From Thailand, with love - part 3

Bangkok was our last stop, and we were feeling the same familiar feeling you feel when you know something good is going to come to an end. I hope you guys read the previous two posts on Thailand - you can read them here and here.

Bangkok is one of the largest cities in the world - where urban married vintage. Bangkok is where you can see sky rails and you can see long tail boats. You can meet tonnes of westerners who call this bustling city their home and you can also find busy office goers, who if you stop and ask for help, will speak broken English. What were my first thoughts upon reaching Bangkok ? I wanted to move there. My husband and I actually wanted to move to Bangkok - it seemed doable - and come on, we're in Kuwait - it seemed like a good idea. Here's a small Timelapse I made.

This is one of my favourite photos from the trip to Bangkok. Captures the essence of Bangkok very beautifully.
But first things first, we left Pattaya in a Volvo, and were dropped at the Suvarnabhumi airport. From the airport, we took the airport metro line to the metro closest to where we were put up - in Central Bangkok. We also bought metro cards. Unlike in Delhi - there is no one card fits all - various lines have various cards. Though I think they should unify the whole thing.


We were greeted by our host - a lovely expat from Iceland - who was so soft spoken - we had to literally strain our ears. And to add to that, it had started to pour so heavily - for a moment, the three of us just stared outside, all of us thinking different things. I was worried that the open markets would be affected. Navin was thinking of beer. Am sure even our host was thinking of the same.

The rains were actually beautiful. They make Bangkok prettier.

Our studio apartment was elegant, of course it was small, but it had everything we needed. The view was of an urban jungle.

Our apartment was perfect, quiet and cosy
That evening we went to Pratunam market. It wasn't too far from where we were put up. We got around mostly by cabs - but some of these nice fellows refuse to go by the meter. So we had to check before hand and agree on the rate. Pratunam market is one of the markets where most Asian tourists go to for shopping, whether for bulk buying or souvenir shopping. We wanted to go to the weekend market at Chatuchak - but we were not there for the weekend sadly. Very sadly.

We hardly bought anything, a couple of small gifts - but if you have time, I am sure you can find some nice stuff here. We did not have time, and neither of us wanted to particularly shop. On the way back, we stopped at a road side eaterie. Which I would definitely recommend. The guys initially misunderstood what I ordered, language can be an issue. I sat and stared at my dish, and the lady who took my order, she was so apologetic - I somehow conveyed to her that I am a vegetarian and she was even more sorry. They prepared a veg dish for me which I loved. Simple rice and clear vegetable soup.

Stop at a local restaurant, it's a different experience
After a while, it gets easy to eat with the chopsticks.
The next day, the sky was clear. In fact, there was no trace of the previous evenings rain. We had decided to go to the old city to see the famous Wat Pho temple. We had to change the metro twice, and each was an experience - the sky rail was amazing. You get to see the city from above - the skyline is definitely a mix of old and new. To get to the old city, the best way is through the Chao Phraya river. Isn't it amazing how the Thai have been able to keep alive, their oldest means of transport ?

Cruising along the Chao Phraya river to the older part of Bangkok.
The temperature was rising, and umbrellas were now used to give some shade. I now wished for a drizzle. It was that hot. We stopped at a lovely eaterie - I loved the food as much I loved the decor. It's called Ama. Try their spring rolls !

Love the tiles.
Ama cafe - Vert artsy and eclectic.

I loved the vegetable fried rice here. It was one of the best I have had.
And the spring rolls.
Finally, what we had heard and read so much about, we walked towards the famous Wat Pho - also called the temple of Reclining Buddha. The architecture was so breathtaking - from outside and from inside.

The entrance to the beautiful temple of the reclining Buddha
Every bit of Wat Pho was gorgeous, and perfect.
The intricacies and contrasts were beautiful.
The reclining Buddha
I would like doors like these, so much character.
That night we left Bangkok. We realized that 2 days aren't enough for Bangkok. There's so much to do, see and experience. We had only just gotten started.

xx
Tips for first timers :

Bangkok can be really intimidating for a first timer. So based on everything we learnt, observed and experienced, I have put together a few pointers :

General :

- Currency - Thai Bhatt - 100 Thai Bhatt is around 200 Indian Rupees ( around 3 US dollars )
- Weather - Hot, Humid
- Best time to visit - November to April (We went in July but we encountered only 2 days of rains from our 10 days of travel - so technically - you can travel all year round)
- Prices - Things are slightly more expensive than in India. A dinner for 2 will be around 400 - 500 THB from a normal restaurant.

Getting around :

- Metro - Bangkok is well connected by the Metro : However, there are 4 lines - and I would recommend you to get the prepaid card for at least 2 of the lines - the BTS sky train (green) and the MRT (blue) if you're staying for a few days.

