While the wats and markets were pretty representative of other places we’ve been in Thailand (though the Grand Palace was by far the most extravagant), I also loved the ‘city’ side of Bangkok.
The nightlife in Bangkok caters to all kinds of wants – there are several areas of mega clubs (which we skipped), nice jazz bars (LOVE), Khao San Road (a backpacker area full of bars which we skipped) and other random bars and restaurants. On Saturday night, we headed over to Saxophone pub, one of the top jazz bars in Bangkok. No cover, but drinks were about $6-7 /each (not bad considering you also get free entertainment). The Thai jazz band that was playing was pretty good, though we were seated in an area where we couldn’t see them. They played a set and then we moved as people left before the next set and got great seats right in front of the stage. An hour later, the next band finally shows up and starts a solo sax number. I’m enjoying the mellow sounds when all of a sudden, the next song comes on and the band (Rhythm Nation) is singing to “My Boo”! The girl had an awesome voice (she was Vietnamese but had kind of an American accent) and proceeded to do other songs by Adele, Alicia Keys, Rihanna and other pop songs. At one point, the lead singer’s father came up and busted out with “What a Wonderful World” with an amazing Louis-like raspy voice – hilarious – we were listening to an older Vietnamese guy sing Louis Armstrong like he would in Thailand! Even though it wasn’t the jazz music we were expecting, we had a great time listening to the cover band and dancing along, first in our seats, and by the end of the night, in front of the stage 🙂 The bar was a good mix of Thais and farangs – the encore song was a Thai song and it brought down the house!
A couple nights later, we tried another jazz bar, Brown Sugar, which was really cute, but empty on a Monday night. We also got there late so only heard a few songs by the band. It was 12:30am and we weren’t ready to go home and were trying to decide between heading over to Khao San road which we were close to or going to a bar that we had passed on the way to Brown Sugar that had a live band and groups of young Thais hanging out. We decided to check out the latter (Rolling Bar) and had a great night! We ordered a pint of Sangsom whiskey (the whole pint cost $6!) and ended up hanging out with a group of 20 something Thais, an American who was a real estate developer in Thailand and a Canadian who made films in Thailand. The Thais were all young professionals, spoke decent English and fun to drink with! One girl cracked me up (a former model apparently) – “I don’t like going to Khao San Road – all the men think I’m prostitute! I’m not a whore!” and a gay guy kept trying to make Samir jealous by fawning all over me. Best random night so far!
Overall, that was a really normal day – we had walked around the mall, shopped for a polarizing filter for my camera, watched a Thai movie (side note – before the movie started, we had to stand up for a tribute to the King! I think Obama should start doing that… it’ll go over really well!) and went out. Our last day, we went to the BACC (Bangkok Art and Culture Center), and later got massages. I loved the BACC – it’s a center that encourages and exhibits contemporary art. Structurally, Samir says it resembles the Guggenheim, but I loved the energy there – so enthusiastic and creative! Definitely a must visit!
The photo above is a Philippe Ramette creation – he stages himself in thought provoking poses and then has a photographer take a picture – none of his work is photoshopped – really interesting exhibit!
Even though Bangkok is definitely not for the budget backpacker if you want to enjoy all it has to offer, I could see myself living there as a working professional… maybe one day!