From Border Crossings to Body Shape Solutions, By Way of Bangkok

Bangkok, Thailand

I’ve had LL Cool J’s “Going Back to Cali” stuck in my head all morning, but with “Bangkok” substituted for “Cali”. Yes, though I’ve only been away from dear old Bangkok for about four months, as I mentioned last week I’m flying out tomorrow for a little 10-day jaunt around the city that’ll essentially amount to a tour of my version of Bangkok’s greatest hits. Early-evening walks through Lumpini Park, a late night at Tawandang German Brewery, outdoor restaurant feasts with friends, as much snacking as I can stomach–it’ll be difficult fitting everything into 10 days. We’re even staying in the condo we lived in for 8 months in 2008-09, which I’m sure will be equal parts surreal and comforting.

I’ve written about the city a number of times in this space, so while I’m sure you’ve all religiously kept up with those posts and reread them at least five times, now seems like a good time to round up some of my Bangkok pieces from this year in the off chance you missed ’em the first time around.

BKK Must Eats Series: The modest goal of this ongoing series is simply to spotlight, somewhat randomly, damned delicious dishes in Bangkok that I’ve indulged on many occasions, and that I recommend you indulge too. Given that eating as much as my stomach can handle is my top priority these next 10 days, I’ll certainly be adding new entries in the coming weeks assuming, that is, I don’t fill up on everything already covered below first.

+ Early Evening Pad Thai on Soi Chidlom
+ Salmon Agemusubui at Sukishi
+ Spicy Tuna Roll at Yaki Ten
+ Grilled Squid at Pantip Plaza
+ Pumpkin Hummus at May Kaidee’s
+ Seared Tuna at Pla Dib
+ Mexican Food at La Monita
+ Salmon Mania Roll at Zen Cucina
+ Feasts at Jae On

How to Cross the Thailand-Laos Border Via the Friendship Bridge, Starting in Bangkok: My double-entry tourist visa finally ran out of extension options in July, so I made the common “visa run” to Vientiane, which after all these years spent exploring Southeast Asia was somehow my first trip to Laos. My trip began with an early Air Asia flight to Udon Thani, and then… well, you can read the whole story here.

Eating Out is an Everyday Joy in Bangkok; The Rare Home-Cooked Meal is a Special Treat: I still dream about the amazing spread my friends Joy and Em whipped up for us that evening. Read on and you’ll see why.

Where to Find a Michelin Star, Ice-Skating Rink, and Body Shape Solutions Under One Roof in Bangkok: I’ve lived just around the corner from CentralWorld Plaza both times I’ve taken up temporary residence in Bangkok, which means I’ve probably eaten there at least 150 times. The food is a big draw, but there’s so much more to it. Just don’t call it a mall: it’s a “lifestyle complex.”

Three-Wheeled Bangkok Adventures in Songkran (Booze Me Up and Get Me Soaked): Quite possibly the dumbest thing I’ve ever done in Bangkok, as well as the most fun. A lot of people sneer at booze-fueled Songkran merriment–and I don’t totally disagree with that opinion–but everything about this particular experience was perfect, including the fact that nobody got hurt (but probably should have). I wrote another related piece about what Songkran means to me, as an expat in Bangkok.

How Thunderstorms and Wrong Turns Made Bangkok’s Best Pad Thai Taste Even Better: When I wrote this, I considered the gooey pad thai at the legendary late-night hole-in-the-wall Thip Samai my favorite in Bangkok. It’s still one of the best and well worth seeking out, but if you only have one plate of pad thai during your visit, try to make it one from the sweet brother-and-sister duo parked on Soi Chidlom.

For Lunch, Off-Key Karaoke with a Side of Surliness, Som Tam, and Sticky Rice for 60 Baht: You wouldn’t have any reason to go to this dingy, somewhat depressing food court on the fifth floor of the aging wholesale shopping center City Complex, but curious lunchtime karaoke and a solid som tam makes it worth a visit.

Revisiting a Favorite Old Haunt in Bangkok: I have just about beaten this topic/restaurant to death here, but with good reason: Jae On is quite simply one of the most special places for me in Bangkok.

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