu that you can read and order something simple. Perhaps steamed rice and bok choy. Consider it a cleanse and forgive yourself for lacking an adventurous spirit.
To end your night, go to the Sirocco Sky Bar. It’s located in the Lebua Hotel in the 64 story, gold dome-topped State Building. This is why you needed to change clothing–the bar enforces a dress code. Let the nice ladies lead you to the bar, pointing out the correct elevator and every single step for you to watch along the way. Make your way to the standing room bar high above the city. Pay your entrance fee in the way of ordering a ridiculously over-priced drink (you will pay about $30/1000B for two drinks) and toast the town, every inch of which you can see illuminated from the top.
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