Yesterday we had accomplished all of things we felt like we had to do in Bangkok so today started out quite leisurely. Lynn wrote yesterday’s blog post while I researched places to stay in Bali. Around noon we decided it was time for lunch and to head out into the streets for the day. Lynn had found a movie theater across town showing a Thai indie film with English subtitles called Freelance (it’s called Heart Attack in the rest of the world for some reason). It wasn’t showing till 5.30 though, so that gave us five and a half hours to walk over there.
We meandered through the neighborhoods for a while before spotting a restaurant teeming with locals, usually a good sign. A friendly man waved us in and sat us down. Upon looking at the menu Lynn quickly decided on some Tom Yum soup while I was a bit overwhelmed with the selection. I ended up ordering an “American spicy” chicken-cashew stir-fry, which was the friendly man’s recommendation. Lynn went all in on a “spicy spicy” Tom Yum soup and a watermelon Italian soda. All of the food was delicious, though the soup a bit hot for my liking. Luckily there was plenty of rice to quell the fire in my mouth. Lynn did not need any.
Bellies full, we headed back out to the street and quickly walked by a massage parlor offering 60 minute Thai massages for 200 baht per person ($5.70). Lynn had done some research to make sure she could spot legit massage parlors from the type you are probably thinking of and this one did not feature scantily clad women caked in makeup out front so in we went.
Having never had a Thai massage, I assumed it would be like a normal massage, maybe with a little bit different of a technique. I had seen some picture of people being stretched but that seemed pretty normal. It started out benignly enough, after some initial confusion in putting on our massage outfits of button up shirts and parachute pants we sat down and had our feet scrubbed with limes which was quite delightful. We then laid back and the two masseuses performed what can only be described as full contact stretching combined with a sports massage. At one point my lady was standing on my hamstrings and more than once she used every limb she had to contort my body into ways I don’t think it was meant to bend. A very uncomfortable hour later it was finally over and I did feel loose and well stretched, but my God, at what cost. Lynn had apparently had Thai massages before but “forgotten” to warn me what they were like.
Feeling very limber, we headed over to Siam square for some mango sticky rice which Lynn has been talking about since Japan. I had read about a place called Mango Tango that was supposedly good and we found it without issue. Lynn ordered the classic mango sticky rice while I had the mango sticky rice with mango ice cream. Both were delicious, if not a little overpriced by Thai standards, but Lynn definitely preferred the original.
Lynn had read that there was a pharmaceutical school in the area which had a well stocked, English speaking pharmacy on campus. She was running frightfully low on Dramamine and we were having trouble finding more anywhere and thought if any place had some it would probably be there. Conveniently located very close to Mango Tango we found they did indeed have Dramamine (though we think it’s the drowsy kind) and for a steal of 60 cents for ten. I made Lynn go back to the counter and order more when we found out how cheap it was.
It was now had about an hour and a half till movie time and we were about an hour and fifteen minute walk away so we started towards the theater. Google walking directions in Thailand, it seems have not been well vetted. At different points it recommended we walk on an elevated freeway, a busy access road with no sidewalk, and hundreds of meters of large sewer pipe over a canal which it seemed to think was a suitable walking path. Each time we managed to find a detour, but really Google, get it together.
Used to the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, we were a little concerned about the theater being sold out of tickets since we were showing up only 10 minutes before the movie started. It turns out, we were two of the only five people in the theater. We enjoyed some very interesting trailers, one especially about wild dogs called White God that we are still trying to figure out, before the screen went black. It came back on with a message that said “Please pay respects to his majesty the King.” Lynn and I both smirked at each other and then noticed that everyone else in the theater had stood up so we did the same. A two minute video then played of various people around Thailand all singing what I assume is the national anthem, always with portraits of the king and queen in the background. At the end, the video people bowed, and the people in the audience bowed back. We sat back down, very excited to have been a part of this.
The movie itself was quite good and very funny. I’m not going to talk about it a lot because you all should go see it. We’re not sure what the foreign release schedule is but it’s definitely worth checking out. It will be called either Freelance or Heart Attack, here’s a trailer.
It was now 8:00 pm and we were ready for dinner so we headed towards a street food strip that I had read about in someone else’s blog. The way I took us was probably not the best. The road stuck under the train lines for the most part and there were little shanty towns and feral dogs we kept passing, but we also would pass a policeman every so often and there seemed to be decent traffic on the road so if anything happened we could get help easily at least.
Thankfully we turned off that road and walked through what we both decided was ex-pat town (where we did see some of those massage parlors) before arriving at the street, Sukhumvit Soi 38. It was maybe 300 feet long with food stalls lining both sides of the road. Food stalls, in case we have not described them yet, are all over Southeast Asia. They are about 3 feet by 6 feet and feature a prep surface, a cooktop or sometimes a charcoal grill, and are overflowing with fresh ingredients. There is no refrigeration, dishes are cleaned in buckets on the sidewalk, and they tend to only make one thing but often deliciously. Diners usually eat on plastic furniture that is setup on the sidewalk or street nearby and will need to be moved if the police come by and determine its blocking the sidewalk to much, causing everyone to have to pick up all their food and move with it. Don’t let that description dismay you from eating at them though, these people tend to have been cooking the same thing for years and years and are very good at it.
We started with some green papaya salad which was a little tart and spicy before finding a place that had fried pork belly served with rice. I ordered that and waited at some plastic tables in an alley while Lynn went to get us guava and passion fruit juices down the road a few stalls. While she was gone, we twice had to collapse all of the tables and chairs and hold our food and drinks so that cars could pass through the alley before setting it all back up and sitting down. The food and Lynn both came right after that and it was all delicious. We ended with a desert of mango sticky rice again for Lynn, this time at much more reasonable prices, and a crushed Oreo roti for me.
Too full to walk the five miles all the way back to our hostel we opted for the train as far as it could take us and then finished the last hour on foot. Along the way we commented that we seem to be getting better at warding of the incessant tuk-tuk drivers because we were getting asked by much fewer tonight.
Daily Walking Mileage : 14.25
Fun Facts :
- Bangkok used to be crisscrossed by hundreds of canals earning it the nickname the Venice of the East. Most of these were filled in to reduce the risk of cholera but there are still some, mostly smelly and littered with plastic bottles.
- After 50 years as a street food destination, the food vendors of Sukhumvit Soi 38 were all given eviction notices in May and have until February to relocate when the land will be sold to a condo developer. Horray progress.