1/15/2010

01-15-10 - Thailand Advice and Ideas

Bangkok : personally I would skip all the temples and palaces and the whole old city area, which is dead and boring. The most interesting things in Bangkok : 1. Sukhumvit road area for street life; this is where the city is really alive now; 2. rooftop hotel bars; there are lots of good ones and they are open air with hardly any railing, it's an amazing experience; 3. old canal neighborhoods from boat taxis, and the tiny dense alleys/streets of chinatown (during the day).

Andaman Sea : don't bother with Phi Phi. Pretty much all the islands look similar, so pick them based on nice places to be, not the sights/scenery. Having your own yacht here would fucking rule Jesus though; you could go to all the little spots that the ferries don't go. There are so many islands with not much distance between them that hopping around by you own boat would be a delight. I'm told that the scuba out at the Surins and Similans is still good, dunno if that's true. Personally if I was to go again I'm interested in the Ko Phayan / Ko Chang area just as a nice place to hang out; generally I like the feel better on the islands that have a real working native population like Ko Yao, Ko Jum, Ko Sukorn, so they aren't just all tourism. I think maybe the Mergui archipelago in Myanmar is the real good place to go now. It's easy to feel like it's too crowded on the resort islands, but really it's in its infancy still; most islands only have a few little bungalow operations; it's not like Mexico or the Carribean or something where there are just hundreds of mega-resorts with all-inclusive packages and huge buildings and all that.

Street food : there are some things I didn't learn about eating street food until the end that would have been useful. A big one is just that usually the easiest way to order is just to sit down at a table. The street food people will have their cart, and some Thais will stand at the cart and order food to go; but they will have tables set up too, and you can just wave at some and say hi and sit at a table and they will come over and take your order. Ordering at the cart can be hard if there's a crowd. There are two major types of carts : noodle carts and stir fry carts. Stir fry carts are hard to order from because they make a bunch of different dishes, basically real Thai people will walk up and just name different ingredients and the wok lady will cook them all. Noodle carts are very easy to order from; usually they have a few types of noodles, and a few types of meats, all of which will be hanging in the cart for you to see, so you can just point to them (or you could learn a few words so that you can say "pork" and "egg noodle"). There are also pad thai carts that generally only make that one dish so are the easiest of all, and reliably good. The best street food areas have a bunch of tables which are shared with a few carts; in this case you can just sit at a table and order from a few different carts and get a variety meal. A lot of the times the meats are very strange bits of anus and gristle; the best way to get edible meat is from a street barbecue guy. The street barbecue guy rarely takes your order directly, and he's often 50 feet away from the seating area, so you have to point at him from your table.

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