I can eat at any number of dazzling restaurants serving international cuisine, but I don't--my food is strictly Thai and comes often from open food stalls lining the end of a street or little dineresque cafes that offer noodles or rice dishes--or papaya salad and grilled chicken (which is the national dish that foreigners expect phad Thai to be.)
There are designer boutiques in palatial shopping centers (but not Jimmy Choo! which stopped me dead in my tracks in a Hong Kong shopping palazzo) but even if I could afford Gucci, Armani et al, it woud still be more fun to buy something cheap and disposable and derivative on the street and pitch it after it showed signs of wear and buy something else. I know I could buy a "good" handbag for what I've spent on cheap ones in the last six months, but I love the whole hunting and gathering process of street shopping too much to commit to one "good" piece.
More than anything, living in Bangkok is this: Coming home from an afternoon in the highrise section of the city on the subway, feeling dashingly urban, climbing up into a pickup truck to go home and then having the heel of my cheap but pretty street shoe get stuck between some projecting chrome pipes when getting out of the truck. Traffic stopped behind us, I tugged at my shoe, there were no horns honking because that's not polite in Thailand but I could feel the fumes of irritation issuing from the driver's seat. Suddenly a motorcycle appeared from the crowd of blocked traffic, the driver stopped and extricated my shoe. It was intact but would never be the same--which afforded the perfect excuse to go to the shoes spread out on the sidewalk at the end of my street the following day.
So after being born in Manhattan and growing up in Alaska, I've found the perfect synthesis of those two extremes in Bangkok.