The land of smiles. The beautiful, sunshine state. The two go hand in hand like a long walk down a white sand beach. Whether you are a farang living in Thailand’s concrete metropolis or an expat passing through, here are 10 things only Californians in Bangkok will understand.
1. The City of Angels
Californians are proud of where they call home and to tread where the divine dwell is nothing short of impressive.The city of Los Angeles translates from Spanish to the The City of Angels, and reins over the sunshine state as the second largest municipality in the U.S. Bangkok has it’s own size complex and empowers Thailand as the most populous metropolis in the region. What’s more, the two sprawling cities even share the same nickname— Krung Thep or, The City of Angels. With this name used by local Thai’s today, they claim the immortal reside here. What’s even more fascinating is that the elixir of life and secret to long lasting youth seem to reside in Los Angeles as well, in the form of Botox and nip-tuck procedures. L.A. boasts of perfection and plastic and in Bangkok, society does not skimp on its wide variety of skin whiteners, eye contacts and hair extensions. Even surgical procedures for pointier noses and almond shaped eyes are not hard to come by. Both cities share more than just a nickname, allowing Californians to bask in the shallow end of their ideals far away from home.
2. The Land of Smiles and The Golden State
Two other nicknames dubbed by Bangkok and California are The Land of Smiles and The Golden State. An abundance of sunshine and laid back attitude seemingly link the two together. While Southern California is known for its Cali Chill mentality, Thailand locals are equally known for their relaxed dispositions and peaceful way of living. Rarely will you see a Thai without a smile on their face; in fact, it is uncustomary for one to lose their cool. We both share that calm, go with the flow approach to life— except when someone cuts you off in traffic. Road rage in California runs rampant with rush hours costing the average person 92 hours of their life. In Bangkok, the swarms of motorbikes and tuk tuk’s weaving wildly through the streets have made this city one of the most dangerous in the world for motorcy accidents. Thai taxi drivers hate sitting in traffic just as much as Californian’s do, so be prepared to share a good laugh while simultaneously cursing out passerby.
Yet another factor that connects Los Angeles and Bangkok: their fast-growing trend of food trucks. One set of wheels in particular, 2 Angels Tacos, is specifically named after the two “City of Angels.” This motorized Mexican hub even imports corn masa from California for their house-made corn tortillas. A delicious rumor: Daniel Thaiger’s food truck has lines down the street and mouthwatering burgers that closely resemble California’s Inn and Out. That’s something only a Californian can feel good about.
4. Flip Flops
This could very well be the national shoe here in Thailand. Even during rainy season residents of Bangkok sport their fancy foot wear in the form of crocks and sandals. While this may seem awkward at first, the fashion choice makes sense in light of Thailand’s lack of seasons. With the weather ranging from hot to hotter with a few months of showers in between, it’s easy to see why flip flops could well represent the national shoe. In Bangkok everyone from infant to elderly rock these rubber slip-ons because let’s face it, it’s just too hot for regular footwear. Likewise in California, flip flops annually make their way across campuses, malls and boardwalks. Cali locals are proud to rock their Havaiana’s any day of the year, so its refreshing to see Thai’s embracing the same laid back mentality.
Californians understand this haven of late-night munchies mostly due to its 24 hours of operation. Splashed all over Bangkok with locations on every corner, customers need not travel far for basic items. The only thing a California native might miss are the nachos- which go from non-edible to freakin’ delicious after a long night of drunken shenanigans. Here, the 7/11’s feature packaged Thai dishes, hand rolls, and a variety of manufactured hotdogs. Thai’s love their wieners, or lack of them, which brings us to #8.
6. Lady boys
Among the rolling hills of San Francisco one can find rainbow flagged avenues adorning its famed Castro street. In Bangkok, the neon-lit Soi Cowboy never fails to entertain. From drag to ass-less chaps, anything goes. What’s best is that both state and country seem to share the same mantra: Be Yourself. Not only is this liberal frame of mind accepted, it’s encouraged. Californian’s might be the most chill when it comes to accepting others as they are because it’s what we do. When Caitlyn Jenner made her big debut and even snagged an award for Woman of the Year, it was no big thang. Amen to the ladyboys with their fabulous flair for individuality.
Two things only Californians will understand: our undying love for anything taco or burrito related and the sad absence of it in Bangkok. Sure, there are a spots but it just isn’t the same. With Cali hugging the Mexico border, there is certainly no shortage of authentic Mexican cuisine pervading every strip mall and street corner. Due to its sad absence in Bangkok, we would be more than happy with Chiptotle- heck, we’ll even settle for a taco bell. Sunrise Taco’s- Bangkok’s own chain of Mexican fast-food, just isn’t the same.
It’s difficult to enjoy Mexican food without this gem. This is the fruit of the gods to Californian’s and in Bangkok, avocados prove very hard to come by. If you happen to find one in the market, they are usually overpriced and far from ripe with only a small window of edibility. The lack of this botanical berry is something only someone from California would truly miss.
Greasy food and cold brew in a bar while shouting at the T.V. is a low-key pastime for us Californians. But while we really don’t care about soccer, in Thailand it’s huge. If you’re from the sunshine state and love American football, you’ll get a rude awakening here in the big city. Asking the local pub to turn on the game will result in a whole different sport clad with checkered balls and knee-high socks. It’s sad to say, due to the excitement of two NFL teams making their way to Inglewood and a lot of hype missed out from this neck of the woods. The best bet is too settle for rugby, as truth be told those Scandinavian sized guys in the tight shorts have a way of kicking up the heat a bit. I’ll grab some beers and buffalo wings any Sunday at Malloy’s to catch a glimpse of that.
The bustling entertainment industry lends yet another similarity to California and Bangkok. Whether you’re catching an off-broadway production in San Fran or attending a Hollywood premiere, one difference is that BKK’s theatrics are usually viewed at night. At the end of a dark soi. Yet performers are abundant and so are the risque nature of their attractions. If you’re lucky, they’ll even let you catch a ping pong ball. Good vibes, sunshine and adventure link the Land of Smiles and Golden State. There’s never a dull moment here in Bangkok whether it’s a water-gun fight against a local merchant during Songkran festival, or climbing the haunted tower in Sathorn at sunset. Perhaps this is why so many Californian’s flock here in the first place: We know how to appreciate beauty and there’s no shortage of that in Paradise.