Dec. 18th, 2017
Today we were bidding farewell to Pattaya and heading to Bangkok for a couple of nights (or so we thought…). We found out the best way to get to Bangkok is the North Bus Station that has continuous air-conditioned buses going directly to Bangkok. We headed there but first we needed to eat!
We found a place on our trusty Happy Cow app that offered vegan food options called Raan Thummachat. We got one of the trucks with seats on the back taxis but they dropped us a lot closer to the bus station than we wanted so had to walk about 15 minutes to get to the restaurant. We got there and everything looked vegan, they even had lots of fake meats that looked real. We had our doubts, but after some poking, prodding, and tasting we were convinced it was all plant-based.
When we got to the bus station after eating it was pretty simple if you knew which bus terminal in Bangkok you wanted to get to. I found out that the Ekamai Terminal was the closest one to our hostel in Bangkok so we bought the tickets for that one, which were only 108 thb (around $3.50 USD) per person! Compare that with the 1,500 thb (around $50 USD) it cost to go by private car or taxi. The traffic was pretty light so we got there in around 2 hours.
From the bus station it was about a 30 minute walk to our hostel so we just got a short taxi ride as our backpacks were about 30 lbs each. The hostel looked small and cozy from the outside. It was also a cafe so we had to walk through to get to the hostel bit. We were sharing a 6-bed mixed dorm, which luckily only had one other resident.
After settling in we went out for a walk to find a place to get a massage. There was no shortage of places along the road where our hostel was, but we got the feeling a lot of them were catering to a certain clientele and were willing to go the extra mile for anyone who would pay. We settled for a place that looked pretty legit, but unfortunately the massages were less than we were hoping for. From the few that I have had, I have found it is very hit and miss with small massage shops around Bangkok. For 400 thb (around $13 USD), one would be tempted to say “You get what you pay for!” However, sometimes it is amazing for that much and sometimes it is disappointing. Although, the same can be said for massages that cost $200 USD.
After our massages we were ready for the moment we had been waiting for since we decided to stop in Bangkok. A restaurant called Veganerie Concept, which was supposed to have loads of vegan dishes and treats we had been deprived of since we left Ubud, Bali 3 weeks ago. Well it certainly did not disappoint, and as we were enjoying our dinner we made plans to go there again for breakfast! Definitely not the cheapest place because we went a bit crazy ordering an appetizer, mains, and desserts , the bill for which came to a whopping 1,000 thb (around $31 USD). Hopefully someday soon, increased competition and availability of products will drive down the cost of eating delicious and creative vegan food. For the time being, I am more than willing to pay the extra price.
Dec. 19th, 2017
Today we decided on the Marriott Marquis hotel for our gym, as it was the closest and most reasonable priced one in this apparently high-roller neighbourhood along Sukhumvit Road. We paid 550 thb (around $17 USD) per person for all-day use of the fitness center, changing rooms, and outdoor pool. It is pricey, but we take advantage whenever we can as it is very few and far between that we get to make use of such nice facilities along our travels.
After our morning workout, we went to the Veganerie Concept restaurant again because last night we saw the most amazing breakfasts that we haven’t been able to find in ages. I had pancakes with vegan butter and maple syrup, and Sophie had belgian waffles! Everything was vegan and super delicious. I could eat there every day if our meager travel budget would allow.
After breakfast we walked for about an hour to get to Lumpini Park, which was really nice. We strolled around for a while but Sophie had a massive ache in her back and we went on search for a massage therapist that could ease her suffering. We found a place called Nillada Massage and Spa, and maybe on Tuesdays places in the area expect it to be slow because there was literally only one therapist working and luckily Sophie got in right away. Whilst Sophie was getting her massage several other people came in and I felt bad because there was nobody to greet them, I felt like the spokesman and told them what the situation and when to expect someone to be available. When Sophie was done she said the massage was good and had made some progress on her back.
We had our hopes up that we could get a vegan pizza from a place called Govinda’s Italian Restaurant. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until we were right out front that we saw the sign that stated it was closed on Tuesdays! Major fail, but we picked ourselves up and walked in a different direction and it was just minutes before we found a cool place called For Fit’s Sake that made vegan burgers on vegan buns, with vegan cheese! There was even a vegan cheese platter being advertised but we kept a lid on our piggy bank this time and just admired the picture. Food was boom boom and we left feeling great, light, and full of energy, which is not how I used to feel after eating a big beef burger (I usually felt heavy, bloated, and sleepy).
