First Solo Trip to Bangkok


Let’s start from the beginning. I was in eleventh, maybe twelfth, standard when I discovered That was when I came across the concept of digital nomadism. I was astonished how Jeremy could travel the world at the age of 18 while working out of a laptop.

All I wanted now was to pursue a similar path but I guess it was too early. I was just 16 and was part of the Indian society which tried its best to make me an engineer. It did succeed and I went on to pursue computer science engineering.

During my second year at university, I got obsessed with a new technology called Flutter. It was so fun, I learnt it almost effortlessly. Luckily, this obsession landed me a job at an American startup at a young age of 19. The job not only paid well, but was also location independent. I could work from anywhere in the world!

Well, this was my chance to walk on Jeremy’s path of digital nomadism. I had an income source, no responsibilities and I was old enough to make my own decisions. There was one problem though — I was scared and lazy!

Travelling alone isn’t a small endeavor. You need to plan a lot, be ready for the uncertain and let go of your comforts. And at that point, I wasn’t ready for such a big leap. So, I didn’t think much about it and moved on.

In 2021, I got a chance to travel to Goa and Dubai. Now even though these were family trips (super comfy), they helped shape my perspective towards travelling. I could now see myself flying to a far-off land and working on a beach. The leap got somewhat smaller.

I fought all the fears, made up my mind, and booked the flight to Bangkok!


The chilled nomad

As much as I love the idea of a nomadic lifestyle, I just cannot adopt it. I cannot live out of a backpack, roaming from place to place. Instead, I like to go to a single city and stay there for a long time. I do things at my own pace and intentionally try to do less.

There’s a good reason behind this too. My idea of nomadism is more about immersing yourself in the new culture and lifestyle rather than just seeing it from a distance. It’s about living like a local and forming a sense of belonging. This immersion takes time and is not possible if we keep moving to new places.

Look at my phone case!
Look at my phone case!

Serendipity also plays a big part to make an immersive experience possible. By planning less and letting things just happen, you can have experiences that you wouldn’t imagine otherwise. Don’t fill up all your days with activities and leave some space for serendipity to kick in and drive your trip.

Nineteen of my twenty days in Bangkok, I woke up without any plans for the day and let my mood decide what to do. This way, I was able to have unique experiences that were not part of the ‘plan’. I celebrated Christmas at a local church, had the most peaceful New Year’s Eve at a Buddhist temple and made some great friends who took me clubbing.

Planning a working holiday

Planning a working holiday is relatively simple. You just need to have the basics figured out:

  • A dedicated working space — hotel room / apartment, cafes or co-working spaces
  • Access to reliable internet
  • Food, groceries and other day-to-day needs

Once these are taken care of, you find yourself spending most of your weekdays working. There’s not much room left for other activities, so you plan accordingly.

Bangkok is one of the best cities to work remotely. You can find condos with world class amenities at dirt cheap prices. There’s a wide network of 7-11’s and you can find one around every other corner. It’s pretty easy to find nice cafes that offer free Wi-Fi as well. Additionally, you can purchase a 5G sim card for internet on the go (Unlimited data for 30 days @ 600 THB). So as far as work is concerned, you cannot go wrong with Bangkok.

I researched some condos on Airbnb and found Ideo O2 complex. It’s one hell of a place with everything you could ask for! The differentiating factor for me was the co-working space. I used it all the time to get some work done.

Pool view from co-working space
Pool view from co-working space

After the work was sorted, I planned my trip by filling the weekends with full day activities and dedicated weekdays to explore new restaurants, cafes, malls, or anything that could be covered in a few hours. Couldn’t have made a better decision as some of these places were outstanding! You’ll see further in the article.

Here’s the vague itinerary that I created:


Obviously, most of these activities did not go as planned, but that’s all for good. Having this list helped me quickly decide what to do without thinking too much.


Another important aspect of planning a trip is money. I made a loose budget of 150K INR and successfully finished the trip without exceeding it.

I researched a bit to find the best currency conversion rate and bought 20K THB (~50K INR) cash. I had some 300 USD (~24K INR) lying around the house, so took that as a backup. For the rest of the expenses and as my primary mode of transaction, I used the Niyo Global Card.

Niyo is a wonderful card that allows me to store my money in INR and spend in 100+ currencies without any charges. Additionally, I get complimentary lounge access which I used at the Delhi airport.

At the airport

I’m sharing the airport experience because it was special for me. My cousin Tamish and I are very close and he was moving to Canada. I decided to schedule my flight close to his so that we could spend those last few hours together. Cost me a little extra (34K instead of 21K INR) but I was able to book the flight at just an hour’s difference!

We started the journey from Chandigarh in Shatabdi Express. The train ride was light and easy because we traveled with practically zero luggage. All the luggage was sent separately in a car.

I was so nervous at this time!
I was so nervous at this time!

At Delhi airport, our families saw us off and we went inside. It wasn’t this simple though — we cried, all of us! Afterall, it would be a long time before we see Tamish again.

Smiles with tears in the eyes…
Smiles with tears in the eyes…

Anyways, we went inside and helped each other with the check-in. The queues were annoyingly long and we were dead by the time we completed immigration and security check.

Right after security check. As you can tell from my face, I’m about to faint!
Right after security check. As you can tell from my face, I’m about to faint!

Next step, find food! We found the newly opened Encalm lounge and could finally eat and relax for some time.

Yep, that’s all I ate.
Yep, that’s all I ate.

It was the final hour. We waited for the flight call. I don’t remember what we talked about, but I do remember the stream of emotions that ran through my body.

I was dejected from the moment I got to know that Tamish was leaving. We had spent our entire childhood together, had went to school together. Even though we lived in different cities now; even though we barely saw each other, barely talked to each other; him taking the decision of moving to Canada alone felt like a betrayal.

“I suppose in the end, the whole of life becomes an act of letting go, but what always hurts the most is not taking a moment to say goodbye.” — Yann Martel, Life of Pi

Scheduling the flight close to his gave me that moment. It gave me the opportunity to say a proper goodbye. Maybe that’s why, in the final hour, all my complaints vanished. I accepted his decision. I let Tamish go.

We hugged and I boarded my flight.

It’s time!
It’s time!

Thai Airways vs Air India

Time for some flight review! I traveled to Bangkok on Thai Airways and came back to Delhi on Air India. Now that I have experienced both of them, I can compare them side-by-side.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures in Air India. Guess I was too tired. So, please trust my words alone.


Basically, look and feel inside the cabin. Hands down, Thai Airways wins this category! The cabin was clean and well maintained. The moment I entered inside, it felt cozy and comforting.

Relaxing vibe
Relaxing vibe

Air India’s aircraft was similar, but the cabin quality wasn’t that great. Some of the screens were dysfunctional, seats had stains, etc. Though these minor things rarely matter to me, it’s the feel I look for. If something feels nice, it’s a win for me. Sadly, Air India’s cabin wasn’t up to the mark :(


Food on Thai Airways was almost inedible. I got some sort of gravy with rice in the main course, which I couldn’t eat another spoon of. Had to survive on the sides which were decent. I could eat that puff with sunflower butter to some extent; desert was also fine. Fruits were outstanding though!

I had better expectations, but okay!
I had better expectations, but okay!

Air India served Idli-Sambhar with Vermicelli Upma and I got worried (not a fan of South Indian food). But surprisingly, it was so good! Taste and freshness was on point.

To complete the meal, Mango Doi was served as desert. It was one of the most delicious deserts I had ever tasted (not exaggerating). They were generous enough to give me another serving :)

Breakfast on my return flight was a fulfilling meal that energized me for the rest of the day. Win for Air India!


Not a lot to share about the service. It was a four hour long flight, so I couldn’t demand much from the staff. But I did feel the Air India staff to be on the friendlier side. They were polite and helpful. Felt a tinge of arrogance in Thai Airways cabin crew. Nothing specific, it’s just the vibe I got from the little interactions I had with them. Maybe it’s just me. But anyhow, the point goes to Air India!

First day in BKK

“Pehli baar… ek hi baar aata hai” — Amitabh Bachchan, English Vinglish

First day is special. You see everything with fresh eyes. The people, their gestures, the shops and their signboards, the cats, the ambient sounds, the fragrance in the air, everything is different.

I landed in Bangkok early in the morning. I purchased my True-H sim card and setup the Grab app to book taxi. Reached my apartment in about 30 minutes.

After sleeping for a couple of hours, it was time to figure this place out! I unpacked my bags and arranged the stuff in my new home. Then, I went outside to explore the neighborhood.

The first place I went to was Chao Doi cafe which was right across the road.

Chao Doi Cafe

This became my go-to cafe and I went there on many mornings after a good walk or gym session.

I was still hungry, so I wandered around in search of food. There was this cute Dhaba right next to the cafe but I felt like puking just seeing its menu. It was filled with various animals’ meat.

I did eat at this place later on!
I did eat at this place later on!

I figured that there’s McDonald’s and other restaurants in The Coast complex.

A couple minutes’ walk away.
A couple minutes’ walk away.

I walked there only to get disappointed again. No veg options, and nobody understands English. Took me 10 minutes only to order french fries.

Now I knew this was coming. I knew there’s going to be food and language problem. But experiencing it firsthand made me realize that it’s not as small a problem as it sounds. It makes the most trivial tasks annoyingly hard.

I especially realized this when I went for grocery shopping in the 7-11 that evening. Everything was written in Thai and the staff didn’t know a word of English. They didn’t understand the most basic words like bread, butter and fruits. This was mind bending for me!

I opened the Google Translate camera and hovered over every product. Struggled for 45 minutes, grabbed whatever I could figure out and then I quit. It was so mentally exhausting!

Last chore of the day was to purchase the BTS card (BTS is Bangkok’s metro).

BTS Bang Na Station, around five minutes walk from my apartment
Rabbit card for BTS
Rabbit card for BTS

After that, I was free. I relaxed the rest of my evening and explored the complex.

The complex was extra decorated due to Holiday Season.
The complex was extra decorated due to Holiday Season.
My room’s at 28th floor!
My room’s at 28th floor!

Ended the day by playing Billiards with some guys from Myanmar :) More on this later.

A ride to remember

I booked a cycle tour from Airbnb that promises to show you the less touristy, authentic side of Bangkok. And sure it delivered the promise! It was one of the most memorable experiences of my trip.

