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The Armchair Traveler: Bangkok

Dec 7, 2010

by Ayun handmade and vintage goods

Ayun_bio.jpgAyun Halliday is the chief primatologist of East Village Inky, and the primary contributor to The Zinester’s Guide to NYC — an illustrated, anecdotal, wholly analog, highly participatory, low budget guidebook that’s cheaper than a movie. She is the author of the four self-mocking autobiographies, including No Touch Monkey! and Other Travel Lessons Learned Too Late, and one extremely serious picture book for children entitled Always Lots of Heinies at the Zoo. She lives on the top floor of a Brooklyn brownstone with the playwright Greg Kotis and their two children. Turn-ons include parades that anyone can march in, Balkan brass, mail that comes in envelopes, comics, summer camp, cowboy shirts, Chinatown, chipotle peppers, Facebook, and falling asleep with the lights on.


Ayun with a travel companion.

Sawatdee! Yesterday, I led us on a dizzying armchair tour of Paris. Today’s destination? Bangkok. It took three trips, and nearly that many male traveling companions, to get me to fall in love with Bangkok, but now I’m smitten. As you will be, the minute your armchair plunks down on Khao San Road.

AT_Bangkok_1.jpgClockwise from top left: Tuk Tuk Print by Heroic Beer; Thai Garlic Hot Sweet Sauce by Sardine and Anchovy; Organic Ginger Lemongrass Soap by Garden of Holly; Thai Style Kindle Pouch by Thitaree; large Thai spice kit by purpose design.

As the saying goes, when it comes to tuk tuks in Bangkok, “Wheels of two, tailpipe burn for you. Wheels of three, #1 for you and me.” While I may be an avid traveler, I’m kind of Kindle resistant, so howzabout we pretend you pick up a paperback of Somerset Maugham stories in a used bookstore on Khao San Road, then stuff it into a fetching Thai fabric pouch? Along our journey, the ingredients of ginger lemongrass soap are giving me a Thai-style Proustian rush. Take a bite and tell me what it tastes like, please! Maybe it’ll go down easier with some sweet garlic chili sauce. But perhaps you won’t have to eat that soap, after all, with your own Thai spice kit.

AT_Bangkok_2b.jpgClockwise from top left: Tintin Covered Notebook by Hand Made Books; vintage emerson fan from Vintage Obscura; Toilet Paper Roll Cozy PDF by Heart of Mary; Blue Spirit House by Mudgoddess.

Bangkok is hot, hot, hot, but a fan will keep you remarkably cool. I recall one afternoon when the one in my room started speaking to me after I smoked something I shouldn’t have. Wait, that was Saigon, and it wasn’t the fan, it was the curtains. No matter what your belief system, it’s always a good idea to keep the spirits appeased. Even the sleaziest Bangkok barkeep will deliver daily offerings of incense, garlands, and oranges to their door. Naturally, you’ll want to document your time in Bangkok, and look who’s on hand to help you! Tintin, boy reporter extraordinaire! Belgian by birth, he can be found all over Bangkok — on T-shirts and stationery, and, for a while anyway, an X-rated parody called Tintin in Thailand. To Thai things up even more, the pages of this journal are enriched with elephant poo. British elephant poo, but who are we to quibble?

There is one thing I never learned to love about Bangkok. The little low-budget restaurants have universally great food, but instead of napkins, there’s a roll of toilet paper on the table in a cylindrical container, often decorated with a cartoon animal or a mangled English motto. Gave me the heebie jeebies. In the name of the full Bangkok experience, I’m going to have to ask you to wipe your fingers on toilet paper, even though the thought alone makes me shudder.

AT_Bangkok_ayun_2.jpgEnjoying your virtual world tour? Stay tuned tomorrow for the next edition of the Armchair Traveler series.

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  • Earleyimages

    Earleyimages said 6 years ago

    Wonderful article

  • MerCurios

    MerCurios said 6 years ago

    Great article! I don;t think I could get used to the toilet paper as napkins either. *shudders*

  • RandomFiction

    RandomFiction said 6 years ago

    Amazing article! I especially enjoyed the photos! The soap descriptions were strangely making me hungry.... AE!

