Pictures taken on the Nikon Df, with a 35mm lens.
For any of you interested in the listing I stayed in this trip, you can check it out at airbnb.com/jemma.
Because who would have known, am I right?
Bangkok is a familiar friend – I’ve been multiple times over the past years, but never with Airbnb. I’ve always just checked in to the ubiquitous hotels around the area almost as something of a reflex – but after traveling Europe for seven months, I’ve learnt that Airbnb has proven quite a gem in the past and would continue to do so for years to come. This time, Lex and I returned to Bangkok ready to get intimate with the city: more than the marathon shopping we’re so used to, we wanted to explore the lesser known nooks of the city and take it easy this time round. One thing led to another and we ended up in this dreamy apartment down in Thong Lor, the upcoming hipster area in Bangkok.
It was something of an accident – I was just browsing apartments and this one popped up one day, zero reviews because it was a brand new listing, no idea what exactly to expect of it. I sent the link over to the Airbnb Team to ask for their opinion, and it turns out the photos of the listing was taken by a professional Airbnb photographer so it was more or less legitimate (you can tell by the ‘verified photo’ label when you click on the pictures), so we just held our breath and booked it. And what a beautiful accident, too.
I was communicating with Jamie (our host) via LINE chat up to a week before touching down, and he was nothing but helpful. Isn’t that such a dead ringer for a cliche? He was nothing but helpful. But it was the truth, though. He offered in a completely non pushy way to show us around, and when we arrived late at night there were fresh flowers and a fancy bottle of red waiting for us. The entire place smelt like jasmine. It was amazing.
The apartment itself was gorgeous. We’d booked a beautiful duplex loft in a condominium – read: 24 hour security and guards on standby – and I don’t think we’d ever return to a hotel again. We were squealing from the minute the car pulled up to the building: everything just screamed lush, and I don’t think we were ever allowed to open the main door ourselves – the guards on standby always insisted on doing it for us.
How crazy is this, Lex? I asked, as we were tapping into the lift lobby.
I’m not getting excited until we see the room She insisted. Photos can be so misleading.
We reached our floor and I threw open the door.
How about now?
I was quite rightly smug.
The place was everything I’d ever dreamed of in a girlfriends loft, the kitchen leading seamlessly into the living room and the overlooking loft bed. And the view – oh! the view! I could see for miles. It was incredible. And it helped that the whole place just smelt so good. Freshly cut lilies, right there.
We’re here safely, I texted Jamie.
Good to hear it. I’ll see you girls tomorrow.
And thus began one of the best stays in our life.
We had quite a bit of an issue getting out of the apartment in the mornings. Not because of any logistical fault – the place itself was quite impeccable. But it was also luxurious to quite an unearthly level, making it an actual, legitimate challenge to bring ourselves to get ready and leave the apartment each day. And the entire compound – Ideo Morph 38 – was quite self sustaining, with its own pool, lounge, and cafe. Right outside the building we had some of the best street food in Thailand – for example, Bangkok’s best Mango Sticky Rice can be found on the streets of Thong Lor and there alone. It even converted Lex, who isn’t very keen on Mango Sticky Rice to begin with.
But let me not get ahead of myself. If we start on the street food of Thong Lor, I’ll never complete this post. I’ll save that for another day. Right now, lets focus on exploring the compound..
Right within the complex sat one of the most eclectic cafes we’d ever seen. The Book Cafe was obviously somewhat inspired by Harry Potter, and featured staircases to nowhere, books falling right out of shelves at you, and the most incredible menu with dishes like Chick Lit Salad, and cocktails called The Ernest Hemingway. Every lit geek’s dream, evidently.
But even hours spent staring dazedly at the wondrous cafe could not detract us from our main mission that trip – checking out the infinity pool.
There were a couple of reasons why we were so excited about the pool. Firstly, it looked amazing in the photos. Secondly, it would look amazing in our photos. Thirdly, one of the girls Lex works with had sent her some pretty sick floats for us to mess around with. And mess around we did.
What is it about pools, infinity pools in particular, that have us so ridiculously excited? Has it got to do with the fact that we have a pretty famous one sitting right in our Singaporean backyard, completely inaccessible to anyone else but tourists with the cash to splurge, dyou think? On the other hand, beautiful pools seem to be a kind of standard with airbnb apartments, particularly the ones in Bangkok. I cannot tell you how many times I’d flipped through the listings only to pause and swoon over a particularly dreamy pool. Still, I’m glad we picked this one – just look at how beautiful it all is! We had the best morning, slowly getting browner under the sun as we splashed around and made fools of ourselves.
PS. If you’re keen on the floats, they’re available for rental on a weekly basis from floatrentalsg.
I’m flipping through the days fast because I’m trying to keep my area guide to a separate post – but either way! Our apartment had a free 24/7 tuktuk service out to the BTS, which basically spoilt us silly – we felt like we never really had to walk anywhere again. We took it out each day to start exploring, and on one of the days we arranged to meet Jamie for drinks and dinner. Drinks and dinner – in that very order, because the bar Jamie suggested just happened to be the best place in town to catch the incredible Bangkok sunset..
