If you follow Alex in Wanderland on Facebook, you might have caught my announcement that I’m headed to Newfoundland to visit Ian’s family — so it’s perfect timing to share this post about his family’s visit to us in Thailand!
Bangkok. Capital of Thailand, city of eight million people, and the gateway to Southeast Asia for travelers from around the world. Including, in one overlapping weekend of the month that I dubbed “host-a-palooza,” both Ian’s parents, who were arriving from Canada, and my friends, who were departing to the US after an action-filled adventure together in Koh Phangan, Koh Tao, and Khao Yai.
After a couple days congratulating ourselves on our rugged feat of roughing it in cabins with both modern plumbing and electricity, we felt we had really earned a bit of luxury. As much as I love hotel hopping in Bangkok, we didn’t want to take any gambles with parents in the mix, so we had booked rooms at the consistent crowd-pleaser U Sukhumvit, and planned a weekend that allowed for both urban exploring and succumbing to jetlag.
This was my first time meeting Ian’s parents and so it was basically just like a hometown date episode on The Bachelor, except we weren’t in any of our hometowns, there were no other competitors and not a single person in a ball gown accused me of not being there “for the right reasons” — the last of which was kind of a let down, by the way. We cast the first scene — or, you know, made a reservation for our first night’s dinner — at Supanniga Eating Room, run by the same team as Soul Food, which we’d fallen asleep at while battling our own jetlag upon arrival back in Thailand a few months before.
Supanniga Eating Room is another hit in the trendy Thai food genre, popular with hip Bangkok locals and in-the-know expats. We loved it!
After dinner, Ian’s parents went back to the hotel to attempt adapting to the local time zones while we went on what has fast become our Bangkok tradition — a bar hop of our beloved Thonglor hot spots. We kicked off at Iron Fairies, the twisted fairy tale themed bar that first brought me to this Brooklyn-esque area and continues to steal my heart every time. Next we popped over to try Bad Motel, a local favorite which has a very creative cocktail menu downstairs — the bar’s own version of a Long Island Iced Tea is called the Barf Bag and is served in, you guessed it, a logo-stamped barf bag — and more traditionally Thai-style whiskey and beer on offer upstairs.
We also briefly checked out Beam nightclub but weren’t really feeling the testosterone-fueled expat vibe and left in a fit of laughter.
We ended the night at Octave, a gorgeous and relatively unpretentious rooftop bar at the intersection of Thonglor and Sukhumvit. At the tippy top of the tallest building in the area with no overhangs or higher floors looming above, sitting at Octave feels like you’re perched in a nest above the city — I don’t have even the slightest fear of heights and even I felt a thrill standing at the balcony.
Need a midnight snack? The mango sticky rice martini tastes eerily like the street food favorite of the same name.
The next evening, we checked a major item off my Bangkok bucket list: a dinner cruise along the Chao Phraya.
With the choice between a smaller, expensive cruise like the Apsara by Banyan Tree or a larger, bargain boat serving lukewarm buffets and featuring ample karaoke, we chose the Apsara because — well, actually I think that was fairly self explanatory, no? My deep and passionate love for karaoke aside, those bigger boats crammed with package tourists do not seem like my idea of a good time. (And while I am an ambassador for Viator, this wasn’t a work gig — we paid out of pocket for this trip!)
We were thrilled with our choice to splurge when we arrived at the dock for the Apsara, which was both elegant and refined, if slightly in need of a fresh coat of paint. We watched Bangkok float by as we worked our way through an elaborate menu of proudly presented Thai delicacies.
The staff was warm and welcoming, and generously took our photos throughout the evening and in front of Wat Arun on both our cameras and theirs — and presented us with a free print at the end as a souvenir.
Touristy? Absolutely. But a pretty magical Bangkok experience that equally delighted both the first timers to the city and those of us that have been dozens of times. For those that are new to Thailand, it would be a great primer on local food from a waiter with excellent language skills to explain all the ingredients and ins and outs of the dishes.
If you love the idea of a breezy outdoor dinner but don’t like the price tag of a cruise or don’t want to schlep down to the river, our last night in Bangkok revealed another option: Hemmingways (now closed). We’re huge fans of the outdoor patio, and with U Sukhumvit within walking distance, it was a shoe-in for our final evening.
So, what were we up to when we weren’t stuffing our faces? One day, Ian and I extended our visas at Bangkok Immigration, one day Ian and his parents went on a cooking class one day that I had to back out of due to a work emergency (definitely not getting that rose now), and one day we all headed over to Chatuchak Market, a weekend-only affair that I’ve been known to schedule my trips over a Saturday or Sunday just to hit.
I mostly mentioned this because ever since this particular jaunt to Chatuchak I’ve been haunted by my inexcusably terrible decision not to buy the items pictured below. What was I thinking? (But sorry for the language, gram!)
It was a whirlwind long weekend. In an effort to fool Ian’s parents into thinking we live a first class lifestyle we splurged on Bangkok Air flights to Samui followed by a ferry to Koh Tao — normally the fanciest way to reach the island, however the joke was on us when our flight was delayed, the air conditioning was broken on the ferry and we arrived back on Koh Tao in a half-melted heap.
But that moment stepping off the ferry in Koh Tao has a way of healing me. Bangkok was a blast. But it felt good to be home.
Any Bangkok bars we need to add to our rotation for next time? Anything I need to tack onto my big city bucket list? There’s always another Bangkok weekend in my future, so advise away!
Sorry for the radio silence this week — a last minute secret project popped up and totally knocked me off my posting game. I can’t wait to share the details with you when I can, and in the meantime I’m fighting to get back into the grind!
On another note, have you taken my reader survey yet? If not, I’d be honored! I’m already starting to incorporate some of the feedback and can’t wait to sit down and really pore over it when responses are closed!