Wednesday 16 September, 2015 – Bangkok, Thailand
I was expecting bumpy flights over Asia, being monsoon season, but they were mostly very smooth. We had been allocated exit row seats all the way through, which was awesome – that extra leg room makes a world of difference, even to a shorty like me! It was quite interesting sitting there next to one of the gullies – watching the way the flight attendants work is quite interesting (mocking the Purser too).
We landed in Bankok at 1.00am this morning, and fortunately had booked a private transfer to our hotel – I’m pleased we did this, because it was quite a long ride in (I’m not exactly sure how long, I was drifting in and out of sleep). The W Hotel is impressive on arrival – big wrought iron gates, and old colonial-style restaurant straight ahead, and a pond in the middle of the roundabout. Walking in I was doing a bit of squinting – though the bar wasn’t open and other lights weren’t turned on, there was still a lot of bling bling, including the wall illuminated with Tuk Tuk lights – I will post a picture of that in tomorrow’s blog. Our room (called a Spectacular Room) is really cool – there are two pink sequinned boxing gloves on the bed, and I assume this theme comes from the popular Thai Boxing. I showered (I had been sitting in a brand new spray tan for the last 20 hours) and we jumped straight into bed (about 2.30am by now).
Not or wanting to waste any time, we still go up at 8 and went down to breakfast – unfortunate I hadn’t booked a rate that included breakfast, so we did pay $100 for this, but it was well worth it – choose your eggs however you like them, and then the rest was all buffet style and the presentation was stunning and quirky.
After brekkie we decided to get on the road and start exploring Bangkok – we went to the concierge to ask how to get to MBK (a large shopping mall), and he ended up showing us how to get to a few places. Right next to our hotel is a BTS station (Sky Train), so we jumped on that to get to MBK, which is three stops away. When we got off we think we got off at the wrong exit and were standing on the road looking at our map and suddenly this very energetic Thai man comes up to us, wanting to help. We’re still not sure whether this was all part of some money making plan (he just told us he worked as a teacher doing Thai Boxing at the stadium we were standing in front of), but either way, it worked out well for us and we were pleased. He wrote on our map where we should go (a Wat (temple), a Thai Export tailors that supposedly make Armani suits to ship to America, and a private boat up the river to) – he bartered a nearby Tuk Tuk driver down to 50 baht to take us around for this full day itinerary (50 baht!!! That is approximately $2.50 NZD), and off we went.
Our first stop stop was the Wat to visit Buddha for some luck (this temple holds the oldest reclining Buddha in Bangkok – 270 years old). We came across an old lady who was also visiting Buddha, and she wanted to show Craig how to use the Fortune Sticks – you shake a jar of sticks with numbers on them until one pops out. You take out the stick and match the number to a fortune on the wall with the same number. The little old lady immediately started giggling, and patted me on the back, and I realised why when I read the fortune… among other things, it said “love will not be satisfied in the near future and there will be no child forth coming”.
Next to stop was IFC, the tailors. As always, they tried to talk us into three suits, shirts, ties, multiple dresses. We managed to talk them down to 15,000 Baht for one suit, on shirt and one dress – it’s pretty awesome really, this was around midday and they measured us up, took the money and said they’d pop around to our hotel to do a final fitting at 5pm, and then deliver them to the hotel the next morning – that is a turnaround of less than 24 hours!! I will post a photo of my dress when I receive it – it is supposedly an Oscar De La Renta pattern.
Next stop was the river – for 2500 Baht (and I’m reasonably sure we should have bartered this down) we got a 1.5 hour tour on our own little boat – we went down the canals into the Old City, which was very interesting to see – so many old wooden houses (some looked like a child’s tree house) on the edge of the river, and people fishing. There was a lot of rubbish as well, which is always sad to see, but I guess that don’t have some nice man come and pick up their bins once a week. We saw some sort of lethal looking lizard – the man said it was a crocodile, but we thought it was a bit too small for this, and didn’t have a long enough snout. It was big though, and if I lived here I would probably be worrying about it climbing into my shack.
We also went to feed the fish in the canal, which was amazing – there were soooo many of these huge fish… I’ve never seen anything like it.
We stopped at Wat Arun, which (just my luck) is covered in scaffolding.
After we returned from the boat tour, we asked the Tuk Tuk driver to take is back to the hotel – he asked us if we would mind stopping at a jewellery shop, where he gets a gas stamp for bringing us in – we agreed to go, as he had been very kind, and we felt bad that he gets paid so little (though he probably collects commission from all the places to stopped at).
We had a very quick look through MBK, but decided to go back to the hotel and check out the pool. Unfortunately when we got to the pool it started raining heavily again (which it had been on and off all day), so we sat at the pool bar and had a cocktail before going back to our room and waiting for the tailor to come before we went out for dinner.
For dinner I had booked us at Nahm – this is a contemporary Thai restaurant based inside the Metropolitan Hotel by Como, awarded on the list of the 50 best restaurants in the world – it is just 1km down the road from the W. As it was pouring down, we decided to get a taxi… This was a very bad idea, the traffic was soooo gridlocked (at 6.15pm) that we ended up getting out (avoiding motorbikes as we did so) and walked as fast as we could. I had brought an umbrella, but my freshly straightened hair was soaked by the time we got there.
The food was amazing – it made me look even more forward to our cooking class in Phuket. Afterwards we were planning to go to Moon Bar, which is one of the best rooftop bars in Bangkok (and right next door to Nahm). Unfortunately it was closed because of the rain, so we just came straight back to the hotel – luckily the traffic on this side of the road was going a lot faster.
We were so tired that we just went to bed, but I had a great first day in Bangkok! More tomorrow 😀