Day one in Bangkok was pretty intense: navigating trains and subways, hitching a ride on the tourist boats we were trying to avoid, remembering to look right as we ambled across streets teeming with cars and zippy motorbikes (Thai traffic moves forward on the left), all under the heavy heat and humidity of the Thai sun. By the time we got back to the hotel on Tuesday night, we were baked (literally!). Still a bit jet lagged from the trip over, it was time for a break. “Tomorrow,” we said, “let’s take it easy.”
With the jetlag still in effect, taking it easy meant getting up at 6am. But, that was actually nice. We were able to take in our regular morning doses of Techmeme (me) and The New Yorker (Shelley). And, we were able to formalize our take it easy strategy, which turned out to be only 3 Skytrain stops and a block or two away from our hotel. The Mall.
Before hitting The Mall, however, we decided to stop in at the Big C, one of Thailand’s large department stores, to see what a Bangkok department store was like. It was actually quite similar to what you might find in the States in terms of layout, product shelving, etc. And, it conformed to the now popular department store + grocery store concept. While there were a great number of Thai products on display, the global nature of some US companies was readily apparent, too. Kraft Singles and Oreos were abundant (even the double stuffs). Lay’s potato chips were also available, but in local flavors like Seaweed and Clay Pot Crab, which made us chuckle.
We picked up a few snacks for the road (granola bars and such), but continued up the Big C escalators, where one of our guide books had tipped us off to a solid lunch option. We were not disappointed! On the top floor of the Big C was Food Park, a large food court with three very big food stations. It worked like this: put some money on a pre-paid debit card, swipe the card as you order what you like from each station, get refunded any money still on the card at the end of your meal. That little debit card made everything so very easy. Genius.
I ended up with a yummy noodle soup, and Shelley and I shared a bowl of durian with sticky rice for dessert. The texture and taste of the durian weren’t really to my liking, and, now, looking back at the picture, it really doesn’t look that appetizing to begin with. But, it is said that durian, the stinky fruit of Thailand, must be tried at least once. Well, done and done (for me anyway).
After our Big C adventure, we made our way across the busy street to The Central World Mall. Definitely one of the nicest malls I’ve ever been to. It was impeccably clean – the decor in all white to make the point – with 6 stories of swanky shops. I think I appreciated the building itself more than the shops it contained. But, Shelley’s face lit up immediately when she spotted her favorite “flowery” store from her time in London. We escaped this shopping experience with just one purchase – an umbrella for each of us. All the time we spent packing for this trip and neither of us thought about bringing along an umbrella. Go figure!