Whenever I land in Thailand, I hear Thais assuring western tourists that everything is “same, same…but different.” They’re very easy going here and often laugh at how uptight and frantic tourists can be. In the daily chaos of Bangkok, traffic flows like water with very few traffic jams, despite tuk tuks, motor bikes, vans, cars and pedestrians weaving in and out of the crowded roadways.
Everyone is selling something or buying something on the street, haggling over goods with smiles on faces. You can’t lose your cool or everyone gets embarrassed. Food is everywhere you look. Sidewalk food stalls are not only on every block and alleyway, but so are indoor restaurants, casual outdoor restaurants, night markets, bars and fruit juice and vegetable stands. Music and street noise comes from every direction.
The smells are enough to overwhelm anyone’s senses. Satay cooking over charcoal, jasmine flowers and incense burning at temples, exhaust, fresh seafood, not-so-fresh seafood, herbs, river water and other smells I can’t quite place in my olfactory memory bank. It’s both good and bad rolled into one and reminds me that I’m back in my favorite vacation place.
Of course, we’ve done some great dining in Bangkok. The Erawan Tea Room restaurant in the Grand Hyatt was beautiful and elevated some dishes in ways I had not seen or tasted before. We had a fried barracuda a spicy sauce which blew us away. The BBQ pork satays we bought from multiple street vendors was another highlight and hit with everyone.
Arrived up north in the town of Chiang Mai, yesterday and have been promised by our guide, Jimmy Long Legs, that we will get to taste the best of what Chiang Mai has to offer. So stay tuned, my friends!