As yet another trip to the Land of Smiles approaches, I can’t help but revel in the couple of short, hurried days I’ll be spending in Bangkok before heading for more relaxed, tropical destinations.
I’ve written about Bangkok before. Not a city of sights, really, but more a town in which to construct your own memorable experiences. And one that I’d recommend to all is visiting one or several of the plethora of rooftop bars -also called sky bars- on offer. Each with its own unique character, budget requirements – and, of course, views.
My first skybar experience in Bangkok was a weird one. The Bar, Octave Rooftop Lounge andBar, on Sukhumvit soi 57 (Thonglor) was as high up as it was swanky, yes strangely quiet. The reason: it was a Sunday on which a referendum was being held, and so, following the usual practice in Thailand, no alcohol was sold in bars, restaurants or 7-Elevens.
So that meant mocktails instead of cocktails, albeit to fantastic 360 views.
That same week, I got to discover Above Eleven, an atmospheric rooftop bar and restaurant perched up above what was to become my favorite Sukhumvit soi – you guessed, it, soi 11! Luck had it that met up with a former student of mine and her boyfriend. We shared travel stories, drank a gin-and-tonic or two, and decided after some analysis that the views from the gents’ were more stunning than those from the ladies.’
A year later my Thai friend Ek and I hit Vanilla Sky, a quieter option also on Sukhumvit (Phrom Phong), East of Asok. Here the circumstances were most unusual: I had taught as a guest teacher at KMUTT, one of Bangkok’s universities, and was enjoying what felt like an after-work celebratory drink, my smart shirt still sweaty from the action with Thai students and lecturers out in Thonburi.
It felt so good, really. The drinks were tasty and reasonably priced and the bar hit the right cord with me: spectacular enough yet not touristy in the least. As I finally relaxed after an exciting yet stressful day, I wondered what it would be like to actually live in the City of Angels, maybe getting a short term appointment at a Thai university while taking a year leave at home. Then, I dreamed, I’d be able to enjoy rooftops weekly, insanely tasty food daily, and perhaps a monthly escapade to tropical destinations as Kanchanaburi or Samet.
Oh well… The working of the mind when on holidays. But maybe that’s one of the most addictive things about travel: getting glimpses of different possible lives, cause one just doesn’t seem to be enough. Or, as Thoreau put it much better in Walden:
At a certain season of our life we are accustomed to consider every spot as the possible site of a house.
Want to learn more about Bangkok’s rooftop bars?
Rooftopguide.com offers the most comprehensive guide
A useful review of some of the most affordable rooftops in Krung Thep
Featured image: Vanilla Sky Bar. Photo credit: ameblo.jp