Friday, October 23, 2015

Bangkok Diaries

What To Do In Bangkok Thailand

Day 1 | Wednesday | April 22

The line at the airport’s immigration was full of sun-tanned tourists. It felt like we’re queuing for a beach party of some sort. We moved to the ASEAN lane with a queue of three or five persons. With no questions asked, I swiftly passed through the immigration officer. My Philippine passport is powerful after all.

We’ve been here before, exactly a year ago. We’ve explored the Grand Palace, Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, Ayutthaya Historical Park, Baiyoke Revolving View Point and the crazy Khao San and Patpong Roads. 

This time, we didn’t have a concrete plan for our three-day layover in Bangkok before we head to the northern part of Thailand. Me and my buddy easily traversed through the organized train system and headed to our home in Pratunam at the Novotel Bangkok Platinum.

Novotel Bangkok Platinum Pratunam Thailand
Purple Blueish Bangkok sunset
We quickly stowed our backpacks in the room and headed to the pool bar for some late afternoon cocktails in which we witnessed one of the most magical dusks ever. Bangkok's skyline turned purplish blue as the moon greeted us. And then I felt hungry and craved for dirt cheap yummy Thai food.

Being in the center of shopping activities in Bangkok, we went out of the hotel and were surprised of the Indie Festival that showcased different stalls with local knickknacks that were swarmed with tourists. We did a little pasalubong shopping which is unusual for us (check here for discounted tours, transportation and activities in Bangkok).

Pratunam Shopping Bangkok Thailand
Pratunam roadside shopping
Pratunam Shopping Bangkok Thailand

We hailed a local bus heading for Khao San Road for a fun night-out (9 Baht | US$ 0.25). It seems to be the most obvious place to hang out when in Bangkok but yeah, we just want to be there at that moment (as much as we want to be in Siem Reap’s Pub Street).

Bangkok Local Bus Thailand

Bangkok Traffic

We did a little Bangkok food trip and indulged on street food; Cracked pork skin (50 Baht | US$ 1.42), Pad Thai (50 Baht | US$ 1.42), Fried Spring Rolls (25 Baht | US$ 0.71) and Pork Noodle Soup (30 Baht | US$ 0.85). The gastronomic adventure ended as we settled on a collapsible table while downing some Chang Beers (100 Baht | US$ 2.83 each) as we people-watched.

Khao San Road Bangkok Pad Thai

Khao San Road Bangkok Pork Noodle Soup

Khao San Road Bangkok Pork Noodle Soup
Pork Noodle Soup
Khao San Road Bangkok Pad Thai
Pad Thai
Khao San Road Bangkok Fried Spring Rolls
Fried Spring Rolls
And it was the same crazy Khao San Road we experienced the year before. Topless men showing off their Muay Thai skills, ladies who seemed to be grooving on whatever song they hear while holding on to their dear buckets of cocktails, travelers with backpacks that were most likely to have just arrived in the city and more shopping addicts haggling to that Chang singlet.

Khao San Road Bangkok Singlet

Khao San Road Bangkok
Crazy Khao San
Khao San Road Bangkok

It was crazy but fun. And at around midnight (or maybe an hour after that), patrol men roamed around and the tables were collapsed and stalls were put down and it was amazingly quiet afterwards. It must be the signal to go home to get some rest.

Day 2 | Thursday | April 23

We planned on exploring the bustling city on our second day. We stuffed ourselves during breakfast and headed straight back to our hotel room for a supposedly freshening up before our planned stroll. The quick break turned into a deep and long slumber that lasted for almost six hours. We both laughed as we realized that our plans were screwed just like that.

We took a quick dip at the pool and went out again to, yes, Khao San Road. We explored the adjacent streets and found ourselves on Rambuttri Road, the quieter version of Khao San. The vibe here was relaxed. We tried to look for a beer place but were pushed again to the crazy road of Khao San. We weren’t such party rats but we loved the vibe of the place. 

Khao San Road Bangkok
Khao San, yet again
Rambuttri Road Bangkok Thailand
Rambuttri Road - the chill version of Khao San
Rambuttri Road Bangkok Thailand

Before heading back home, I grabbed some laundry stuff and washed some of our stuff before leaving the next day. And we’re frugal like that, ditching the laundry house to save a few bucks on the next leg of our two-month backpacking trip around Southeast Asia.

Day 3 | Friday | April 24

We literally did nothing to explore Bangkok during the first two days. And after breakfast on our third day, we walked towards Khlong Saen Saep Canal right beside our hotel and hopped on a long river taxi. With no particular place to visit, we paid 9 Baht each (US$ 0.25) for a one-way ride to the last station. And the long tailed boat cruised as if we're all in a hurry. And we’re happy to have explerienced it. We definitely saw a different side of Bangkok and the daily lives of Thai people.

Khlong Saen Saep Canal Bangkok Thailand
Khlong Saen Saep Canal - Bangkok, Thailand
Khlong Saen Saep Canal Bangkok Thailand
Let's try the water taxi!
Water Taxi Bangkok Thailand

Our wandering continued as we checked out the Divisoria-like area of Pratunam. Dirt cheap clothes and other knickknacks were everywhere. Haggling is the business here but I did miss the cheery disposition of the Pinoy retailers of Divisoria. We were shooed away a lot of times as we checked out some items without a clear intention of buying. It was kinda rude.

Old Door Bangkok Thailand

We hastily packed our bags and went to the airport for another exploration on the northern provinces of Thailand. While boarding the plane, I realized that my ipod was missing. I panicked at first, accepted the fact that I lost it, and moved on after a while (whispering my made-up mantra for lost things; Love people not things, Use things not people).

Tuk Tuk Bangkok Thailand

I emailed Novotel Platinum Bangkok notifying them of the lost item. They responded the next day and confirmed that my stuff was indeed left inside the in-room safe, good job Carla. They shipped it, at no cost, to my hotel in Chiang Mai but didn’t arrive as expected. They resent it to our hotel in Chiang Rai which arrived the day we left for Laos. My hotel in Chiang Rai shipped it to our hotel in Kuala Lumpur but was returned to them after realizing that the batteries couldn’t be removed which was a requirement for transporting tech stuff. After so many postal office visits, my ipod was sent to a friend in Chiang Mai for safekeeping. Whew!

To date, I still haven’t got hold of the ipod with my precious playlists, photos and crazy notes. Five years’ worth of my life out there, having its own itinerary and travel madness. Lesson learned: People will do all means to help. Believe in the goodness of humanity.

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