From The Hangover II to American Gangster to Bridget Jones: dozens of Hollywood movies have been recorded – or are set – in Thailand. And for a good reason: this Southeast Asian country boasts bustling cities, white sandy beaches and dramatic mountain scenery. This journey takes you to the highlights of Thailand, in six film quotes.
Arrived Bangkok, very hot. Relieved at last to throw myself into serious journalistic work.
Bright pink and yellow ribbons are tied around a huge tree trunk. In tiny altars food and drinks are being offered to the gods. The trees are cheerfully decorated with red lanterns. A bit further down the alley an oldtimer Mini is rusting away. ‘There’s no time to stop,’ Piyawat says, the guide, as he zigzags his way through two hundred year old Chinatown. If only I can keep up with him, getting lost in this city of millions is the last thing I need. Piyawat disappears behind the next corner, before he enters a building. I follow him, up the stairs, all the way to the rooftop. ‘Just in time for a sunset beer’, he grins when we arrive on the rooftop terrace. He points at the beautiful view over Bangkok, the bright red sun is about to go down. We sit down with an ice-cold Singha. On this hot day, with a beautiful view over Bangkok, this is the perfect introduction to Thailand.
But, as much as Bridget Jones in The Edge of Reason, I’m here to do serious journalistic work. The next few days I will be discovering the highlights of Thailand – both in and around Bangkok, as well as up north in Chiang Mai, the largest city of the region. But first I’m about to go on a cultural and culinary discovery of Bangkok’s Chinatown. Piyawat is guiding me through the now dark maze of alleyways. Still, it doesn’t take long before we arrive again in the hustle and bustle of the neon lit streets. On both sides of the road, food vendors are stir-frying, barbecuing and grilling on open fires, not minding the traffic that is still making its way through the neighbourhood. On one corner of the street dim sum is steamed in enormous stainless steel pots, while on another corner a young man is selling purple pomegranate juice. The local crowd is swarming in between all these stalls, looking for their favourite snacks. There’s nothing left for me to do on this first day in Bangkok, but to follow their example.