I have spent more time in Bangkok, Thailand, than any other city in the world if you remove cities I have actually lived in. Bangkok feels like a home on the road to me. It is both exotic and familiar. So coming back to Bangkok, once our train finally made it, was like a homecoming of sorts.
The first night back, we headed straight to Victory Monument, the pulsing roundabout in the heart of Bangkok. Crowds of both Thais and foreigners constantly stream along the raised walkway that makes a large circle around the monument. Stores and malls fill the streets below.
And the food! Oh the food at Victory Monument! Noodles and sausages and cakes and more sausages and fried balls of dough and steamed buns and a variety of things I still can’t identify. The area around Victory Monument is a street food paradise.
But we went for the boat noodles.
Boat noodles, called such because they were once sold from boats plying the canals that crisscross Bangkok, are one of my very favorite Thai foods. Near Victory Monument, there is an area called Boat Noodle Alley. To find it, walk along the raised walkway that goes around the monument to the northeast corner, near the Fashion Mall. Look on Google Maps and you can see the canal that comes near the walkway at this point. Walk down the stairs (there is a little stand selling wonderful cakes near the bottom of the stairs). Go past the cakes, through several stands, out into the back alley where you will likely pass by and/or be almost run over by a herd of minivans.
Just keep going.
Find the bridge loaded with food carts, and cross it. At the end of the bridge, you will be accosted by workers at one of the boat noodle shops. To get to my favorite, just turn right and you are there. Have a seat.
When you pick your seat, you may have a romantic notion about sitting at one of the tables overlooking the canal. After all, you are eating boat noodles. But a word of advice: those canals smell like all the dead things in the world were piled there to rot. I am not a doctor (at least, I am not a medical doctor), but I would suggest you can probably get hepatitis by smelling those canals. Or at least, the smell will not add to your overall enjoyment of your boat noodles.
So sit away from the canal.
Boat noodles come in a few varieties. If you go to the place I recommended, they have an English menu. Basically, you choose pork or chicken and the type of noodles you want. I usually get sen lek noodles (skinny rice noodles), but you can try sen yai (wide rice noodles) or baan mee (wheat noodles) as well.
Bowls of noodles cost less than 20 baht each. The bowls are small, so order a lot. Stack the bowls high to demonstrate your eat prowess.
We didn’t eat too many bowls, however, as we had more eating to do. After starting off with some boat noodles, we walked over to Ragnam Road, which is also full of amazing street food.
At the end of the night, we were pleasantly/uncomfortably stuffed to the gills with Thai food. It was good to be back.
We would only be in Bangkok for a few days this time around. Soon we would be heading to northern Thailand where I would be taking a group of 10 students on an internship in international development.
But we would be back. Back to Bangkok, my favorite city in the world for eating. Because travel.