the arabic, middle eastern and african area of Bangkok is concentrated along Sukhumvit Soi 3 to 5 and along the small alleyways in between in Pleonchit Area of Bangkok. The area where I stayed at the Amari Boulevard Hotel then is the center of this vibrant community and you will see various middle eastern, persian, lebanese restaurants and holes in the wall, shisha lounges, souvenir stalls and middle eastern and African people in this area. there are also shawarma stands and falafel stalls, selling these middle eastern favorites.
Nearest BTS Skytrain Station is Nana at Sukhumvit between Soi 5 and 7.
Many moons ago I arrived at Bangkok airport from Calcutta and made my way by bus to the main Railway station at Hualampong.
In common with most third-world countries, small inexpensive hotels were located around the bus and train stations, and Bangkok was no exception, but it had a salacious reputation with which I was soon to become familiar...........
I bought my train ticket for onward travel to Hat Yai, and booked into the first available hotel, The Thai Song Greet, to rest for the night before the long journey next day. After a meal, from the hotel's front door kitchen, of Nassee Ayam (chicken and rice) with an excellent side dish of red chilli peppers marinated in vinegar and oil, and a few cold beers, I went upstairs to rest from the sticky humid tropical heat, turned the ceiling fan to full speed, and prayed its wobbly attachment to the ceiling would not fail and drop on top of me on the bed.
As evening progressed into night, I was awakened by loud shrill female voices shattering the nocturnal calm, then there was a knock on my door, I opened it to a young Thai girl uttering her well-practised introductory greeting, with a big smile......"Hallo, wanna pop me, Johnny?"
I immediately realised that this young lady's English language skills were in need of remedial advancement, and I was slightly nonplussed by her presentation, but quickly recovered my composure and invited her to join me for a pleasant conversation, which resulted in her staying overnight (to improve her English language skills!)
At that time Bangkok was notorious for the appearance of many American soldiers deserting, on weekend passes, from the Vietnam war, and all desired "services" were enthusiastically provided for them (Thai hospitality).
When I awoke next morning, the girl had gone and the fan was still attached to the ceiling.
I limped across the street to the Railway station, boarded the train, and promptly fell asleep, nocturnal English tuition had been quite exhausting!
The area around Santa Cruz Church was mainly habited by westerners or farangs at the start of the 20th century. This is a peaceful area with narrow streets and some lovely wooden houses. It is close to the river.
Heeheeh,... nope, not a street full of sexual challenge, but hold your breathe! Here the entrails are prepaired for food. Bowels, intestines, tripe, just name it and you can find it here! Indeed this little Soi 1 belongs to the most dirty street of Bangkok, according to many tourists. Because the smell here surpasses the pollution of Bangkok. Yep, Soi 1 right between Siam Center & Mah Boon Karong.
We had to go here for the delicious PLA DUK, the favourite fish-food of my brother. He warned us for the rats and the cockroaches that could show up. They didn't, but take care for the grating in the middle of the pedestrian path. These can dart away under your feet. Not that nice having a dashing, thudding free fall right between the entrails...
Little update: the place has totally been cleaned up 2 years ago (2007), and for now the most delicious odours will tickle your nose ...
Chiang Mai is a good place to buy seeds as alot of organic growing goes on there.
Chatuchak (weekend only) Market has an extensive section devoted only to agriculture and horticulture.
According to legend/myth in Thailand you cannot buy a Siamese Cat you can either steal it or the cat chooses to live with you.
Best of Luck
When you visit the Wat Po and Grand Palace (which can be done in an entire afternoon), walk along the tree-shaded sidewalk between the 2 places, specifically the street -- forgot the name-- nearest the Chao Phraya river. Locals have a sort of flea market (I'm not sure if they do this on Sundays only) where they sell used goods, but brand-new items are also available. Very few tourists are around (probably being a weekend, they'd rather be at Chatuchak) so you might see and buy something not usually found in stores.
Their wares are just laid on the sidewalk for you to browse. No price tags for used items but even if there are, one could still try haggling.
One of our favourite holiday activities is just walking. He who must always know where he is takes the map, but I am happy to wander! Some of our best pictures and ogles have been when we have been lost, and just wandered around the streets. Get off at a station and check out the local markets and streetscape.
This old bike was up against the wall in one of my wanderings, not so far off the beaten path at all!
The second bike was in a fairly busy street - and had obviously become "spare parts"!
Most of these poor old dogs look pathetic, if not quite scary - undoubtedly their bark is worse than their bite - but who's gonna risk it! Dogs and their fleas are everywhere in Bangkok - and beyond - they can be quite snarly - and I'm not about to take any risks.
There seems to be life in every nook and cranny of Bangkok - find a bridge or any form of shelter, and there'll be life underneath. These dogs put me into reverse gear! They look hungry and mean, but, the reality is, they are probably so diseased and weak, they can barely snarl at you! Not a risk taker when it comes to disease and things that bite!
This scene was just a few metres away from a very civilised looking shopping area!
We took the ferry to Tha Rot Fai to see the Royal Barges, and walked a distance to get to them. The fact that Bangkok is such a city of contrasts is evident in so many situations - but the poverty and general lack of comfort and space by Western standards, compared to the absolute wealth contained in the barge museum was most visually evident - just a few feet away from each other..........................
It is however a great little walk past schools, and a community who must put up with plenty of people getting lost on the way as the signage isnt great.
The barges themselves are magnificent and there is a history of the barges in the building aswell. The kids where not as impressed as the adults..
Here is a small real tiny restaurant we had our lunch. This lady was the only waiter serving about 7 tables. We strongly feel that she deserves to be seened by all the VirtualTourists that might bumped into this just ever graceful lady, so hard working for little money. The food was scramptous and when we saw the bill we could not believe how cheap it was for such exotic food served. We love Bangkok not only for the best foods, but the people, the shopping that drives my wife nuts...Everyone has to come and see and enjoy Bangkok.
Though Bangkok can be a very hectic place, you can escape the masses by simply walking in the opposite direction of the attractions. City parks can offer respite from the heat and crowds but even wandering the backstreets in search of leafy-lined canals can be a real treat.
One of my favourite things in Bangkok is wandering around the backstreets ( sois ) in Bangkok - it gets you away from the traffic, and you can see a little of how people live. Some of the areas around the smaller canals can be quite pretty, too. Incidentally, town and city addresses are often given as Soi N, SuchAndSuch road (or even SuchAndSuch road soi N), which means it's on the Nth side-road off SuchAndSuch road, not on the main road itself. In some places (villages for example), streets are called 'moo', as well.
We enjoyed exploring the area behind the Grand Palace, between the palace and the Temple of the Giant Swing. This area was filled with shops selling golden Buddahs of every shape and size.