Monday, December 2, 2013

48 hours in Bangkok

I considered canceling my trip to Bangkok in light of the protests; sure glad I didn't!

I left Ubon right after school so I would some time to explore Friday night; 
Bangkok is just under an hour away by plane.  
Nok Air is the bargain airline… the seats are leather and soft.  May be one of my favorite flights.

Nok means bird… all their planes look like birds.

a little snack bag for the journey

Airplane snack…. pretel dough wrapped round an imitation crab stick… not so delightful!

the queue for a taxi….

While waiting in line I got up the courage to ask the guy behind me if he wanted to share a taxi if we were going in the same direction.  He was staying just a few blocks from my hotel, so already my journey started out on a good note.  The taxi ride to the hotel was 45 minutes…. more like 1 hour.  Bangkok is a really big city, so I guess I can't blame the driver for not being able to figure out where the hotel was… even with printed directions.  In his defense, he was probably trying to avoid any of the demonstrations.  When we finally arrived, it looked pretty shady from the alley side
(it was dark out when I arrived)….

but what a pleasant surprise when I got to the front door.
 Lamphu Tree House Boutique Hotel…. 

and the view from my balcony...

After checking in, I took a quick trip to Khao San Road; 

Khao San is really crazy and only gets crazier the later it gets.  Between vendors on the sides, hucksters following you down the street, restaurants tantalizing you with unbelievable aromas, and raucous bars tossed in between, it is over stimulation to the max!

Even Ronald McDonald knows how to "wai".

It was late, and a few too many 20-somethings had a few too many drinks.  I decided to head back for the evening.  But then I discovered The Rolling Bar, right next to my hotel.  I was small, cozy, and had a great jazz guitarist.

This was actually the two guys from Saturday night (not as good).  On Facebook I commented on the musician doing a fabulous job on Hotel California, except for substituting r for l.
Before I knew it, it was 2AM.  I decided to change my plans for Saturday; not getting up early for Amphawa Floating Market!

Day 1

So, it was off to Chatuchak Weekend Market instead (I did get up early, but didn't have it in me to take the trip to Amphawa).  Chatuchak is one of the world's largest weekend markets.  It's HUGE…. 35 acres!  They sell everything you imagine, and stuff you probably didn't know existed.  It's so big that a map is provided, and a list of tips for surviving the market experience.


Before You Go to Chatuchak

Wear light and comfortable clothing, e.g. shorts and a t-shirt/tank-topChances are you will end up spending at least half a day here so it is a good idea to prepare a few things to ensure that your shopping experience at Chatuchak is an enjoyable one.
  • Wear comfortable shoes, e.g. a pair of sneakers or sandals 
  • Protect yourself against the sun, by wearing sunglasses, a hat and use sunscreen
  • Bring a backpack for storing your new-found treasures. It is recommended that you wear your backpack on the front rather than on your back
  • Always have bottled drinking water handy 
  • Bring enough cash. Most vendors do not accept credit cards, and it can be a long walk to the next ATM
  • Beware of pickpockets and watch your belongings 
  • Plan to go in the morning, as it can get very hot and crowded in the afternoon
  • Free maps are available from one of the information kiosks

celadon pottery

one of the many alleyways

mango sticky rice!!!! another favorite food

gigantic shrimp being cooked over coals

OMG!!!! What's a girl to do?
Just realized I've bought 4 pair of shoes since I came to Ubon.  Is that a problem?

Little boy playing a traditional Thai instrument.

lots and lots of jewelry

ya gotta keep your energy up...

RoTee… is there anything I don't LOVE to eat?

So. it was a fruitful day at Chatuchak but I still had some afternoon left.  I took the sky train to check out Suk 11 (a hostel) for myself

A very funky and clean place to stay.  They have private rooms with private baths as well.

And while I had the sky train pass, I thought I should stop at Siam Paragon…

This is the mall that has not one, but two Bobbi Brown cosmetic stores staffed by lady-boys who could surely teach a lot of us about how to look magnificent.
NO…. I did not ask to take their pictures.

I also did not buy more shoes, but I did think these were interesting…

Enough fun.  My day took an interesting twist at about this point.  It started with a taxi that wanted to charge 350 baht for a 4km drive straight down the road we were on.  I couldn't do it.  It was less than 200 baht from the airport to my hotel and that was much further.  I said no, and the driver told me no one else would drive me there.  I asked another taxi, and he was right.  Plan B…. take the public bus for 4 baht.  I am the ultimate bargain shopper.  Perfect! And the driver and ticket taker were both very conscientious about making sure I made it to the right stop.  The bus was interesting…. wooden floors and all… A few blocks from my hotel, I disembarked and started walking the short distance.

However, the walk took me into the middle of the protests at Democracy Monument.
(no wonder the taxis weren't anxious to take me)

Before I realized it, I was in the middle of this enormous mass of people, friendly, but mass they were, and movement depended on which way the mass wanted to move.   I suddenly knew there was no escape if things turned bad.  

I smiled a lot and did a lot of eye rolling. Finally some wonderful man helped guide me to the edge of the crowd and onto some back streets avoiding the scene.  He stayed with me until he was certain I could find my way safely from there.

Not feeling too anxious to hit the streets at night (good thing because that's when the shootings happened… not around my neighborhood), I had dinner at the hotel and a drink at my corner bar before calling it a night.

Day 2

Sunday was to be and easy, relaxing day.  My flight was at 6PM and I didn't want to crunch time.  I took a stroll back to Khao San to see it in daylight.  I was one of the few awake before 11.

It's not nearly as exciting, but I did catch a few things I missed in the dark…

a little hookah bar

the tanks of fish that nibble the dead skin off of your feet…. ew

Ya, you can get just about anything you want in Bangkok.

Enough said?

Maybe not the first place I'd choose to get a tattoo…

What better way to wrap things up and relax but on the boat taxi.

My plan was to just get on the boat and tour the canals, but when we arrived at the Wat Pho stop, I decided it was a good time to see the Reclining Buddha.

Wat Pho is one of the largest and oldest temples in Thailand.  It is breathtaking! The central focus is, of course, the Reclining Buddha… 46 meters long, covered with gold leaf, and the feet are inlaid with mother of pearl.

But there is so much more to this wat…

These are called chedis.. there are 99 of them.

Time to leave as the tourists started pouring in.  And a little window shopping on my way out..

Offerings to Buddha.  Real flowers earn more merit than artificial flowers.

and the boat taxi…. a little more crowded now

A quick trip to the hotel, and off to Don Mueng.

Krispy Kreme in Thailand???

These hats are very popular.  Cat ears?

Goodbye Bangkok until next time.