  • myvintagecrush

    myvintagecrush said 6 years ago

    Awesome! What a fun escape on a chilly day ;)

  • nickandnessies

    nickandnessies said 6 years ago

    Thanks for the memories :) Our trip to Bangkok was our favorite vacation ever!

  • nickandnessies

    nickandnessies said 6 years ago

    BTW Ayun- I have and love "No Touch Monkey"!

  • blueroompottery

    blueroompottery said 6 years ago

    Wow, this is such a treat!! Thanks for the article!! :>)

  • AmelieTalks

    AmelieTalks said 6 years ago

    Beautiful pictures! You make me want to go to Bangkok for holiday now... even I've been to there few years ago.

  • rebeccasanchez

    rebeccasanchez said 6 years ago

    So exotic!

  • Asianexpressions

    Asianexpressions said 6 years ago

    Beautiful pictures!

  • SpottedFish

    SpottedFish said 6 years ago

    Great article! Makes me want thai food for dinner :)

  • shop1848

    shop1848 said 6 years ago

    Great article! Wonderful pictures!

  • karenjcreations

    karenjcreations said 6 years ago

    Cool!!! :)

  • BingoBox

    BingoBox said 6 years ago

    Wonderful article!Thailand is a great place to travel thru- Tuk-tuks, beverages in a bag & my favorite cooking class ever !! Thanks for sharing - Cheers ! )

  • Parachute425

    Parachute425 said 6 years ago

    Ha. Great stuff. Thanks for sharing with this armchair traveler.

  • coolstuffartgallery

    coolstuffartgallery said 6 years ago

    Great acticle!

  • TheLittleRagamuffin

    TheLittleRagamuffin said 6 years ago

    Thanks for bringing me back! My husband and I used to teach English in Bangkok and used to make visits to Khao San Road to watch the "foreigners" wandering around. It was cheap entertainment for two homesick farang!

  • girltuesdayjewelry

    girltuesdayjewelry said 6 years ago

    These traveler articles are fun! Nice diversion from a lot of work! Thank you!

  • Verdurebydesign

    Verdurebydesign said 6 years ago

    I just love traveling in my PJs :) The Tin Tin book is fantastic!! Got to love the elephant poo paper. Thanks for the trip.

  • tasticlife

    tasticlife said 6 years ago

    This article has me daydreaming. I need a vacation!

  • Mclovebuddy

    Mclovebuddy said 6 years ago

    another great article. i miss the street stall food esp the lobster on a stick. :D

  • ikabags

    ikabags said 6 years ago

    Awesome :)

  • youheartus

    youheartus said 6 years ago

    Great post!

  • Natasha3075

    Natasha3075 said 6 years ago

    I have that Thai spice kit. It is awesome.

  • Weaselfactory

    Weaselfactory said 6 years ago

    Thailand is awesome. We got married there last summer. When in Bangkok, you really must go to a proper Muay Thai match!

  • odiliafu

    odiliafu said 6 years ago

    Interesting article!

  • AngelElements

    AngelElements said 6 years ago

    Oh such an interesting read! Thank you for sharing!

  • rarebeasts

    rarebeasts said 6 years ago

    Tasty goodies.

  • paramountvintage

    paramountvintage said 6 years ago

    i love the tuk tuk!

  • LuRuUniques

    LuRuUniques said 6 years ago

    What an amazing article.... Thank you for sharing.

  • BellaBeads4U

    BellaBeads4U said 6 years ago

    Amazing article. Well done. Thanks for sharing.

  • accentonvintage

    accentonvintage said 6 years ago

    Love Thai food! Hope to go there some day. Great article!

  • PlumeandPetals

    PlumeandPetals said 6 years ago

    Beautiful pictures~! Always so inspiring =)

  • UnstuckRutDesigns

    UnstuckRutDesigns said 6 years ago

    I LOVE thailand and for a long time Southeast Asia was home for me. Great little article but I do have to ask... You know those birds are trained to fly right back and you aren't really setting them free right?

  • Ayun

    Ayun said 6 years ago


  • BodamerStudio

    BodamerStudio said 6 years ago

    I've always wanted to travel there, great article! :)

  • ldh13

    ldh13 said 6 years ago

    I love love love Bangkok and I love this article. Thanks so much! Oh and one more thing to love about Bangkok - street vendors' banana pancake concoctions.

