One Night In Bangkok
One Night In Bangkok – technically three – was a fast, furious and lovely adventure. I was there for work, but managed to cram in a few temples, thai salad, massage and a tuk tuk ride before hunkering down for 12 hour work days!
Channeling my travel heroes, Cecile Raubenheimer and Anthony Bourdain ala The Layover, I wanted to experience as much as I could in the short time we were in Bangkok. No point wishing for more days, we did our best to mentally set our time clocks and then settled into being swept up in the Thai experience even if only for a few days.
Post breakfast, my travel buddy Carly, and our boss Barry met poolside to review agenda and presentations for our meetings. If you have to work, this is about as good as it gets for an office…
Lotus flowers at the temple. They were everywhere. I wish I could grow these in my backyard.
Buddha is everywhere. He’s fat, he’s thin…sometimes he’s gold and sometimes made of stone…always watching and always soothing. We went to Wat Pho, home of the reclining or sleeping Buddha. We lucked out because it was quiet. No tour buses. We said hi to the sleeping buddha, which is even bigger than I’d imagined, then walked the grounds to see the other parts of the temple. There were only a handful of people at any given time so we were able to take our time and absorb the magic of the experience. It was so quiet with a steady breeze that kept us going. We paid respects with lotus flowers, lit incense as an offering and talked to a sweet little Thai man who told us gave us an impromptu tutorial of the Thai gods – then tried to sell us artwork – but was gracious when we refused.
Did I mention it’s hot? And humid? And that you pretty much need to get your hair up as high as possible so it doesn’t stick to the back of your neck? But it really wasn’t unbearable. What to wear? A strapless or sleeveless jumpsuit with billowy pant legs. Mine was by Indah. Similar here. Those girls get the tropics! Carly had on a long sundress and her skirt kept sticking to the back of her. For whatever reason, my fantastic Indah pants did not. And from the pic below, you can see we were both equally “glowy” (the polite girl version of sweaty).
Don’t forget to bring a little shawl or cover up. You can’t get into the temples (or the palace) without one. The helpful street vendors outside will sell you one, but they weren’t that cute. Save your money for the night market! Mine is from Issa de Mar. I got it about three years ago, but they still sell it here. They made it in a bunch of colors so you can probably find it in a brighter color like mine. It packs to nothing and is great to bring out at night – and now also for temple viewing – bonus!
My brother, arguably one of the best travelers on the planet, told us to go to the Eagle’s Nest restaurant on the Chao Praya. It is a rooftop bar/restaurant with amazing views of the temples. Alas, it wasn’t open during the day – oops minor detail he forgot to share – but we found this restaurant next door. It had a lovely breeze, a cool view of the temples and a killer Yum Numea (spicy beef salad) and some shellfish dish that was delicious!
Our tuk tuk driver was awesome! We even told him ahead of time that we didn’t want any unscheduled stops to look at “special dresses just for you”, but he still tried to convince us mid ride. The driver gets a commission if he brings you to a shop and you buy something. Stay firm and don’t give in. He’s just trying to make a living and they take the rebuff with good nature!
At the night market, you see a slightly different side of Bangkok. It’s seedy. The hawkers are tired and though they smile at you and beckon you to their stalls, there is an edge and a cynicism. You can feel it. And understandably so, it’s a hard way to eek out a living. Every stall sells pretty much the same thing so it’s competitive. There are girls in every bar as you walk the perimeter of the market. I won’t go into detail on the ping pong show advertising, but let’s just say I felt bad for these girls and leave it at that.
Our hotel room looked down on Nana Plaza – aka Candyland – arguably the world’s most famous brothel street next to the Red Light district in Amsterdam. We did a lap, because when in Rome. But again, I felt bad. The girls are funny and tease you as you walk by, but there is no sparkle in their eyes. If you look at them after you walk by, the smiles are gone until the next person walks by. If you’re a drunk sailor on leave, I’m sure it’s heaven, but for me, I just made silent thoughts to each of them wishing them well. And who knows, maybe they are well. Maybe it’s an okay way to make a living, dress up and do your thing and who am I to think their sad. That’s what I’m hoping anyway!
Oh right, we are here to work…
Taking a 10 minute sanity break. Around 4:30pm the jet lag is crushing. Must. Get. Fresh. Air.
If you have to stay at a fancy city hotel, I’ll take the JW Marriott in Bangkok, thank you. They were really good to us. The juice bar by the pool, the smell of fresh lemon grass everywhere and the insane breakfasts offset the delirium of being a world away and having to function at a high level talking numbers and strategy for business. Sweet lord, I hope I didn’t make any promises I can’t keep! Free overnight shipping to Hong Kong? Sure no problem.
Team dinner with the Asian distributors. Hong Kong and Korea – it’s my fault I told them to stick their tongues out plus our lovely Thailand hosts further down the table. Shanghai, Australia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines and Indonesia also representing…
Oh thank you Bangkok I had such a lovely time. The Bangkok is super modern and clean. If you get there early, have fun window shopping at Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Chanel! One of my favorite moments of the entire trip was the sign below. Gotta love a country that gives priority boarding to Buddhist monks.
They say it takes a day to acclimate for every timezone. But sometimes you simply don’t have that luxury. My tips for surviving (and thriving) on a six day turnaround including travel time…
- Get to the airport really early and try to get the window exit row. I’ve done this for my last few int’l trips and it is a game changer. Yes, it adds to your total travel time, but being able to stretch your legs makes all the difference
- Once you’re on the plane, change your computer and phone to the local travel time. Resist the temptation to figure out what time it is back home. You’ll only freak out that it’s 4am and you’re in the middle of a meeting. Don’t do it. Channel your inner yogi and just be present in your moment
- Load up books on your kindle, preferably light hearted fun fiction instead of anything too intense. I’m a crazy reader so I make sure to get about 15% into a book prior to leaving. Then I’m into it and actually look forward to picking my book up on the flight
- Bring layers for the plane. Leggings, comfy bra (no underwire or tight racerback) this one from Free People is my go to. I put a fresh tank top in my bag to change into when we landed.
- Compression socks. Holy smokes, do they ever make a difference. These socks were amazing!!! Yes, I am biased because I work for ToeSox, but I cannot tell you how nice it was to not have elephant ankles after 20 hours of travel
In hindsight, my travel tips could probably be a blog post on its own. My jet lag is kicking in and I think I need to go get some fresh air. Thanks for traveling along with me and I hope some of this info was either a) entertaining, b) helpful or c) both
Signing off for now!