Before the ride

The meeting point was around an hour and a half away via public transport (BTS + bus). I kept a two hour margin and went to the BTS station. Found a cute little cafe right below the station, so naturally, I went inside to grab a smoothie.

Lychee smoothie at
Lychee smoothie at No. 1 Café. Comforting, homely vibe

I took the BTS to Siam Center from where I needed to take the bus for Suksanari School (I still remember all the names XD). Made the classic beginner mistake and took the bus that went in the opposite direction. Realized this only after 10 stations when the conductor asked me for the ticket. Guess I was too busy enjoying the cityscape from the window.

I was on the other end of the city, and had no time left to waste. So I immediately booked a Grab and asked my guide if he could wait for me. He was nice enough to delay the tour by 15 minutes. Still, I would barely reach on time. Just hoped to not find the infamous Bangkok traffic that day.

There was one good thing about all of this though. I saw the entire city, from Terminal 21 to Tsai Eatery, all in one day!

Terminal 21, Asok
Terminal 21, Asok

I saw bits of Lumphini Park and the car went through the middle of Chinatown!

I wouldn’t have gone to Chinatown on my own.
I wouldn’t have gone to Chinatown on my own.
But this way, I was able to see some of it. It’s uniquely beautiful!
But this way, I was able to see some of it. It’s uniquely beautiful!

The tour would start at 1:15 PM and I reached the destination at 1:08 PM. At least I thought I reached! Somehow that taxi driver dropped me off at 800m from the meeting point. Great, now I had to cover 800m in seven minutes. I opened Google Maps and started running!

It was enjoyable as hell as I navigated my way through the suburbs. Made there just in time, I was panting heavily when I saw my guide and other tourists.

Fellow tourists

Our guide’s name was Black. He was jolly and patient enough to answer the innumerable questions I threw at him. I asked for his advice for my New Year’s plans. He said that his mother goes to a Buddhist ceremony that starts in the evening and goes on until midnight. Quite intriguing!

Black. Wish I had a better picture :P
Black. Wish I had a better picture :P

Other members on the tour were Matt, Chris and Lindsey (From USA) and Pamela and Daniel (from Germany). Everyone was friendly and introduced themselves the moment they saw me. No ice breaker needed!

Matt and Chris were especially interested in India and everything about it. We talked about food, Hinduism, and Cricket! They were surprisingly fond of Cricket. Not that they knew a lot about it, they wanted to visit India just to watch a match of Cricket.

Chris asked me how many languages I spoke. I said three, and he went crazy! Maybe we Indians undervalue this skill of ours XD.

Matt, Chris and Lindsey.
Matt, Chris and Lindsey.

Pamela seemed to be the smart one. She worked remotely and taught women how to invest in Crypto. Interesting enough?

She had traveled a lot and so had a broad worldview. She had insights on diverse domains and my conversations with her had a bit more depth. Both Pamela and Daniel were vegetarians by choice and astonished by the fact that roughly 50% of Indians are vegetarians.

My dream vacation is to celebrate Christmas in Europe so I asked for their local perspective. Got some nice insights!

Daniel and Pamela
Daniel and Pamela

The ride

The tour started and it wasn’t long before we were cycling through the narrow alleys and chaotic markets of Bangkok. We crossed numerous small bridges over the canal, fought through the traffic and also cycled along the train tracks. At some points, we had to climb staircases while carrying the bike in our hands. Definitely a demanding ride, but so satisfying!

Something that made this experience unique was how welcoming the locals were. Throughout the tour, someone or the other was waving and smiling at us. Definitely did not see that coming!

The first stop was a petite home-turned-restaurant. It followed Thai traditions, so we had to take our shoes off before entering the place. They served their family’s traditional chicken curry noodles only for this tour. For vegetarians, they had prepared plain curry noodles. The flavor was definitely new for my tastebuds, but they tasted okay-okay.

Not bad! Especially when compared to other meals on the tour :P
Not bad! Especially when compared to other meals on the tour :P

Next stop — Watkallayanamitra. Wat is temple, Kallayana means beloved and Mitra means friend. The temple of beloved friend was built by the Chinese on the land that was provided by Thai king. It symbolizes the friendship between the two cultures, and hence the name.


Inside the temple was a massive Buddha statue, it almost felt unreal.

This thing is huge! Consider that smaller statue to be human size.
This thing is huge! Consider that smaller statue to be human size.

Black showed us a fortune telling game (or ritual?). Basically, we shake a jar filled with sticks until one of them pops out. Each stick has a number and each number is linked to a fortune. Here’s what I got!

I didn’t get a thing XD
I didn’t get a thing XD

Black explained how this was actually a good fortune. In fact, I was the only one to get something good. All others got pretty sad after reading their future :P

We stopped for lunch at a beautiful riverside restaurant.

Mostly locals here. Quite authentic, you see.
Mostly locals here. Quite authentic, you see.
The view from our tables <3
The view from our tables <3
Scene captured from a bridge near the restaurant.
Scene captured from a bridge near the restaurant.

Now here’s the not-so-good part of this tour — food for vegetarians is an afterthought. The main course of lunch was some kind of Thai curry. Black proclaimed that it contains everything — fish, pork, crab, octopus, squid, and what not. When we asked about the vegetarian alternative, he gently offered us a serving of the same curry with the meat put to the side. How obnoxious!

What’s even left there without meat XD
What’s even left there without meat XD

Pamela and Daniel did not mind putting the meat aside and tasting it, I simply couldn’t.

There was one veg side dish that I could have. It was a riverweed grown in the same river where the restaurant was located. It was edible to say the least!

It was… something.
It was… something.

Okay food was not good but I won’t complain. Food isn’t something that bothers me too much, especially when the other things about this tour are so amazing.

There was an artisan’s house right beside the restaurant and we paid a brief visit.

Artisan’s house
Artisan’s house

Our final destination was Wat Paknam Bhasicharoen, home to the biggest Buddha statue in Bangkok. It was simply mind blowing!

I took this at a 90° angle!
I took this at a 90° angle!

Here are some more pictures for you to get some perspective of its size.

View from entrance
View from entrance
Back view from the temple
Back view from the temple

Inside the temple was this structure which is apparently a time capsule. I don’t remember exactly but I think it stores a flower of some sort.

This place is quite calming
This place is quite calming

So that was the finale of this tour. Now, the hardest part — ride back to the starting point. It was long, difficult and exhausting! We were already tired and another 30 minutes of cycling through the busy traffic of Bangkok was quite a challenge. Somehow we made it through, said each other goodbye and went our own ways.

Riding through the bustling streets of Bangkok, interacting with people from different parts of the world and seeing the architectural marvels in the form of Thai temples, it was one hell of an experience that I won’t forget for a very long time.

After the ride

So I had my adventure and loved it, but I guess my body did not. I was tired and in pain! (clearly not the most athletic person XD). I was at the other end of the town and planned to go back by bus. First of all, I couldn’t find the bus stop easily. And when I did find it, the bus simply wouldn’t stop! I tried like three buses and none of them stopped. So weird! Had no option but to book a Grab.

I reached home dying of hunger. Thought I’d grab a Subway (only veg option I knew of) but apparently it was closed by then. I searched through Food Panda, found a vegan pizza and ordered it without thinking twice. Biggest mistake of my life! It’s the worst thing I ever tasted, threw half of it and cried while having the other half.

That night, I slept hungry and sad. Woke up in a terrible mood the next morning. Fortunately, the only time I got sad or angry.

Cafes and Restaurants

As said earlier, I had prepared a list of some nice cafes and restaurants in Bangkok that I’d visit on my week days. I would usually get up around 9 AM and after a gym session, I’d go eat a heavy brunch at one of these places. Of course, I didn’t have the privilege to revisit any of these.


Let’s start the list with Tony’s, maker of the world’s best pizza (in my opinion of course!).

Beautiful ambience, polite staff, fast service — my favorite restaurant from the trip!
Beautiful ambience, polite staff, fast service — my favorite restaurant from the trip!

The staff was kind enough to help me find a veg pizza and also took extra care to not add egg. I ordered a mushroom pizza and “Above The Clouds” drink to complement.

Eating a proper meal after so long… and that too this good!
Eating a proper meal after so long… and that too this good!
In case you’re wondering what
In case you’re wondering what “Above The Clouds” is…

I never saw basil leaves on top of a pizza before, so I was quite surprised. But when I tasted it, it felt so good it almost brought tears in my eyes! Maybe I was too hungry, I don’t know. The drink was even better than the pizza! I wanted to order the desert but was already full.

Tony’s is located in Nana which is pretty much the center of food and entertainment in Bangkok. The first time I visited Nana, I got offered the iconic special massage (XD). It’s funny how casual all of this is — they sell sex on the streets!

Ignoring that, Nana became my frequent eating place. I would come here regularly to try out new restaurants, and take away some fast food for my next meal at home.


The next restaurant I tried (again in Nana) was Amritsr, cause I was craving Indian food. Plus, they had Amritsari Kulcha — extra tempting!

When she took order in Hindi… 😭
When she took order in Hindi… 😭

What did I order? Is that even a question? Special Amritsari Kulcha with Sweet Lassi!

Tears folks, tears!
Tears folks, tears!
Funny restaurant!
Funny restaurant!

The Kulcha was crisp and came with many condiments. I liked the sweet chutney quite a lot. The glass of Lassi was huge, could barely finish it. Everything was on point, no complaints whatsoever.

La Mesa Coffee Co.

One of my favorite cafes from the trip is La Mesa Coffee Co. There are multiple reasons for that, but the biggest one is the staff who were extremely welcoming and friendly. The moment you enter from the door, they cheerfully invite you to the counter. Just loved them!

View from outside
View from outside

The place was nicely decorated and there were Christmas songs playing in the background. The ambience was so soothing that I decided to work there itself.

Peacefully worked for six hours!

La Mesa also offers a coworking space on the first floor on daily and monthly basis.

I ordered Vegan Burrito for breakfast. The burrito was just about okay, but the accompanying salsa was out of this world!

Good presentation
Good presentation

After working for a few hours, it was time for some coffee. Bella (the barista) recommended Pumpkin Spice Coffee.

That’s a cinnamon stick.
That’s a cinnamon stick.

I’m not a fan of cinnamon but this definitely tasted good. A little on the stronger side, but still good.


