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Explore Bangkok By BTS

March 2, 2015

I’m not a practical person, nor am I a particularly logical one. I daydream. I never know the time. I see the world through spectacles tinted in the shade of what is desirable and convenient to me, a sort of lilacy-blue colour usually. I truly believe that I can bend the universe to my will, or whim actually, and as such am an absolutely terrible organiser, navigator and planner.

My boyfriend on the other hand is a sensible human being. Not only does he deal with the bulk of the practical matters related to travel, he also navigates the internet as though it’s an extension of his own brain, operating under the same cerebral patterns and rhythms. If there’s the tiniest nugget of information out there, he can find it. He should really put his research skills to good use by becoming a human rights lawyer or a missing persons detective but for now he uses his super power to find 24 hour dim sum restaurants and pharmacies that sell the good stuff you can’t get without prescription at home.

Sometimes though, doing your research will only get you so far and you have to explore like they did in the olden days before they invented smartphone GPS, trip advisor or travel blogging (irony?). One way to do this in Bangkok is to get on the BTS train, get off at a random station and just have a look around. Here are a few places we found by leaving the technology at home. (Obviously I didn’t actually leave my phone at home, I just put it in my pocket, I’m not Bear Grylls.)

Ekkamai BTS

‘Gateway’ Japanese Concept Mall
When I’m at home I hate shopping malls – cavernous, soulless places that smell like fried food and debt consolidation –  but in Bangkok I kind of love them. Malls in Bangkok are often places of decadence and excess but there are so many to choose from they can also afford to cater to the niche. The result is a handful of quirky emporiums that take their theme very seriously. Gateway is a Japanese concept mall which basically means that the décor is a greasy-haired anime fan’s fever dream and the shops sell an array of Japanese-made or Japanese-themed goods.

982/22 Sukhumvit Road, Prakanong
Ekamai
Click for map

Hannabachi Bakery Bangkok Ekkamai

Hana Bachi Bakery Cafe

Just a street away from Ekkamai BTS station there is a teeny little bakery café called Hannabachi. The girls who work there beam beautiful smiles at you from inside, the ceiling is covered with dried flowers that shimmer in the breeze from the air conditioner and the counter is covered with a spread of the most delicious-looking home bakes, it would be impossible not to go in. I ate a croque monsieur and walnut bun with a fruit tea and it was the best thing ever.

1/2-1/3 Sukhumvit Soi 63
Ekamai
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Sabai Jai Kai Yang

Bangkok is such a formidable culinary playground you can spend weeks here without feeling like you’ve experienced real Thai food. Gai Yang means grilled chicken and grilled chicken just happens to be my favourite thing to eat. A short walk from Ekkamai BTS station is the restaurant Sabai Jai Kai Yang. The restaurant is a huge open space generally crammed with locals and tourists alike. The food is primarily Isan which means it’s typical of the south of Thailand. Order the Tom Yum Soup, garlic-infused Gai Yang and Pork Laab Salad and feast like an emperor.

Soi 1 Sukhumvit 63
Ekamai
Click for map

Aree BTS (sometimes spelled Ari)

Numthong Art Gallery

Numthong Art Gallery is a small independent commercial gallery and exhibition space located on Phahonyothin Road, not far from Aree BTS station. Entry is free and when we stumbled upon it it was showing a series of drawings and installations entitled ‘Anxiety of Corvus’ by Thai artist Rook Floro. A little haven of contemporary art hidden amongst the streets of suburban Bangkok.

72/3 Aree 5, Phahonyothin Road, Phyathai
Aree
Click for map

porcupine cafe aree bangkok

Porcupine Café

Another place you could easily walk past, Porcupine Café is a little Italian coffee scented haven in the Ari district. The space is airy and calm and beautifully decorated. Yeah, it’s relatively expensive but travelling is tough, Bangkok is humid and I’m really, really lazy.

2/1 Phahon Yothin 7 Alley
Samsen Nai, Phaya Thai

On Nut BTS Station

On Nut Market

One side of the On Nut BTS Station is dominated by an epic Tesco Lotus store but the other side is home to an outdoor night market that sells primarily food. Bands play on stages directly next to each other creating a strange mash-up effect that isn’t entirely unpleasant after about eight Heinekens. I got a gel manicure here for £6 and ate an incredible grilled red snapper with rice noodles and chilli.

No listing for the market on Google maps but see map below for On Nut station.
Click for map

Ratchathewi BTS Station

The Rock Pub

To my knowledge Bangkok has only one rock bar and it’s located right next to Ratchathewi BTS station. Last time we watched a local band play there we were the only people there, unless you count the four heavy metallers drinking hard at the bar who we later realised were the band booked for the next night. The few times we’ve been there we’ve left too early for the place to really get going, a good thing because I’m not sure you’re even allowed to be in a rock bar wearing Birkenstocks. A nice nostalgia trip back to our own ill-fated rock bar back home. R.I.P. Trillians.

93/26-28 Hollywood Street
Building Phayathai Rat Tevee
Click for map

Coco Walk

Coco Walk is where the high school students of Bangkok go when they tell their parents they’re going to their friend’s house to do homework. It’s a small cluster of bars set in the midst of a residential area, cheap beer, shisha, bar snacks and many, many bottles of thai whiskey are on the menu. We saw at least three young thais, one of whom was in school uniform, get toe-scrapered out of the place before last orders and it was only Wednesday.

Click for map

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