My apartment in Thailand was in the Sukhumvit neighborhood of the city. Sukhumvit is a massive boulevard that covers miles of Bangkok, but it’s also a section of the city. The main road is Sukhumvit, and the dozens of bisecting streets are numbered sois (streets), even on one side and odd on the other. I lived on Soi 8 off Sukhumvit Road, but my favorite grocery store was on Soi 11, so I had to cross over the massive street in a city where crosswalks are a vague idea. For the most part, if you want to cross a street safely, walk up to the Sky Train station, cross over and walk the two flights of stairs down. If you’re lazy, like me, you’ll just punch it and hope for the best.
Sukhumvit is known for its collection of nightclubs, restaurants, massive shopping malls and other outlets that usually appeal to expats. There did seem to be more expats living in my area than Thais.
Walking down Sukhumvit of an evening is always an interesting experience – you never know quite what you’re going to see. There were tons of street vendors everywhere who only seem to come out after dark. Some of them sell clothes – crazy elephant pants for the win – others sell electronics or adult toys or just about anything you can imagine. You can always find a line of tuk-tuks waiting to pick up passengers.
Word to the wise: a tuk-tuk ride anywhere in Bangkok will run you at least 60 baht or about $2, minimum fare. If someone offers you a tuk-tuk ride for less than that, like 10 baht, do not accept. You are not getting a deal; you are getting scammed. They will take you on a ride, but it will include a day-long tour of all of their cousins’ shops, “best price in the city.” “Too good to be true” could have been coined in Bangkok. You still pre-arrange your tuk-tuk fare, but taxis are supposed to be metered in Bangkok now so there’s no need to negotiate at the start of the taxi journey. Uber seemed to be the most economical of the three transport options.
I never really got used to the jumble of buildings along Sukhumvit – upscale restaurants and hotels are crammed in next to all kinds of other establishments. It was a dizzying array of commerce, to say the least.
Title quote: Cole Porter