Bangkok is like a whirlwind; just crossing the road you’ve got to get into the flow. The taxis are pink, green, and bright blue, and everywhere the little for-hire motorbikes and wagons are streaming. On every corner are food carts, with savories or fresh fruit. All the fruit is amazing.
Shopping in the city ranged from intensely local street markets, like this amulet market, to metropolitan malls as stylish as any I’ve seen in the west, and filled with all the same brand names (from Hermes, Chanel, Gucci to Abercrombie & Fitch or Starbucks.)
The amulet market was a section of the city, a few blocks, devoted to selling small charms, deity figures, buddhas, and the like. Technically, Buddhas can’t be sold, they can only be rented for religious purposes.
Inside the malls in the other part of town, prices are still lower than urban western cities, but only by about 30%. Renee and I visited a grocery store within one of those giant mall complexes, and it was more elaborate and beautiful than any Whole Foods I’ve ever visited in america: we walked around for an hour marveling at the variety (and entire aisle labeled “Chips, Cuttlefish, and Peas”? how specific) , the piles of mysterious giant and colorful fruits, and the endless sweet samples provided on toothpick by smiling employees.
Renee has the food in Bangkok down to a science, and I like predictability, so we ate every morning at Ricky’s, a french/vietnamese/thai styled place that served western food, good coffee, and fresh fruit. Every lunch and dinner was at one of the two Mai KaiDee locations. Mai KaiDee, the owner, runs a fully vegetarian business, and when she heard from Renee that I was coming to town and mostly ate raw, she was excited to try out new raw dishes with us. So, despite my plan to be flexible about food in Thailand, raw vegan has proved readily available, and amazingly delicious.
Mai KaiDee, who also does classic thai dances, impromptu, during dinner, may be opening up a location in the US- if so, it will be incredible. Her version of thai vegetarian is better than any I’ve ever tried in america.