Friends of ours visited Thailand with their primary school age kids last year. They were generous enough to share the results of all their research and planning with us, and consequently we are staying at the same accommodation and are taking part in many of the same activities that they did. Why reinvent the wheel! One of the activities they suggested was a walking food tour with Bangkok Food Tours, and that is how we kicked off the day yesterday. Our hotel was in walking distance from the tour meeting point. There were lots of interesting things to see on the way, including a full outdoor gymnasium and other sporting facilities all built underneath a massive bridge that spans the river Mae Nam Chao Phraya that winds its way through the centre of Bangkok.
Crossing the bridge way up high also allowed us to get a different perspective on the city – and to watch the traffic. Wow, the traffic – the taxis, tuk tuks, motorbikes, vans and private cars that speed their way through the city and dodge and weave rather artfully. Our traffic “highlight” experience last night included our taxi doing a U-turn across two completely packed and moving lanes of traffic in peak hour. He just kept on edging his way in and kept on turning – it was rather astounding to watch, and all the other drivers were very polite and gradually let him in. There is no way that anything even vaguely similar would happen back in Australia! I couldn’t do anything but laugh incredulously.
Our food tour took us to five different restaurants all within walking distance of one another, and also included visits to other local landmarks including a temple complex. Olive was a marvelous guide, and provided us with information about the style of food, the family running the business – in some cases the third or fourth generation – and encouraged us to try things that were out of our usual comfort zone.
I think that the most exciting thing on the food tour for us as parents was watching Clare actually TRYING different foods and even liking the curry chicken noodles!
Stella pretty much just stuck to eating rice and roti – and plenty of ice. There were lots of other interesting Bangkok sights to see as we wandered around, many rather ubiquitous.
And who needs a sewing room when you can do alterations on a street corner?
We were completely stuffed with food by the time that our tour finished. I really recommend it if you are visiting Bangkok – a great way to get a feel for the area and to sample some of the tasty wares. But I have to admit that the chilli factor in the cooking can be slightly problematic for us, even with dishes that we ask to be mild. Dan claims that he loves spicy foods, but he coughed, choked and spluttered a great deal after chomping down on something in the soup! Then it was back to the hotel for a couple of hours.
At this stage, I think that the pool is still Stella’s favourite activity. We decided to pop over to Khao San Road in the late afternoon so I could reminisce – I have been to Bangkok before, but only for a couple of days at the end of my backpacker year more than twenty years ago. The stalls and bars don’t seem to have changed much, except for all the free wi-fi. And I don’t remember eating doughnuts on a stick.
As soon as darkness began to fall, the area began to liven up and feel decidedly dodgy. It was definitely time to get the kids out of there and head home to the hotel. Clare didn’t like the touts, pushy vendors or the number of tattoo places at all – she felt quite uncomfortable. Stella was oblivious to all of that, and enjoyed seeing colourful hair accessories and trinkets. We crossed over to Rambuttri Road where the feel was more pleasant, and Stella soon did what she does and started dancing to some music that was playing outside a restaurant. She entertained a small crowd for a few minutes.
Well, it’s time to see if the rest of the family are awake yet. We are planning a trip to Siam Paragon today, especially to visit Kidzania which was recommended to us by a family we met in the pool. It will be interesting to see the contrast between Khao San Road and the luxury shopping centre of Siam Paragon! We will catch the sky train there for another local experience. So far, all is very good!