If the way to a man’s heart is indeed through his stomach, as the popular idiomatic expression goes, this would go a long way towards explaining the direct correlation between two of my biggest passions and pleasures in life. The exploration of a country’s cultural heritage via its gastronomy is such a vital component of my love for travel that I get giddy with excitement when I am handed a menu for the first time in a new destination. Exotic dishes, unusual cooking styles, fresh juices, wacky cocktails and never-heard-of craft beer: a whole world of possibilities opens itself with every new passport stamp acquired.

After the disappointingly slim pickings offered by filipino cuisine and still struggling with balut PTSD, the prospect of four days in Bangkok had me salivating with anticipation onto my tray table for the entire duration of the three hour flight from Manila to the Thai capital. That my only previous visit had been a fleeting 24 hour layover more than twenty years ago essentially made this a new destination, and the promise of culinary hedonism was further amplified by the impending arrival of a partner in epicurean crime in the shape of Angus, an old, old, even older than me school friend of 32 years. Things were looking good.

A preliminary review of my three most commonly used gastronomic reference guides announced that things were going to get even better. With my cocktail bible revealing the close proximity of the 14th and 24th best bars in the world, myriad Michelin Guide starred and recommended entries, and even Untappd showing some more than decent craft beer drinking dens, the question was whether four days would be enough (SPOILER: it wasn’t…). And so armed with excited tastebuds and enthusiastic legs, off we went to explore on foot one of the planet’s finest foodie heavens, with the sole objective to reintroduce into our bodies as much liquid as we would sweat and as many calories as we would burn.

All this in four days? Challenge accepted…

Walking past a couple of Ferraris and Lamborghinis into the Four Seasons Hotel dressed as overaged Gap Year backpackers might not be standard cocktail bar etiquette, but our faux-bourgeois middle class public school accents did enough to convince successive concièrges to offer us prime seating at the bar of the wonderful BKK Social Club – #1 rated bar in Thailand, and #14 in the world. Two fabulous cocktails in such decadently opulent surroundings were the perfect way to start the mission. A half bottle of Thailand’s infamous Sang Som rum at “Jack’s” ramshackle river bar exactly one hour later, was an even better way to continue it. The tastebud rollercoaster had begun…

🍸 First drink of the mission – at BKK Social Club 🍸

🥃 Thailand’s infamous backpacker “juice”… 🥃

Eating well, most fortunately, does not have to be as costly as drinking well, especially in Asia. Culinary highlights included Mr Jo’s outstanding crispy pork and Pa Lek’s fragrant boat noodles, neither of which cost more than $2 per person. Various pad thais were dispatched, as were multiple street food meat sticks of questionable origin. More superlative cocktails were enjoyed at Tropic City, whilst unexpectedly enjoyable craft beers were sourced at Haze, Tai Soon, and Rabbit Hill. Four days of eating and drinking as the old King of Siam himself might have done, walking and sweating the streets of his beautiful capital city.

🐖 Mr. Jo’s spectacular crispy pork 🐖

🦑 Anyone for squid? 🦑

We even managed to feed our cultural karma in between watering holes and feeding troughs, as we visited, passed, and sometimes quite obstinately ignored temples, shrines, and statues of Buddha too numerous to count. Far too numerous to count. The perfect balance was struck between knowing when to stop to rehydrate, and knowing when to put in the foot miles to appease our inner calorie counters. These were four days of excellent food and superb drink, of river cruises and temple climbs, daytime exploration and nighttime adventures. These were four days in Bangkok done well, very well.

 🦐 Thai prawn tartare ceviche – yummmmm  🦐

🚨 Hipster craft beer bar alert 🚨

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