My first time in Thailand was in 2015. I was backpacking for a couple weeks with my besties from college. We started in Bangkok, and made our way through the islands for the Full Moon Party and New Years then finished up in Chiang Mai trekking with elephants. It has been my favorite place to-date and it’s not surprising that I made my way back for a few days.
2015 Thailand Recap
2016 Thailand: Bangkok
This time around Nicole and I were leaving Japan to meet Lauren. It just so happened that flying to Bangkok was cheaper than flying straight to Vietnam and two of my good friends from Atlanta would be finishing their honeymoon there. It was obviously fate that we had to make a pit stop for a few days.
Lauren, Nicole, and I hadn’t been together in about four months–which is pretty rare considering we’re inseparable in Hawaii. So once we landed we were in full reunion mode and headed straight for Khao San Road. This place is a gap year/backpackers dream party place. There are bars on either side of the road and at the end tuk-tuks are waiting for you to finish your beer and overcharge you for an amusing ride back to your hostel. And this is where I drank enough beer to eat an entire scorpion (again).
When you’re on vacation you don’t let a little drinking stop you from seeing all the good stuff. So the next morning we set off for Wat Pho – Temple of the Reclining Buddha. This was one of my favorite temples the first time I was in Bangkok so I didn’t mind checking it out again.
Before we got there we had an encounter with a nice young man from Phuket who advised us that the temple was closed for lunch and would re-open at 2pm. He insisted that we go take the Chao Phraya River tour for an hour and then go to the temple after. At first, I was a little skeptical but he hailed a tuk-tuk, negotiated 60 baht to drop us at the river, and told us to ask for the ‘Thai ticket’ for a discount for our private boat tour. As he ushered us away we just went with it, hoping this tuk-tuk driver wasn’t taking us anywhere sketchy.
Turns out, this man saved the day. The river tour was incredible and something I hadn’t done before. We saw Wat Arun from the boat as well as many small houses, coffee shops, and a few boats from the floating market.
When the tour was over our boat driver dropped us right infront of Wat Pho. We toured the temple, took lots of pictures, then headed to the Wat Pho Thai Massage School. We each got a 30 minute thai massage and felt brand new afterwards.
From there we went back towards our hostel and treated ourselves to more spa activities before I had to go back and get ready for dinner at Gaggan with my honeymooners: Jeanne & Jonathan.
This should really be a post in itself because it was such an amazing experience. But I’ll add it, anyway.
I first found out about this restaurant while binge watching Chef’s Table: Season Two on Netflix (don’t judge me). I sent Jeanne some information about what we did in Thailand and when I mentioned Gaggan to her she was already on it. Thank goodness for my fellow foodie friends.
Shortly after I sent it to her, I was planning my trip and realized that we’d both be in Bangkok on the same day and demanded to crash their last night on their honeymoon. Just kidding, they totally invited me along. Never-the-less Jonathan made reservations and I’ve never been more excited to eat at one of the top ten best restaurants in the WORLD. Especially since it will be closing in 2020.
We originally planned to eat at the restaurant but instead we ate at the ‘Gaggan Lab’. This is where the magic happens, people. They set out a menu, which was made up entirely of emjois. Then the chef presents each menu item and describes: the ingredients used, techniques of cooking, and regional influence of the dish.
I’ll stop here for a minute because a picture’s worth a thousand words–right?
Gaggan Lab, Bangkok
And that was how I spent my last evening in Bangkok. Next Stop: Southern Vietnam
*Arriving in Bangkok this year was notably different because the late king Bhumibol Adylyadej passed away October 13th, 2016. As of December 1st, the city was still grieving, with most citizens wearing black clothing.*