This is not the best pad thai in Bangkok. That's a fact. It's probably not even the best in Sukhumvit. I can, however, charge this pad thai to my room, so who cares?
Right now, not me.
The best pad thai in Bangkok is probably being served on the street from little carts, or in a tiny, dingy restaurant with wooden chairs and no menu. It's certainly not being presented by a well-dressed waiter at a table next to a shimmering resort pool, and on a plate spiked with outlandish decorations.
But that's where I'm eating mine, and that's what it looks like. Down in the gardens at the Swissotel, cocktail bar on one side of me, resort pool on the other, staring down at a ridiculously garnished plate of noodles.
I should really take a long, hard look at myself. A few hours ago, I'd considered going out in search of what would truly be the best pad thai in Bangkok, but then I realised that would involve leaving the resort, so I canned the idea. Seemed too much like hard work.
Because it's official: I've become one of those people, one of those tourists I don't understand. The sort of person who travels far overseas to an exotic land and then checks in to a cookie-cutter resort and refuses to leave. Is that really travelling? No, it's not.
But that's the thing: I'm tired of travelling. Right now, here in Bangkok, I'm pooped. I feel as if I've run a travel marathon and I'm stumbling over the finish line.
I've been on the road for about seven months. I haven't had a home, or taken a break, in seven months. I've slept on couches and I've dossed on floors. I've checked in to hotels and rented short-term apartments.
I've lived out of a backpack for seven months. I've worn the same clothes for seven months. I've got up in the morning and had to figure out where I'm going to go and how I'm going to get there every day for seven months.
I've haggled and bargained and argued and paid. I've drunk and been drunk; I've eaten and been sick.
And now here I am surrounded by all the things I profess to dislike - the buffet breakfasts, the liveried waiters, the press-of-a-button room service and the cloistered confines - and I'm loving it. Another pina colada please waiter. Charge it to my room. I was in Myanmar two nights ago, traipsing around Mandalay, drinking in the atmosphere of a city on the edge of development, a place poised for something new. In a few days I'll be in Phnom Penh, exploring another of south-east Asia's up-and-comers. I've been to Bangkok, too; I've seen the sights and soaked up the city.
So it's for all of these reasons that I feel I can justify this, a break from the madness, a holiday from my holiday. Time to relax.
If I'd needed any sign that this was a good decision, it was presented to me in the form of a Bangkok taxi driver. I jumped in his car at the airport yesterday and pointed at the meter that he'd failed to switch on.
"No meter," he said. "Too much traffic, very busy. You pay 400 baht."
I sighed. "Can we just use the meter, please?"
He grumbled, rolled his eyes, and switched it on. By the time we arrived in Sukhumvit, it had reached 250 baht. The driver faced me, hand outstretched: "With tip, that's 400 baht."
It's this stuff I can do without, at least just for the two days I'm going to be in Bangkok. So I've withdrawn from the travel experience. I've battened down in a fancy resort to drink pina coladas by the pool.
It's weirdly comfortable. I eased myself out of bed about 9 o'clock this morning and stumbled down to the buffet, where I didn't have to haggle over anything and I could have Vietnamese pho followed by an omelet followed by a croissant.
Then I went outside, but it was really humid, so I went back inside. To my room. To read a book. Then I had a swim, because there's a big pool and it deserved my patronage. I briefly considered, while floating in that pool, the idea of going to find some sort of temple or palace that I hadn't visited before, but then I remembered the pool. And that there was a bar just near me.
If you made the argument that I could be having this experience in any city in the world, you would be absolutely right. But that's the point: no thinking, no hassle. Pure predictability in the bottom of a cocktail glass.
And now my pad thai has arrived. It's not the best pad thai in town, but it has been politely delivered by one of those liveried waiters. And the price is fixed. "How would you like to pay, sir?" he asks.
I shrug. "Just charge it to my room."
Is there something to be said for cocooning yourself in luxury while overseas? Have you done the same thing when travelling? Leave your comments below.
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