One night in Bangkok and the world’s your oyster.

Twenty-seven nights in Bangkok and … well … you probably haven’t eaten oysters in a month. But you have seen the pearls of a Lady Boy pop out of a bright green, nylon G-string.

soi-cowboy-bangkok-dancer-lady-boys-sahara-cat-calling-buddha-drinks-fanta-9468That wardrobe malfunction left her masculine side exposed … but her raw embarrassment, that quick hand-to-mouth moment of delicate humility, was undeniably feminine. Lady Boy cabaret shows are the strangest/best things ever.

Two days ago, we also saw a dragon crawl out of a backwater, river sewer drain. It was bigger than a pitbull from Michael Vic’s private stock. The Water Monitor advanced in broad daylight towards a group of Burmese men, who were building a three-story structure without so much as a rope or decent hammer.

They waved hello as I floated past, leaning over rickety bamboo scaffolding to watch the massive reptile. Somewhere last night, I feel sure that the scent of sewer-spiced flesh filled that riverside, the sound of scales blistering on a fire and the happy shouts of a free meal in an otherwise impossibly hard life.

This is what happens when you spend 27 days in Bangkok, instead of just one night.

Sometimes, reptiles crawl out of the pipes with Elvis-worthy swaggers. Then the modern day indentured slaves living in this city eat them for supper.

Whaaa???

Whaaa???

Twenty-seven days. It’s the most time I’ve ever spent in this city. Hell, it’s the most time I’ve really ever spent in a city I don’t live in. Some days stretched out like bored cats, lazy on warm windowsills. Others I exhausted without stopping, eating dumplings from small plastic bags with a long, thin skewer to bring them from bag-to-mouth as I moved continuously.

The ability to do everything slowly, or nothing at all, to move through a town without fear of missing out … knowing that I’d have tomorrow or the following day or the day after that for whatever struck my fancy … has been a blessing that I’ve not once taken for granted this past month.

Want the best view of Wat Arun at sunset? Head to the Sala Rattanakosin hotel. Take the spiral stairs to the very top and grab a seat and a cocktail. Every direction gives views of temples lit up at dusk

Want the best view of Wat Arun at sunset? Head to the Sala Rattanakosin hotel. Take the spiral stairs to the very top and grab a seat and a cocktail. Every direction gives views of temples lit up at dusk

I’m in Phuket at the moment. After this, I’ll head to Manila, with a week in Indonesia. I got pseudo-invited to a wedding in Fiji. It could happen.

It just occurred to me, however, that I only have one more night in Bangkok. One measly layover between Phuket and Manila. And no earthly clue when I’ll be back. There. Now. For the briefest of moments, I felt my first fear of missing out since arrival. Well … not missing “out.” Just missing this place entirely.

I’m so enamored with this town. I have been for quite some time. Not because it’s lovely (and it is) but because it’s weird and crazy. It’s got a certain Vonnegut-ness. (Yes, that’s a verb). It’s got spice and vigor – found in the dishes and people, just as easily as in the calloused hands of a massage girl and cancerous perfumes belched from a Tuk Tuk’s back cannon.

Maybe the cracks in the façade are the pearls. I’ll ruminate on that for a while, but I’m a bit sad tonight in all this realization. This portion is over for me now.

On a nostalgic note, here are my favorite spots. I hung out in each more than once and if you should visit, try to do so too.

The Talad Rot Fai Vintage Market. It's the size of 3 football fields and they sell everything from old Corvettes to army tents to used Converse. Thursday - Sunday night weekly

The Talad Rot Fai Vintage Market. It’s the size of 3 football fields and they sell everything from old Corvettes to army tents to used Converse. Thursday – Sunday night weekly

To get to the Rot Fai market, you'll need maybe 20 to 30 minutes in a taxi. It's just beyond town.

To get to the Rot Fai market, you’ll need maybe 20 to 30 minutes in a taxi. It’s just beyond town.

Or, you can shop in Ekkamai, at Soi 10 - a little cluster of vintage shops, anchored by (Un) Fashion, a coffee-shop, shoe-shop that specializes in heels from the 1980s and a damn good latte

Or, you can shop in Ekkamai, at Soi 10 – a little cluster of vintage shops, anchored by (Un) Fashion, a coffee-shop, shoe-shop that specializes in heels from the 1980s and a damn good latte

un-fashion-shoes-cafe-coffee-vintage-buddha-drinks-fanta- bangkok-vintage-ekkamai-thailand-jenny-adams-freelance-03462

For drinks, DO NOT skip the Thonglor neighborhood. Here you'll find Smalls, shown on the left side. And also WTF bar and Opposite Mess Hall (right hand image) both cool art gallery / cocktail bars with an adjoining alley

For drinks, DO NOT skip the Thonglor neighborhood. Here you’ll find Smalls, shown on the left side. And also WTF bar and Opposite Mess Hall (right hand image) both cool art gallery / cocktail bars with an adjoining alley

I can't say enough good things about Smalls. It would be my local if I chose to remain here. They serve 20 kinds of absinthe and there's a tiny, open rooftop with ramshackle, old French furniture and great classic Daiquiris

I can’t say enough good things about Smalls. It would be my local if I chose to remain here. They serve 20 kinds of absinthe and there’s a tiny, open rooftop with ramshackle, old French furniture and great classic Daiquiris

Seven Spoons was a bit hard to locate, but once I did, I ate here three times. The menu is hearty Western fare. Excellent rib-eye and a great cranberry based cocktail.

Seven Spoons was a bit hard to locate, but once I did, I ate here three times. The menu is hearty Western fare. Excellent rib-eye and a great cranberry based cocktail.

Any great night out begins, middles and possibly ends with Maggie Choo's. Designer Ashley Sutton set out to recreate Old Siam and succeeded. I can't shut up about the sliced pork appetizer. Or the ladies who get paid to simply stand still and look like this.

Any great night out begins, middles and possibly ends with Maggie Choo’s. Designer Ashley Sutton set out to recreate Old Siam and succeeded. I can’t shut up about the sliced pork appetizer. Or the ladies who get paid to simply stand still and look like this.

 

 

Jenny Adams is a freelance travel writer, author and photographer.
She currently contributes to a number of publications, including National Geographic Traveler, Hemispheres, American Way and Imbibe.

She’s the former Bar Columnist for the Miami Herald, the current Copy Editor at Robb Vices and is also wrestling a half-written novel, set in New Orleans.

Jenny’s got an knack for getting lost, an addiction to full-fat cream cheese, and a deep and abiding love for every Water Buffalo she’s ever seen.
Her bookshelf is mainly Tom Robbins, her favorite word is ‘visceral,’ and you can find out more about her at www.jennyadamsfreelance.com.

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