You only really appreciate a place like Chiang Mai when you spend some time in Bangkok. One of the world's most congested cities welcomed us with a nightmare Air Bnb, a last minute and late night hotel with hilariously bad reviews, and then a dream Air Bnb on the 29th floor of a modern condo where we could observe the traffic mayhem from a safe distance. From the crowded markets of Pratunam to the luxury high-end malls, the seediness of Patpong to fashionable Sukhumvit, Bangkok is too vivid, too loud, too wild - at least when you come from a place like Chiang Mai. Which is not to say we didn't have a good time. Checking out the incredible temples, riding the bumpy riverboats on the narrow canals, swimming downstairs in the infinity pool above the choking traffic, watching Raquel conquer her first monkey bars in Lumpini Park, the kids busting around a Decathlon store on bicycles, and making new friends who also live in Vancouver. We even managed to squeeze in a movie. A highlight was visiting Imaginia, a fantastic indoor interactive play area which easily soaked up a morning. The stark contrast between the streets and the malls and the poor and the rich rob Bangkok of that warmth we'd come to love and know up north, although it's still there in glimpses - from the pad thai lady in the street alley downstairs, the doorman downstairs who salutes us like generals, the strangers cracking smiles at the kids. It just takes more effort though, as one would expect when 14 million people are jammed into a city.
Pad Thai, Chicken Fried Rice, Pasta, Pizza, Chicken Nuggets, and lots and lots of Thai milk tea.
Mostly in our apartment, picking up take away from the lady in the alley cooking Thai food (50 baht), although we did end up in a couple high end food courts for some gourmet fast food (500 baht). A 24 hour supermarket in our building lobby was more than convenient. And could never go wrong with the mangosteens, mangoes, dragon fruit, lady finger bananas and other fruit available in the alleys behind our condo, a bag of juicy exotic fruit for under a fiver.
My Favourite Pictures Today
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Bangkok had three parts. Part One: Our first awful one-star review for an Air Bnb, that fortunately only cost us a day (and a pitifully small refund from Air Bnb). Part Two: An emergency hotel we thought was in Sukhumvit but was located on the outskirts, close to nothing, and always with complaining guests in the elevators. Beds were lumpy, and not in a good way (it never is). It was called Hotel Paradise, perhaps more accurately, if you got lost on your way to Paradise and ended up in a hotel room three floors above Hell. Part Three: A modern 29th floor corner condo in Thonglo (called Thru Thonglo) with amazing views of the city and gridlock below. It had an amazing pool and gym downstairs, and quick access to the river boat canals to escape the traffic to the Pechaburri subway.
Avoid the traffic in Bangkok and take the Metro and river boats whenever you can. Read the reviews on Air Bnb more carefully. Carry a pair of socks because all indoor kids areas require kids to wear socks. It is compulsory to stand and sing to the King before movies in Thailand. To appreciate the clean air and green trees back home in Vancouver more than ever. Always haggle. That you can take young kids in a sauna, especially if they love it. To trust in locals when it comes to throwing kids in river boats. The benefit of telling the kids: "just do it until someone comes along and asks you to stop." Never trust a taxi driver in Bangkok.
Reflection of the Day
Dad: the sheer exoticness and local thrill of riding the riverboats through the canals, especially after dark. Mom: Air conditioning. Raquel: The swimming pool! Gali: Peeing in the potty with a weird straddle.
Traffic. Humidity, Smells. Heat. Traffic.
Gali is officially two and is behaving accordingly. Goodbye sweet little do-whatever-we-ask-you boy! Hello tantrums, sulks, and fifteen minutes to change the clothing. Although there's much for kids to do in Bangkok, getting around is definitely not easy. Even the riverboats stop for about 30 seconds before screaming off again, so you kind of have to throw the kids on. We spent lots of time in a Grab taxi, with patient drivers listening to meltdowns as we creeped 100 metres in 10 minutes. The malls are massive and the play areas amazing if you're ready to shell out for them. Kids loved the temples but unlike Chiang Mai, where we could wander in, these temples had line-ups and entrance fees and tour buses. Bangkok is a wild city, and judging by the amount of travelling families we've seen, popular as a destination or pit-stop on family adventures. We're inclined for a far more gentle pace, one we hope our next international destination will deliver.