We arrived from Phitsanulok to Bangkok’s hectic Mochit Station late in the afternoon on Christmas Eve. After managing to coax a tuk-tuk driver into not ripping us off too much, followed by zooming on the MRT to our conveniently located Soi Sukhumvit hotel, we dashed out for a quick fill of street food before collapsing into bed.
This would be my third international, family-less Christmas, though, I was able to spend it with my brother and my boyfriend in one of the world’s most popular cities so I can’t really complain. But there’s something about being away from home at Christmas that makes you crave the special warm-fuzzy "yay, its Christmas" feeling so much. That feeling is so hard to come by in Asia - of course with no discredit to their commercial efforts and over-decoration of everything!
It was my third time to Bangkok and having visited a handful of the major sights previously, wasn’t feeling very compelled to sightsee. These few days we had ahead of us in Bangkok became more about relaxing, enjoying and taking things slowly.
After all the Skype calls and messages home on Christmas Day, we ventured out for Christmas lunch - only after plenty of TripAdvisor research to pick the best of the bunch! Naturally, Christmas is far from traditional when you’re in Asia, so we decided to honour the nontraditional with a good feed of Mexican we had all been longing for a few days. We ended up just a few MRT stations down the road at the delicious Charley Brown's Mexican Cantina.
With a few drinks under our belts - hey, its Christmas! - we headed back to our hotel to chill out for the rest of the afternoon, before heading out to our evening activity that we had booked in. What better way for three nomadic Kiwis to spend Christmas overseas than by going to the cinema to see landscapes from home in The Hobbit? Mexican, movies and copious amounts of popcorn - yup, it was a good Christmas!
Christmas in New Zealand is a summer affair so Boxing Day picnics at the beach or the river are common. We opted for Bangkok’s highly manicured version of nature for our very own nontraditional Boxing Day picnic, at the beautiful Rama IX Park. Bangkok’s largest green space was the perfect spot to spend hours lazing on the grass overlooking the lake, reading the Bangkok Post cover to cover, and ambling around the gardens. The best bit? We had the place almost to ourselves!
As a final nod to Christmas, that evening I couldn’t resist the temptation of another Swensen’s ice cream - as delectable as ever, regardless of melting Christmas tree!
The next day was my brother’s final day in Bangkok before flying back home to New Zealand, so we decided it was now or never for some very light tourist activities. We stopped by the Royal Palace with the best of intentions before declaring it was way too busy to be enjoyable and also a bit over our price range. I didn’t mind because I’d visited a few years ago, but at least the guys got to see the view from the outside.
Finally we stopped by the backpackers haven of Khao San Road. I’d stayed in the area last time I was in Bangkok - this time we opted for the slightly flasher digs of Sukhumvit Road. Its a fun place that buzzes with activity, and if you’ve got the money you can buy just about anything! The boys pondered through the options for a while…considering a career change? Get your tailor-made new degree on Khao San Road!
Before we knew it we had waved goodbye to Tim, and Alan and I were spending our final day in Bangkok circling every level of the MBK centre in search of wedding-appropriate shoes. Thank goodness we were running low on baht or I probably would have spent the rest of our savings on new clothes…
And it was just like that we were at the airport once again to wave goodbye to Thailand and Southeast Asia for the time being. We may not have done much, but I still look back on our time in Bangkok with happy memories. Its quite a different feeling when you allow yourself to just “be” in a city than dash from sight to sight, ticking each attraction off the list. I like to think we just hung out a bit like locals for a few days!
Bangkok - love it or hate it? Have you ever passed up seeing all the sights in favour of just hanging out in a city?