Monday, February 20, 2012

Bangkok Back Streets

On one side of our hotel, the Navalai River Resort, is its lovely riverside restaurant and ferry dock.  However, across the street is a whole other world. We took a break from palaces and pagodas to do some exploring there on our own.

We crossed a busy street where colorful taxis careened by at what seemed like breakneck speeds.  (Thank goodness we had been warned that traffic in Thailand does not yield to pedestrians!)

We found ourselves in a maze of narrow alleys lined with small restaurants, vendor stalls and other attractions.   We shared the street with dogs, small children, strolling vendors, shoppers and the occasional vehicle.  Here is what it looks like in the daylight.

At night, the area's character changes. No more casual shoppers strolling by....this is a happening place!   

The bars and restaurants are full, with food preparation taking place in front of many to entice diners. 

Prices were quite reasonable.  The exchange rate was 30 Thai baht to $1.00 US.  So, on the menu above, a nice red snapper dinner would cost $5.00!  Unlike Cambodia, however, all payments are made in the local currency.  It's easy to exchange dollars for baht, but they are not accepted in payment for goods or services. 

Along the street, foot massage parlors like this one are very popular. 

We were also intrigued by the "fish spas," like the one advertised in the image below. They consist of benches where people sit and place their feet in a large aquarium. Apparently the hungry fish nibble away at your feet and legs, producing (one assumes) a tittilating sensation. We took full advantage of spas in Cambodia and Thailand, where a one-hour massage usually cost about $8.  However, we resisted the urge to try out a "fish spa."

We stopped to investigate offerings at several of the food vendor stands. Most featured noodles, egg rolls and grilled meats in several varieties. 

Beer and cocktails were readily available, as well.

The restaurants, however, had full menus, with an emphasis on fresh seafood.  The people-watching was fantastic, and almost anything you could want was for sale.  

We enjoyed our evening outings, but did have to dodge frequent cars and tuk-tuks.   (We found out that, though the "alleyways" were narrow, they could still accommodate vehicles, so pedestrians beware!)

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