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21 hour layover in Bangkok was, as predicted, overwhelming. THE DENSITY.

e.g. 1. Khao San rd. This is where apparently all of the backpackers congregate at night. What you will find on this road: street food every 10 feet, local musicians covering american classics, stores selling cute sundresses, lady boys, drunk foreigners getting massages, people selling ping pong show tickets, the greatest concentration of white people I’ve seen since leaving the US.

e.g. 2. 7-11. Thais apparently love it. I was just excited to get air conditioning, beer, floss, and Toblerone all in one place. There were three 7-11s within 100 meters of my hotel. I went to all of them.

e.g. 3. Pra Atit rd. Just outside of my hotel, there is a cluster of restaurants, bars and cafes that remind me of the lower east side. Expect they’re tinier! and there are bunch of well dressed young Thais at each outdoor table that put my nicest clothes to shame.

e.g. 4. Pantip Shopping Complex. There’s an entire mall dedicated to electronics. I went in searching for a replacement for my ipod and found everything from USB sticks shaped like dolls to fake ipods for $34.

Even more:

  • Stayed at the most adorable hotel with new friends Sophie and Leo: Phranakorn Norlern. It was as if Anthropologie decorated it. Each wall had a mural (map of bangkok, fake store fronts, bookcases, elephants, etc). There were white wooden chairs with bright pillows in the garden. The gold shower pipes snaked around in patterns around the faucet. Every detail about the place was creative.
  • Had drinks at the tallest hotel in Bangkok: Baiyoke II. 84 floors up. Night lights spreading out in every direction. What a view.
  • Took a cooking class at Mai Kai Dee’s vegetarian restaurant. 12 recipes later, I can’t wait to make my own Thai food at home. Especially loved the soups, peanut noodle dishes and green curry.
  • Went to Chatuchak– the biggest market in Bangkok. They sell everything. EVERYTHING. Live animals to trendy urban outfitters type jewelry. Shopping heaven. If I didn’t have a flight to catch, I’d be broke.

Now, I feel like I should preface the next part with a disclaimer. For about half of the cities I’ve traveled to this summer, I’ve entered and declared I’m In Love. I could live here!” Call it metropolitan romanticism (actually I’ve been known to do this for small villages too), but I fall hard. I’m sure I’ve said something of the like on this blog- something to the effect of “This place is so relaxing. Its so beautiful. etc” but I think somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew it wasn’t real. For all my professed love of solo camping and roughing it in nature, at the end of the day the reality is that I have addictions: high speed internet, bookstores, indie films, clothing boutiques and cute lower east side type bars, in short, things that can only be fulfilled by big cosmopolitan cities. I can’t live in Leh or Inle Lake or Jaisalmer. As much as I romanticize them, they lack the edge I despise I love. Which, I suppose, is the long way of saying that Bangkok, with its modernness, its lights, its lack of nature and its non-relaxing lifestyle, is the Actually Most Liveable City On This Trip to me.

–steph