THE LOWS AND HIGHS OF BANGKOK
From street food to rooftop bars, eating and drinking in Thailand is all about extremes
Bangkok’s food and drink culture is as fragrant and funky as an inner-city back lane on a sweltering day. But in a good way. It’s an assault to the senses; a squealing riot of colour muddled with nose-tingling aromas, pungent flavours and bracing vibrancy. A potent cocktail. This modern foodobsessed city sprouting out of gritty soil strongly suggests dashing “Pad Thai, hold the spice” directives and diving face-first into the welcoming carnival of exotic street feasts and rooftop tonics.
Leapfrog through people traffic into hidden slipstreams where wide-smiled food vendors taunt and tantalise the ravenous. Streetwise Guru Tours is the brainchild of the Anantara Bangkok Riverside Resort and Spa. Operating almost daily in peak season, the intensely enjoyable experiences are hosted by laneway-savvy staff who navigate confusing city pockets on a quest to source sizzling meats and other specialties.
The head concierge formally known as Waiyawit, “Diamond Geezer” (a nickname that stuck for better or worse), swings through a tangled maze of food carts, perfumed flower markets, ornate temples and cultural signposts while wrangling tuktuk transactions and unwrapping Bangkok’s juiciest secrets.
Figuratively seasoned with intoxicating folklore, loaves of spongy bread are torn and tossed into the Chao Phraya river – an offering to finned friends in return for curing ills. Flip a catfish to eliminate stress, or if you’re seeking long life, you’d best send river snails sailing.
At Wat Yannawa temple, life lessons shared by a saffron-robed monk carry tour members over into laneways popping with lime-spritzer fishcakes, aromatic grilled pork and crisp spring rolls before they pause to inhale delectable sticky rice with mango cheeks and coconut cream at Boonsap dessert shop.
Impatient motorbikes compete for space in a covered bazaar that is surging with trashy treasure so cheap it sends even bargain shoppers into spasms.
Ambling forward, clutching bags of icy coffee laced with enough condensed milk to keep an elephant charging, the group lunges into an alley for golden, fried chicken wings and white guava slices dipped in chilli salt. Through Chinatown’s narrow streets, the banquet continues at a pace that’s guaranteed to satiate you.