We thought we would spend our first day in Bangkok just walking around the area of our hotel, getting the lay of the land, and taking it easy, as there is a 2-hour time difference from Seoul, and we are still a little “off.” We walked into the mall next door, ICONSIAM, and were just shocked and delighted by how they had redefined the mall concept. Walk with us through our photos, as we start at a gorgeous teak wood-designed market section, with a low ceiling, fruit stands, lanterns, and an artificial stream with small kiosks that look like floating boats. Street food booths were set up along the walkway with some very, very inexpensive foods. We are talking, food prices from 1950! There were small chicken kabobs for 16 cents each. Most of the meals in restaurants along here were $4-6. Out on the street, they were selling corn dogs on a stick for 15 cents, while styrofoam takeout boxes jammed with rice, chicken, and salad went for 32 cents.
After that portion of the mall, it opened up a bit, starting with the elephants, and here come the upscale retailers: Gucci, Apple, Bally, and local companies. Every floor had something different to gawk at. We both said that this was the sort of retail space we thought we might see in Tokyo, but we didn’t encounter anything this lovely and interesting there. One floor housed a cineplex, and most of the movies were American in their original English, but with Thai subtitles. A lot of people who travel don’t think about seeing movies, just seeing the local sights. But over the years, we have found that you just can’t go all day, every day, You need some rest time. That is where movies are great, as you can sit in the dark for a few hours and rest your feet. The one time we don’t mind paying to see commercials is when they are in a culture foreign to us. The ads are in the local language, of course, and are sometimes hilarious…very simple and innocent, somehow. And they are a great insight into the culture. It is often a mental exercise trying to figure out what they are advertising as you watch it, and sometimes it ends and you still have no idea what they were selling. Blue jeans? Skin cream? Cell phone service? Cars? We have probably seen about a dozen movies in Asia this year, and the price is typically around $6. Popcorn and soda are about $3 each. A bargain!
Following the mall photos are a few views of the Chao Phraya River, taken from a terrace cafe on one of the upper floors. The river runs through the center of Bangkok and certainly is a part of the city’s vivacity. Do you see the skyscraper that looks like it is falling apart? That is the King Power MahaNakhon residential towers, the tallest building in Thailand, at 1,031 feet. Opened in 2016, it was designed with a spiral “helix” cut into the sides, creating many more units with balconies for views of the city. The Ritz Carlton owns 200 units in the building that sell for between US $1.1 and 17 million. The next to last last photo is some very happy ice cream that we encountered! And the last photo is fun…at the airport in Seoul yesterday was this happy robot walking around with gate and flight info on its belly. If you scanned your boarding pass, s/he gave you gate info and the status of your flight. It was neat.
As we walked around, we discovered a Thai massage shop across the street. We had seen a question posed on the Internet, “where can I find cheap Thai massage in Bangkok?” One answer was, “asking THAT is like asking, where can I find some rice in China?” Anyway, massages there are $8 per hour. We joked that we would just go in for 8 hours some day, and let them send in different masseuses as shifts changed and people went to lunch. If you have never had a Thai massage, it is heaven. You don a light shirt and short pants and lay on a mattress on the floor. No oil is involved. Rather, the whole experience is lovely pressure, pressing, stretching, walking on your back (yes, they are very petite and light), elbows being nuzzled into your back and legs, all followed by a scalp massage. A tour guide once described Thai massage as being like yoga, but they do all the work for you. They stretch you in ways you never knew you could be stretched. It is the most relaxing hour of your life. So, yes, we indulged…and made another appointment for tomorrow! We may have one every day, in fact. $8!!!!