May 17, 2019 By bangkok7
Well howdy-ho, friend. It’s Friday. Time for another frowback from way back in 2018. I believe our pals over at Sweet3Mango first published this one. It’s part of my currently-on-hold Thai Therapy series exploring the ways that relocating to Thailand can improve your quality of life. This one covers a topic close to my heart, because I spent much of my young life bored out of my mind. Here’s the article as it was first posted those long months ago:
“Greetings from the Land of Smiles, I am Seven. I live the dream on your behalf, in case you’re unable. Today’s Thai Therapy is a no-brainer, but it deserves some analysis. Not for those of us in the know, but for the throngs of people who, likely unbeknownst to them, are living completely mundane lives simply because they think that’s how life is meant to be. I know I certainly did.
I grew up in Los Angeles, and on the sliding scale of stuff to do, that city ranks quite high, compared to small towns worldwide and even sprawling urban gems such as Houston or Denver. An LA native scoffs at places like Houston and Denver. Having said that, unfortunately the catch-22 of living in LA is that most people can’t afford to enjoy the pleasures the town has to offer. In my teens I spent my weekends combing through record shops on Melrose Avenue in Hollywood, having saved and saved to buy the latest Smiths or Cure import. I could borrow my dad’s car but couldn’t afford insurance, and so most of the time I sat in my room all day listening to Morrissey sing about Northern England. In my 20s I burned every penny I made going to concerts and clubs on Sunset Boulevard and ducking in and out of chic bars and sushi bars, bumping shoulders with TV stars with barely a passing glance. Dating was a nightmare of one-upmanship, where even a hag from the Valley conveyed the pretense of a celebrity, so I rarely wasted time or cash on that fruitless endeavor. Looking for a partner in LA is like looking for a needle in a stack of assholes. Instead, by my 30s, I resigned myself to sitting at home watching cable TV with my roommate, spending most of my earnings on expensive wine and cigars night after night, weekend after weekend, year after year. Occasionally by some accident of fate I acquired a girlfriend, and switched to watching cable TV with her every night and spending twice as much money on wine. If it wasn’t concert season, there was no reason to leave the house. Once a week I drove out to Malibu to smoke a Padron and drink beer and stare at the ocean. The rest of the time I sat at home, too poor to do anything else, too exhausted by life to try no-cost activities like hiking. That decade was a low-grade malaise of non-events. Of TV and wine. And I thought that was how life was supposed to be lived. I didn’t know there were alternatives.
Contrast that with life in Bangkok, where I’m usually out 6 nights a week. I sometimes sit in my apartment, trying to remember what it was like to pass the days reclined, indoors, eyes on a screen, inert, inanimate, uninspired, unaffected, in stasis, hibernating, waiting for something to happen. It’s like a dream now. I can’t sit still now. Five years on, I still haven’t experienced everything this city has to offer. In fact I’ve barely made it beyond a one-mile radius of my home. There’s so much to do and see that it boggles the mind. Unless one makes a list:
Restaurants. If you’re a foodie, this is one of the top places in the world. You could eat at a different joint every night for a decade and not hit the same place twice. And every possible type of food can be found here. And the price tag varies just as widely. Obviously, Thai food here in Thailand is the best in the world. But shockingly, there are also an innumerable collection of fantastic eateries showcasing food from all corners of the globe. A gastro-tour of Bangkok is a truly exhilarating adventure.
Clubs. I don’t go clubbing, but it’s all my coworkers talk about. The club scene in this town thrives with a vibrancy rivaling Ibiza or Rio. Although people might party with slightly less abandon than those places, the music, venues, drink specials, and quality of clubber are as good or better than those places. And to call Bangkok’s Thai high society partiers “beautiful people” would be an understatement.
Bars. In a city where speak-easies are still a thing, where craft beer is illegally produced and quietly consumed, and hip locations range from riverside to rooftop to back alley to basement to the Waldorf, the best barflies are spoiled for choice. The most refined cocktail connoisseur could spend a lifetime here and not imbibe of all that’s on offer.