Next up, we have Toby’s. It’s a vibrant breakfast place located in a posh residential area of Phra Khanong. This Australian restaurant seems to attract quite a number of people cause when I went there for a Friday brunch, the place was filled with customers.

I ordered Buddha Bowl with Fresh Berries Milkshake. The salad bowl comprised of chickpeas, beetroot, cucumber, mushrooms, some leaves, etc. The shake was fresh and natural. Now ideally, I should say that the meal was fulfilling and refreshing. It was! But it’s just that I’m not used to such healthy meals 😭.

The shake felt a bit bland because there wasn’t any added sugar. And even though I was full after eating the salad, I craved something else, something heavy that would complete the meal.

Buddha Bowl and Fresh Berries Milkshake
Buddha Bowl and Fresh Berries Milkshake

So I ordered a pastry thinking it was chocolate but was actually topped with walnut sauce. Not a fan of walnut, but it was delicious! I was finally full to the brim XD.

Walnut pastry
Walnut pastry

Toby’s has the ambience of any modern breakfast place — minimalist and comfortable. The staff was always on the move to handle the large crowd, but still kept a smiling face. Overall, I’d highly recommend this place if you’re looking for some light, energizing breakfast to get your day started.


I had a vegan restaurant called Vistro on my itinerary. But when I actually went there, I came to know that it opens only on weekends (yes, strange). I was close to Nana, so naturally I chose to eat my lunch there. As I entered the street, I found Veganerie.

A little too much?
A little too much?

Honestly, this place was nothing special. It’s not bad, but I just don’t understand the concept of veganism. If you wish to eat plants, just eat plants! In the form of plants! Why on earth would you create meat from plants?

Anyways, I ordered the classic Tom Yum Noodles with plant-based pork (and beef?) on the recommendation of their waiter.

My first time with chopsticks!
My first time with chopsticks!

I’m a big fan of Thai food aesthetics. I love how their food looks, including the Tom Yum noodles. Now how did it taste? Well, the noodles were rich in flavors and textures. The soup was spicy, the veggies were chewy and the meat was… meaty. Also, using chopsticks was quite an experience (you should have watched me XD).

Overall, I’d say it was just about alright. I don’t think I will have it again, but I would suggest you to try it at least once. Reason is that it’s the only way to taste Thai food for vegetarians. And who knows, maybe you do like it.

The GAA Experience

GAA is an Indian fine dining restaurant that is not only one of the best restaurants in Thailand, but is consistently featured in Asia’s top 50 and world’s top 100 restaurants. The restaurant is named by abbreviating Garima Arora, its founder and executive chef. She is the first Indian woman to be awarded a Michelin Star, the highest accolade a chef can receive.

Chef Garima’s signature lies in preparing contemporary Indian cuisine from locally sourced, seasonal ingredients. Her cooking style deeply incorporates the traditional culinary techniques to retain the authentic flavors of the dishes.

This combination of traditional and modern can be seen in the restaurant’s architecture as well. The restaurant is a 60-year-old Thai house, or Baan Ruen Thai, restored to give it a modern interior while still preserving the traditional Thai aesthetics on the outside.

Baan Ruen Thai
Baan Ruen Thai
An interpretation of
An interpretation of Sai Sin on the ceilings, symbolizing a spiritual connection among the people gathered at GAA

So the thing about GAA (and all formal restaurants?) is that they yearn for perfection. They asked me to come 30 minutes before the reservation time to avoid any delays. When I got there, they said that the waiting lounge is not ready and I should wait in the pergola. I’m not saying the space wasn’t nice, but the fact that they have a waiting area for their waiting area is a bit too much!

I used the time to shoot some nice videos of the restaurant :)

From entrance to pergola <3
The waiting lounge
The dining area

The good thing is that this perfection extends to their food and service as well. There were a number of waiters at my service, taking care of every little thing. They explained the dish to me each time the brought one, and once I finished, they asked me how it was. They even replaced the wet towel every time I used it. I think attention to these tiny details adds to the overall experience and differentiates a casual eatery from a fine-dining restaurant.

The table arrangement at the beginning
The table arrangement at the beginning
Here’s a funny story: When asked for my water preference, I said sparkling water cause it sounded cool. I didn’t know what it was and how expensive it was! I took a couple of sips, didn’t like it, and asked the waitress to replace it with regular water. She looked at me and confirmed like three times before replacing it. That time I did not get it, but later when I checked the bill, that water had cost me an additional 200 THB!

Regular Tasting Menu at GAA serves 11 courses. But since I had booked the dinner on Christmas Eve, I was presented with their Festive Menu which serves 13 courses. The manager also mentioned that they use special ingredients to add a little festive touch to their dishes but I didn’t really understand much (maybe because of her culinary jargon :P).

Thirteen mouth-watering treats
Thirteen mouth-watering treats

If this wasn’t enough, they asked me if I wanted to pair my meal with their selection of juices (I don’t drink alcohol). Of course I said yes! How often would one go to such restaurant.

They complemented each dish PERFECTLY
They complemented each dish PERFECTLY


The first course was Chaat, something that’s right-at-home with my tastebuds (as with every North Indian’s). The first pot contains pomegranate layered on top of yogurt which, as Chef Manav puts, is the core ingredient of any kind of chaat. The presentation was unique but the flavors and textures were familiar. Nothing out of this world but quite comforting.

Second pot contains Pakchi Farang Pani, or Gol Gappa Pani in simpler terms. Chef asked me to smell the bouquet before drinking the water. Interesting concept, but the taste of water was just about alright. There was a tinge of bitterness which made it somewhat different.

Third pot contains Kokum fruit chaat which brings the flavors of Goa on the table. It was sweet and refreshing.

Trust me, these are way smaller than they look.
Trust me, these are way smaller than they look.

Street Snacks

Time to taste the street food from around the country — Paniyaram, Chili Toast and Bombay Sandwich.

Yes, the third one is a SANDWICH. I don’t see anything wrong here.

Each of the three dishes tasted excellent. But I would like to give a special mention to Bombay Sandwich. It’s amazing to me how they managed to miniaturize the sandwich and still incorporate every flavor it contains. In a single bite, you’ll feel a burst of flavors that are true to the original dish. Mind blowing!

Taking a look from every angle before it goes into my mouth XD
Taking a look from every angle before it goes into my mouth XD


I won’t say much about Bhutta and instead present you with this video of me savoring this simple yet delightful snack.

I think my reaction is enough!

You can see in the video how they explain about the dish, its origins, a bit about the ingredients and how to eat it. They did this for almost all of the dishes.


Bhel, as we know it, is a mixture of savories that plays with your tastebuds like nothing else. It’s tangy and spicy with a pinch of sweetness hidden somewhere. Bhel at GAA was exactly this, except for presentation (as you might have guessed) and the ingredients used.

It constituted Beetroot, Somsa Chili and Khakra, chopped and plated in a small bowl. Alongside, there were mini tacos to contain the Bhel. The ingredients weren’t mixed, so each component was distinctly visible and the whole presentation was a work of art. The waiter asked me to mix them instead. So one of the perks of dining at a Michelin Star restaurant is that they make you do these chores as part of the “EXPERIENCE”.

Jokes aside, it was definitely one of my favorite courses from the dinner. I don’t know what they did with that sauce, but the Bhel melts in your mouth! There’s an explosion of flavors that are much punchier than a regular Bhel. It feels like every ingredient is fighting to grab the attention of your tastebuds, before they finally calm down and rest on your palate, until the next course.


This course was… funny. It was literally a pumpkin with bits of something on the side. It wasn’t bad, but rather excellent! It was tender and well cooked. Wouldn’t imagine myself eating a pumpkin like that but I ate it with ease, happily.

The funny part was the plating. It was served in a full-sized plate with a small piece of pumpkin in the center, it almost felt like a joke. Moreover, I got a call from home and I showed them what I was eating. They burst into laughter!

Well, still worth it!
Well, still worth it!

I’d share a reaction from my cousin Tanishk which summarizes this meal well :)

“Yeh kya kaddu ke upar doodh daalke do kishmish chipka di! Tune iske 13 hazaar diye?!”


Pav is this little bread ball stuffed with minced jackfruit. It’s accompanied with some condiments that include mango pickle, Pudina Chutney and (Avocado?) fruit paste.

I think the dish was on the simpler side compared to other courses, but it was rich in the variety of textures as each condiment brings a different texture on the plate — crispy, creamy, chewy, etc. I think my favorite was that fruit paste, couldn’t get enough of it!

Pav on that pillow — perfect plating!
Pav on that pillow — perfect plating!

A Cold Curry

If I’ve to describe A Cold Curry in one word, it’ll be “SURPRISING”. It’s made of Cucumber, Green Apple Ice and Crispy Okra (lady finger!). None of these components seemed to make any sense, but when I tasted it, it blew my mind!

The creamy curry is topped with three layers of crunchiness — cucumber, okra and ice. These textures and the ice cold temperature of the dish makes it a unique experience. When you take a bite, you get literal chills in your mouth that make their way to the head. This feeling alone makes A Cold Curry stand out, taste comes later.

Such textures, such flavors, and such beauty!
Such textures, such flavors, and such beauty!

Speaking of taste, cucumber and green apple work pretty great together. The curry refreshes your palate and prepares you for the next course.

Rice & “Cola”

Rice and “Cola” is the proof of Garima’s excellence as a chef. It is such a simple dish — literally Ghee Chawal and Imli Kanji, but it was so good, so heartwarming that it brought tears in my eyes!

Maybe it’s the nostalgia, maybe it’s the grounded flavors that automatically make it a comfort food, or maybe something else. But the result is me eating every grain of rice with water in both my mouth and my eyes.

The tamarind cola was tangy and fizzy — perfect companion to the rice.


Chef chose this earthen plate to present the dish — staying true to the roots of the dish here in India.

Chayote Kebab

Chayote Kebab is prepared from Chayote (a vegetable), Smoked Tofu, Caramelised Whey and Thai Garam Masala. Basically, this one dish showcases Chef Garima’s specialization in bringing umami from vegetables (meaty Kebab from Chayote) and preparing Indian cuisine from local ingredients (Thai Garam Masala).

