Updated: Jul 2, 2020
I'm never sure if its a good idea to go back to somewhere you used to live...
When we arrived in Bangkok we realised that our Airbnb was in the same soi (street) that we had lived on in 2004-2008 - each time we left the Airbnb our eyes would be drawn across the street to our old apartment building. It is now a shell of its former self - the insides have been ripped out, the gardens have been abandoned and from the street we could see the dead trees in the roof gardens. The building's street front had been boarded up. It was all rather sad...
It wasn't just our old apartment building that had changed...
Our soi used to be so lively 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with a variety of shops, a lot of street food stalls and many bars - granted most of the bars were not very salubrious (but that's another story) but, there were always lots of people around, When we arrived on the Monday afternoon it was so quiet and there was an eerie, neglected feel to the place. As we walked down the soi many of the bars and shops appeared to have closed down and were boarded up; there were no street-food stalls and there were very few people.
It turned out that the day we arrived had been a public holiday and it was a relief to see the street-food vendors back the following morning - although the vendors had set up their stalls in front of the boarded up buildings and it was much quieter than we remembered.
Street scenes from our old neighbourhood
In February 2020
We had begun to see the beginning of the impact of Covid-19 in Thailand when we left from Phuket airport - although it was early days for the pandemic, we had our temperature checked as we entered the airport, there were many people wearing masks and a lot of people were beginning to practice social distancing.
It was even more interesting in Bangkok where most people wore masks when they were outside, on the streets, in the parks and on public transport. I had a fascinating experience at the local hairdressers where I was given a mask and told to wear it while I was there. However, the wheels of commerce were still well and truly turning, shops and bars were open, the sky train was operating and there was virtually no social distancing in those spaces.
The new King and Queen
Hairdressers posing! - I was the only customer and so I received lots of attention
People at the Airport wearing masks
Cold Beer, more Thai Food and a Michelin star restaurant
We enjoyed cold beer on a hot day at our old local the 'Robin Hood'. Not much has changed at the RH - they still serve very cold beer and the place was humming.
Then from our local we went to 'The Local' for dinner - a one star Michelin restaurant in Sukhumvit that was in an elegant and traditional colonial-style Thai building. The building included a small antique museum that had pictures of the former king with Elvis! It also had private dining rooms, an outdoor garden bar and a main restaurant that took up several different rooms.
The restaurant had original authentic local Thai food and we indulged in their massaman curry with chicken, bean salad and delicious homemade ice-cream