Dec. 21st, 2017
Today we went to a place called the Sriraj Medical Museum. Sophie had found out about this from a website called AtlasObscura. It was on a list of weird things to do in Bangkok and it definitely was. We got there by using the BTS sky train to Sathorn and then getting the ferry along the Chao Phraya river to the stop indicated on the map supplied for the museum.
There were a few sections to the museum, but we only managed a couple of them. It was really interesting and would recommend anyone staying in Bangkok to go check out if they want something a bit different, but don’t mind seeing creepy medical things.
Dec. 22nd, 2017
We finally got a chance to eat dinner at Govinda’s Italian restaurant and boy did we hit it hard. We both were the fullest we had ever felt since becoming vegan it was actually uncomfortable, but it was so worth it. All I can say is at least one visit is required to this amazing restaurant when in Bangkok.
Dec. 23rd, 2017
As a last minute decision we both felt that waking up on Christmas morning wouldn’t be right without gifts! So we gave each other 1,500 THB (around $50 USD) and a few hours alone to go forth and shop for each others’ Christmas presents. It was a challenge, since the malls we had easy access to were probably the most expensive ones in all of Bangkok. However, we were up to it and I at least managed to find some amazing bargains.
After running around malls for a couple hours we met up again and had lunch at our favourite food court vegan place called Walee Vegetarian. It is confusing in Thailand because some fully vegan places label themselves as vegetarian. For 80 THB (around $2.50 USD) you get a decent helping of rice and two other dishes on a plate. There are about 8-10 dishes to choose from and they all look great so it is always a difficult decision.
Dec. 24th, 2017
We went to a Yoga class at a place called Yogatique, which was not too far from our hotel. At 450 thb per person, it was one of the cheaper places that offered drop-in around Bangkok. An added bonus was that if it was your first visit you got a free 2nd visit. Score! After an invigorating class we decided we needed at least a day between our next class so we signed up for an afternoon class on the 26th.
This evening we were hoping to find some amazing Christmas light displays. I had read that a place called CentralWorld was a good place for that. So we hopped on the BTS train nearest to us called Asok and headed to Chit Lom which was only a few stops away.
Well there were some impressive Christmas displays in and around CentralWorld, which is basically a massive mall complex.
We found an awesome place to eat called the Flavour Food Court tucked away in the back of the food market. The Chang beer we picked up at the market was only 32 THB (exactly $1 USD) which was the cheapest one I had ever bought. There was a nice vegetarian food stall that we ate at, which was also great value for money. Our whole meal for the both of us including the beers came to around 200 THB (around $7 USD)!
After our meal we walked around for a bit longer before heading back home to get a good nights sleep before Christmas morning.
Dec. 25th, 2017
Christmas day had come! Sophie and I swapped our presents just like we would back home, minus the company of our family we missed very much. We both were surprised how well we each did with the amount of time and money we had given each other a couple days ago. For $50 Sophie was able to get me a nice jumper, a bag of candy, a packet of red wine, a chocolate bar, a bandana, and a Christmas card! Equally as impressive (I think) I was able to get Sophie a nice jumper, a packet of temp. tattoos, a small frog brooch, flip flops, and a Christmas card!
After the morning festivities, we treated ourselves to brunch at our favourite vegan restaurant in Bangkok, Veganerie Concept. I had pancakes again but a different variation than last time, and Sophie got a pesto panini wrap. My pancakes were amazing but Sophie’s wrap was off the charts good. We both left feeling so jolly.
Next we headed to the cinema to see what was playing. I wanted to watch Star Wars at the IMAX theater, but it was 2.5 hours long and we had something we wanted to do in the evening, which didn’t leave us much time given the film times. So we ended up going to Pitch Perfect 3. All I can say is luckily it was only 90 minutes…but it was somewhat entertaining. I think lovers of the other Pitch Perfect movies will enjoy it, but if you haven’t watched any of the other ones, don’t start with this one. If I could go back in time I think I would have tried to see The Greatest Showman instead, because the preview for it was at the beginning and it looked cool.
We had planned to continue treating ourselves on this Christmas Day by going to one of the highest rooftop bars in Bangkok for a drink or two before dinner. We decided on the Vertigo Moon Bar atop the Banyan Tree Hotel, which was the 2nd tallest in Bangkok next to the Lebua State Tower Sky Bar. We chose the Moon Bar because it opened at 5pm, whereas the Sky Bar opened at 6pm. It was amazing and we were able to watch the sunset whilst sipping on some wicked cocktails feeling like we were on top of the world figuratively and literally.
