12 Hours in Bangkok

When we arrived in Bangkok, it was like a shock to my system because it was so overwhelmingly hot and humid. We grabbed a taxi (via a v. convenient ticketing system), made sure our driver used the meter, and had him drive us into town to our hotel. We encountered the slightest snafu when we arrived at our hotel because no one was there to greet us and I started to get anxious, mostly because I was hot and couldn't think straight, but about ten minutes into my panic, a dude showed up and checked us into our room.
We immediately unloaded our stuff and I hopped into the shower to get the sticky feeling off my body.

We totally could have taken public transport from the airport except that the train, which would've been the more efficient option, had stopped running by the time we'd made it through customs, and the bus options would've taken much too long and wasn't worth the cost savings, in my opinion.
This hotel cost us ฿1,500 for the night ($49 USD), which isn't the most expensive but isn't the cheapest either. I think the slightly higher cost was likely due to its prime location; it's adjacent to Bangkok's Yaowarat Road, a.k.a. China Town. The rooms were pretty spacious and comfortable. My only two gripes were that the bathroom was separate (though it wasn't a shared bathroom and ours was private to us) and the bed was as hard as a rock.
The uncomfortableness of the bed didn't matter much though because jet lag was still bugging us and we were up at 5AM anyway.
We took advantage of our early rise and decided to get a move on the day. Unfortunately, all of the temples opened after 8AM so we couldn't do too much right away, but we slowly walked around our neighborhood and made our way towards the ferry.
It was actually really awesome to see a quieter version of Bangkok. Prior to our arrival, I'd read that it was almost impossible to cross the streets due to the density of cars and motorbikes. However, in the sleepy early morning, we were able to do so with ease.
Just a few minutes away from the ferry stop we were headed to, we stumbled upon a market set up in an alley. We watched as the locals began cooking fish and stir frying noodles and setting up their produce stands. It smelled exceedingly delicious, but as we had just arrived and hadn't primed our stomachs for street food yet, we held back a bit.
The subway line didn't extend into the western portion of the city where all the major temples were so we opted to use the waterway transport instead. It was ฿15 ($0.50) per person to take the ferry. The staff were so eagle-eyed and knew exactly who had hopped on. After we grabbed a seat, a woman came and took our money and then a little while later, a man walked around checking everyone's tickets.
I toiled over which temple seemed the most interesting to visit and ended up settling on Wat Arun based on everyone's commentary on how beautiful the details were up close. And I think I chose correctly. It was only ฿50 ($1.60 USD) to enter, which is much cheaper than the admission for most of the other temples, and that's probably because it's relatively tiny. But I think this temple was really charming. There was hardly anyone there since we got there right when it opened and I highly recommend that strategy. It meant we got to take loads of photos without hoards of people in them, but more importantly, it felt v. peaceful and tranquil and lovely and zen, which I think is the actual purpose of visiting temples.
I must've taken at least a hundred photos here because it was gorgeous from every angle but I don't think these photos do this place justice in the slightest.
I also didn't quite appreciate it as much at the time, but this was one of the only temples we visited that didn't have loads of gilded onion domes and dozens of varieties of Buddhas all over the place, which is something we ended up encountering over and over again when we reached Chiang Mai. Instead, this temple was much more delicate and subtle.
We'd had plans to go to The Grand Palace but I was told I needed sleeves instead of just the scarf I had to cover my shoulders and I wasn't going to just go buy some dumb shirt so we decided to mix up our plans and just go grab some ice cream instead.
Thailand is the best place for dairy-free ice cream. We experienced a couple of ice creams throughout our time in the country and all of it was amazing and none of it gave me weird hormonal chin acne or upset my stomach in the slightest.
We ended up getting three different flavors: black sesame, Thai tea, and coconut milk. The black sesame had a slightly weird texture because of the sheer amount of ground up sesame seeds they added to the ice cream, but it had a wonderfully nutty and rich taste The Thai tea was brilliantly spicy and had a deep black tea flavor. The coconut milk was perfect; it was creamy and smooth and sweet.
After ice cream, we hopped in a cab back to our hotel and checked out. We asked to leave our luggage and then headed to grab lunch in China Town.
Nai Ek had great reviews on Google so we decided to eat here.
We shared the pork rib stew and the crispy pork, both of which were served over rice with some wilted greens. The pork ribs were falling apart they were so soft and the sauce was super savory and delicious. The crispy pork was indescribably delicious. The fat was incredibly crispy, the meat was super tender, and it was just so simple and satisfying.

I also have to give a shoutout to the little bowl of sauce that was on each table. We didn't try it until the end when we'd almost finished our food but it was a total game changer. I think it had vinegar and ginger and chili peppers but there was something about it I can't quite put my finger on. I'm going to have to try and recreate this sauce soon.
For dessert, we grabbed some mango sticky rice. The mango was so ripe and sweet and better than the best mango I've ever enjoyed in the States. The rice was fluffy and sticky and sweet and they also gave us a little satchet of crisped rice to sprinkle on top which added a lovely nutty crunch.
After lunch, we decided to go shopping at the MBK Center. In retrospect, I would change two things. I would've tried to head to one more temple or site on the west part of town before heading to the mall and I would've taken our luggage with us to MBK because they have luggage storage and we could've headed straight to the airport. But, these are things we didn't know at the time so I forgive my past self.

The shopping at MBK was pretty intense. We only made one purchase: silk kimonos which we haggled down to ฿700 ($23 USD) from ฿850 ($28 USD). There were loads of things that interested me but two things held me back: we were barely into our trip at this point and I figured we'd find many more amazing things later on and I didn't want to weigh down my luggage prematurely.
The food court at MBK is pretty awesome. If you don't have the time or the stomach for actual street food, this is a great substitute.
We ended up getting a big dish of morning glory and hainanese chicken rice. I've always loved hainanese chicken rice but I didn't know how good it could be when prepared much more authentically. The rice itself is cooked in chicken broth so it's super flavorful. The chicken is so tender and seasoned well. And the bowl of broth is so homey and comforting. The morning glory was only okay; we ended up having much more delicious preparations later on through our trip. However, it was nice to be able to eat a big pile of vegetables after a couple of days of eating somewhat unhealthily.
After the mall, we took a taxi back to our hotel, grabbed our bags, and then took public transportation to the airport. It ended up being much quicker than we thought so we were at the airport a solid two, maybe three hours earlier than we needed to be, which was a little annoying because maybe we could've done more in Bangkok, but we were also pretty tired and worn out from having been in the sun all morning and walking around so much inside the mall.

We ended up eating some snacks, including a deliciously fresh watermelon juice, and played games and napped until it was time to board the plane.
Here's the video diary: