Getting Around Bangkok- I Love It!

The city of Bangkok, or Krung Thep, as it is called in Thai, is a bustling and busy urban area, filled with exotic and enticing sights, sounds, and smells. Because Bangkok is densely populated, as well as a popular place to visit, it is constantly buzzing with people. And like many big cities, it is utterly notorious for its traffic. At any time of day or night, it is close to impossible to avoid a gridlock on the streets of Bangkok. You shouldn’t worry when you visit there, though. One of my favorite things about Bangkok is the wide array of convenient public transportation that is available. There is really no need for you to rent a car. Here are some of the best ways to get around Bangkok:

The Skytrain, called the Bangkok Transit System or BTS, is an extensive rail system that connects all of the main entertainment, business, and shopping districts of the city. A new train arrives every 3-6 minutes between 6:30 am and midnight. The BTS is a super speedy, cheap, clean, safe, and easy way to get around town.

The Mass Rapid Transit Network, or MRT, is a relatively new underground transport system, as it just began running in 2004. The MRT is pretty impressive- it has the ability to whiz 40,000 passengers per hour all over the city. Plus, the underground network is air conditioned and has mobile phone reception. It is quite handy!

Boats and ferries are a terrific way to get around the historic riverside area of the city. Several different types of boats run all up and down the Chao Phraya River. Some companies, such as The Chao Phraya Express Boat Company, offer a full day boat pass, which allows you to ride down the river and stop at many of Bangkok’s major attractions, such as the Temple of Dawn and the Grand Palace.

Public buses are a very cheap way to get around town. Plus, if you are interested in traveling with locals, this is a great way to do it. The Bangkok Mass Transit Authority, or BMTA, has a very extensive route, so you can get pretty much anywhere you wish to go. The buses can get quite crowded, though, so don’t forget to offer up your seat to local women, children, and monks if there is standing room only.

Motorbike taxis are one of the fastest ways to get around town, especially if you are traveling by yourself. However, since motorbike drivers tend to dart around the busy traffic and even onto sidewalks, this is probably also the most dangerous method as well. If you do wish to take a motorbike taxi ride, you can easily spot them. Drivers wear bright orange vests on their motorbikes, and tend to congregate on the street corners of busy areas such as office buildings and shopping centers.

Tuk-tuks used to be the most popular way to get around Thailand until the BTS and the MRT became so popular. Really, though, every visitor to Thailand should ride in a tuk-tuk at least once for the experience. Tuk-tuks are little three-wheeled vehicles. They evolved from traditional rickshaws, and are essentially like rickshaws with a motor. Tuk-tuks are best for short little rides to give you a rest from walking. For rides across the city, stick to the other major methods of transportation.

My Penpal in Bangkok, Thailand

Did you know that the barking deer is just one of the rare mammals that calls Thailand home? Really, I couldn’t make this up! Until quite recently, however, I thought that a barking deer was only a creature that existed perhaps in a cartoon or video game. It was my good college buddy Jamie who recently shared with me the news of this interesting creature from her home in Bangkok.

 

Jamie is an American citizen who had lived here in the United States all her life. Up until recently, that is, when she decided to travel to Bangkok, Thailand to work with the Goodwill Group. She has been working with disadvantaged Thai women to help teach them basic computer skills, and also teaches English classes for 3 hours a week. The tenure of her stay is planned for 4 months… but at this point I’ll be surprised if she ever comes back! In each email she writes me, all Jamie can do is rave about how wonderful Thailand is, and how welcoming all of the people are. Plus, Bangkok is definitely a foreigner-friendly city. The American dollar is the most widely accepted foreign currency there. Bangkok is the spiritual, economic, and political center of the country. It holds an eclectic mix of both old traditions, such as street markets, and new attractions, such as a huge shopping mall called the Siam Center.

 

Thailand is known of the “Land of Smile”, and according to Jamie’s emails the people of the city of Bangkok are super friendly, charitable, and hospitable. A term that is commonly used in Thailand is “nam jai”, which means helpfulness. Jamie’s job really does personify the spirit of nam jai. Working with the Goodwill Group is a role that obviously brings countless rewards. The women are so grateful to her that they have begun calling her Jaidee, which in Thai means “good hearted,” instead of her American name.

 

One of Jamie’s concerns in moving to Bangkok for 4 months was that she would not have a place to attend Shabbat morning services. The country of Thailand is 95% Buddhist, so she assumed that there would not be a Jewish community in Bangkok. How pleasantly wrong she was! Thailand has always stood for religious tolerance. Because of this, a little over 100 Jews escaped from Nazi Germany in the 1920s by fleeing to Thailand. Later in the 1950s and 1960s, Jews began to immigrate from America, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Iran. In 1964, the Jewish Community of Thailand was established.

 

For services, Jamie attends Beth Elisheva, a synagogue in Bangkok. The synagogue was consecrated in 1979, and was named in honor of Elizabeth Rosenberg, Zerner, who was the first Thai born daughter of the first Jewish citizens in Thailand. The synagogue maintains both a Sunday school and a nursery school, and even has a communal barbecue every other week, followed by English classes. From what Jamie has written, it seems that Beth Elisheva has truly made Bangkok feel like home.

 

 

Bangkok, Thailand, Is a Foreigner-Friendly City

Did you know that the barking deer is just one of the rare mammals that calls Thailand home? Really, I couldn’t make this up! Until quite recently, however, I thought that a barking deer was only a creature that existed perhaps in a cartoon or video game. It was my good college buddy Jamie who recently shared with me the news of this interesting creature from her home in Bangkok.

Jamie is an American citizen who had lived here in the United States all her life. Up until recently, that is, when she decided to travel to Bangkok, Thailand, to work with the Goodwill Group.

She has been working with disadvantaged Thai women to help teach them basic computer skills, and she also teaches English classes for three hours a week. The tenure of her stay is planned for four months … but at this point I’ll be surprised if she ever comes back!

In each email she writes me, all Jamie can do is rave about how wonderful Thailand is and how welcoming all of the people are. Plus, Bangkok is definitely a foreigner-friendly city. The American dollar is the most widely accepted foreign currency there.

Bangkok is the spiritual, economic, and political center of the country. It holds an eclectic mix of both old traditions such as street markets and new attractions such as a huge shopping mall called the Siam Center.

Thailand is known as the “Land of Smile,” and according to Jamie’s emails the people of the city of Bangkok are super friendly, charitable, and hospitable. A term that is commonly used in Thailand is “nam jai,” which means helpfulness. Jamie’s job really does personify the spirit of nam jai.

Working with the Goodwill Group is a role that obviously brings countless rewards. The women are so grateful to her that they have begun calling her Jaidee, which in Thai means “good hearted,” instead of her American name.

One of Jamie’s concerns in moving to Bangkok for four months was that she would not have a place to attend Shabbat morning services. The country of Thailand is 95% Buddhist, so she assumed that there would not be a Jewish community in Bangkok. How pleasantly wrong she was!

Thailand has always stood for religious tolerance. Because of this, a little over 100 Jews escaped from Nazi Germany in the 1920s by fleeing to Thailand. Later in the 1950s and 1960s, Jews began to immigrate from America, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Iran. In 1964, the Jewish Community of Thailand was established.

For services, Jamie attends Beth Elisheva, a synagogue in Bangkok. The synagogue was consecrated in 1979 and was named in honor of Elizabeth Rosenberg Zerner, who was the first Thai-born daughter of the first Jewish citizens in Thailand. The synagogue maintains both a Sunday school and a nursery school, and it even has a communal barbecue every other week, followed by English classes.

From what Jamie has written, it seems that Beth Elisheva has truly made Bangkok feel like home.

Thai Panang beef

Panang beef is one of those recipes that everyone loves, whether it’s kids or grandparents, college students or anyone else from any country in the world. Rich herbal flavors inspired by Indian influence in Thailand, and adapted to give it a unique Thai flavor. Here we’ve prepared a simple recipe that’s sure to be a popular favorite. Read More “Thai Panang beef”

Pad Thai

Thai cuisine is considered among the world’s most delicious, with a unique blend of particular tastes: hot (spicy), sour (piquant), sweet, and always highlighted with citrus (lemongrass and lime).

Pad Thai is often called the signature dish of Thai cuisine. There are several regional variations, indeed it has been said that Thailand has not only a different curry for every day of the year, but also a different pad Thai for every cook in Thailand! Read More “Pad Thai”

Naomi Muller’s Tuna Patties (Parve)

Thai food is internationally famous. Whether chilli-hot or comparatively blands, harmony is the guiding principle behind each dish. Thai cuisine is essentially a marriage of centuries-old Eastern and Western influences harmoniously combined into something uniquely Thai. The characteristics of Thai food depend on who cooks it, for whom it is cooked, for what occasion, and where it is cooked to suit all palates. Originally, Thai cooking reflected the characteristics of a waterborne lifestyle. Aquatic animals, plants and herbs were major ingredients. Large chunks of meat were eschewed. Subsequent influences introduced the use of sizeable chunks to Thai cooking. Naomi Muller’s Tuna Patties is a popular Thai recipe. Read More “Naomi Muller’s Tuna Patties (Parve)”

Kosher Thai Fried Rice (Meat)

Thai food is internationally famous. Whether chilli-hot or comparatively blands, harmony is the guiding principle behind each dish. Thai cuisine is essentially a marriage of centuries-old Eastern and Western influences harmoniously combined into something uniquely Thai. This Fried rice is a very popular dish of Thailand. Read More “Kosher Thai Fried Rice (Meat)”

Fried Tofu with Peanut Dipping Sauce – Tou Hu Tod

In Thailand, you find the fried tofu sold at the same stall or cart with fried taro. It is a wonderful snack even for those who are not so fond of tofu because the sweet cilantro and peanut sauce makes up for the bland tofu. It can be highly recommend as a snack or appetizer even if you are not a vegetarian. I often bring this dish to potlucks because it is fast, tasty and both vegetarians and non-vegetarians enjoy it. Read More “Fried Tofu with Peanut Dipping Sauce – Tou Hu Tod”

Chiang Mai Curry Noodles, “Khao Soi”

This is a noodle dish, prepared in a rich creamy curry sauce, that is traditional in Northern Thailand. A popular lunchtime meal in northern Thailand. The flavor is not only distinctly “Thai” but it also goes very well with the American palate. A harmony of tastes and herbal flavours are essential. Major tastes are sour, sweet and salty. Spiciness comes in different degrees according to meat textures and occasions. Read More “Chiang Mai Curry Noodles, “Khao Soi””