I am the first to admit it; Bangkok is not my favourite city. I find it hot and seedy, too mawkish and garish, the air too close and the streets too cluttered. I don’t like the piles of tourist crap, the scamming taxi drivers or the fact that it takes forever to get anywhere. But the food – my god the food. Every night, street sellers assemble along roadsides across the city, their stalls and food carts clustering together on corners. Shiny aluminium topped tables are set out and wiped down, set with boxes of chopsticks and condiments for adding; hot, sour, salty and sweet, to the dishes of food.
There are stalls selling every kind of delicious snack imaginable; steaming bowls of noodles swimming in perfumed chickeny broth, omelettes packed with vegetables and spices served in heavy skillets, sticky piles of satay, buttery cobs of corn, sweet and spicy pad thai topped with a crunch of peanuts, creamy coconut ice-cream and huge wafer thin pancakes slathered in chocolate and honey and bananas. Customers perch on plastic stools by the roadside, eating from polystyrene trays and sipping heavy glasses of Chang, whilst vendors in brightly coloured aprons fry noodles and eggs in pools of hot oil and top dishes of vegetables and pork with freshly cut chillies, coriander and Thai basil.
So last time I found myself with a couple of days to kill in Bangkok – I ate. I didn’t visit the grand palace, or shop at the markets, and I definitely didn’t hand over money to watch a woman spit ping pong balls out of her vagina. I wandered from stall to stall, nibbling a hot crunchy springroll whilst picking out the next delicacy to try, and I ate until I couldn’t eat any more. And I can’t think of a better use of my time.