We decided to explore north of the Chan Road, the major road near our Airbnb. Littered with a variety of shops, restaurants, street food stands, and vendors, there was so much to see and smell.
The 25 Baht (\$1 CAD) bubble tea was too inexpensive to resist and we tried a delicious red Thai curry and deep fried pork belly bits. From the first bite that curry was... wow!
One of the alleys caught my attention as it looked full of raw food stalls for local restaurant or food vendors. We walked down found butchers and produce vendors, clothing stalls, an old electronics shop, and a 3 ton metal stamp press in one store front. Everyone looked at us as if few tourists ventured down their soi (alley).
As we reached the end, a friendly man in hand signals warned us to turn around and head back down a parallel alley so we did.
That soi felt like another world, seeing people making the best of their circumstances, creating a small business out of any niche or skill to support themselves and family; the hustle was there.
As we were walking back to Chan Road, the main road in Sathon District, we saw the filming of what only can be an up and coming Anthony Bordaine of Thailand!
There are many different categories of buses in Thailand and you can save a lot of Baht if you take them instead of taxis or Grab.
For most buses there will be a person onboard in a blue uniform who will walk around collecting fares and giving change. For the songthaew trucks, you hop on the back and pay the driver the flat fare at the end of the trip through the window.
The Bangkok bus routes (including the songthaews are all on Google Maps too so finding the right bus to get us to the Hua Lamphong train station was a breeze.
Riding the songthaew was an immersive experience riding up close with the rest of the Bangkok traffic, seeing motorcycles weave around you, and all the bustle of street life.
We boarded train 45 on platform 4, our overnight train to Padang Besar, the border with Malaysia. The train station had beautiful stained glass and a European style to the architecture.
Riding the train out of Bangkok we saw school kids walking the tracks, small corrugated tin villages under overpasses and by rivers, and a huge new multi-football field long train station being built in Bang Sue. Further out into the country, there were shadowed mountains in the distance at the end of rolling green fields, lush vegetation, a Temple in every town, and even the King’s sparkling summer palace on one hill.
We sat beside an elderly couple who spoke fluent English and had visited Toronto in 1975. He had worked for the Thailand Tourism Board and had been stationed in New York City for three years so he was familiar with our part of the world. He shared stories of their many travels, 4-5 trips per year, across Asia and Europe.
They were now off to Georgetown and then the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia. We decided to add Georgetown to our itinerary after his (and Pastor Pye’s back home) recommendation.
The train was loud with vendors coming every few minutes to sell food or drinks. Train staff came by around 6pm to start setting up the beds. This involves turning the facing bench seats into a flat bed, pulling down the upper bunk from the ceiling, and laying out fresh linens.
Suzie and I took our spots in the upper bunks and ended up falling asleep to the rhythm of the train car as it rolled through the near pitch black Thai countryside.
Two days in Bangkok left us appreciative of a new city and people, and looking forward to when we return.