8 January 2012

Journey to Thailand: Part 1 in Bangkok

This whole post is going to be devoted to my trip to Thailand during the Christmas/New Year break. My friend and I had a hard time deciding where it was we exactly wanted to go. Originally we had wanted to go to Hawaii but after we had checked out the flights we had seconds thoughts. This was mainly due to the fact that the cost of the flight alone was what we wanted to spend on the flight and accommodation. In the end we decided to go to Thailand due to it seeming fairly interesting as well as it being nearly half the price of the flight to Hawaii.

My friend and I took a long time to create an itinerary for the trip due to us being a little lazy at times. But after hearing some news about the flooding in Thailand and the City of Bangkok we decided to go to spend the majority of our trip in Phuket. We both decided to fly out of Fukuoka Airport because it was the most convenient for the both of us. Our main flight to Bangkok via Taipei via Hong Kong was with Cathay Pacific and I have to say it was a fairly pleasant experience. My friend had flown with them before but this was my first time.

Once we finally arrived in Bangkok I was quite surprised how warm it was even though it was the evening. This for me made a very nice change from Japan since at the same time a lot of places in the country were covered with record amounts of snow. We left the airport via the metro which was pretty inexpensive. Luckily the hotel which we were staying at was fairly close to one of the MRT Stations. We found that we didn't necessarily need to speak any Thai to communicate since a lot of the people that we spoke to spoke some English.

Once we got to the hotel I was very impressed with how nice it was compared to so many of the hotels I had stayed at since I came to Japan. Because my friend and I shared the cost the accomodation 50/50 we were able to stay at a much nicer hotel than if we were going alone. But saying this the area in which the hotel was situated wasn't the greatest. Some may have even said it was in the the ghetto but to be honest that didn't particularly bother me much.

We took a little walk around the area after we had dropped off our stuff at the hotel. We were mainly looking for food and at the same time we were trying to follow directions on one of the several maps we picked up at the airport. I have to say this about Thailand is that their roads are so dangerous! There were so many times that we could've been knocked over whilst we were walking around. Their traffic lights seem to stay on green for the cars for far too long and so many of the Thai people just decide to casually walk across the road whilst there are cars approaching them! We couldn't find anywhere really so we ended up going to 7-Eleven and bought one of their meals. :/

The next day we decided to try and visit some of the places that were highlighted on our map and close to our hotel. After looking at the map we felt that visiting the Grand Palace could be something worth while. We ended up walking down a very long road adjacent to our hotel that was in the direction of the Palace. Once we realised that the walk to the Palace was a little further than we had originally thought we opted to get in a Tuk-Tuk for the rest of the journey. We flagged down the first driver we spotted and asked him how much it would be to take us to the Palace and he said 100THB. I felt that was a bit expensive and we were able to convince him to charge us 80THB instead. However once we finally got to the Palace it was actually closed!

Whilst we were standing outside of the Palace we met a Thai man who seemed interested in helping us. He told us that this day was a National Holiday in Thailand and that all the Tuk-Tuk's should cost 10THB if they are government owned! We felt slightly annoyed about this but there was nothing we could do about it now. The Thai man then asked us to get out our map so that he could show us some nice places to visit/things to do in the area. Following his advice we got in a Tuk-Tuk that was near by and went down to the river for a boat ride. We were luck to haggle to price of the ride down from 1500THB each to just 750THB which we felt wasn't too bad. The boat ride was very pleasant and the weather was quite nice also. On the way back to our drop off point we noticed a boat that was just floating on the river. This seemed a little strange because in the boat was a a foreign woman and her two children but there was no driver. We looked around and saw that the driver was on the shore but was out of reach of the boat. Our driver then had to manoeuvre on to the other boat to get it back to the other driver. We found this quite entertaining because it seemed straight out of some low-budget action film.

