Today, I found myself in the hustle and bustle of Bangkok, a city that had once been my playground in the days of my youth and is very, very familiar to me. But let's backtrack a bit.
The journey here was anything but smooth. It began with a less than favourable start—a delay to my eagerly anticipated journey to the heart of Thailand, Bangkok. My flight, originally scheduled to depart at 9 PM, was delayed not once, not twice, but an exhausting three times. Overpriced airport food, uncomfortable terminal seats, and an increasingly impatient crowd was my unwelcome company for what felt like an eternity.
But eventually, I was en route to my long-awaited destination. If only my forgetfulness hadn't decided to keep me company! In my rush to exit the transfer cap, I left a precious possession - my jacket I intended to get tailored. The disappointment was as immediate as the realisation, but this was only a minor hiccup in the grand scheme. I was on my way to Bangkok, after all.
Upon arrival, I was met by a familiar face. My date had graciously braved the muggy Bangkok weather to pick me up from the airport and with a warm smile, instantly making the journey woes evaporate. Despite the travel woes, I couldn't help but feel the giddiness bubbling up within me alongside the reassurance and knowledge that this would be an extraordinary trip.
Driving through the city was like diving headfirst into a pool of nostalgia. The cacophonous symphony of Bangkok's vibrant streets, the smell of sizzling street food, and the array of people that seemed to turn day into night felt like I was back home. Side note: I have not mentioned that I spent many years in Thailand due to my parents, so despite the traffic and the hum of city life, there was a sense of familiarity that was soothing in its own chaotic way.
Our destination for the next few days was the legendary Mandarin Oriental, the epitome of luxury nestled along the vibrant Chao Phraya River. As soon as we walked in, we were engulfed in the luxurious ambience that the Mandarin Oriental is famed for. From its exquisite decor to the impeccable service, everything about the Mandarin Oriental was a testament to unparalleled hospitality.
Our room offered a mesmerising view of the bustling Chao Phraya River. Watching the barges and taxi boats navigate the pulsating lifeline of the city, we couldn't help but be hypnotised by the rhythmic chaos. From our vantage point, the city was a living, breathing entity, its vitality visible in every vessel that moved along the water.
As evening descended, the city lights shimmering on the water, we decided to sample Bangkok's renowned culinary scene. We chose Plu, a restaurant awarded the Bib Gourmand for its excellent quality, value-for-money cooking. The food was exceptional, to say the least. I started with Kai Look Keuy, a comforting home dish of boiled eggs stir-fried in tamarind sauce. The balance of sweet, sour and salty flavours was a symphony on the palate. Then this was followed by the hearty Beef Penang Curry, a rich, aromatic dish that carried the perfect punch of spice. Despite sharing several other dishes, we ensured we left room for dessert.
For me, I chose the sublime Pumpkin Brulee, which added a sweet, satisfying finish to the meal.
We returned to our hotel, both pleasantly satiated and carrying the weight of the day's experiences, both the highs and the lows. The sounds of the river and the city still buzzed in the background, providing a lullaby as we surrendered to the comfort of the Mandarin Oriental's plush beds. Insert imagination here.
The journey's trials felt distant, replaced by the taste of delicious Thai cuisine and the comforting familiarity of a city I once called home. Despite the hiccups, Day 1 was the start of an adventure that I knew would be nothing short of amazing. As my eyes closed, the anticipation of what the next day would bring was my last thought before drifting off into a sound sleep.
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