Last known location: London, England

A Week in Bangkok

And so to Bangkok. Rather than take the over-long train journey back, we managed to haggle a taxi company down to a reasonable price. All was running smoothly until we hit the legendary Bangkok traffic. One hour and 3 miles later we arrived at our hotel. The Pathumwan Princess was located in Siam Square, one of Bangkok’s shopping districts. Even our hotel had a mall attached to it! Because we were staying for a few nights in the capital we had the chance to unpack a bit and do some washing etc. That evening we had dinner in one of the hotel’s restaurants, on the 8th floor roof terrace next to the swimming pool. We had a lovely dinner with fantastic views over the city.

Our first proper day in Bangkok involved some hardcore sightseeing. Because the city is so sprawling we had to get a taxi to our first stop. Being the experienced travellers that we are we were determined not to fall for any scams. Just 10 minutes later, though, we found ourselves at a tourist boat dock by the river, our driver having convinced us the best way to avoid the terrible traffic was on the river. Bangkok does run a public ferry service and that’s what we thought we’d agreed to but it seems not! After ascertaining that we couldn’t really do what we wanted to do with this tour company we walked away, smiling politely. We found our taxi driver having a wee 5 minutes up the road, presumably waiting till we’d gone before heading back to collect his fee. However, he was very sheepish when we told him we weren’t interested in an organised tour and did then take us to the public ferry terminal free of charge. The river ferry was very cheap and actually quite speedy compared to the gridlocked streets!

We made it to Wat Arun, an 80m high spire, covered with old porcelain that had apparently been used as ballast in Chinese trading ships. The climb to the top was hard work in the heat and slightly precarious but we had good views over the busy river and the darkening skies beyond. Back over the river we visited Wat Pho and the reclining Buddha. The Buddha is 46m long and the biggest in the country. Not quite sure what the point of it was but obviously size matters!

Our last stop on a very sweaty morning was the Grand Palace, a huge complex of temples and state buildings including Wat Phra Kaew which houses the tiny (but probably extremely valuable) Emerald Buddha, one of Thailand’s most famous Buddhas. We were  starting to feel a bit of temple overdose so it was back to the hotel, but not before some more taxi shenanigans! Usually you’ll be offered the journey for next to nothing, on the proviso that you visit some jewellery or souvenir shop of their choosing on the way – going direct to your destination is often 5 times the price. After a bit of haggling we finally got someone to take us and headed straight for a cooling dip in the pool!

That evening we headed to Patpong night market, which was mainly full of fake designer stuff. Gem did some haggling and bought a purse and i was pleased to see that Spurs had made it into the line-up of fake football shirts! The area used to be a famous red light district, and it didn’t seem much different now to us – there were plenty of ping-pong shows and suspicious looking hostess bars around! Rose was keen to visit but we dragged her away and ended up having Mexican for dinner in the least dodgy looking place we could find – authentic local cuisine! That night i set my alarm and got up at 2.30am to watch Spurs beat Milan from the comfort of bed, which Gem was thrilled about!

The next day we explored the immaculately kept house of Jim Thompson, an American silk merchant who built a house in traditional Thai style and filled it with treasures before disappearing mysteriously in Malaysia shortly afterwards. The house is now kept as a museum. In the afternoon we went on a boat trip around the old canals which used to be the main means of transport around the town but now seem to be full of tourist boats and, strangely, Monitor Lizards, which are a recent accidental addition!

After a busy few days we spent the following one relaxing by the pool for most of the day, which was Rose’s last in Thailand. We did drop in on the Bangkok Arts and Culture Centre that morning, which was full of very modern art exhibits, most of which were beyond us! In the late afternoon we headed for the Vertigo bar on the 59th floor of the Banyan Tree hotel. The view was spectacular as the sun set over the city, and the cocktails weren’t bad either! As it was Mum’s last night we went for a special dinner at Naj restaurant which specializes in traditional Thai food. It was a real treat and we also got to watch some Thai dancing thanks to a very sweet girl who looked rather uncomfortable dancing around as we were eating dinner!

The next morning Dan and I dropped Mum off at the Skytrain so she could make her way over to Cambodia for stage 2 of her trip! After that we relaxed by the pool before heading over to the famous Khao San Road for a bit of an explore. When i say explore, I really mean party, so we were a bit concerned when the bellboy at the hotel told us it might be difficult to find a place serving drinks because it was some sort of religious day in Thailand. Fortunately for us he was proved wrong and, upon arrival at the well known backpackers street, we promptly sat down at a bar and ordered two cold beers. The drink thing was a slight problem at the restaurant we went to for dinner, though, where we had to drink out of mugs with our bottles hidden behind the bar. It also meant that at the rooftop bar we went to we had to hide our bottles, but as the night wore on this seemed to become less of an issue!

A great time was had by all; we watched some live music and chatted with fellow travellers before getting a taxi home. And it went on the meter with no complaints from the driver! Our last day in Bangkok was spent wandering around, doing a bit of shopping and making the most of our last day in a luxurious hotel. We went for a late night swim and Jacuzzi before packing our bags again. We were finished with Thailand and moving onto Malaysia!

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