- You can buy the 3 day unlimited pass - there is a minimum amount you'll have to pay. The fare between each station is around 15 THB.

- If you're staying just for 1 or 2 days, then you can just buy tickets on the go. Then you do not have to buy the cards.


- You can get to your destination from the airport using the airport link. It is very convenient. We were put up near Phra Ram 9 on the blue line, so basically we got off at Makkasan and changed the line.
Do take a ride on the sky train - it is an experience in itself.

- Cabs - There are plenty of cabs plying the roads in Bangkok - and they come in different colours; green, yellow, pink, blue etc. Irrespective of the colour, agree with the cabbie that he must put on the meter. Else seeing how clueless you are in the big city, they'll charge you double.

- Long Tail Boats - These are the best - cheap and fast. They are the best way to reach Old Bangkok where you'll find the beautiful temples.

- You would need to reach Saphan Taksin - which is the metro station next to the central pier. There are 2 kinds of tickets to get on the boat - the one with the long queue is the one we took. The tickets here are around 40 Thai Bhatt (THB) per person. The other one has a more private feel - the tickets around 100 THB. You can pick.

Where to stay ?

- We stayed in Central Bangkok - as that is where majority of the Airbnb accommodations were - near Sukhumvit, Petchaburi / Makkasan and Phra Ram 9. A good studio apartment will cost you around 50$ on average a night. Of course, you can choose to stay in the one of the several hotels too, but we preferred staying at an Airbnb.

- We stayed a couple of kilometres from the Phra Ram 9 Metro - at a beautiful apartment complex called TC Green Condo. I would recommend it. Here's the link. The host is helpful and will also give you tips on where to go.

- You can also stay near Sukhumvit - which has a lot of resto-pubs, bars, discotheques and the like, basically has a very happening night life.

What to do ?

- Keep a morning and some more time to go to one of the well preserved temples ; Wat Pho (or Wat Po), Wat Arun or the Grand Palace. They are all marvels - however, each of these have different admission rates. As Wat Arun was under construction when we went in July, 2016, we decided to go to see Wat Pho which has an admission fee of 100 THB per person. Grand Palace it is 500 THB. There is a dress code - you can not wear short clothes - both men and women. Grand Palace can get too crowded, and to be honest, Wat Po is extremely magnificent as well.

- While you're walking to the Wat Po / Grand Palace - if you get hungry, you can refresh yourself at Ama. It's a quaint eaterie with some tasty food.

- Keep an evening (during weekends) for Chatuchak Market - it's supposed to be one of the best open markets - but it is open only on weekends. It's worth a visit.

- You can also visit the Prathunam market - but keep only 1 or 2 hours for this. You can buy souvenirs, chocolates, and well, I think you'll find some fake stuff here too.

- Ride a tuk tuk, they're notoriously famous in Bangkok, and go to one of the malls. We went to the one next to Phra Ram 9 as it was very close. We spent an hour there, there are a lot of extremely fine items here - phone covers, pen drives - the kinds which are just getting introduced the world over. I bet it starts in China, comes to Thailand and then arrives everywhere else.

- Eat at a local restaurant - the taste is amazing, the hospitality is truly nice. Yes, you get veg food too :)

- Then there're some great bars and discotheques too - near Sukhumvit. Definitely go for a spa. There's the floating market - which we did not have time as the market is quite far. If you have time, I think it's worth a visit too. There's train market which is also quite nice.

Other

- There are plenty of 7-11s (departmental stores) in Bangkok, they are really convenient - you get small eats, ready to heat meals, snacks, juices and other daily essentials.

- You don't need to carry Thai currency with you, you can reach Bangkok and then withdraw money. There are ATM's at the airport itself.

- I would recommend getting a local sim because you can be really lost and going around in circles without Goggle Maps. A copy of your passport and a passport size photo is all that you need. A phone SIM for a week with 500 MB data will cost you around 200 THB.

- You can ride the bus too - it's convenient especially if you are staying near a bus stop.

- Language is a real barrier - most people struggle with English - so you may not be able to get much help by asking for help.

- Bangkok has 2 airports and it takes an hour on an average to get from one to another. There's a convenient free shuttle between Suvarnabhumi International airport and Don Muang Airport. The shuttle is almost every hour.

- Finally, before I forget, Thailand has a lot of vegetarian options. All the oats and soup that I had taken were not required. Even their Subways have the veggie patty option !

I hope these small tips help you plan your journey - Thailand is beautiful - and we're definitely going to go back !!

Read other posts from my Thailand diaries here -
Part 1 - Krabi, Phi Phi and Phuket
Part 2 - Pattaya

Have you been to Thailand ? Would you like to go back ? Do leave a comment !

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