This week I'm going to be writing every day about what we ate/did/overinstagrammed in Thailand over our Lunar New Year break. I'm also going to throw in a couple recipes inspired by the spices I brought back in case reading about other people's travel just gives you a massive case of the yawns. Today is all about what we did in Bangkok when we weren't just drinking Chang by the hotel pool.
Jim Thompson House
The house is constructed from six traditional Thai homes Thompson purchased and moved to Bangkok and much of its design is to specifically showcase the extensive South East Asian art collection. My favorite part of the house is the incorporation of a pawn shop door from Bangkok's Chinatown. You're not allowed to take pictures inside the house and you do have to go on one of the guided tours offered frequently and in a number of languages. I'm not usually that into guided tours but our guide was funny and seemed genuinely interested in sharing her knowledge of Jim Thompson, the art collection and the architecture. A guide with real interest instead of one just repeating facts learned through rote memorization definitely makes all the difference.
You are allowed to take pictures of the gardens and grounds which are lovely in themselves. Just walking off the road and onto the property made me feel immediately transported out of the hustle and bustle of Bangkok. It's definitely a place I would go again.
Chatuchak Weekend Market
Chatuchak Weekend Market is the place to get pretty much anything you want from Thailand. Looking for cowboy boots, vintage clothes and old denim jackets covered in patches from your favorite punk band? Sections 5 and 6, where we entered, definitely have you covered. (I really regret not buying a pair of boots even though we had no room to pack them). Need to buy the world's cutest German Shepherd puppy that I somehow resisted? Or maybe some tame squirrels with knit hats? Section 13 has all the pets you could ever want. Just looking for some Chang koozies and magnets? Basically the whole market has got you covered.
I, of course, was looking for dried herbs and spices. I did manage to find the Lonely Planet recommended Spice Boom in Section 26 but only by chance. I actually didn't know until just now when checking the packaging that I had in fact gone there and not found some other stall. It definitely had the best selection of curry pastes, herbs and spices and the prices were incredibly reasonable. All of the spices in the picture above plus a bag of Thai tea cost me about eighteen dollars and I'm incredibly happy with them, especially the five spice and dried kaffir leaves.
Our initial plan had been to eat in the market but around noon when we got too hungry and too hot, the market started getting too crowded. I did manage to find my first swirl cone WITH rainbow sprinkles since leaving America and before we left we sat and had a Thai tea and iced coffee at Koko Drip, an adorable cafe in the art gallery section. Dan said his coffee wasn't that great but this was probably the best Thai tea I had all trip. Just the perfect amount sweet.
I definitely recommend going to the market early, between the heat, the size of the place and the thickening crowds we were feeling pretty done after just two hours.
If you're wondering at this point if we actually ate any Thai food in Thailand, the answer, is yes, we did, I'll get to that but we also took advantage of Bangkok having a much more diverse population than Seoul and got ourselves some non-Koreanized Chinese food. I'll be honest and say that going to Chinatown during Lunar New Year still exhausted from our morning at the market was not necessarily our best decision but with only three days in Bangkok, it was the only time to slot it in since our other dinners had actual reservations. We went with the intention of eating street food but all the sidewalk restaurant set ups were too confusing and crowded for our market addled brain. I have no idea what restaurant we went to but it also sells dumplings from a stall out front. We both got duck dishes, Dan's with rice and eggs and mine with noodles. They weren't amazing but certainly more to our taste than Chinese food in Seoul and I was more than happy with their $3.00 price tag. I think the bao cost about seventy-five cents. We each had one with dinner and I got another for the road. I regret not buying more for the road. All char siu bao all the time, I always say. We also impulse bought some more tiny dried peppers from one of the many food shops but unfortunately they smell like rotten chicken, so I'm going to be tossing those. Thankfully, they also only cost $3.00. Even though night is prime time for street food, I'd be curious to see what Chinatown is like during the day when more businesses are open.
Dan had a really busy work week and I had bronchitis before we left, so we took a pretty low key approach to our time in Bangkok and didn't make it to any wats or palaces. If we went again, I'd probably make more effort towards a cultural vacation but this trip our focus was definitely on soaking up sun and relaxation.