Rising high above Bangkok’s jagged skyline, the Baiyoke Sky Hotel is the tallest building in Thailand. Its swanky 85 stories of polished marble and soothing lighting towers 303 meters (997 feet) above the gritty hubbub of the street below.
It’s like a cruise ship in the sky with shopping, odd-themed restaurants, and a great view of Bangkok from the revolving platform on the roof. The Fruit Court, Bangkok’s only fruit-centric restaurant, is on the 18th floor.
Since I seem to be on a streak for ritzy fruit, here’s how to eat durian in style in Bangkok.
As soon as I stepped into the cool, echoing halls of the Baiyoke Tower, it dawned on me just how different this durian eating experience was going to be.
If we’re not on a farm, Rob and I usually eat our durian squatting on a market curbside amongst squawking vendors and motorbikes blowing blue clouds in our faces. Just adds a little extra flavor.
Air conditioning, tasteful light fixtures, and calming classical music are not things I associate with durian. Even the durian I paid $300 for was eaten in the blazing shade and motorcycle rumble of a durian farm.
Thankfully, the Baiyoke Fruit Buffet is not as high class as the Nonthaburi Durian. It costs only 250 baht ($7.80), plus an extra 100 baht if you would like to go to the roof to get a view of Bangkok. This is actually a very reasonable price, as any one with a durian appetite in Bangkok knows its all too easy to rack up more than that at a normal durian stall.
Since Rob was still in America, I went with a small group of fruit loving friends. Once we paid, we were given politely sized plates and set loose on the buffet, which included all kinds of interesting things I wouldn’t have expected at a fruit buffet.
I got excited for about half a minute at the line of juices. Lychee juice? Rosella Juice? Yes please! Then the woman in the tidy, bright green uniform admitted that none of the juices were real. Bummerz.
One of the most interesting parts for me was the predominance of Thai fruit-style fruit salads. There were three colors of sticky rice with a sweet coconut syrup to eat with mango, sesame seeds and peanuts to sprinkle over chopped fruit, and various dried and pickled and boiled fruits.
Every table included the essential salt and chile powder served with fruit everywhere in Thailand.
There was even a fondue fountain in case you feel like dipping your durian in chocolate.
Being averse to preservatives I avoided the dried and pickled stuff, but I did taste the fruits boiled in sugar. They all tasted the same to me – like sickly sweet sugar.
So I just stuck to the real deal.
There was a good variety of Thai fruits, peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces ready to simply pop into your mouth with a fork a prim pat of the napkin.
But to be honest, the fruit was a bit scarce. Either the buffet had been ransacked by a Hong Kong tour bus group earlier that afternoon, or they weren’t expecting any one to do more than take a polite sampling of each fruit.
Even the durian was kept behind the counter, only brought out upon request. Our first plate of durian came with only two small pieces intended for four people. We looked at each other a bit grimly across the table, tensing for a scrabble to get the gold.
Luckily, you can just ask for more.
The nice girls behind the counter brought out a large Monthong that was, in Thailand, the perfect durian. It was chilled in the refrigerator, which turns out to wonderfully increase the durians resemblance to ice cream. Each pod was encased in a smooth and slightly crisp outer layer that kept our fingers tidy from the soft, whipped cream flesh within.
If we’d used our fingers. Sitting at the clean table with napkins and cutlery while elevator music tinkled in the background, it felt more appropriate to use a knife and fork. We could have pleased any Victorian prude, if only we could stop giggling.
If Victorian prudes could handle durian, that is.
After we’d had our fill of the fruit buffet, we trekked up the 67 flights upstairs to get a view of Bangkok. In an elevator, of course.
You have to change elevators twice to get to the top, passing through a maze of gift shops, a beached, upscale floating market and an assortment of cheesy props to take pictures of yourself with. Which we did with uninhibited enjoyment.
The closer you get to the top, the more absurd it gets. I couldn’t see what was around the next corner. As we ascended that last few steps to the roof you are welcomed by Spiderman and a green alien.
Then at last we were above it all. The sun had just started to set. A cool, wet wind whipped over the top of Bangkok, which from up nearly 1,000 feet in the air looked almost peaceful, like a child’s Lego set sprawling into the horizon.
It was silent except for the occasional creaking of the rotating floor, which actually made me slightly motion sick. Still, it was awesome to stand and watch Bangkok creep by below.
As the sun dipped lower, lights flicked on across the city, glowing with extra luminosity in the golden twilight.
Baiyoke Tower is located at 222 Rajprarop Road in Bangkok, Thaiand.