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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Not Khao-San, other places to eat and drink in Bangkok

The first time I was in Bangkok I was incredibly overwhelmed by the size of the place - the city seems never-ending and if you get up to any heights it stretches out in every direction the eye can see; the river winding through various sky-scrapers and low-lying shacks by the river. The enormity of it is still striking to me now but I've gotten to know another side of the city by now and can thoroughly understand why it offers expats a nice life.
From the Mariott Rooftop, Bangkok goes on forever

An old friend from Dubai, Becky, now calls Bangkok home. We go through long periods of not meeting up and our last meeting outside Thailand was a funny road-trip to Ennis, accompanied by a little green teddy. Yes, Becky and I do have some weird ideas of fun but we also share a very similar sense of humour and a deep bond from sharing some tricky times in Dubai. Becky's place is a far cry from Khao San Road; it's set in a pretty district of Sukhumvit, surrounded by other residences with pools and gyms and up market restaurants nearby.

I'm not a huge fan of enormous cities, probably because the city I come from, Dublin, only has a population of about a million people, which barely competes with the major metropolises of our world.
I like my cities smaller and easy to navigate. Having said that, I'm a big fan of Bangkok's various options of transport - the BTS is cheap and reliable, motor cycle taxis are ubiquitous, taxis themselves are crazy reasonable considering it's a worldwide city with an intolerable traffic problem. You can even take canal boats (not a pastime for hungover backpackers - the stench would shake even the sturdiest constitution) where you might chance upon a dead croc floating in the infected waters, true story - a friend has seen one.

So, to share some of the places I've been and liked in Bangkok, even though I fear giving too much away, it's nice to share with other travellers and for the owners to have patronage of those seeking out a different path.

If you've visited Wat Pho, which certainly is worth it from a historical perspective (It was the first university in Thailand) and to admire the colourful stupas in the courtyard, then you'll appreciate a cool drink or some food nearby. There are a number of options by the river, you can normally get a seat at Eat Sight Story, ESS to watch riverboats go by and enjoy the view of Wat Arun. It is accessed by a soi between two temples. There is also the better known The Deck, which boasts the same views and excellent food, but you may struggle to be seated.
Wat Arun at sunset

Bangkok is developing quite the cafe culture and a great spot for brunch is Gram, on Soi 49 of Sukhumvit. There's not much seating and it's probably to be avoided in the sweatier months but I had a long, lazy lunch there in March and it was very pleasant. They offer all day breakfasts and super smoothies.

I was lucky enough to be invited to Bellino wine bar and boutique, a stunningly picturesque little part of Italy in Bangkok. Go for the chorizo, stay for the reasonably priced and good (finally, good wine in Thailand!) wine.We had a lovely night there for their birthday party.

If you are pining for a bit of trivia, then you can head to pub quiz on Thursday nights at The Pickled Liver, a proper British pub which doesn't feel like it's just off Sukhumvit in Bangkok, a very unassuming joint with good pub grub.

And finally, if you're looking for a quieter Rooftop than Lebua (the rooftop scene's from the Hangover have made it a hotspot), head over to Octave at the Mariott for 360 degree views of the city. It also has great 2 for 1 cocktails between 5pm - 7pm so you can enjoy your sundowners at a more reasonable cost than most of the city.

Sorry Becky, if I've given away some of your secret spots, but not all :)