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Published: December 7th 2014
End of Bangkok - Part I, that is (There's a reason there's The Hangover Part I, II and III)
I figure I should probably mention more about the Bangkok culinary scene. I tended to eat the street food because it was delicious and cheap, but there are some really high end, innovative, "cheffy" things happening there. Lots of eclectic fusion tasting menus, chefs from other countries forming collaborations, and mixology is hugely en trend. My broke ass didn't see any of this, but it's there.
Also, it's quite easy to eat veggie. I went to Bonita social club which is a vegan restaurant, to have lunch with the Brazilian woman I met on the bus, but it was closed, so we went to a yoga retreat nearby which also had a vegetarian restaurant. The food was simple, homey and flavorful, and we had a long conversation with the owner. My favorite dish was the Paranthra filled with beet root and served with Apple chutney and yogurt. Delicious and so authentic, Vanessa cracked her teeth down on a piece of rock from the stones it was cooked on.
So Cam arrives late but
fortunately his travels were more or less easy, and he even got upgraded to business class. It was so nice but also strange to have something so comforting and familiar in a foreign place. As I knew would happen, we formed easy travel buddies, and it was so great to have a PIC (partner in crime). He shook off the jet lag and was a good sport as we started with an early morning to head to the Danang floating markets.
You can do a tour to the markets, but I really didn't want to get into a crammed tour bus and arrive en mass with a bunch of tourists. So we decided to catch a cab to the local bus station, and then take a bus from there. Sounds easy, right? Well, we had to go to the Southern bus station, sounded pretty straight forward, but no one had any idea where that was. We even got in and out of two cabs after they took us to the wrong place. Finally, one cabbie knew just where to go, and we arrived unscathed. We were shuffled to the correct bus stand (only the white people who come there are going to the markets) and we pay for a round trip ticket. The bus ride takes about two hours and we befriend a German couple doing the same thing we are.
Immediately when we arrive we are accosted by workers trying to have us pay for a boat ride to the markets, 2000 baht (more than $60 a piece). The bus tickets cost $3. But we had been warned of this, so we went just a little ways down to the next station, and instead paid for a 300 baht hour long boat tour of the three different markets. Much better. We take a small straight path and then we hit the chaos. Long boats full of tourists of every shade, many donning the classic pagoda hat and buying trinkets and elephant statues probably made in China. We only came for the food, so we quickly grab some egg rolls off of a guy in a boat and they are crispy and greasy and amazing. Crunchy grease bombs that just exploded in your mouth. The couple behind us barter for some coconut pancakes and said they were delicious, too. The whole system is beautiful chaos, people yelling at each other and bartering for goods, and then long poles with hooks dropping baskets off to their buyer, as the buyer puts cash back in the basket. We also buy some grilled whole prawns, but they were cold and flavorless and just tasted muddy for no better description.
None of us wanted any cheap trinkets, so the boat keeps traveling and we end up back where we started after an hour. We are directed to walk a kilometer or so to the bus station, of course there are no signs, and we serendipitously run into our bus - literally. So we buy some rose apples (think apples crossed with Asian pears that look like red bell peppers) to snack on on the way back.
On the bus, a lady comes comes and insists our tickets are only one way and we must pay for the way back. After a lot of debate, we end up paying, mainly because we were tired of arguing. It's how they get ya. I still don't know if it was a scam or just miscommunication.
Overall worth it.. But barely. About 6 hours of travel for an hour and some on the river. The markets are so touristy, it's not the same as the other local markets. There are floating local markets nearby Bangkok, but they only run on weekends. I would strongly recommend going to those instead if the option is there.
We grab a cab from the bus station to see a few more sights. We see the giant Golden Buddha (the largest golden statue in the world) and the Golden Mount (skiiippp!! Just a tourist attraction. Looks like a ball of paper mâché spray painted gold). We at this point are famished, so we take a stroll through Chinatown. We somehow end up in the real Chinatown, where there are no white faces and pig snouts hanging out of pots and random stalls selling shower heads and electronics. We find one stall with a older woman with all of her dishes out of display, so we can just point at what looks good. We point to a whole fish grilled and marinated, a side of morning glory (a bok choy type of vegetable dish) and we nod to some rice. They seat us in a back stall and serve us water in pitchers (we go for it! So bad!). Turns out to be the best meal we have the whole time. The flavors were so pungent and balanced. We turn back to the lady's smiling toothless face and she says, 50 baht. Less than $2 for the two of us. We are happy.
We head back to the hostel and we buy some beers and meet up with the rest of the crew that remains. Cam buys the cheapest beer from 7-11, which turns out to be the worst beer I have ever tasted. I don't say that lightly. It tasted like Budweiser spiked with fermented fruit and garlic bread. I have attached a picture. Stay. Away.
We have a few more drinks, and decide to walk to a rooftop bar, which is closed. At this point the fatigue and hunger strike, and we grab some noodles and call it a night. We have breakfast at the hotel the next morning, and Cameron buys a coffee and a Thai iced tea off the street vendors so sweet your teeth hurt, and we head to the airport. Next stop Chiang Mai.
Floating markets: cool, but do the local weekend ones if you can
Vegetarians love Bangkok
Don't drink SiamSoto
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