Arrival in the Land of Smiles

Where has the time gone?

It’s been over two months since we’re back from our trip to Thailand, but the time really has flown by. Besides the usual post-holiday getting back to work routine, we’ve had what has felt like a busy social schedule, which has meant less time for blogging.

Finally, without further ado, our introduction to Thailand: not just Bangkok, but Chinatown in Bangkok, one of the oldest neighborhoods in this busiest of international cities. We loved every minute of it.


Our first day in Bangkok began early, with our flight from Doha landing at 7AM. After navigating customs, getting to and checking into our hotel (bonus points for having our room ready early!), we showered and were back out on the street to see the Bangkok we had been dreaming about. Our sights were set on Wat Arun, located on the Chao Phraya river and one of the most iconic images of Bangkok.

The ferry was about a 15-minute easy walk from our hotel in Chinatown. I’m not sure if Chinatown is the busiest neighborhood in Bangkok but it certainly seemed so. The sidewalks all the way to the ferry were lined with street stalls, so much that a 6-foot wide sidewalk was reduced to about two feet in some places, with vendors selling just about everything imaginable: clothes, bags, trinkets, jewelry, kitchenware, and, of course, food. Not anywhere near as much as there would be come evening though.

Wat Arun

Even when it’s covered in scaffolding, which it seems to be most of the time, Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn) is a spectacular sight. It did not disappoint, and even in the hot sun we spent a long time looking at the details of the incredible buildings there, climbing steep steps to get better views of the grounds.

After exploring every corner, we realized we were pretty hungry. We tried finding a little place behind the wat we had read about as being out of the way and very good, but apparently it was so out of the way we couldn’t find it. Undaunted, we returned to the ferry and caught the next one to the Grand Palace stop, figuring we would have lunch somewhere nearby and then visit the Palace. Well, we had lunch–a very good one, too; this was no garfunkel–but by that time our stamina was flagging so we decided to head back to the hotel so we could rest a bit before our evening’s activity: a street food walking tour of Chinatown.

Yaowarat Street Food

We had thought planning a walking tour of our neighborhood for the first night would be good, and we couldn’t have been more right. Our guide, who was just fantastic, brought us to six or seven (or maybe eight, I lost count) different street stalls and restaurants to taste many of the famous dishes in Chinatown. From dim sum to kuey jab, mango sticky rice to crab curry, fish ball soup to lychee and durian ice cream, everything was interesting and plentiful. It was all so good we truly neglected to take many pictures at all. We simply enjoyed the food, and the Chinatown street vibe.

All in all the tour was a great introduction to Chinatown, and street food culture, and we would highly recommend it. Very well fed and sleepy, we headed back to the hotel, happy that our first day in Bangkok was a success.

Read about days two and three in Bangkok, and check out more great pics of Chinatown (including lots more street food)!

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