No, this is not a screenplay for a Sitcom, even though I might be the Biggest Big Bang Theory fan. I am not a screenwriter, merely a researcher, and here you will find my findings on the: Big Bang(kok) Theory
At the end of November 2017 Mama Bear asked me to join her in going to Bangkok, she was attending a conference and thought it was a good opportunity for us to travel together. I was torn between two decisions, go/ not go, after all; I am not an “Asia” person (I love Europe). However, I might not get the chance to go to Asia again (at that time, I thought; I will not go out of my own accord), and this was a great opportunity.
To go, or not to go that is the question…
While making the decision to go (or not to go), I asked a few colleagues and friends if Bangkok would be a good place to visit (research basics). Some of the comments included:
• “I would never go back”
• “One of my favourite places, I’ve been there 4 times”
• “Most foodie place – you’ll have to visit”
• “The smell is terrible”
• “I am planning my next trip there again”
• “It is not touristy at all”
Clearly, the results were inconclusive, and as a researcher, I had to investigate to draw my own conclusion.
That is how the Big Bang(kok) Theory came to mind
H(1): Lien will love Bangkok
H(0): Lien will not love Bangkok
The Aim of the study was to determine whether Lien would love Bangkok.
The Objective of the research was:
• To determine whether Bangkok is likable
• To determine whether Bangkok is a foodie destination
• To determine if there is more to do in Thailand than go to Phuket
When arriving in Bangkok you realize one thing: it is HOT, not just warm, but hot combined with humidity and the result: my newly blown out hair turned into a frizz ball as soon as the airplane doors opened.
It takes a good 24-30 hours in transit (from SA) to arrival in Bangkok, naturally, I arrived at the hotel, exhausted. Mama Bear’s conference was to start the Monday, and as a reality, we spent very little time together (unfortunately). For the majority of the days, she was at the conference from dusk until dawn, while I was rocking Bangkok on my own.
|Who:||Lien & Mama Bear|
|What:||Vacation in Bangkok (Lien) & Conference (Mama Bear)|
|Visa||These countries can travel to Thailand without a Visa|
My first sights and observations when exploring Bangkok were:
• It is incredibly warm (as mentioned)
• I didn’t bring enough cool (as in breezy) clothes
• There is no “smell”
• The traffic is chaos
• The humidity makes showering seem superfluous
• The buildings seem to have invaded a jungle
• It is clear that the Royal family is quite important (with posters and images everywhere)
• It is an enormous Metropolis
• There are food carts – everywhere
• Families travel on a single moped
• Women riding on a moped as a passenger sit: side saddle
After my first day, I instantly had a fond liking for Bangkok, not just like, love! This city of Neon Lights and Pink Taxis took me by surprise; I thought I was going to be in this city with loads of buildings, dirty streets and the smell of fish in the air. What I got was a refreshing culturally vibrant foodie city with amazing people who are always ready to help with a friendly smile (be it the security guard, the police officer or the lady at customs).
The foodie scene is something to experience! Food, Food, just Glorious Food. That is how you can summarize the foodie scene in Thailand.
The flavor of lime, galangal, and lemongrass in combination with noodles, coconut milk, and some birds eye chili was a culinary dream (significantly different from our South African food). The bonus was going to the Food markets, eating street food and cooking at the Blue Elephant restaurant.
I never thought I would have a top 10 list of my favorite things in Bangkok, nonetheless here is my list:
Top 10 things to do in Bangkok
1. Bicycle tour through Bangkok at night
I like to do one of these types of tours at the beginning of my trips, it helps with orientating yourself through the city and you get to see the city in a much different light than during the day. This was So much fun… The wind in your hair, cruising through the calm streets, which is chaos in during the day. You cycle through the small streets between houses, have iced green tea, go flower folding, visit some amazing sites through the night, and experience the streets of Bangkok in a way you never imagined before.
2. Wat Arun
Wat Arun, also translated as The Temple of Dawn, is absolutely beautiful, in white, green and gold with Chinese porcelain. You can also feed fishes at the deck which is part of a conservation area. Read up more about the “Wats” before going, it makes being there more significant.