But ironically, this is the only course that I disliked! The presentation is Instagram-worthy, but the taste… not so good. The edible flowers don’t go with the meat at all. Plus the kebab is so hard to eat with that stick, it keeps drifting away XD.

One dish can be forgiven I guess :)
One dish can be forgiven I guess :)

The Tandoori Story

Time for the main course! Durian soaked in Kadi & Roselle Saag with Tikkad (or Tandoori Roti). There’s also a selection of pickles for an added depth of flavors.

They ask you to crush and mix the Saag well. Then they explain how you should take a portion of each component and eat it with the bread. So I put some of the Durian, Saag and condiments in my plate and started eating like we eat Roti-Sabzi here in India.

Isn’t that the correct way? Well, not according to GAA. The waitress came running to my table to teach me the CORRECT way of eating Roti. She said that I need to place everything on the bread and eat it like a pizza. I think that’s just… absurd (XD). But anyhow, I complied with her and went on to enjoy the meal :)

Quite heavy for a tasting menu.
Quite heavy for a tasting menu.

The Durian was delicious! It wasn’t the season of this fruit, so they had sourced it from the other end of Thailand. I regret that I couldn’t eat much of it because I was quite full (it’s the 10th course!). Saag and pickles were an added bonus but weren’t that remarkable on their own.

Mango, Toasted Rice & Gooseberry

The first desert was the best — soft and chewy, sweet and sour. I think it is GAA’s take on Thailand’s favorite desert “Sticky Rice with Mango” since the concept is so similar.

The presentation was COOL!

Gooseberry goes nicely with mangoes and makes the dish more fulfilling.

The Appe Spread

Okay now this is what I like to call “The Desi Desert”. There’s Ghee-Shakkar, homemade white butter, Meethi Chutney and two kinds of pickles with Appe. There’s also this thick Banana Water to add to the already HEAVY desert.

There’s not much going on with the flavors here — it’s mostly sweet, which is rather a good thing. The Appe Spread is simply impactful, no need to add complexity.

Welcome home!
Welcome home!

You’ll find the complete suite of textures — creaminess of chutney, tenderness of banana, richness of ghee-shakkar, thick banana water, slight graininess in pickles and then of course there’s white butter.

Gaen Tawun Kulfi Ice Cream

The 13 course gourmet ends with Gaen Tawun Kulfi Ice Cream. It’s a simple ice cream topped with some crispies.

When we think of ice cream, we think of this sweet, creamy desert that melts into the mouth effortlessly. But this ice cream defies that expectation. You chew the (salty?) crispies until it blends with the smooth texture of the ice cream underneath. I found it to be quirky and playful!

I would like to give a special mention to the course’s juice pairing — Coconut & Jasmine. There’s no doubt that all the drinks were great, but this was something else! It seems like coconut and jasmine is a match made in heaven. They blend together perfectly, like the notes of a harmony. The drink strikes your happy chord and uplifts your mood in just one sip.

Closing notes

Dinner at GAA is not a meal, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

It starts the moment your send them an email for reservation. They handle each inquiry professionally, their replies being quick and satisfactory. They constantly stay in touch with you through email and phone, confirm your reservation multiple times and handle any special requests with care. They ask for any kind of dietary or allergen requirements beforehand so they can prepare the meal accordingly.

I requested them to meet Chef Garima, but since she was filming for MasterChef India, she wasn’t available that night. However, they made sure that I meet Sous Chef Manav Khanna.

Me and Chef Manav
Me and Chef Manav

Honestly, I didn’t know what to say :P We introduced ourselves and I asked a couple of questions out of curiosity. I asked what it takes to run a kitchen like this, what goes into R&D, what was his role, etc. He asked if I was from the same industry. I said “Nope, computer science”, and he politely labeled me as “smart guy” XD.

Anyways, it was nice meeting him. Check out his appearance on MasterChef India here.

Now here’s the key question — is GAA worth it? Is it worth spending 9,000 THB on a single meal? Let me try to answer this!

If you see it as food on the table, there’s no way to justify the price. It doesn’t matter how rare the ingredients are, how expensive the crockery is or how posh the location is, there’s no way that a single meal can cost this much.

But if you see it as art, well, art doesn’t have a value.

“Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder” — Plato

I think a good analogy would be a concert of your favorite artist. You’d pay whatever it takes to attend it, right? Same is the case with these extravagant restaurants.

There’s some objectivity here too. The chefs (sometimes mainstream celebs) who prepare your food have tens of years of experience, the way your food is plated is as artistic as a painting, the VIP treatment you get from the army of waiters, everything does justify the price to some extent.

So, do I personally see it worth the price? No!

Will I eat here ever again? Probably not.

Do I recommend it? Hell yes! Everyone should experience this at least once. It opens your eyes to a new realm. I certainly want to share this experience with my family and friends :)

Having said all that, I feel I need to experience more fine-dine restaurants to form a better judgement of price-to-value ratio. This way, I’d be able to truly appreciate GAA.

Shopping Malls

Bangkok has lots and lots of malls. Some offer heavy bargain opportunities while others cater exclusively to the elite class. This diverse range is what I like about Bangkok — there’s something for everyone.

I got a chance to visit three malls — Central World, MBK Center and ICONSIAM. Each of these are unique in there own way. So, let’s talk about them one by one!

Central World

I went to the Central World mostly to see its Apple Store. It’s one of the most impressive Apple stores in the world. It’s massive and remarkably designed. The two floors are connected by a cylindrical lift that feels like a space pod.

Festival time is the best! Everything is at its peak beauty <3
Festival time is the best! Everything is at its peak beauty <3

Every inch of the store is well thought out and crafted to perfection. The design is industrial, but nevertheless an artistic masterpiece. It feels like an engineer met a designer met an architect met a painter.

Entire building is perfectly cylindrical.

The products are laid out in such an appealing fashion that it’s hard to resist the temptation of buying something.

I want it all 😭

I somehow controlled myself and went on to explore more of Central World :)

One of the best things about travelling solo is that you get to do things at your own pace. Want to cover 20 places in one day? No one’s gonna slow you down. Or if you’re like me, feel free to spend an hour staring at the books in a Manga store. Nobody’s there to pull you out of the store!

I was wandering around the mall when I found myself in Kinokuniya book store. It’s a big store with a ton of Japanese literature including all sorts of Manga. Growing up watching anime (mostly Doraemon :P), I always wanted to get my hands on an authentic Manga some day. And here I was!

My eyes were wide open and I was drooling over all these books — One Piece, Dr. Stone and Detective Conan. I was overwhelmed with joy! I gave myself some time to take it all in, and quietly browsed through the books.

After some good 40 minutes, I decided to buy a copy of Detective Conan since it’s my favorite anime. They were short on English copies but somehow found one for me.

I didn’t know Manga is read right-to-left!
I didn’t know Manga is read right-to-left!

Further exploring the mall, I discovered interesting places like the BLACKPINK merch store and Pang Cha Thai Royal Cafe, home of the iconic Pang Cha desert. It’s so appealing that it attracts you from a distance. I missed my chance to try it as I already had my lunch at YenlyYours.

For the love of mangoes!

The cafe specializes in everything mango — shakes, smoothies, deserts, you name it! I ordered Sticky Rice with Mango cause I heard about the dish so many times that I just had to try it.

Thailand’s favorite desert for a reason
Thailand’s favorite desert for a reason

Rice is topped with coconut sauce which brings more flavor and creaminess. Mango and rice go very well together. Definitely an excellent desert, well worth its reputation!

A funny story to add here is that I accidentally ate dried fish that comes with it. I had properly explained them that I do not eat any kind of meat, fish or egg, but clearly they didn’t understand. Plus, it does not look like fish at all!

Who could have guessed!
Who could have guessed!

This kinda spoiled my mood but it’s fine, no big deal.

Moving on, I came across a Gashapon machine store. It houses these toy vending machines that accept coins and present you with a cute toy enclosed in a capsule. It tickled that inner child in me and I tried out a couple of machines.

Pokémon is cute but that cat is sheer disappointment XD
Pokémon is cute but that cat is sheer disappointment XD

Let me share a couple of pictures of Christmas decoration in the mall before wrapping up.

A gorgeous Christmas tree right in the center of the mall
A gorgeous Christmas tree right in the center of the mall
A cute popup market selling festive decor
A cute popup market selling festive decor

To conclude, Central World is well-designed and MASSIVE. The Apple store is worth a visit and there are some really interesting stores and restaurants you can find here. But at the end of the day, it is just like any other shopping mall. It lacks uniqueness, you won’t find anything that will blow your mind.

Now you may argue, “Aachman, isn’t every mall the same? What are you looking for in a shopping mall anyway?”. Well, you’re right! Most malls are pretty much the same, ordinary. But having seen some magnificent malls in Dubai and Bangkok’s very own ICONSIAM, I’m not that impressed with Central World. It’s good, but not extraordinary.

MBK Center

MBK is an old mall and it shows in its design, the quality of shops and the brands you see. The complex is huge but the shops are laid out like a flea market. You can find pretty much anything here — clothes, accessories, bags, electronics, all at cheap prices which can drop further if you’re good at bargaining.

MBK Center entrance
MBK Center entrance

Something to know about me — I’m not an avid shopper, and definitely not a good bargainer. If I wish to buy something, I go ahead and buy it. But I cannot go around shopping for the sake of it. So, I decided to take some help from home.

For the entirety of my shopping spree, I was on video call with my parents. It saved a lot of effort as I let them decide what to buy. We bought some souvenirs for friends and family, and called it a day.

There wasn’t anything special to buy anyways. MBK is famous for its electronics market but it was disappointing. There were just a few shops selling Chinese rip-offs of popular gadgets and cheap accessories.


I discovered an intriguing cafe called Maidreamin. It’s a Japanese cosplay cafe where the staff members dress up as maids. If that doesn’t sound cringy enough, let me go over the details.

When you take a seat, the waitress explains some ground rules that you need to follow. You can sit here for only one hour and need to order for a minimum amount. For every subsequent hour you wish to stay, you have to keep ordering. You can take pictures in the cafe, but you cannot take pictures of the staff. Not to mention that these are just a few of the page full of rules written on the menu card. It said things like you cannot ask for the staff’s number, you cannot meet them outside, etc.

For god’s sake, they leave no stone unturned to make you feel like a creep! And that’s just the start of it.

