Photo of the day: Duck noodle @ street food stall in Chinatown
We got up a little earlier today to enjoy some final hot bowls of Pho at the hotel before our journey to the airport. The front desk was quite stressed when she found out that our flight was in 2.5 hours and we were still not checked out yet. So we quickly packed up and caught an Uber to the airport. We got to the airport with 1.5 hours to spare but it soon became apparent why the staff at the hotel were stressed. It took us almost 1 hour to check in (although we already checked in online), get through immigration and security, to finally reach our gate. Since the Vietnamese Dong is a closed currency, we spent our final 100,000 VND on a bottle of Starbucks Frappucino. The comedic thing about these small Vietnamese airports is the need for a shuttle to drive us 100m to board the airplane. I guess it would be kind of dangerous for us to walk along the runway.
The short flight to Bangkok gave me some time to start reading the Rough Guide for Thailand and learning more about its culture, food and sights. It was also then that we realized that we have yet to book our flight out of Thailand so we had to figure that out before going through immigration. So grateful for free airport WIFI. The Suvarnabhumi International Airport, was a big change from the smaller airports we’ve been used to in Vietnam. It’s modern and huge and full of people. There were many tour guides and drivers with signs in mainly English and Chinese, patiently waiting for their guests. There were official cellular carrier stalls set up with long queues of tourists hoping to get a local SIM. We joined the line and got ourselves connected. The SIMs here were definitely more expensive, costing double how much it costed in Vietnam. I got a 30 day 4.5G plan for ~$20 CAD and Aaron paid ~$30 for a 30 day, super fast 8G plan. Uber is again an option for transportation here so we got to our hotel in Chinatown within 45 minutes. We chose a higher-end hotel in the middle of Yaowarat or the Chinatown of Bangkok. This area is supposed to have very good street food and given we will be here during Chinese New Year, we thought it would be most appropriate.
It’s already 5pm and we did not have any food since breakfast so we were on a mission to find good street food. We settled in quickly and asked the hotel for recommendations for good food. They basically just said walk out and you will see food. I am already really missing the extremely warm and friendly service from the hotel staff in Vietnam, where we paid half or less of the cost that we paid for our accommodations compared to here in Bangkok.
As soon as we walked out, we noticed how busy the streets were. A lot of people were gathered around this seafood restaurant but the line up was too long for us tonight, since we were really hungry and wanted food right away. We kept walking and saw many seafood restaurants and shark fin and bird’s nest restaurants. There were also many fruits vendors, the most popular of which was the king of the fruits – the durian. We read there was a lot of good street food here but where were they all hiding. We finally found gold when came across a small street with many busy food stalls. To be consistent with our noodles-as-our-first-meal-at-any-new-destination tradition, we sat down for a plate of Pad Thai. We could not read the menu at all so we just said “Pad Thai?” then stuck in 2 fingers. We were happy that they were snack-sized, so we can try other food. We enjoyed how it wasn’t too sweet, like some of the ones we’ve had in Canada. There was a good mix of vegetables and we noticed it was a vegetarian version, with tofu and no meat. We then paid our 45 Bahts (~$1.73 CAD) and were on our way to the next stall. It is interesting how whenever there are multiple prices on a menu either here or in Vietnam, we always end up paying the higher price. I don’t mind paying more if they actually gave us the larger size or the more expensive option but I hope it’s not the mere fact that I am a tourist that I have the pay an inflated price.
Next, we had some duck noodles. We were asked to choose our noodles so I picked the egg noodle and Aaron had the glass noodle. I was very happy with my choice because it went so well with the broth the toppings. There was a variety of surprises in the noodles, not only duck meat, but also pork blood, liver, and ?tongue. It was all very tasty, especially the liver. We wanted to wander along Yaowarat some more but did not notice anything else we wanted to try so we walked back to this magical street for some pork skewers (Moo Satay). I appreciated how the vendor was very diligent in doing some good quality control, looking at each skewer carefully before giving it to customers. The ones which were undercooked were sent back to the cook. We had one order, which was 10 little skewers and came with a side of onions and cucumber as well as peanut sauce. This was exactly how Malays eat it too! They were sliced very thin so it doesn’t take a long time to cook. The stall was super busy and business kept coming so this was a way for them to not have a huge line-up. The knife skill of the lady selling this was amazing as she quickly chopping up a whole cucumber and onion to top up the supply. We paid our 60 baht (~$2.30 CAD) and enjoyed our little skewers on one of the table set up behind the stall. They were perfectly cooked and tasted even better when eaten with the veggies and peanut sauce. It’s been a long travel day, so we called it a night. I enjoy travelling but getting from point A to B is always so tiring and makes me feel like I’ve waste one whole day. It’s Chinese New Year day tomorrow! I already see a bunch of people visiting the temples in hopes of lighting the “first incense of the year” for good luck.