Live music. It’s true that the biggest names in the biz rarely make a foray out to this corner of the globe, though the concert scene is getting more palatable (The Killers just passed through). But besides the famous acts, you could wander into any random nightlife entertainment zone anywhere in the city and hear a pretty decent band pumping out cover tunes with expert precision. Two of my faves are the Bangkok Beatles and the Midnight Ramblers (a Rolling Stones cover band), both of whom play in Patpong regularly, at both Paddy Field and Shenanigans. They’re just fantastic.
RLDs. The most famous red light district in the world is in Amsterdam, but Bangkok’s 3 adult entertainment zones are all tied for a close 2nd place. Though they don’t glow quite as bright these days, what with the junta crackdown and the global economic downturn, they still make 90% of the rest of the world look like a trash dumpster. Are there hotter girls in Vegas? Sure, but a night out in Vegas is a $500 to $1,000 affair. I often spend under $30 in the RLDs in BKK. A good time here really comes down to your attitude. Do you appreciate a no-cover charge gogo with cold beer and scantily-clad dancers? Because that’s what you get. And if you’re feeling up to it, and if she wants to, you can potentially find a companion for the evening. That sure as hell won’t happen in any club in LA, that’s for sure.
Cultural Points of interest. Some of the most beautiful, ornate, historical and culturally rich locales can be found in Bangkok. There’s the Royal Palace, the floating market, and Wat Pho just to name a few. The city is chock full of awesome landmarks. I don’t know much about them because I stick to strictly nightlife-related mischief, but Google has a whole list, and Sweet3Mango often does features on such places.
Shopping. Bangkok covers both ends of the shopping spectrum, For awesome bargains, hit up Chatuchak, the Patpong Night Market, and MBK. For high-end Rodeo Drive-type shopping, head over the Siam Paragon or any of the other ritzy malls in town. And if you’re in the market for gold, silver, or precious gems try Chinatown and Charoen Krung Road going north away from Silom Road, and Silom Road between Charoen Krung and Naradiwas. Lots of little hidden gemstone stores there.
Nature. If you’re into this kind of thing, Bangkok is abundant with life—not just the human kind, but also the vegetative, in the form of parks. Here’s an incomplete list: Princes Mother, Saranrom, Romaneenart, Lumphini, Benchakiti, Benchasiri, Queen Sirikit, King Rama IX, Santiphap, Sanam Luang, Wachirabenchatat, Santi Chai Prakan, Sri Nakhon Khuean Khan Botanical Garden, Rommaninat, and Phuttha Monthon. And that’s not even half of ‘em. So if you’re a park lover, you’ve got your work cut out here in BKK.
Sports and Leisure. Driving ranges, spas, polo, go-karts, roller coasters, football, tennis, badminton, basketball, skateboarding, biking, running, working out, cricket, wall climbing, surfing, shark diving, skydiving, and of course Muay Thai are all on offer in Bangkok. Google what you wanna do.
I’m sure I’ve missed some of the other things you can get up to in this amazing funtropolis. The long and short of it is, if you’re here and want to do something, whatever that something is, you probably can. Personally, I haven’t tired of the RLD’s, and it’s been 8 years. If I eventually do, I’ll probably try one or more of the above activities. In the meantime, I’ll just keep a low profile. But if you’re stuck somewhere in the world and you want to change your day-to-day from dull to damn! and your life-tank from empty to full, get on a plane and get here. And get busy living.
Or if you can’t, you can try living vicariously through me via my Twitter @BangkokSeven and/or the photo archive on my FB. But I hope you can get here, because it’s pretty awesome here.”
Full disclosure, I’ve yet to try most of the things on this list. Most of the time, I’m content to do as little as possible. A whole day of lying on the sofa watching Youtube videos isn’t an uncommon activity for Seven. To my credit, I’ve taken a few small steps towards decreasing the number of boring days in my calendar. I’ve started painting and sketching again–a hobby I quit back in 2009. I’m teaching myself to play the ukulele. I sporadically exercise. That all adds some variety to my usual routine of work-eat-bang-Pong-sleep. And that’s better than nothing. So cheers to everyone doing better than nothing in this, the greatest country on Earth–Thailand.