When you are ready to order, the waitress makes you do these cat-like hand gestures that are supposedly “cute”. If you don’t, you cannot order. Same when you receive your order, she asks you to copy her movements and showcase your happiness on seeing the food. When you do it successfully, she jumps and claps like a 10-year old.

These gestures aren’t limited to the hands either. From the way they walk to their talking style, everything has these cute mannerisms. They’d frequently go to the tables and engage with the customers. Once in a while, they’d go to the stage and give a short dance performance of some sort.

Okay, I know what this is all about and why some people may like it. I could see around the cafe, other customers (including a group of middle school students) were actually enjoying these little performances. But somehow, all of them had a tinge of embarrassment on their faces.

For me, it was more than embarrassment. I became sad. Extremely sad. Even after leaving the cafe, I kept thinking about it.

The reason is subtle yet nuanced — it’s the lack of authenticity. While the waitresses were taking every measure to cheer up the customers, they were missing out a key characteristic, smile.

Cosplay is a fun activity that involves emotion. You take out the emotion and you’re left with animated dolls. You cannot commercialize something that is so human. You cannot sell cuteness, it’s just absurd.

This absence of emotion highlights the fact that the girls working at this cafe are not themselves, but rather someone’s fantasy. This bugs me a lot.


ICONSIAM is a modern marvel. Seventh biggest mall in the world, spreading over 5.65 mil. sq. ft., it is nothing less than a monument.

Apple Store 2/2 ✅
Apple Store 2/2 ✅

It also comprises of Thailand’s highest skyscraper Magnolias Waterfront Residence.

That’s 70 floors!
That’s 70 floors!

With an unmatched design, every corner of the mall screams luxury. The showrooms, the hallways, the lift, the escalator, the floor and the ceiling, no matter where you look, you’re left with a sense of awe. The bathroom had huge automatic sliding doors. I didn’t have to go but I went inside just to witness the beauty it was. There’s no wonder the mall has won many design awards.

Escalators and ceiling
Escalators and ceiling

It hosts more than a thousand stores which include some of the most opulent brands you can think of. The showrooms are big and escalate the brand value with their design. For example, Tiffany’s showroom is well highlighted with the brand’s iconic Tiffany Blue color.

Hermes - Tiffany & Co. - Patek Philippe - Cartier - Louis Vuitton - Gucci

The complex is located on the banks of Chao Phraya river. Ideally, you get here by boat after enjoying a scenic sail in the river. I wasn’t that fortunate and took the alternate route of BTS which I don’t recommend.

ICONSIAM is by far my favorite shopping mall, including the extravagant malls of Dubai. Hopefully one day, I’ll actually be able to shop here :P

Dinner Cruise

It was New Year’s day and up until this point, I was done with most of my trip. My phone was full of pictures and mind full of memories. But when I looked at my itinerary, a lot of things were still unchecked. I hadn’t done any of the popular, touristy activities. So, I decided to book myself a dinner at Chao Phraya river cruise, and spend the first evening of 2023 in a nice, peaceful manner.

The sail starts at Asiatique The Riverfront, a gorgeous open-air mall built by renovating actual river docks. The whole premises has this harbour theme going on with many shops shaped like shipment containers.

Asiatique entrance
Asiatique entrance

The place was crowded and wasn’t so easy to navigate around. When I reached the designated warehouse, there was an extraordinarily long queue that wasn’t even moving forward. Everyone was clueless and just waited for some announcement. I didn’t know much either and stood in the queue as well.

Somehow, I found a Punjabi (honeymoon?) couple and started chitchatting with them to pass the time. They were quite anxious about the situation and kept going to the counter to inquire about the cruise. To my luck, they made their way through and guided me the same. I got my ticket before everyone else!

Even the docks were as overcrowded as Delhi metro, I barely had the space to breathe.

Ughh I hate tourist places!

After a wait of 30 minutes, the cruise finally arrived.

“Royal Princess”
“Royal Princess”

The ambience and feel of the boat was nothing over-the-top but decent. My table was at the end of the deck which means that I couldn’t see any of the shows going in front of the boat.

Ambience of the cruise

Honestly, I couldn’t care less about the shows. I was here to enjoy the Bangkok skyline and a seat on deck is perfect for that.

The ship started sailing and I felt the gentle breeze on my face. I looked around, the people were busy grabbing plates, filling them with the lavish sea-food buffet. Meanwhile, I was gazing at this beautiful city, soaking it all in.

Bangkok is gorgeous at night! The skyscrapers and temples light up forming this interplay of lights and shadows against the dark sky. Their reflection in the river adds another dimension to the scene.

ICONSIAM, even better when viewed from a distance
ICONSIAM, even better when viewed from a distance
The bridge marks the return point of the cruise
The bridge marks the return point of the cruise

I cannot comment on the food because it was all non-veg. I had accidentally booked international cruise instead of Indian cruise, resulting in me having french fries, tomatoes and orange juice for the dinner XD. Got a long lecture from my father about how I had to compromise on the dinner and I’d be sad and all.

Well, that certainly wasn’t the case. Food does not bother me, neither does being around unfamiliar faces. By this point in time, I had learnt to embrace discomfort. Even amidst this chaotic crowd of strangers, I had found my calm.

Apparently, the back of deck was a hotspot for photography. So, tourists would come to me and ask to take their pictures. I took so many pictures, it almost became a job. It’s fine since I had nothing better to do anyways. Soon, the boat returned to the docks and the activity ended.

I think I’d rate the dinner cruise a 3/5, but for the price it’s a solid 4/5. You can only expect so much for 990 THB. I don’t like how crowded it gets and also felt that the staff wasn’t that friendly/helpful. Put that aside and it’s one of the best ways to appreciate Bangkok’s cityscape.

An anecdote I had switched to iPhone 13 Mini just before the trip and it’s battery life is terrible. I don’t know why but I challenged myself to go to the cruise with a 30% battery. That’s from 4 PM to 11 PM. After the cruise, I had 20% left and had to book a taxi. Only that day, I did not get a Grab. Battery at 15%. I asked several taxi and tuk-tuk drivers to drop me home but nothing worked. Battery at 10%. It was late night, I had no phone and I was so far away from the apartment. Eventually I did get a taxi, but until then, I was shit scared. Think I’d do better next time.


I consider myself more of an introvert and talk only to the people I’m comfortable with. I’m never the one to start a conversation, make small talks or even smile at someone. I take my time building a relationship, and hence, don’t have many friends since childhood. Two school friends, one from high school and a couple from university, that’s all.

One of the reasons to go on this trip was to break free from this innate comfort zone and to thrive in the unknown. A new place gives you the opportunity to shatter all self-imposed barriers and communicate without the fear of judgement. There are no biases, no presumptions, NO EXPECTATIONS. Also, there’s no other way to navigate the place than communicating with the locals, so you’re forced to talk even if you feel uncomfortable.


Now knowing all this is one thing but when you’re actually there, all alone, it’s not that easy. I was in the condominium, walking and observing people. There were couples, families, children, the atmosphere was uplifting. But now what? How do I talk to someone without a purpose? Should I just say hi to a stranger? Should I walk to a group of friends and introduce myself? How does it work?!

I noticed some guys playing billiards. Thought it’d be good way to strike a conversation. I went to the clubhouse and tried my best to make a conversation. I introduced myself and asked everyone’s names — William, Situ and Po. We talked for some time (just me asking questions), and eventually, the game ended. Thought it’s still a win to gather the courage to talk to someone, but anytime I saw them next, it was just me greeting them and getting borderline ignored. That didn’t feel very nice.

Next, there was a family that I’d been noticing since day one. They seemed Indian from their skin tone, so one day, I went ahead and talked to the lady in the co-working space. I nervously asked her “Excuse me, by any chance, are you from India?”. She replied, “No, I’m from Bangladesh”. I embarrassingly said, “Oh sorry, I thought you’re… (voice fading away)” and just ended it there. But after a pause, she continued the conversation. She introduced herself as Mukta and we talked for some time. She told me about her family and her life as a doctor. She mentioned how Bangladeshis love India for its role in their freedom struggle. It went quite well.

I had thought co-working space would be a great place for interaction since everyone would be a like-minded remote worker. Unfortunately not. People were self-contained and did not want interactions (or disturbance?). I tried several times but it did not work out.

For the first few days, even after putting the best of my efforts, I wasn’t able to have any meaningful interactions with anyone. I pretty much labeled the place as unfriendly.

Not “trying”

One early morning (4 AM!), I was talking to Chakshu, another cousin of mine. I discussed about the situation and she gave me an advice that changed everything. It would seem simple and obvious, but sometimes you need someone to tell you the obvious.

She said that you gotta keep doing what you do, but without any expectations. Basically, keep talking to people, keep greeting them, keep making small talks, but stop expecting that they’ll be as interested as you are. Or, you’ll get disheartened easily.

When we don’t expect anything, we be more confident, we be ourselves. We do our part with authenticity and put the ball in the other person’s court. Afterall, a conversation or relationship is a two-way thing. It needs to come from both sides. No matter how hard you try, you cannot force your way into a friendship. If it has to happen, it’ll happen effortlessly.

In short, stop “trying”. And that’s what I did. A simple change in mindset made me much more comfortable in talking to people. I interacted with people from all age groups, from toddlers to oldies. Made conversations in all sorts of places — at the gym, in the clubhouse, in the elevator and even on the BTS. My perspective flipped instantly, the same place now became friendly.


One fine morning, I was heading to have breakfast at La Mesa Coffee. In the elevator, I met a lady who recognized me from the BTS station and, for the first time, it was the other person starting the conversation. She asked me where I was going and offered a faster way to get to the cafe — a van that leaves the condo every 30 minutes.

I was hesitant to get in the van with a woman I just met, but determined to open up to new experiences, I took the chance. She genuinely tried to help the new boy in town and I got to know a bit about her, starting with her name — Joy.

Joy lives true to her name, she is amiable and kind. Later that day, I joined her for evening walk. We talked for a good thirty minutes and exchanged contacts. She told me to call her any time in case I get lost or just wish to ask something about this new city. Finally, (finally!) I had made a friend in Bangkok.

We were also accompanied by her friend Ek. “Ek” is a Thai name that means “one”. They explained how parents name their children in the order they’re born, which means Ek was the family’s first child. It’s fascinating how similar Indian and Thai cultures are — language, customs, everything!