After the boat ride we tried to think of some other things we could possibly do in the area. We thought about going to the shopping mall that was near our hotel to check out the cinema. Once again we took to the streets walking around trying to find our way back using the map we had received at the airport. We were approached by another Thai man as we were standing on the street. He told us it looked like we needed some help and then proceeded to offer advice on things to do in the area. He told us that we should visit this temple (pointing at the map), Thai Fashion House (because of a holiday sale) and Thai Boxing. We decided to do some of the things this guy suggested and once again flagged down a Tuk-Tuk but before we got in we confirmed with the driver that it would only cost us 10THB.

Our driver took us to the temple where he waited for us. At the temple we met a nice guy who spoke English and was interested in finding out more about us. He told us he taught English to the local children in the area after we told him we were English teachers too. After we had finished there our driver wanted to take us to the Thai Fashion House but we didn't want to go but he kept saying he would take us there but in the end we just got out of his Tuk-Tuk and made our way back to the shopping mall. Once we got back to the mall we ate some Pizza (since Pizza in Japan is ridiculously expensive) and watched Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol for only 130THB (343yen)!!!

The next day we tried to do more of the things that we had originally put on our itinerary list. The first thing was to visit the Erawan Museum which was famous because of the enormous Three Headed Elephant Statue that sits on the grounds of the museum. We took a taxi to the museum which took about 40 minutes because of traffic from the On Nut BTS Station but only cost around 110THB which was fairly cheap to us. We didn't stay long at the museum because we just wanted to see the elephant really. That afternoon we went to Siam Ocean World but we were left slightly underwhelmed once we left the Aquarium because we kind of expected a lot more although some of the exhibits inside were quite interesting to look at.

That evening we ended up going to a stage show known as Siam Niramit which was a fairly extravagant production about the history of Thailand. It was quite easy to get to the show because they provided a free return shuttle service from the Thailand Cultural Centre Station. We both quite enjoyed the show due to the use of costumes, music and animals.

After the show everyone was ushered out of the complex but that wasn't before we took some pictures which some of the cast members. I bought a programme as well as some small souvenirs from the selection of shops that were near the exit but I wouldn't recommend buying too much here since I know you can probably get it cheaper elsewhere.

The next day was our final day in Bangkok. Because it was a Sunday we felt that this would be the perfect day to visit the Chatuchak Weekend Market close to Mo Chit BTS Station. When we got there the amount of people we saw was quite crazy! The market was fairly large with a lot of the usual things you would find in a market like clothes, accessories, art and souvenirs.

We spent most of our afternoon walking around the market and eating some nice and cheap Thai food. There were a few street performers in the market too ranging from musicians, performance art and street dancing all of whom were quite entertaining in some way or another. I bought a few T-Shirts and souvenirs here at the market because they seemed quite cheap as did Ashley.

That evening we finally managed to see the Puppet Show at Aksra Theatre. Luckily the Theatre was near our hotel inside the King Power Duty Free Complex. When we got there we thought the performance would cost around 900THB but this evening the performance would be taking place inside the banquet hall and so the ticket price was reduced to around 500THB and that included an all you can eat buffet. Obviously we couldn't argue with this offer since we didn't even expect any food. The banquet hall and been split in to two sections one for guests that were just there to eat and guests that were there to see the Puppet Show.

Each performances consisted of 3-6 people in black operating the Puppets as they all moved around the stage in unison. After the performances had finished all of the puppeteers came around for a free photo opportunity with the guests. Overall we really enjoyed the performance and also the all you could eat buffet didn't hurt either.

Once we left the theatre we walked around the King Power Complex. They had a lot of stuff there and a lot of it was designer too which unfortunately we didn't have the money for. Later we ended up going to the cinema again this time to see the new Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows which happened to be very good. We thought we would make the most of the cinema since it was so cheap compared to Japan.

At the end of our final day we could both honestly say we had an enjoyable time in Bangkok even if we were only here briefly. Either way our time in Bangkok may have been over but we were definitely looking forward to Phuket!!!

1 comment:

jean said...

Hey Dor - I love it! You'll have to show me how to do a blog when you return to London.