It may be my untrained eye, but one of my early observations about central Bangkok, is that the neighborhoods blend seamlessly. Poor or rich, the sidewalks have a similar feel. Trash litters all streets. Street level infrastructure is identical. In upscale neighborhoods high rises behind private walls may subtly increase in density, but there appears to be low income housing all around too. One block seems seedy, but the next has a nice strip mall. The main drag is dank, but the nearby alleys have nice, cozy, Italian restaurants full of people in suits. Perhaps with time I will understand the system.
The second issue is food. The streets are filled with vendors and restaurants that vary in degree of permanence and appear to serve “traditional” Thai food. Many look and smell good, but my understanding is that such establishments are best avoided for the sake of my gut. As such, I have stuck to the more established looking establishments and even ventured into a chain or two. The problem with this approach is that I cannot find anywhere that fits my current safety/comfort level and serves Thai food. Japanese restaurants abound. Vietnamese places are common. Even Italian food seems very popular. Perhaps my approach is wrong. Given that there is so much Thai food in the street, it is possible that locals would not support normal restaurants serving Thai food. It is also probable that this phenomenon is the product of globalization. Don’t get me wrong, I may be sick of Asian food in a week two, but right now, I’d rather it be easier to find a Thai place than a Mexican cantina or an Irish pub!