This became more evident as I talked to Ek. He understands little English, but he’s deeply interested in world history and culture. He explained me how much of India’s culture made its way to Thailand. He narrated stories from the epic of Mahabharata and mentioned many landmarks that derive their names from Indian mythology. It was an insightful cultural exchange session and I enjoyed it a lot.

Joy told me that she’s Christian. This got me really excited as Christmas was around the corner and I wanted to experience something authentic. Without thinking too much, I asked what they do for Christmas and whether I could be part it. She got more excited than me and invited me to the church on 25th morning.


Around 8:30 AM, I waited for Joy at the reception. She arrived with her 14-yo cousin Tang May and friend Kwan who took us to Jaisamarn Full Gospel Church in her car. The moment of getting in that car felt unreal. It was the first time I felt that sense of belonging. I wasn’t a mere tourist, I was going to celebrate Christmas with my local friends.

When we got to the church, Joy introduced me to everyone. Most of them did not speak English, so they just acknowledged me with a smile and gentle nod. Though two people I remember having a proper introduction with. One was Joy’s friend who also happened to have the same name Joy (they called her Big Joy to differentiate XD). Second one was the church’s priest, who spoke perfect English and asked me a ton of questions. It was slightly intimidating but fun.

Kwan, Tang May, 🤷🏻‍♂️, Joy and Big Joy
Kwan, Tang May, 🤷🏻‍♂️, Joy and Big Joy

After meeting everyone in the basement, it was time for the ceremony. At the church entrance, they distributed some festive goodies.

Free souvenirs!

In lieu of a candle, they gave us this cute little light bulb. And I guess Christmas is incomplete without alcohol, so a sip or two for everyone.

Toy light bulb
Toy light bulb
Alcohol, still sealed :)
Alcohol, still sealed :)

The inside of church was way beyond my expectations. It was a big auditorium with all the fancy equipment enough to make a concert happen. And that’s what was going on — a full blown concert with singers, guitarists and drummers. It was nothing like the carol singing choir I imagined.

All the classic tunes, but in Thai

I liked the ceremony, the cutely dressed children, and the nostalgic tunes of the Christmas carols. It was all nice and fun… until now. Then began an hour long lecture in praise of God. It was in Thai and Joy wanted me to understand it, so we sat in the last row and I put on the translator.

At the end of the lecture, the parson invited people to come in front and pray to God. I was standing at my place, curiously waiting to see what happens. That’s when Joy comes to me and asks “Are you ready to accept God?”. I was unsure what she meant, so I asked her to repeat. She said, “Do you wish to learn more?”. Thought she was talking about the ceremony, so I said “Yeah, why not”.

She took me near the stage, along with other people waiting for the prayers to begin. I was skeptical and kept asking her what I was supposed to do. She wanted to make sure that I understand everything correctly, so she called the priest to explain.

I asked what this was about. He in turn asks “Are you ready to take Jesus in your hands?”. The language was so vague, but I somewhat knew what he meant. So to confirm, I directly asked if they wanted me to convert to Christianity. He said yes, I said no. And now the situation became a bit… interesting.

He said “Alright, stand still and do nothing. Do NOT say the prayers.” And that’s what I did, I saved myself from becoming a Christian by 10 seconds. It’s crazy how a single prayer can change your religion. Guess it means a lot to them.

After the whole thing was over, Joy and I went back to our seats. I looked at her, she was as embarrassed and displeased as I was. I did not realize but I might have given her the impression of being interested in Christianity. I remember talking about how I always wanted to visit a church. But that’s not because I want to become a Christian, I’m just a guy curious about different religions and cultures. Wish I had explained better.

However, everyone was open enough to acknowledge this as a misunderstanding and things went back to normal. The proceeding was over and now it was time for food, games and presents.

The community lunch was at a nominal rate, but Joy did not let me pay even that. She tried to find veg food for me but there were only a couple of items. So she went ahead and put her share of veggies on my plate. Okay, I did not expect such motherly care from a person I met a couple of days back, and that too a foreigner. I was overwhelmed.

Post lunch, the folks played some games and distributed prizes.

No idea what’s happening

There were a large amount of presents near the stage. They ranged from a stuff toy to a 50-inch TV. It was astonishing, I asked Joy who the presents were for. She said that the members of the community donated them to the church and were to be presented to the non-Christians. She said something like “We are happy, and we want to make others happy with these presents”. Umm… that’s something.

Joy sent me with Tang May to get the presents. She wanted her to talk to a foreigner (that’s me!) and be more confident in English. As we stood in the long queue, I introduced Tang May to India’s favorite pastime, Ludo. She seemed to like it. We played a couple of games and 30 minutes passed instantly.

When it was my turn, they said there’s a special present for me in the other room. Hmm… a special present, just for me, in another room. I was both skeptical and scared. I went to the room only to find that the special present was 300 THB in cash XD.

Of course it isn’t ideal to take the present, and straight up cash is just way too much! But keeping respect of the church, I took it. Instead, I asked Joy if I can pay it forward. “Sure!”, she said and took me to the nun. She introduced me and explained things to her. The nun took the money and blessed me, felt great :)

Tang May wasn’t very pleased with her gift though, a coffee bundle. Funnily, she got at the nun’s feet and pleaded for the cash I just gave her. She teased her a bit but happily gave away the money. Guess that’s how nuns are, selfless.

We left the church. Joy and Kwan had some work so they dropped us at the BTS station midway. Joy asked me to take Tang May to the moto taxi stand in Bang Na. Great, now the new boy was taking care of a local XD.

Commuting with her on BTS was fun. Despite the language barriers, we continuously tried to talk. She taught me Thai words, I taught her Hindi. It felt so cool.

So this was my Christmas experience in Bangkok, one that I could never imagine in the wildest of thoughts. I have told this story to many of my friends and family members, and the reaction I get is unanimous. They are thrilled but somewhat concerned. Well, their concern is justified but I think making yourself vulnerable is the only way to make interesting stories happen.

“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.” — James Michener


Christmas was on Sunday, and both Joy and I got busy with work the following week. I saw her a couple of times but we actually met again on Thursday. We had a long walk and an even longer conversation over hot chocolate. Talking for hours, I think we connected very well that night. I got to know a lot about her — her profession, family, hometown and some of her backstory.

Since the beginning, Joy wanted to show me around Bangkok. So, she started cooking up some plans and made a couple of calls to check for feasibility. She was inclined towards taking me to the floating market, but it was three hours away from Bang Na. So, the plan was dropped… or maybe not?

I slept but Joy kept on searching for places overnight. She found that there is in fact a floating market at about an hour’s distance. It’s not popular but still worth a visit. So, she texted me early morning to meet at the reception.

I woke up at 9 AM, saw the text and went to the reception. She was there all dressed up and packed for the day’s outing. I, on the other hand, came down without the slightest clue of why she wanted to meet. I immediately ran to my room, dressed up, took the essentials and came back in no more than five minutes.

Taling Chan Floating Market

It took us around 1.5 hours to reach the market via BTS, MRT and taxi for the last few kilometers. On the way, I learnt two things about Joy. One, she’s generous — again paying for me everywhere we went. Second, she loves kids — genuinely trying to befriend the children on BTS and in the restaurant.

Now regarding my floating market experience, I have mixed feelings. On one hand, it was beautiful, authentic and barely had any tourists. It was exactly how I liked it and all available to us. But we missed on some of the key experiences. We were expecting live music but they didn’t play on the weekends. And, the “floating” part of the market was closed, there weren’t any boats selling stuff in the river. No wonder the place was mostly empty.

Nevertheless, there was a lot to see. The market is pretty big and there are a ton of stalls selling snacks, fruits, souvenirs, etc. It’s similar to India but very clean and well put together. We roamed around a bit, tried some snacks and then headed over to this little floating restaurant for a meal.

So that’s how they make it

Joy ordered three traditional delicacies for me — Tum Khao Pod (spicy corn salad), Som Tum Thai (green papaya salad) and Soup Nor Mai (bamboo shoot salad). Corn and papaya salad tasted very familiar, they were sour just like the Indian Bhel Puri. Bamboo salad, on the other hand, was quite unique. All were incredibly delicious and came with a packet of sticky rice.

Joy knew that I’m vegetarian and made sure to explain them the ingredients properly. But she, being Thai, skipped on eggs and fish sauce. And, she told me about this after the meal. That’s a bummer :/

Post brunch, we went for a boat ride and my god it was so fun! The houses have traditional architecture and are built right at the water level. There’s lush greenery on both sides of the river. You see monitor lizards casually chilling in the water. Combine these gorgeous visuals with the sunlight and breeze on a winter afternoon and what you get is a soothing experience that nourishes your soul 💆🏻‍♂️.

Skies and smiles
Skies and smiles

Our guide Coffee consistently tried to impress me with the two lines of Hindi she knew. It was hilarious at first, but when she didn’t stop, it became kinda irritating.

The boat takes you to the part of market that’s built on water. It mostly comprised of stalls selling sea food, which was a sight to behold. Oh and there was a wall dedicated to Thai cinema, so why not…

I was forced, okay?
I was forced, okay?

I’d say that this market is a great value for the money you spend. The food cost 160 THB for the both of us. Boat ride was 200 THB per person. It’s pretty basic and cheap, especially compared to our next stop.


We went to ICONSIAM via MRT/BTS — wrong decision! A ferry was available from market to the mall for 600 THB per person. We didn’t take it because it seemed expensive. But looking back, it was absolutely worth it!

BTS is not directly connected to the mall and there’s a designated train for that purpose. The problem is that it’s a single train that takes and drops passengers. This means that you have to wait for at least 30-40 minutes at the platform. Given how tired we were, it was a nightmare to stand there and wait for so long.

We’ve been over what the mall is about and what makes it special. So I won’t go into that, and instead, I’ll narrate my personal experience.

Joy tried her best to show me as much of the mall as possible. We explored like six floors back and forth, went to a dozen stores, took a bunch of pictures and were extremely exhausted. I was dying of hunger!

Beautiful view of the city from up here. But way too crowded!
Beautiful view of the city from up here. But way too crowded!

Throughout my trip I troubled a lot of people to find me veg food :P, and I think Joy had the most of it. She panned through the mall’s map to find vegan restaurants. No luck there, so she tried asking the staff. No help there as well.