  • strawberryluna

    strawberryluna said 6 years ago

    I'm loving these travel articles :)

  • carousel2

    carousel2 said 6 years ago

    Thailand is an AMAZING make me want to go back like NOW!!

  • SnuggliMumCreations

    SnuggliMumCreations said 6 years ago

    Awesome! Great Article

  • Jusadreamin

    Jusadreamin said 6 years ago

    Thanks I like your article

  • TheNightjar

    TheNightjar said 6 years ago

    i got a rush of the smells and scents and nuances of someplace special just from reading this...terrific!

  • KettleConfections

    KettleConfections said 6 years ago

    Fascinating travel pics! We've always wanted to visit Thailand.

  • fantella

    fantella said 6 years ago

    I miss my home town :) You are right in Bangkok we only have 3 weather seasons which is hot,hot and hotter!!! The cold smoothies will help you out.

  • KettleConfections

    KettleConfections said 6 years ago

    Fascinating travel pics! We've always wanted to visit Thailand.

  • foxpots

    foxpots said 6 years ago

    I love being an armchair traveler! Such wonders to see.

  • spanishangels

    spanishangels said 6 years ago

    I've just come back from there, miss it already:( Good to read this article though:)

  • LittleWrenPottery

    LittleWrenPottery said 6 years ago

    Great finds loving the spicy theme, I love spicy food!

  • FunWithNeedles

    FunWithNeedles said 6 years ago

    ahahaha very fun!

  • Marvidrio

    Marvidrio said 6 years ago

    Gosh, I wish I had more time to travel. Someone needs to implement teleporting ASAP:)

  • GardenofHolly

    GardenofHolly said 6 years ago

    Great piece, thanks for including our organic ginger lemongrass soap.


    ARTinVENICE said 6 years ago

    I want to go to bangkok and buy a lot lot lot of oriental antiques!!! ;-)

  • kawaiiktsch

    kawaiiktsch said 6 years ago

    awesome artice! Makes me want to travel so bad!

  • cindycheng

    cindycheng said 6 years ago

    This looks very wonderful, can i take any to my pellet mill blog ?

  • studioku

    studioku said 6 years ago

    it made me just wan to be in thailand....wonderful place

  • studioku

    studioku said 6 years ago

    I hope to be there one day.

  • HulaGirl1922

    HulaGirl1922 said 6 years ago

    how fun!!!...great memories too :) btw...i'm kindle resistant too ...doh! best wishes to all ♥

  • crystalworld

    crystalworld said 6 years ago

    Amazing article! I especially enjoyed the photos!

  • Prittyfy

    Prittyfy said 6 years ago

    Like this article, very interesting. Thanks.

  • Mudgoddess

    Mudgoddess said 6 years ago

    Great article! Would love to go one day.

  • NYMG

    NYMG said 6 years ago

    I love this article! I am moving to Thailand in January (Phetchaburi, Thailand to be exact) with my boyfriend and our dog. I can't wait to experience all the curries, silks, and open-air markets myself!

  • AmericanHandmade

    AmericanHandmade said 6 years ago

    Thanks Ayun, for the trip down memory lane. I surprised my husband for our 25th anniversary with a 3 week trip to Thailand. We bought cheep tickets from a consolidator & a Lonely Planet travel book & off we went for one of the best independent trips we've ever taken. I highly recommend independent travel to all. We've seen the world that way & enjoyed fantastic experiences you'll Never find on a tour, & all at a fraction of the cost.

  • blueskyclouds

    blueskyclouds said 6 years ago

    This was fun! I went on the trip with you for a moment, from my kitchen table!

  • ViewPatricksArt

    ViewPatricksArt said 6 years ago

    Very interesting and that garlic sweet sauce looks yummy!

  • PurePalette

    PurePalette said 6 years ago

    This article is truely making me miss my home town, Chonburi. I always go back there for Thai food and tropical fruits.

  • paperdesigner

    paperdesigner said 6 years ago

    What a fun escape on a chilly day.

  • HopesArtCreations

    HopesArtCreations said 6 years ago

    Ahh...Thailand,oh the memories of people staring at us everywhere we went.My Thai husband and I and our 4 half Thai children felt like celebrities there^_^

  • herbmaiden

    herbmaiden said 6 years ago

    very interesting article !!