Over drinks, we bonded. My favourite part of airbnb, couch surfing, or any type of intimately styled accommodation, is getting to know a local who really knows the city. In this case, Jamie was an American expat who moved to Asia years ago and finally settled down in Bangkok. Here, we play five seconds with Jamie..
Why did you choose to move to Bangkok, of all places?
I’ve always had this fascination with Asia and knew I wanted to try and live here one day. I’ve traveled extensively around asia in the past 10 years and to me Bangkok is by far the most livable city for me. Perfect mix of ultra modern and traditional charm, weather is always good (i hate the cold), great nightlife, music, and creative scene. It’s also a seemingly endless labyrinth of worlds within worlds to explore so i never get bored, and compared to other major asian cities it’s affordable. On top of all that it’s just a quick ride or flight to some of the most amazing beaches in the world.
What’s your favourite thing about Bangkok?
Where’s your top secret local hangout – bar, cafe, area, whichever – that you feel is completely underrated but that everyone should definitely hit?
Now if i told you that it would be a little like shooting myself in the foot. Some secrets are better kept as secrets. But I would encourage people to break away from the tourists heard centered around lower Sukhumvit Rd. and Khao San Rd. The Mid Sukhumvit area (Phrom Phong, Thonglor, and Ekkamai) that my Airbnb listings are located is packed with amazing places: great cafes, restaurants, bars, boutiques, and art galleries. Break away from the pack and explore, find your own secret place. It’s always more special that way anyway. This neighborhood has infinite possibilities to do that.
What made you want to get into airbnb hosting?
I had used Airbnb a bit before during my many years of traveling and really enjoyed being able to live like a local, meet great people, and find a place with a bit more style and originality. It can be boring to stay in a hotel and have a generic travel experience. I’ve now gained a fair amount of knowledge and experience about Bangkok and it’s fun for me to share that with others. I’m always happy to make sure they don’t get trapped in the typical tourist rut and have an amazing holiday in the city.
What’s your favourite/ most memorable airbnb hosting experience?
Can’t say one really stands out and i’ve truly enjoyed them all. I had the opportunity to meet some great people from all around the world, and a few have even become great friends. Looking forward to many more great experiences in the future.
These questions were thrown out over the course of the night, amongst other things. We learnt the best food spots in the area, guessed that he was fantastic at yoga, though not at his own humble admission, and listened as he told us crazy stories from his five years in Bangkok. In return, we told him stories from our travels all over Europe (Lex did Paris, I did Germany), and all about life in Singapore, from the perspective of two girls who know next to nothing about the world. Good laughs were had. In this way were three good hours spent. After the sun went down completely, we started getting a little hungry.
We’re going to look for tilapia fish, We announced.
Wait, you mean that huge salted thing they roast on hot coals? Can I come with you? I’ve never tried it.
How can you have never tried it?! You’ve lived here five years!
I don’t know, they’ve always looked kind of intimidating.
It was understandable. The three of us trooped over to the rows of street food blinking at us right outside the apartment. (See, we’ve ended up on the topic of street food somehow, against my better judgement.)
It was, as expected – completely amazing.
Over dinner the plastic chairs theory was developed – food tastes better when you sit on those grimy little plastic chairs to eat, does it not? Somehow street food in Bangkok really is the thing that hits the spot, no restaurant truly comes close. Not even.
We flip through the days some more and arrive on our last afternoon in Bangkok. Lex and I were coming back after a full day of wandering down Thong Lor, exploring various new cafes and getting intimate with the local florists (8 baht for a single rose stalk! 8 baht!), and wanted one last shot at the Tomyum down the road. We had checked out earlier in the day, since our flight was a late night one, and were supposed to coordinate a time to meet Jamie at the lobby to be tapped into the building for our bags. While Lex ordered, I sent Jamie a text to let him know we were nearby:
We’re right down the road, Lex is just trying to get her last fill of authentic tomyum.
Haha. Tell Lex to chill. Enjoy your tomyum – I’ll meet you there with your bags.
What? No. Don’t. We have a ridiculous amount of stuff. It’s a girl thing.
See you there.
Sure enough, in under a half an hour, just as we were wiping up the last of our tomyum, Jamie appeared with all our bags in tow. I should state now that we each had one trolley luggage piece and one handcarry. I have no idea how he manoeuvred them all down to us successfully, but I have to say, we were very touched. And sizeably impressed.
Saying goodbye to Jamie and the apartment was possibly one of the hardest things we had to do in Bangkok, ever, all past trips combined. How do you bid farewell to an apartment like that? And after so long – Jamie seemed more like an old friend than a faceless landlord.
This trip was incredible and so much more.
Thank you for making this trip possible, Airbnb! And thank you, Jamie, for being such a wonderful host.
For any of you interested in the listing I stayed in this trip, you can check it out at airbnb.com/jemma. Credits for your next trip too, if you use my referral link there!
What an insane trip. Bangkok, you never fail to delight.