The Bustling and Bright Lights of Bangkok
Trip Start Aug 04, 2010
54Trip End Feb 04, 2011
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We arrived from Ayuthaya in a mini-bus that let us off in the middle of the city at Victory Monument. As we drove towards the city we were absolutely flabbergasted at how large and sprawling the city is....bigger than any city we have been to here in SE Asia. Wide eyed and bushy tailed we were prime targets for tuk-tuk drivers who want to know where we are from, where we are going and then want to know if they can take us everywhere around the city for 5 Baht (More on this scam later), uggh!! We were starving when we arrived so we opted to jump on the SkyTrain (Bangkok's subway system) and head towards Siam Square, a section of the city that had been recommended as a good place to stay
When we arrived we made our way over to the MBK center, a huge shopping center with multiple floors including lots of shops and food courts. We opted for the international food court where we got free welcome Thai ice teas and a lunch of Greek chicken shwarma, a Greek salad and some Malaysian rice and chicken skewers. The food was good, but we have had better....we paid the hefty bill (food and drink are very expensive here in Bangkok if you don't eat the local fare) and we shuffled along to find a place to stay.
Although a bit of a dump we finally found a place within our price range ($10) with air conditioning (we are back in the land of heat and humidity), a private bathroom and hot water shower. Feeling a bit more settled, we grabbed our guidebook and set out to explore the city. We ended up at the Paragon center which is one of the newest shopping experiences in Thailand...it is the most luxurious mall we have ever been in. It has a convention center, an IMAX theater on the top floor and every major designer has a store in this HUGE place. As if that isn't enough, this mall has a bowling alley, language schools, multiple food courts and a HUGE gourmet market in the basement. The most astounding thing to us was the LONG line of Thai people waiting to get their share of the newest arrival in the Paragon shopping center - KRISPY KREME donuts, WHAT??? Les had to take a picture of the line, because he wanted to make sure that he had proof of this phenomena to share with all of you
Even though we aren't big shoppers, we spent the afternoon watching people move through this behemoth shopping experience and for the most part we were very entertained. We REALLY enjoyed the food court and the gourmet market, it is all about the food!!!
Wanting to experience more of the city, we jumped on another SkyTrain and headed to a different section of the city to hang out for the evening. The descending sun brings a whole new experience to light for us...as we walked along the streets we noticed that you could buy everything from knives, to Viagra to tickets for some racy shows - Anything goes in Bangkok and we got a taste of it first-hand. Wanting a taste of home we went into a country western bar, ordered chicken wings (Les' choice of course) and sucked down a few beers for supper, healthy (not!!) but yummy!
Next stop a jazz club in a fancy hotel...we treated ourselves to an evening of cool jazz tunes as well as wine and cheese. Awesome, we felt so sophisticated even though we looked like to scraggly backpackers who hadn't had a shower in a few months. For some reason they let us stay, probably because we swore to them that we could pay the bill.
So this is Bangkok in a nutshell.....for the rest of our 5 day stay in the city we moved around with the Thai people via water taxis, regular taxis, buses and our feet. One day we saw the Grand Palace (even though we were told by at least 5 people along the way that it was closed - not true of course, there is a sign on the front of the palace that informs travelers about this ongoing scam) and took a water taxi to the end of the North route for a beer on the river
I am sure you aren't feeling too sorry for us and fortunately we have been able to shake off these frustrating experiences with good food, massages, a really cool festival and an upcoming trip to the islands. While we were here in Bangkok we got to experience the annual Loi Krathong festival marking the end of the rainy season
We are coming to the end of our visit here in Bangkok....the islands are calling us. Even though the weather isn't perfect down in the Gulf of Thailand we are hoping for the best and longing for a week on the beach before our 10-day meditation retreat at a Buddhist monastery.
More later....Internet may be spotty on the islands, so we will do our best to keep in touch. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. You are in our hearts and minds during this special time and we are thankful to have all of you in our lives....sending you love and best wishes!!