I somehow found an Indian restaurant called Masala Art. Now it was my turn to treat Joy with the taste of my country! I ordered a feast for her. Aloo Tikki and Papdi Chaat for starters. Daal Makhani and Chana Masala with a basket of mixed bread comprising Butter Naan, Tandoori Roti and Lachha Paratha for main course. Ras Malai for the desert.

It was a delight to show Joy some of our culinary practices. The restaurant had an open kitchen so we could see the rotis being pulled out of the tandoor. She was amazed by the sheer size of it.

When the food arrived, I guided her through each dish. She learnt how to eat roti with daal but didn’t really prefer it. Soon enough, she was back to eating them separately. Then she complains about roti being tasteless 🙆🏻‍♂️.

Anyhow, she liked most of it. She loved Tikki, Naan and Ras Malai. Other items were just about alright. For me though, it was not alright. It was pretty mediocre and unauthentic. Wasn’t tasty, just bearable. Not to mention, it was pretty expensive because of the location — 1400 THB.

But nevermind, sharing that meal with Joy was a worthwhile experience! Introducing someone to your cuisine is like opening a window for them to glimpse into your world, your life. Your culture, traditions, beliefs, values everything is transmitted through a bowl of daal. It’s magical.

This was my last experience with Joy. She was going to spend the New Year’s weekend with her family in Hua Hin. She invited me to join her but I declined. Now I cannot be grateful enough for the invitation, but going to a new city for three days and staying with an unknown family was a little over my limits. It was abrupt and uncertain. So I decided to stay home and make space for a different set of experiences.

Litja, Mukky and Tor

December 23rd, Friday. I sipped the delicious coconut iced coffee I bought from one of the food trucks that lined up in the complex on weekends. They do a great job of turning the quiet condominium into a happening eating place.

As I roamed about this space, I noticed a girl playing billiards all alone. By this time, I had made enough awkward conversations to get hurt by another one. Without a second thought, I went inside and asked if I can join her.

So let’s introduce you to Litja auntie. Auntie because she’s 54 yo. Yes, I said girl cause she doesn’t look a day more than 25. She’s at the pinnacle of fitness. Gym is her second home. She’s got six pack abs and does advanced yoga asanas. Haven’t seen a fitter person, not even considering the age.

We played a couple of games before being joined by others — Martin (Auntie’s son), Mukky (her niece) and Tor (Mukky’s bestie). And for the second time, I was challenged to guess the girls’ age. I guessed 18-20 but fell 10 years short! Guess there’s something with Thai people, everyone looks so young.

I like to define Mukky and Tor as yin-yang. Mukky is outgoing; Tor is reserved. Mukky has crazy amounts of energy; Tor is calm and composed. Mukky is athletic — good at various sports; Tor is creative — master of photography, design, marketing, etc. Despite such contrasty personalities, they share such a strong bond that they are basically one. Tor lives in France but visits Thailand 3-4 times a year just to see Mukky.

Together they founded Bestie Store, an online marketplace selling clothes, accessories and gifting items. The business is an extension of their personalities. Mukky handles the delivery operations ensuring a seamless experience for all customers. Tor does an excellent job with the Instagram page, feeding to the growing fanbase of 150k followers.

Mukky explains their business philosophy something like this — “We don’t have a website, nor will we ever have. We talk to all customers directly. It’s ‘Bestie’ store, and we treat each customer like our bestie. That’s why they keep coming back!”. I think there’s a valuable lesson right there.

Okay enough about characters, let’s get back to the story. We played billiards and foosball for roughly two hours. Not only the games were fun, but the conversations too. It was an unusual high. I was content, couldn’t ask for anything more.

Billiards with Mukky and friends

That’s not entirely correct though, I did want more. I didn’t want it to be a one time thing. I wanted to meet, to talk, to play again. Had to wait for a few days but it did happen.

We met at the clubhouse on 27th, then at the gym the next day. Through subtle interactions, we had developed a level of familiarity and comfort. We were more than acquaintances to say the least.


The same evening, Mukky introduced me to Alexis, her newly formed friend from France. Alexis is a former Economics professor with a PhD in cryptocurrency. He quit his job in Paris and moved to Bangkok in search of adventure.

I was paired with him for a few rounds of pool and foosball with Mukky and Tor on the other side. By the way, did I mention that both the girls have majored in French? As the three of them conversed in French, I realized how sexy the language is! People call it the language of love for a reason.

Post the gaming session we went out for dinner. It was the same Dhaba that I mentioned earlier.

Alexis, Mukky and Tor

I knew I wouldn’t find anything to eat but at least I could enjoy the company and vibe. Still, Tor ordered mushroom & rice for me, which tasted… well, let’s not get into that. Others ate some local dish that I don’t know the name of, but it involved lots of beef, lots of raw vegetables and lots of soup. They pour the soup in a hot pot and dip the veggies, egg and meat in the soup. Then they stir it until its well cooked. Quite fascinating!

I sent the above video home to show off my new friends and they video called immediately out of curiosity. Gave them a tour of the place, the people, the food and, of course, the alcohol. As I hung up the call, Tor asked if they’re concerned. All this is new for me and for them as well, so they’re just curious, I said. I explained how different my lifestyle back home is. She understood.

“We can be different but still be friends.” — Tor

Exciting conversations unfurled at the dinner table. The girls showed us pictures from their vacation, some showing off the party animal that they are. Alexis mentioned his plans of celebrating New Year in Pattaya with his friends and invited me over.

Things got even more interesting as we were joined by Jeremy, another one of Mukky’s recent friends. A Belgian nomad, Jeremy had been travelling around the world for 15 months straight. He had explored most of South America and South East Asia all alone. How, you ask? He took out some money from his family business. He owns nothing and travels on bare minimum budget, staying in the cheapest hostels and even planning the meal costs.

He spent the past two months in Thailand and was going to Sydney to get a job and settle down. According to him, European job market is finished and he’d be better off in Australia. As of writing this blog, he’s saved some money from his job and even left Australia to explore Japan.

All I had to tell him was that I was Indian and he assumed the rest from stereotypes. He guessed that I was Hindu, vegetarian and an IT engineer. It’s sad but funny that everything was true.

He was eager to narrate his travelogue and told some wild stories. From crossing borders illegally to making his own coke, the guy has done it all. He’s got some guts I would say. Interestingly, he felt the same about me. He said that it takes a great deal of courage to travel solo, but when you do, it’s the best. You get to meet so many interesting people which you wouldn’t otherwise. That’s exactly what was happening here — I was with the most interesting people I had ever met!

After dinner, we went back to the condo for more foosball. The place closes at 10, so we couldn’t play. Instead, we opted for badminton. Tor went to sleep, so it was just us four, taking turns playing, exhausting ourselves until midnight.

Then Mukky and I went to the parking lot to see the boys off. I waved them goodbye but Mukky did La Bise which was really fascinating for me to see.

Before parting, she asked me to take care of the badminton kit until we play again. That kit stayed in my apartment till the last day of the trip XD.

New Year’s Eve

31st December, I had big plans for the day. I’d go to Pattaya and celebrate New Year’s Eve partying on the beach. Spend the first morning of the new year bathing with elephants in the sanctuary.

But as the day approached, I didn’t want to do any of that. I didn’t want to leave the city, spend time with intoxicated strangers and exhaust myself to death. I couldn’t see myself in a crowd of thousand, dancing to songs I don’t even like. Just because everyone does it, doesn’t mean I have to do it.

It wasn’t an easy decision though. In fact, it’s very hard to escape FOMO and follow your true desire. It feels like you’re doing something wrong, missing an opportunity.

But, I had made up my mind. I didn’t leave. I followed my daily routine. Early evening, I sat by the pool and spent few hours reading. I was anxious at first, but eventually, I found myself in the present. I was calm and my overthinking mind came to rest.

Unknowingly, I created some space for serendipity. I was at the right place at the right time. Mukky, Tor and their friend Miew came for a swim. I asked Mukky about her new year plans and to my surprise, they were going to a Buddhist ceremony in the temple adjoining the condo. The ceremony begins in the evening and for five hours, you say prayers and chant mantras, until it’s midnight.

I anyways wanted to visit that temple since the day I arrived, this was my chance. I asked if I could join them. Mukky was a bit hesitant because five hours is too long and thought I’d get bored. But I convinced her and my New Year’s plan was all set!

We went to the temple at 7:30 PM. We as in Auntie, Mukky, Tor and Miew. Okay let me introduce you to Miew first! She is Mukky & Tor’s junior from university. Thinking of Miew, the word that comes to my mind is ‘ambitious’. She’s always on the lookout for the next big thing in life. Always learning new skills, always seeking opportunities. She’s not afraid to switch jobs, move places or even change careers. You can check out her YouTube channel here.

Temple entrance
Temple entrance

The dress code for men was black pants with white shirt. Ladies wore ethnic Thai dresses, again in white. Chairs placed in the courtyard faced towards the stage where the monks chanted mantras. A grid of white thread originating from Buddha’s hand spread across the temple. Every attendee wrapped it around their head or strung it around their fingers. The thread, known as Sai Sin, connects the participants to the monks and to Buddha, symbolically passing the blessings to everyone.

According to Mukky though, the thread protects you from bad spirits. Guess I’ll take that as well 🤷🏻‍♂️
Sai Sin
Sai Sin originating from Buddha’s hand
Ceremony arrangement

We reached earlier than anyone else, so we got some time to talk. Auntie distributed some coins to the girls which got me curious. She explained that it’s a way of blessing and the number of coins depends on the day of the week you were born. Eagerly, I demanded my share of coins XD.

She happily gave me the coins but not until I asked for it. Similarly, I wasn’t handed over the sacred thread or asked to make the donation like everyone else. Reason is that they didn’t want to bother me by imposing any religious practices.

In fact, auntie asked if my father was okay with me being there. If only she knew about my Christmas experience XD. But on a serious note, I really respect them for their consideration. In just a week, I witnessed two opposite takes on religion — one welcomes you into their community; another respects your existing beliefs.

The ceremony begins by lighting up these tall candles with the goal of keeping them lit all night. Pretty much like our ritual of Akhand Jot.

Lighting candles

Then, the monks start chanting.