3. Wat Pho
Here you can find various tombs of those who were in the Royal family, statues that were sent from China in the bottom of ships and the reclining Buddha.
4. Cooking Course at Blue Elephant
This was an AMAZING experience, in Capitals. Woolworths in SA sells the Blue Elephant Range of Thai cooking ingredients (shop here). It was natural that I would go to the Blue Elephant for dinner, however, when finding out they had a cooking course I just had to sign up! You go to a food market & prepare 5 dishes in an internationally acclaimed restaurant. Afterwards we all sat and ate together the food we made inside the amazing Blue elephant restaurant which is in an old Colonial house in Bangkok
Info: click here
5. Street Food
Ok, I know you are getting a slight chill down your spine by reading “street food”, but you have to try this in Bangkok.
- Make sure it is a busy foodie street or cart (more people, means more movement of food, which means more fresh food),
- If it smells dodgy, DON’T eat it (it is not the herbs it is bacteria),
- Make sure it is HOT, not warm, HOT (food danger zone as roughly 4 to 60 °C),
- Go for the Cooked food,
- If it is a busy stall, have some fresh fruit.
6. Khaosan Road
An entire closed off vibrant street with food, bars, markets and massage parlors. A definite visit if you are going with friends and keen for some fun time day or night.
7. Food Markets
What a plethora of foods, vegetables, pastes, herbs, meats, and very odd smells. You can get all the ingredients ideal for Thai cooking, there is also this amazing ice coffee with condensed milk (you have to try this)!
Scenic: 5 (in its own unique way)
8. Flower Market
This market is amazing, with everything from the yellow flowers for the temples to Lotus folding (and they’ll even show you how).
Location: click here
To be clear, I do not like shopping, at all, but coming to Thailand you kind of have to (also, mom had a list of things she needed).
Three great places: MBK center, Siem discovery Centre, Central Piazza.
10. The FOOD
One of my favourites was Mama Tom yum Soup. With Seafood, galangal, lime, and lemongrass it was definitely on the top off my list. One thing has been established: I do not like Pad Thai, at all, never have, might oneday, but really not my cup of noodles.
Scenic: 5 (yes, it is beautiful)
Key recommendations from the research:
- Have a watermelon smoothie
- Eat street food
- Eat super warm (as in °C ) street food
- Do not eat food that smells fun
- Try and eat as much local food as possible
- They often have a “no heat” option in terms of spice, just ask
- Use the Ferry & Sky Train (a great experience)
- Public transport does not go to all areas, you will need to use alternative methods.
- Try and avoid Taxis – Taxis are overpriced
- Download Grab & Uber, Grab is often more cost-effective
- Budget for transport, it can cost a pretty penny.
- You cannot use Tuk-Tuks in all areas
- Use a tuk-tuk where possible, it is so much fun
- Rent a bicycle if you have the time to cruise around the city
- The congestion in the city is incredibly bad and it takes forever to get to different places make sure you have enough time (especially when going to the airport)
- Bargain (especially at the Markets & MBK mall)
- Do your research, not everything is “cheaper”
- Do not, and I repeat, do not speak about the king (you can get in serious trouble! Read this)
- Be careful where you get massages some places are really dodgy
- Make sure you get a hotel/Airbnb close to the attractions you want to see.Be curious, explore.
- Cover your knees and arms when visiting temples
- Do not wear a shirt with Buddha printed on (It is “wrong” by law on all the posters with this message, however, never mentioned as illegal).
- Have a bottle of Baby powder, before getting dressed, douse your body with baby powder, it helps with feeling less “sticky” during the day due to the humidity
- Remember your blue departure “ticket” when going through immigration (you get one on arrival, and you need to keep the departure part for when you depart Thailand)
Bangkok is an absolute must visit in Thailand. You cannot just go to Phuket (yes South Africans reading this!). There is so much to do and you can not stay for less than 5 days, not if you want to “experience Bangkok”. The H1 hypothesis is thus accepted and we know that:
Lien LOVES Bangkok!