Summer 2012: Bangkok Day 1

My friend, Audrey and I made plans to go to Bangkok around mid-March this year when I was lamenting about how I wouldn't be going anywhere after finishing my last semester in school. At that time, my plans for the summer were really unfixed as I had applied to be a booth helper at the Singapore pavilion for the Yeosu Expo, but they hadn't gotten back to me yet. So she suggested we book a trip to Bangkok, and so we did. Three weeks before the Expo, I got a call asking if I could help out, but as it was too last-minute and I already made travel plans, I had to decline.

Onto Bangkok...our original plan was to spend Thursday to the following Tuesday there to give us enough time at Chatuchak Market (which only opens on weekends), however we had to change plans last minute so we flew there on Sunday (13 May) instead and were there till Friday (18 May).

We flew via AirAsia and everything was all right, save for the bratty kids sitting behind me. The two-hour flight passed quickly and immigration was fast even though the lines were crazily long. Once we were out of the arrival hall, we were scrambling to find a shop that sold data plans for Blackberries and the cheapest one we could find was a week-long plan at 500 baht (S$20.83). We were going to be there for 6D5N, so it works out to about $3-4 a day.

Airport Sky Link token. I nearly lost it!

The linkway between Phaya Thai's Airport Sky Link station and the BTS station. 

As it was only the two of us, cabbing from the airport to central Bangkok would be a bit too pricey, hence we opted to take a train. We boarded the Airport Sky Link to Phaya Thai station (45 baht) then we changed to the BTS system to Chitlom (20 baht). From there we took a short 5-10 minute walk to our hotel, Arnoma Hotel

Our hotel was right opposite Central World shopping centre! 

No major gripes about the room, except that our hair dryer wasn't working and that we could really fit our chargers into the sockets. The room was average, though slightly old, but still clean and bright. The hotel staff were quite nice too, except that one of the counter staff had a really strong accent and it was really difficult to decipher what she was saying. Helpful nonetheless. 

Once we'd settled in, it was already 3plus and Chatuchak closes about 6pm, so we decided to cab there (about 100 baht from Chitlom to Chatuchak). The thing I realised about some cab drivers here is that if your fare is about 80 or 90plus, they wouldn't return you the change (and just smile back at you). So Audrey and I smartened up after a while and started to give exact change, unless the cab driver was really nice/helpful. 

Our first meal in Thailand - Pad Thai. A little bland though.

Basil Pork Rice. Normal, but the rice tasted funny. Both dishes cost us 50 baht each.

This was my first time visiting Chatuchak. For those who want to get to Chatuchak, just take the BTS to Mochit station. It's very straightforward and along the way you'd see many stalls set up, so you can shop there too. Chatuchak is very big but I personally feel it's manageable, if you have a map. We actually managed to cover most of the place but we went a bit too late so a lot of the stores were closing. Do be very careful of pickpockets! The alleys can get very crowded and squeezy, so do keep your belongings close to you.

Pretty dresses at 150-200 baht a piece I think. Not my kind, but very pretty nonetheless.

I had read on someone's blog that Chatuchak's coconut ice cream was a must-try and hunted high and low for it. Coconut ice cream seriously one of the best ice cream flavours ever invented. It is on the far left of Chatuchak when you come in via the main central entrance. 30 baht for the ice cream and two toppings plus a cup of coconut juice. Apparently there are other stalls that give about 2-3 scoops, so we were kinda ripped off, but no regrets there, it was good!

Our satisfied (and extremely fair) faces!

Teh Tarik. 35 baht a cup, not sure how much the bottle costs.

After a couple of hours and a light drizzle, we decided to head back to our hotel to rest, recharge and change for the night because we were so incredibly sweaty from the heat! (Remember to bring shades and put loads of sunblock.)

The crazy traffic outside Mochit station and the numerous stalls on the right along the way. 

Our hotel was next to a shopping centre and a huge supermarket called Big C supermarket. There was so many CP items in the frozen food section, Audrey and I felt so tempted to lug everything back, except that we had no microwave or stove to cook them...

So we grabbed a couple of drinks (water, digestive drinks and some cheap Chang Beer), went back to our room and changed for Khaosan. Khaosan is near Bangkok's Chinatown and highly inaccessible via public transport. I feel it is very similar to Seoul's Itaewon because of the sheer amount of western tourists there. You can just see from the photo below that we were surrounded by western tourists! The service staff at Silk Bar severely neglected us, and were quite obviously more attentive to the other tourists.

At Silk Bar. Two ladies at the corner staring over at us.

Skinny wings which were SO good we got two plates. And a huge bottle of Heineken each. This was our dinner! 

And for dessert, we hit the streets for the famed Banana pancake and some Mango Sticky Rice. There are TONNES of massage palours along Khaosan. Some look incredibly dodgy. There is a street next to the main Khaosan street that I find a lot prettier and quieter, with some dingy makeshift bars. 

 Mango Sticky Rice. Love the mangoes, so sweet!

Banana Pancake in the making. This is prata, with banana and egg inside topped off with condensed milk and loads of sugar. I know it sounds extremely sweet but it is so sinfully awesome!

The end product.

As we were pretty tired from shuttling around the whole day, we headed back to the hotel at about 11plus after walking through the streets of Khaosan. After all, we were gearing up for a full day of shopping the next day!

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