My first memory of Thailand is hopping onto the back of a motorbike at Mo Chit bus station in northern Bangkok, and speeding off into a vortex of street food stalls, religious sites, fluorescent taxi cabs—and, yes, smiles—that still hasn't released its hold on me.
All the aspects of Bangkok that made me fall in love with the city—and with Thailand—almost a decade ago remain intact, from the temples and shrines you find traipsing around the old city of Rattanakosin, to the boundless energy of districts like Yaowarat (China Town) and Silom, to the Chao Phraya River, the veritable artery of Thailand's City of Angels.
But a new Bangkok is born every day, whether in the form of the recently-completed Maha Nakhon Tower (Thailand's tallest building), state-of-the-art lifestyle and entertainment complexes like Central Embassy, or the recently-opened Purple Line of the Bangkok MRT, which puts distant reaches of the city (Meaning: authentic local food!) within traffic-free reach.
Bangkok, more than any other city I've ever visited, is alive. Getting to know Bangkok is less a matter of reading information from a guide, and more akin to putting your finger on someone's pulse.