Our final act of the night was dinner at a place called Broccoli Revolution, which was a newish 100% vegan restaurant that had some rave reviews. Sophie ordered the Spaghetti and Meatballs and I ordered the pesto pizza. Both were really good and deserving of all the praise it was getting. I just had to get dessert so I ordered a slice of salted caramel cake, which left a smile on my face. With food this good, it is confirmation that animal products aren’t needed to make delicious meals, and also easy to see vegan food continuing its increasing popularity. Had we spent longer in Bangkok we would have likely eaten at Broccoli Revolution again.
Dec. 26th, 2017
Today was our last day in Bangkok, but our bus to Chiang Mai wasn’t leaving until 10:00pm so we had some time to play with. We went down to the free buffet breakfast provided by the hotel to see if there was anything we could have without too much fuss. There were the baked beans and potato pieces that had been standard all week, but unfortunately every day since the first time we came down the rice dish had egg in it. Sophie asked if she could have some rice with only vegetables and the chef obliged, which was great. I ended up having baked beans, potatoes, rice, cereal, and 2 small bananas. I was stuffed. After breakfast we went for a walk to digest before our yoga class later.
We went to another yoga class at Yogatique at 2:00pm, this time a different method, led by a different instructor. This one had more flow and strength building poses, which I preferred to the previous one that focused mainly on flexibility and breathing. The lady at the reception desk also happened to be the owner and told us a little about her path to opening the yoga studio, including the trials and tribulations that go along with opening a business as an expat from Canada.
Yoga had worked us up an appetite, so we went on the hunt for food yet again. As our last official meal in Bangkok we went back to a restaurant we had eaten at before called For Fit’s Sake, which had some good vegan options on the menu, including the first and only vegan cheese plate we have ever come across to date. We decided to go for it and were amazed at how delicious 3 out of the 6 cheeses were. The 3 amazing ones could have fooled me into believing they were soft cheeses made with dairy and went great with the accompanying bread and mixed-fruit jam that came with the plate. The other 3 cheese were a bit strange and watery, but still edible. So overall definitely worth a try for anyone interested in trying something different.
After our late lunch/early dinner (lunner?) we walked to the EmQuartier Mall to try the Bounce facility we had been excited about since we first spotted it several days earlier. Bounce is basically a place with loads of trampolines you can jump on. We spent a solid 30 minutes there and were pretty exhausted by the time we walked out. It was fun feeling like a kid again.
Before we headed to the bus station to catch our sleeper bus to Chiang Mai, we went to the Gourmet Food Market and got some killer salads from the salad bar there. There were so many good vegetables you could stuff into your bowl, by the time we were finished we could barely close our lids.
We made it to the Sombat Tour bus station at 9:00pm to check in for our 10:00pm departure. Not much to do there except wait, so that’s what we did. I started reading Don Quixote the classic, and Sophie started reading something called “I am Pilgrim” which was fairly new and had received good reviews.
When we finally were able to get into our bus we were pleasantly surprised at how comfy it was with loads of leg room and the ability to almost take the seat fully horizontal. You never really know what to expect the first time you buy a ticket on a bus or train that takes you somewhere overnight in 10 hours. There was even a TV screen behind each seat just like on some airplanes, which was exciting. However, the movie and TV program selection was so limited neither of us actually used it. I appreciated the fact it was there, nonetheless. Everything was so exciting and new the first 30 minutes with the attendant bringing us snacks and drinks, fiddling with the seat, playing with the TV screen, etc., I didn’t even realize the bus had been moving the whole time it was so smooth.
The whole bus journey went pretty smoothly, with only one bit of stress/excitement worth mentioning. We had stopped at around 2 am for a bus refuel and toilet break. Sophie walks towards the toilets and as she does tells me please to not let the bus leave without us. As she is telling me this, in my head I am saying “There is no way it would leave without us.” As she disappears from my view I look over to the bus and one of the drivers jumps out, closes all the doors, and starts pulling away from its parking spot. I stand there frozen, thinking it is just readjusting or something, but as it fully backs up and starts driving away I start to have doubts. I also start thinking what I am going to tell Sophie. Sophie comes back a minute later and the bus is nowhere to be seen and she starts freaking out asking where the bus is and why I let it leave. All I can say is I think it went over there and that it will be back in a minute, but I really have no idea where it went. I, outwardly calmly but inwardly frantically, start scanning around for people I recognize being on the bus with us and spot two others equally as confused as Sophie and I. We all walk-run in the direction of where it went and sure enough it was just in the refueling bay and when it was done returned to the exact spot it was before. Minor panic attack over. Other than that it was smooth sailing the whole way.