Friday – 18th January
I flew Thai Airways from Brisbane and arrived 8pm local time in Bangkok. The flight was really good – I ate the low cal meals which were delicious. Thai Airways give you a huge range of options for meals when you first buy your tickets.
In the airport, you should not leave your bags unattended. You should also try to get your checked luggage wrapped in plastic to minimise the chance of bag straps getting stuck in places they shouldn’t…like the conveyer belt at luggage collection. I had medication so I went through the area with customs officials checking bags. It was quite fast to go through this area.
There are heaps of options for transport from the airport inc. bus, train, taxi and private transport – I chose taxi. You should only go to the pubic taxi depot at the airport and use the metered cabs. Unmetered cabs have a tendency to try to rip unsuspecting tourists off. The taxi rank is on the first floor – one level down from arrivals. It took a while to get the taxi and I had my first run in with Thai drivers – I was nearly run over just shutting the back of the taxi, because I didn’t see if anything was coming before I took a step back to shut it. Lesson 1 in Thailand: watch the road no matter where you are before you move. The driver tried to charge me 150 baht extra by not metering the ride but I just told him that I prefer the meter.
I stayed at the Bhiman Inn Hotel. It was in the middle of the tourist district so it was a bit rowdy. I couldn’t change the AC. WiFi was free. Breakfast was included in the overall price. If you want to stay close to the major tourist attractions then this hotel would be one of the best budget hotels in the district. It is not loud or dirty, and the food is pretty great. My tip for people who would prefer to stay somewhere else, is to go to the Silom district.
Saturday – 19th January
The breakfast bar started serving at 630am and had a range of hot food, yoghurt, cereal, fresh fruit and drinks. I had the sausage this morning which wasn’t really great, but the pancakes were awesome!
I booked a tour through Flight Centre with Destination Asia before I left. The guide picked me up a little late from the front of my hotel. The drive was really good – the group was small and the van was quite comfy. I did see a lot of stuff on the ride to our first stop that I would have photographed if the battery was in my camera. FAIL! Lesson 2: always remember to put the battery back in your camera after charging it. Our tour guide gave us some great travel advice for Bangkok – only use the metered taxis that are yellow and green and not to ride a taxi motorbike because they are unsafe.
First stop was a private coconut farm where we saw the process of making coconut oil. The farm also has a little gift shop which sells some great little ornaments and snacks.
The Damneon Saduak Floating Markets were next, which were amazing. The markets themselves are incredible – really really big. Some great souvenir shops and cafes lines the shores of the canals. There are hundreds of little stalls in and out of the water. I tried some deep-fried banana while I was there, which was delicious! The Maikaew Damnoen Resort, was just off one of the canals near the floating markets and looks quite amazing. The van dropped us at the markets and when we finished we took a longboat back from there to a big depot.
Later that night I went with Destination Asia once again on the Loy Nava Dinner Cruise along the Chao Praya River. This dinner cruise leaves from the Si Phraya Pier at 7pm. It was amazing. So much incredible food for one person! I was the only single person on the cruise which made it more exciting for me because I got to interact with other people. The man who was the host/translator spoke many languages which was great in a host! He was constantly walking around checking on everyone, making sure we all had a good time. And told me that he spent some time in Australia. The cruise highlights some of the riverside attractions including the famous Temple of the Dawn. At the end of the night there are some traditional women dancers to entertain you on the way back to the pier.
Destination Asia was simply a great tour company. I highly recommend using them if you are ever in Asia.
Sunday – 20th January
My hotel was close to many attractions, especially the National Museum and Grand Palace. I decided to walk to the Grand Palace from the hotel. On the way I visited Phra Sumen Fort (which was across the road from my hotel) and the park that surrounds it. It is right on the river and has a perfect view of the Bangkok Bridge.
I followed the road past the National Theater and Arts Gallery to the National Museum.
The Museum is massive! There are so many buildings. I actually spent most of my day there without even realising it. While in Gallery 306 (Ancient Hindu Iconography) I was awestruck. You aren’t allowed to take photos in this area, but I did take this sneaky one…
The last room of the art building has 3 Dong Son Drums sitting right in the middle of the room. They were green with rust and were holey, but they were as beautiful as I’d always visioned. To see an artefact which I had studied in a classroom was just surreal. Something I knew the history of. I actually had tears at one point (I know I’m soppy). Everyone else who visited while I was there just walked in and out and didn’t seem too phased by these old-looking drums. I thought the person who was working in the room was going to kick me out because I was just standing there staring at the drums. Awkward.
After I left the Museum I went through the Amulet Markets, ate some delicious street food for lunch, and saw Wat Mahathat.
Not too far from here was the Grand Palace (finally!)
I wasn’t completely covered to my ankles so I had to hire clothes to cover me. They only take cash but right across the road from the entrance is an exchange.
At the entrance of the Grand Palace you are just overwhelmed by the incredible architecture. Inside there is a place to make an offering and all the beautiful golds and red and greens of the temples. The Temple of the Emerald Buddha was my favourite. For those of you who do not like the kind of crowds you may find at Angkor Wat, Cambodia, there is a smaller replica of the main temples at the Grand Palace. You are also able to see the palace of the royal family while walking through. Just before the exit there is a cafe. It was a good place to rehydrate and cool down with some icrecream.
I rode a Tuk Tuk back to the hotel. I figured it w as the best time for me to take one because it was a short distance. It ended up costing 200baht.
My first and only dinner at the hotel was not average. I had lasagne and satay chicken skewers and it was incredible. The satay sauce was really well made and thighs were used in the chicken skewers so they weren’t dried out; perfectly juicy and delicious. The lasagne was made with fresh pasta and tasted incredible. It was also huge meal so you did not leave hungry. It was all quite cheap as well.
Find out what happened next when I went to Phimai, Thailand.
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