Schooled by Bangkok – a photo essay…

piece of cake?

Soon after I arrive pretty much anywhere, I try, as a dutiful Swede, to find the nearest IKEA.  I was determined not to make Bangkok an exception so earlier today, I set out to find the Bangkok IKEA.

I’d noticed a while ago that despite the fact that I don’t get cell service on my iPhone, if I look up directions to a location while I have wifi and then keep the map app open, my location is triangulated despite the lack of reception and I can tell where in the city I am by following the little blue tracking dot (pictured above).

Knowing this, I typed “IKEA Bangkok” into my phone and was delighted when the IKEA cafe popped up.  The cafe is after all, half the reason I go to IKEA in the first place.

As it was a Sunday, I figured I’d take my time and take some pictures while navigating to IKEA.  One of my first stops was at my local Muay Thai (thai boxing) training gym.

I wasn't luck enough to see anyone sparring in the ring...

Cockfighting is as big in Thailand as bull fighting is in Spain.  And it seemed that the area around the Muay Thai gym was all about combat sports because I came across these two fighters being prepped for their time in the ring:

Prep before the cockfight...

All was well as I walked across the bridge above a river where I had seen a lizard the length of an alligator the week prior.

I arrived at a busy market and found my favorite omelet stand.  This was the stand where Jammie and I had eaten on our first night in Bangkok.

the spiciest omelet you'll ever have...

As I made my way through the market my pace slowed as I fell into step with the heavy pedestrian traffic.  I paused to admire the inventive cheese on this shirt….

and was tempted to rummage through my local Dollar (or less) store…

I was greatly heartened to see this beacon of hope at one of the stalls… I was on my way!!

but not before documenting these Angry Birds sushi rolls… Amazing.

I took off again.

through traffic…

past spirit houses…  (These are shrines to the protective spirit of a building or home which are generally placed in a very obvious corner of a home or property often selected in consultation with a Brahmin priest.  The shrines are taken very seriously and are intended as homes for spirits that might cause a household trouble if they are not appeased.  Offerings are left at the shrine to please the spirits.)

and across a very convenient bridge over even more traffic.

I ducked into my favorite 24-hour supermarket, Foodland just to make sure that they were still well stocked with expat essentials:

and to make sure Tom Cruise was doing OK

Good luck trying to get this kind of service at your local supermarket:)

As I followed my phone GPS I passed through a dense shopping district.  Bangkok consumerism is a study in contrasts.  There’s absolutely everything. You have this kind of shopping…

next to this kind of shopping

And next to this sizzling amazingness…

you have Auntie Anne’s

and hybrids that I have not yet ventured into testing…

But enough with the mall shopping.  As I got closer to my destination I caught a glimpse of the gorgeous Thai teak house that is the Chao Phraya Bodindecha (Sing Singhaseni) Museum on the campus of the Bodindecha School, a high school with a student population of 5000 in the Wang Thonglang area of Bangkok.

My Bangkok-based friends probably know what happened next based on the place names.  I arrived at the address for “Ikea cafe” and there wasn’t an IKEA anywhere to be seen.  I stopped some passersby.  They assured me that IKEA was nowhere close to where I thought it was.  I was so mad.

I walked around the area where the map said it was.  And sure enough, “Ikea cafe” was real.  Or rather, it had been real.  It was now closed.  But there’s some amazing car detailing work done right next to its former location.  And that’s where this photo essay ends.  I’ve had better days.

No IKEA but Midnight Car Wash was in full swing...



Bjorn Karlman

Bangkok, Thailand


9 thoughts on “Schooled by Bangkok – a photo essay…”

  1. Oh man… :( But I like this photo essay business. Keep it up- it’s great for the visually-oriented readers.

  2. The optimist in me says…look at all the new discoveries along the walk despite the fact that you may not have planned it. The other part of my brain says..uRRRRGGGGHHH!!! all that for the closed “IKEA CAFE”???? Both sides can agree that it is worth living the experience. It will be OK.

  3. you’re going to rename this blog right – to the cultural eating adventures of Bjorn. the food looks delicious even for a vegetarian like myself. even after you posted in gory details how to never eat street food. can you fedex some shabu tofu over here?

    Glad you found Ikea (even if not the Swedish build it yourself furniture store:) – I had a funny experience of running into a McD’s when I was in Nicaragua. Unfortunately, it was not Mcdonald’s but McGeorge’s. Similar sounding names – completely different atmosphere.

  4. Great photo essay! Not a happy ending but lovely journey (like finding Nemo Movie)

    About Bodindeja School; when I was in Thailand that was the school my son went to. It used to be a school in the middle of nowhere, with beautiful ponds and a scenic looking hut (Ruen Pae) beside the calm water. I can no longer recognize the whole Wang Tong Lang place the last time I visit.

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