  • salvageshop

    salvageshop said 6 years ago

    i have only made a short visit to bangkok, but now i want to go again!

  • artofjane

    artofjane said 6 years ago

    this was great.

  • bayousalvage

    bayousalvage said 6 years ago

    what a creative article- Ayun please share more of your adventures with us soon and dont forget to leave the ladies downstairs when you go to sleep :)

  • fashionL

    fashionL said 6 years ago


  • ritney

    ritney said 6 years ago

    sweet article.. mmhh.. toilet paper as a napkin is not that bad.. what about when they cut the ice (for the fruit juice) on the cement floor (with the huge rat hangin around)?! oh that one is in Jakarta...LOL

  • KKcelebrity

    KKcelebrity said 6 years ago

    Sawasdee ka means Hi!Hola!Bonjour!Hallo!Ciao! Bangkok is one of Amazing place on earth and vary lifestyles you can enjoy,once you are there you will feel like a spell that makes you return there once more time!or often!like me! Bravo Ayun!..Amazing article,kobkunka.

  • SheridanArt

    SheridanArt said 6 years ago

    cheap cheap for you... a phrase that still rings in my ears, loved Khao San and the characters who wandered there!Local buses were better than tuk tuk remember hanging out of the door with the hundreds of locals and of course random farm animals, on route to a temple one afternoon- funny after we got off!! My husband was intent on doing everything like the locals when we went back packing. Thanks for bringing it all back :)

  • the7thrabbit

    the7thrabbit said 6 years ago

    Sawaddee from Bangkok!!!! Welcome back anytime ^_________________^

  • jellibat

    jellibat said 6 years ago

    lol, it's just tissue paper on a roll, as long as it hasn't been in the bathroom or used first it aint contaminated, that's the least thing to be squicked about, specially when you have a journal made from elephant poo and smoke dubious substances ;p

  • bluewhitejewelrywear

    bluewhitejewelrywear said 6 years ago

    I lived in Bangkok for 9 years - this has brought back many memories - you have captured BKK! I miss the weekend trips to Chattuchuk; pad thai - well,all the foods and fruits! Kop khun ka!

  • ohbabydotcom

    ohbabydotcom said 6 years ago


  • HollyyS

    HollyyS said 6 years ago

    This is brilliant! Beautiful pictures! Hmmmm....I can feel a trip to Bangkok coming on... x

  • IckleBoo

    IckleBoo said 6 years ago

    I am loving these 'armchair' tours.

  • padisclassicmountain

    padisclassicmountain said 6 years ago

    Love the photos.. and the sign in the window of the last photo made me laugh!

  • mountainvintage

    mountainvintage said 6 years ago

    I really enjoyed this format and story. Beautiful items, many of which I've added to favorites. That spirit house incense burner is very unique!

  • ajith1

    ajith1 said 6 years ago

    hi... this is awesome thanks for sharing and must be appreciated by all.

  • bluebirdsandblossoms

    bluebirdsandblossoms said 6 years ago

    What a great series. Nice selection of complimentary items too!

  • akcopperraven

    akcopperraven said 6 years ago

    great article...what a joy to be able to travel to such unique loving the blue spirit house !!

  • AkumuInk

    AkumuInk said 6 years ago

    Very nice stuff!

  • jaipuronline

    jaipuronline said 6 years ago

    Great stuff.....

  • GracefullyGirly

    GracefullyGirly said 6 years ago

    Thai food, spicy and so delicious. I wish I could eat it every day!

  • CarlasFunkyArt

    CarlasFunkyArt said 6 years ago

    Bangkok it on my list of "must see" destinations....thanks for the article, how inspirational!!!!!

  • vintageobscura

    vintageobscura said 6 years ago

    What an honor to see my fan in this great article! I adore Thailand and reading this brought me right back to balmy Bangkok nights, and steamy Chiang Mai days. I can almost taste the food and smell everything wonderful right now.

  • heroicbeer

    heroicbeer said 6 years ago

    Wow, thank you so much for featuring my tuk tuk print! I really enjoyed browsing from the other choice items included in the article. They're making me wish I was in sunny Thailand riding a motorbike through the sand again! Oh well, I'll keep enjoying this cocoa and more Storque ;)

  • congcongdesign

    congcongdesign said 6 years ago

    beautiful article.

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