Trip Start Mar 18, 2008
Trip End Mar 27, 2008

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Day 6 (cont'd)

We left Sukhothai before 10am, with lunch and dinner in between, and we did not get to our hotel in Bangkok until 9pm.  Quite a bit was spent in the notoriously heavy traffic as we approached Bangkok city itself.  One of the guys declared, as we were passing by MBK mall in central Bangkok (Siam Square area), that one cannot say you have been to Bangkok unless you have stepped foot into MBK.  It was said with such conviction and smugness that I couldn't help but shake my head ...  It might be the largest mall in Asia or the world for all I care .. a mall is a mall, and to make such a sweeping statement ... sigh ... I did visit MBK a few days later (more to get out of the sun than to prove that I have been to Bangkok), and while it was huge, it was, just another mall.  T-shirts there were cheaper than the same ones that were on sale in the night markets of Patpong though, surprisingly ... so something good came out of that lah.

Anyway ... the rest went walking around to do some last minute shopping, while I crossed the road to the bars opposite the hotel, ordered my beer and watched Man U teached Liverpool a lesson in football.  :-p  Glory glory Man United !!!

Day 7

None of the guys extended their stay and were all headed back to Singapore that morning.  Presumably they have all been to Bangkok (and MBK) several times over. *roll eyes*

As for me, sad to say, it was the first time in Bangkok.  Transitted a few times at the old Dong Muang airport before but never stepped foot into Bangkok, so I figured it was about time. 

I left Asia Hotel for the hostel at Silom District called 'Take A Nap'.  Pretty cheesy name, but decent hostel with pretty good rooms that are fully air-conditioned with attached baths, for under S$50 a night, with free Wireless Broadband (that all the so called good class hotels that I stayed in charged an arm and a leg for).

Set myself the target of visiting the Wat Phra Keaw, Grand Palace and Wat Pho which are all in the same vicinity.  Anything more would depend on my mood and the heat ... :-(  Was advised by the hostel's owner to take the sky train from the nearest station (Sala Daeng) down to Saphan Taksin, and take a boat ride up to Tha Chang, where all those places I wanna visit are located.  That way I get to experience a wee bit more than simply taking a cab there (and getting stuck in traffic).  Good advise I must say  :-p

They say that if you have time for only one sightseeing location in Bangkok then the Wat Phra Kaew would be it.  I would say that you won't be disappointed. Beautiful architecture clad in gold, colourful mythical giants serves up a feast for the eyes.  Did not get to see much of the Royal Palace as it was closed.  Wat Pho, on the other hand, was smaller and simpler, but the sight of the gold leaf plated, 46m long reclining Buddha, was also a sight to behold.

By the time I was done with Wat Pho, it was already close to 1pm.  A quick lunch at one of the roadside stalls later and I was in a cab back to my hostel.  Enough for the day ... the heat was quite draining ... went back and knocked out (living up to the name of the hostel by taking a nap) till it was time to meet my friend, Som, for dinner and a walk around Patpong's night market. We bought a bunch of fried crickets as snacks which were pretty crunchy and salty ... and chatted till pretty late ... always good to catch up with friends overseas whom you don't get to meet often, so was pretty happy, though I had to wake up rather early the next morning for the trip to Damnoen Saduak floating market that I signed up for ... *yawn*  :-p

Day 8

Barely got up in time when the bus came at 7.45am to pick me up for the trip to Damnoen Saduak floating market.  Pictures are in a separate entry ...

It was a half day tour so I got back to the hostel slightly after 1pm, tired and spaced out ... lazed around sleeping and surfing the net, watching TV, till it was time to head out at about 5pm to meet Jennifer (Chen), who was in town for work.  I had suggested meeting at Sirocco Sky Bar as I had come across the view it had to offer in a magazine some time back.  Drinks there were expensive by Thai standards (about the price of higher-end bars in Singapore) but as you can see, the view of the Bangkok city skyline from here is breathetaking.  

We had pre-dinner drinks there and decided to head elsewhere for dinner.  Sirocco served Mediterranean food, while I wanted some good Thai food.  Checked my LP and Blue Elephant restaurant's name jumped out at me, and since it was round the corner from State Tower where we were, we made our way there but didn't make it pass the front door as it was fully booked ... :-(  Fortnately there was another restuarant listed on LP called Ban Chiang nearby ... the setting in an old house with a front garden porch was rather nice, but upon setting foot inside I was a little worried as half the patrons were foreigners ... fortunately the food was quite good, no complaints.  The red curry with duck meat was my favourite.  :-)

Back to hostel for an early night.  Needed to wake up tomorrow early again for my day trip out to Kanchanaburi ...  :-p

Day 9

Pictures of Kanchanaburi, where I visited the Bridge over River Kwai and the Tiger Temple.  Pictures in separate entry, as per Damnoen Saduak ...

It was a full day tour so did not get back to Hostel till past 6pm.  Was rather baked in the sun and totally sloshed by then.  Jennifer called to meet for dinner, but I was simply not up to it ... slept till past 9pm before staggering out to have dinner along the night market at Patpong.  I have to say though, the food was great, and this guy here served up chicken tigh/feet noodles that was really really good!  :-)  Took a cab after that to The Log Cabin in Sukhumvit at the recommendation of the guy manning the recep counter of my hostel ... he sweared by the live band there.  The band was good, but not fantastic, playing mainly late 70s and early 80s stuff ... had a couple of drinks but did not stay long ... though for once there were more locals then foreigners in the bar, so thought that was not a bad thing.  :-)

Day 10

Last day here ... woke up late, finally, and headed out at about 10am to Wat Bechamabophit, which was recommended by Som.  Also called the Marble Temple, it was built in the late 19th century and made of white Carrara marble.  The grounds are rather serene and it wasn't packed with visitors, so one could take a nice leisurely stroll around the Wat without much of a bother.  I quite like that.

Having heard so much about it, on the way back, I dropped by the Erawan Shrine located at the corner of Grand Hyatt Erawan hotel, where the 4-headed Brahma takes residence.  It is a rather bustling little place, with a reputation for granting wishes.  It also has musicians and dancers on hand whom you can commission impromtu as part of one's worshipping rites.  Interesting ...

Got back to the hostel at about 12ish, where they have kindly allowed me to checkout late.  Showered up and packed before leaving my bags at the recep to head out for some last minute shopping, since flight out is at 8pm.  Originally wanted to see if I could drop by some markets that might be open during the day, but gave up on that idea due to the searing heat, and hopped onto the skytrain, 2 stations down, and into MBK and its surrounding shopping complexes.  So much for a Singaporean who should be used to this heat ...

Ok ... so, end of my trip.  Brought back some very good photos, and can now claim I have stepped into Bangkok like some many of my fellow Singaporeans had, and re-affirmed that I hate travelling with tour groups from home, though once in a while, when the purpose is a little more specialised, is fine ... I guess.
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