The Ultimate Puzzle
50 districts confined in roughly 1.56 million km2 is home to over 13 million people in Bangkok.
If you zoom in a little closer, you’ll find me occupying a lovely 70m2apartment at the heart of Thong Lor, albeit deep inside a labyrinth maze of “Sois”, thai for streets. Technically, my place is accessible from Sukhumvit Soi 21, 23, 33, 35, 39, 49, 51, 53, or 55; Thonglor Soi 5, 9, 13, 17, 23, or 25, and Petchburi Soi 38/1. Yes, that’s right, “38/1”. That is (1) a sub Soi and (2) it starts from the main road. All roads lead to Rome, or so they say, and I am pretty convinced I live in the Coliseum. On a more serious note, I would like to take a moment and thank the inventors of the GPS system.
Sukhumvit road happens to be the longest road in Thailand, so let me scale it down to Sukhumvit Soi 39 and Sukhumvit Soi 24 junction. I am probably most familiar with this street, as I use it as my daily commute in and out of the maze frenzy, so I notice every little change.
This happens to be the most exciting time to be living in Sukhumvit Soi 39, if you happen to be a shopaholic. Emporium underwent a renovation, and a major expansion, and there is more to come. What Bangkokians are now referring to as the “M District”, encompasses the revamped Emporium, the recently opened EmQuartier, and the coming soon EmSphere. This is Em-azing. How many mega malls do we need in a 1km vicinity? Clearly three. I really wish I loved shopping. Why could they not build a chocolate factory around here? Seriously though.
Thong Lor Compilation
I have spent almost two thirds of my life in this neighbourhood between Sukhumvit and Thong Lor. I have seen Thong Lor transform from being merely a connector between Sukhumvit and Petchburi to a high end bridal street, then into a luxury furniture and kitchen district, and finally into then a food and beverage haven. All the phases of Thonglor are still evident today.
Thong Lor remains the number one spot to go bridal shopping and is still known to house extravagant furniture stores. The most fascinating transformation however, is the cosy and inviting restaurants and bars that have taken this short 2.5km road by storm. Restaurants and bars are in abundance on the main road, and have trickled into the Sois and sub Sois. To be honest, I cannot even begin to estimate how many restaurants are within this vicinity, or if this vicinity really ever ends, or if Bangkok is one giant food hub. Yes that is exactly it, one giant food hub.
My Inner F & B Enthusiast
I have yet to meet a Bangkokian, either local, expat, or third culture, that does not enjoy the food culture. If you can tell me you do not live to eat, then I would really be curious to know what you do with your free time in Bangkok. Clearly, I eat. If I did not have a full time job, I would probably be eating brunch everyday from 11am to 4pm. I can list about 15 to 20 brunch places that are under 1.5km away from where I live. I could probably list the same amount of workout options within this area. Just knowing that I have exercise options around me subdues my guilt for constantly overeating, which is a great bonus! Now, all I have to do is start working out.
If I am in the mood for some simple, delicious and authentic Thai cuisine, I usually make my way to Sukhumvit Soi 38 for some street eats (which is set to either shutdown or relocate in February 2016 because thats a discussion for another day). The variety is impeccable, and the food is delectable. I must provide fair warning here: although your wallet most definitely will not take a hit, your stomach might, so tread lightly and do not be too adventurous with the chilies. Another great option I always resort to is Tuk-Lae-Dee located in every Foodland. The flavours tickle my fancy every time.
After some eating, it is only fair to do some drinking. Live music, some drinks, and good company makes for the perfect Friday night out with friends; especially in Thong Lor, where there is ample selection. Aside from the upbeat, party-esque atmosphere, Thong Lor has some nice hidden gems and funky hangout spots as well for the young hearted who want a more cozy feel. You just really have to dig for them.
It’s Not Always Sunny in Thong Lor
Although living in the heart of the city has its perks that I thoroughly enjoy, a major drawback is the traffic. I think all Bangkokians can collectively agree on this. Luckily I have timed all the business rush hours, the dinner cruiser hours, the party goer hours to a T, and figured out the perfect way to beat the traffic: do not drive. I should just sell my car and buy a motorbike. However, this means I would lose the ability to use traffic as a scapegoat for being late, especially when in reality I am still in my PJs, waiting until the last second to get ready and pretending not to take traffic into consideration. I am not sure I am ready to give up this added bonus that buys me a bit more time and some sympathetic looks. So I guess I am going to go ahead and keep my car and deal with the traffic. To convert the lemons into lemonade, I do love being able to chime in on conversations about traffic, whether it is to complain, support the complainer (because lets be honest, misery loves company), debate the fastest routes, or use it as a space filler for awkward silences during conversations. I can almost guarantee, that this topic will come up at least once a day.
My glass castle
Luckily I only travel a maximum of 3km to get to places. If I venture out anywhere further, it is highly likely that I am going on vacation. I have to admit, I live in my own small bubble in Bangkok, and I like to think of it as an invisible glass castle, because just like a castle, I have everything I could ever need here.