“Buddham Sharanam Gachchami”

For the next four hours, all you hear is the chanting of Sanskrit mantras, the breath of cold wind and the mellow bells it rings. The ambience becomes tranquil and divine. I closed my eyes and tried to chant along. Within moments, I was taken to a calmer, happier place.

Fake candid
Fake candid

A procession of monks, with alms bowls in their hands, took a round of the temple. Everyone stood up and donated.

The atmosphere <3

As opposed to the majority, which reaches an exceptional high by midnight, we reached an equilibrium. We entered the new year in a state of meditativeness. I think that is the best way I could celebrate New Year :)

Even better, this experience brought me closer to auntie and the girls. Mukky invited me to a party on 2nd of January.


We went to Iron Balls (yes, I know) at 10 PM.

That tagline…
That tagline…

It was my first time at any bar/pub and I think this place was gorgeous!


The staff was friendly, quick and caring. Plus extra care was given to our table since auntie and Mukky are regular customers. Another reason might be that auntie’s son Matthias worked there as a bartender. It was the last day of his internship and the reason for this party.

A computer science student interning as a bartender — offbeat paths like this always intrigue me. India’s education and professional system is just too linear for my liking.

Mukky and Tor ordered Matt’s signature cocktails to begin with. I ordered a mocktail and auntie didn’t drink. For nibbles, the bar served cheese popcorn.

A good drink, and a great company!
A good drink, and a great company!

Soon enough, we were joined by other invitees — Alexis, Tor’s childhood friend Namfah and her friend Boss. Namfah was meeting Tor after 10 years! That’s some occasion.

LTR: Auntie, Tor, Alexis, Mukky, Namfah and me
LTR: Auntie, Tor, Alexis, Mukky, Namfah and me

Some bottles of wine were ordered. Each bottle was exclusively offered to Alexis first, so that he could taste it and decide whether it’s worth serving or not. He swirled the glass, took a small sip and moved it around in his mouth before approving the wine. He taught me that swirling aerates the wine and effectively releases its aromas. The scent is also a good indication to whether the wine is good or not.

Funnily enough, he whispered in my ear that he’s appreciating all the wines cause everyone in the room wants the approval of a Frenchman and that the wines are actually mediocre.

That’s Mukky’s glass in my hand. Just saying…
That’s Mukky’s glass in my hand. Just saying…

Not just this, Alexis actually talked that night, a lot. The girls were busy among themselves, so we got the chance to exchange a good deal of conversations. He cracked jokes, shared dating tips, a lot of talk around girls which is beyond the scope of this blog.

It was a lot of fun! Something I liked about Alexis is that despite the age gap, despite my novice perspective to these experiences, he treated me like someone of his own age-group and culture. When I had questions, he explained things patiently, without judgement. I never felt out of place.

As the girls conversed, they looked at me once in a while. Thought I was suffering from spotlight effect, but no, they were actually talking about me. It was evident when Namfah started to tease me while others enjoyed my reaction. Seemed like I was the center of attention there.


Once everyone was tipsy, they started to dance. I didn’t though, because one, I’m a bad dancer; and two, I couldn’t vibe to English songs. My body simply doesn’t move without Hindi/Punjabi songs.

Mukky met a random stranger on the dance floor. I don’t know how and why, but she was all in with our group. She was drinking and dancing with the girls as if she knew them for years. Strange, but I guess that’s how the pub culture is?

For the next few hours, everyone was dancing, shouting, drinking and falling. It was wild! But the right amount wild, just enough for me to digest XD. This continued until Matt’s shift ended which was three in the morning.

To an amazing night! Credits: Tor

Anecdotes from next two days

Searching for a gift

The next day, I decided to go to Indra Square to shop some more souvenirs. It’s a tiny mall which seems to be specifically made for Indians. It has Indian restaurants, all store owners are Indians and you can find all the cliché souvenirs here. Toys, clothes, chocolates, you name it. Anything your uncle brings you from Thailand, chances are, he’s bought from this place.

In addition to souvenirs, I had one more intention. Auntie, Mukky, Tor and Joy had been incredibly kind to me. I couldn’t imagine receiving such care and love from anyone. It’s not just about showing me around or inviting to a party. It’s about giving me undivided attention. It’s about genuinely caring if I was comfortable. It’s about making me a part of their lives.

I wanted to give something back and gifting seemed to be a good idea. I recalled Mukky mentioning her interest in Saree. Thought it’d a great gift for all of them. Plus it’s uniquely Indian, so why not?

Unfortunately, there were no saree stores in the mall. I googled some shops away from the mall but the options I got were both low-quality and high-priced. Even after exploring tens of stores for hours, I couldn’t find a decent piece of clothing. Disheartened, I quit and came back home.

Inviting them over

In the evening, we sat by the pool quietly. It is said that you’re most comfortable around the people with whom you can share silence.

Paparazzi shot from a high floor. Credits: Am
Paparazzi shot from a high floor. Credits: Am

Mukky met Am at the gym and have since been good friends. So good that Am drove hundreds of kilometers to drop Mukky home. So good that Mukky and Tor stayed in her apartment while she was away for her winter break.

I cooked Rajma Chawal for dinner and invited them over. There was one problem though — my apartment was in no better condition than a dumpster. My clothes found themselves on sofa and on bed, rather than in closet. Snacks covered the entirety of kitchen space. Bin was choked with garbage. Nothing was in order.

I was spared some thirty minutes and I turned the place upside down, almost miraculously. It was stressful but worth it. I proudly welcomed them to my super clean, super organized apartment.

I served Rajma Chawal and also offered the trunk load of Indian snacks I had brought — variety of namkeen, Khakhra, rusk, etc. They found them okayish, not impressed. We chatted for a while and called it a night.

Gol Gappe

Second last day of the trip. I was out to get my covid test done. Both Mukky and Tor wished I tested positive so that I could stay with them longer XD. On my way back, I decided to get Gol Gappe (or Paani Puri) for them. Tor wanted to taste them from a very long time.

After playing badminton for the last time (and returning Mukky’s kit XD), we went to my apartment for the treat.

Badminton timelapse
They gave this chutney instead of paani 🤦🏻‍♂️

If you ask me, they were pretty meh. But the girls liked it so much! They ate them non-stop and even finished the leftover filling. Their expressions were priceless. I couldn’t be happier 🥹.

More than friendship

Out of context, Mukky texted me saying that she loves me like a younger brother and that she’ll miss me. I don’t know what happened, what nerve it struck inside me, but I was crying for the next two hours. Not metaphorically, like in the rest of the blog. But literal tears falling from my eyes and drenching the pillow.

Why? Why would I feel such intense emotions? It’s just a text message. Probably, it wasn’t just about the message, or just about Mukky. Of course, I too loved her and would be missing her. I do miss her. But maybe it was the catharsis of all the emotions that had accumulated over the past three weeks. The highs, the lows, loneliness, belongingness, laughter, fear, joy, all piled up and released all of a sudden. Maybe her expression of love just pulled that trigger.

It still amazes me that in this world of superficiality, I was able to cultivate something deeper, something pure. I am grateful.

Last day

“You have to meet people where they are, and sometimes you have to leave them there.” — Iyanla Vanzant

Last day of the trip. My heart was heavy. My body, paralyzed. I was unable to get up from my bed, unable to pack. There was so much to do, but I kept thinking about the last three weeks, the places I had been to, the people I had met. This was the sense of belonging that I craved for. For the first time, I did not want to go home.

Steadily, I got up and began to pack. After packing, I cleaned up the apartment. Eventually, I was free of all the chores. But my mind was still restless. In order to escape, I decided to sleep.

In the evening, I met Joy. She introduced me to her friend Boss who works at a luxury taxi service company. I had asked Joy to arrange an early morning taxi to the airport. She couldn’t, so instead, she convinced Boss to drop me, in his Camry, at four in the morning XD. So generous of her, but of course, I declined the offer. We hugged a final goodbye and I went on to the next person.

Next was Mukta. I haven’t mentioned much about her in the blog because it didn’t fit in the main timeline. But we had met several times, I played football with her daughter Rohini and was also introduced to her husband Jony. It was today when I got to know that she speaks Hindi! If only I knew this earlier, would’ve saved so much effort. Anyways, we exchanged contacts before parting.

Finally, it was auntie and family. It was just another day with them. Billiards & foosball, you know the deal. Alexis also joined later and we went out to have some Tom Yum. Nothing much to share here. I wanted to spend time with them and we were together until 11 PM. Hugged all of them and came back to my room.

Next morning, I booked Bolt (cheaper and more reliable than Grab) to the airport. I boarded my flight and came back home.

Those ordinary moments

“The unjustifiable things, the illogical things, the things that are genuinely unexplainable, that’s where the magic is.” — Brianna Wiest

The real joy of the trip was in those tiny, ordinary moments that aren’t even mentioned in the blog. Here are some of them if you can resonate:

  • A gang of 14 yo boys mocking me and offering cigarette
  • An elderly lady trying to mug me
  • First time I saw a ladyboy
  • First time I saw a prostitute
  • Sounds of children singing in the school that adjoined the condo
  • Every time I slept and woke up to the view of the city
  • Cute gestures of the confused cashier in the manga store
  • A baby fiddling with my wristwatch as I waited in line
  • Staff at 7-11 laughing at my clumsiness


This solo trip has been a transformative experience more than anything else. Here are some of my learnings:

  • I learnt to be more confident alone, cause I know that I can figure anything out.
  • I learnt to be more confident around people, cause I know that all it takes is a smile.
  • I learnt that for the most part, people are friendly, people are good, people are like you are.
  • Mukky taught me how easy it is to express love.
  • She taught me how to think less, how to care less.
  • Tor continues to inspire me with her subtle creative expressions, be it embroidery, photography or gardening.
  • Miew teaches me French, I help her with English.
  • Litja auntie made me realize the importance of fitness. I haven’t been fitter than I am today.
  • Joy taught me that despite the circumstances, you can choose to do the right thing. You can choose to be better, to be kind.
  • My worldview has scaled dramatically. Experiencing things head-on breaks your ingrained biases and helps you see the world for what it is.

Until next time…

I miss Bangkok. Every once in a while, I feel like going back and relive those moments. Most probably, I won’t. I’d rather choose a new destination for my next solo trip.

But who knows, if the calling gets strong enough, you might find me in Ideo O2 once again, chilling by the pool. So, until next time…

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