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Friday, February 1, 2013

Bangkok 2013

Day 14

Coffee, coffee I heard in a half English/Thai voice that awakened me. NO! What time is it …….. 6am...... you want coffee. NO. What time will we be in Bangkok? (We were supposed to arrive at 6am) An hour or an hour and a half, you want coffee; She said.......”NO”.
I ripped off my socks found my thongs/flip-flops and braved the stench of the toilet. I hurried back to my sleeper and quickly put my socks back on. The bloody air conditioner is freezing. I said g’day to my new found friend from Japan. We chatted about our home countries and our travels until we reached Bangkok.

We finally arrived at Hua Lamphong RailwayStation Bangkok, we got off the artic express and grabbed a drink from the family mart with-in the station. Before braving the taxi and tuk tuk touts outside. We made it to the exit door and it started …..Taxi Taxi, you want Tuk Tuk, one guy said where are you going so I told him. He said 200THB, NO! I said 100THB, he then said 150THB and I said 120THB. He said, OK!

We piled out backpacks and ourselves into the back of this tiny tuk tuk and at the speed of light we hurtled down the road, trying to take in the sights smells and sounds while holding on for dear life. We passed Daisuke, my new Japanese friend along the way. I guess our tuk tuk was faster.

We finally arrived at our hotel New Siam 2 and checked-in we were given our key and room number. We took the elevator up to the 4th floor and opened our door to find a guy standing naked covering his penis with his hands and his female partner in her underwear lying on the bed. Whoops !!!!! Wrong room, I best go to reception and try fix this up. With a huge apology from reception we got the right room this time. We went downstairs and grabbed something for lunch and had a swim in the pool and enjoyed being lazy.
The New Siam 2 hotel is a basic and cheap hotel; it’s a tidy hotel that is a bit worn out here and there. The room we had was 4222 it was clean and tidy except the mould above the shower and the stained shower curtain and the air conditioner was noisy from time to time and some of the furniture is marked. There is Wi-Fi at the hotel, there is a charge and sold in 1, 2 and 3 day lots. The hotel will also get your laundry done for you at 40THB a kilo. There are computer in the dining area which next to the swimming pool. The hotel is located close to the river, Soi Rambuttri, Khao SanRoad and the Grand Palace wasn’t too far away.

 New Siam 2 Hotel Photos - here 

New Siam 2 website - here 

Business card - Front - Rear

Later in the afternoon we freshened up and hit the streets and ended up at Khao San Road. We walked around and grabbed a new power plug adaptor and a cheap bag to for all our extra shopping. I guess Khao San road was a bit of a tourist trap, but we enjoyed our brief visit and grabbed some Pad Thai with chicken for 45 THB I also grabbed a coconut to drink. We managed to grab a tuk tuk back to the hotel for 50THB.

Day 15

 330am and for the life of me I can’t find my phone to turn that darn alarm off. Soon the whole hotel will be awake. Some goose had kicked it under the bed. We snacked on some munchies before heading to reception and waited for our guide.
We sat focused on our phones lost into our cyber worlds, as a young woman approached me. Andrew she said, Yes, I answered. Hi my name is Daeng and I’m your guide today. Daeng works for Tour with Tong and I had organised a VIP morning with the monks at the Tiger Temple. And later in the day time with the elephants

By 430am we set off in a large Toyota van with some very comfortable seats and air conditioned.  Daeng introduced our driver to us and off we went. Daeng spoke to us about the day, which soon turned into general chat. And before we knew it we were at our first stop of the day, the bridge over theriver Kwai. Dawn was just breaking as we stepped onto the bridge and our guide Daeng took some photos for us. It was a clear cool morning, a lot cooler than what it was in Bangkok earlier. Our thoughts turned to all the Australians and many from other nations who lives were lost making the railway.

Back into the van and on our way to the Tiger Temple, very soon we were greeted by a couple of huge concrete tigers I guess we were at the Tiger Temple. Daeng gave us a run down on the dos and don’ts.
We were seated behind tables and prepared to give the monks the morning offering of food and drink. But just before the monks came out an Australian guy came to speak to us about the day. He was the manager of the Tiger Temple. 

We offered the monks our offerings and once the monks had gone inside the temple. We were allowed to follow, and our first chance to meet the tigers.

I have always wanted to visit the tigers at the temple. But over the years I have heard some good and bad reports about the treatment of the tigers. I read so many reviews on the temple, the monks and the tigers. My decision was made and it was something I had to experience for myself.
We were stopped at the bottom of the steps to the temple, and asked to remove our shoes and given a few rules to follow.  We all rushed up the steps like a bunch of school kids all racing for a prime position with the tigers. Once inside the temple there were a few tigers chained up around the outside of the temple and a few very small tigers in the centre left to run around. Each group of people were paired up with a volunteer. We got to feed a small and not so small tiger a bottle of milk. And while the volunteer’s and Monks ate breakfast we were allowed to interact with the tigers. 

We were all gathered up and told to meet at the bottom of the steps of the temple. Each group was given a tiger to walk to Tiger Island; we got a small tiger a few months old, which had other ideas on walking to Tiger Island. We finally got there. The tigers were whisked away. And we were given a bottle of water.

Now it was time to enter Tiger Island and wash and hand feed the tigers, which was a bit scary and a lot of fun. Next we entered a big cage with the large tigers and played with large bamboo poles with bag and bottles tied to the end. I’m not sure who had the most fun us or the big cats or who was worn out first. I really was a fantastic experience playing with these animals it was just like playing with a large house cat. After our time with the tigers was over we waited outside of Tiger Island and to take turns walking a 200 kilo plus tiger to the canyon. Once in the canyon we had photos taken with one of the large tigers. We were sent to a cage in the canyon after the photo and the gate shut behind us. And it was time for the tigers to play while we watched and it also concluded our time at the tiger temple. During this time I saw no miss treatment of the tigers and I don’t think they are drugged I just think these animals are very tolerant and worn out after all the morning activities.

Back into the van for a short 10 minute drive down the road for lunch. Which was spring rolls and Pad Thai which was really tasty and it was great to have a rest in the shade.

After lunch it was back in the van and a little further down the road to bathe with the elephants. We arrived and our mouths dropped. We thought we would only ride the elephant bareback, but all we saw were elephants with chairs on their backs to ferry people on an elephant trek. I have been reading a bit about elephants and one part which stood out to me was how ferrying weight around on it back is no good for the elephant. We all love elephants and hoped the interaction with the elephant would serve us both better than only one of us enjoying the trek. Just then Daeng spoke up and said our elephant will be here in a moment and we won’t be riding them like that. Phew I thought. Just then 2 Asian elephants were led towards us by their mahouts we offered the elephants large hands of bananas and pineapples, and started walking slowly to the river. 

The mahouts mounted their elephants and entered the river Kwai, we quickly striped down to our swimmers and followed the elephants into the clear cool fast flowing river. We had the time of our lives with the elephants and were encouraged to ride the elephants bareback to the elephant station. Miss G had her own elephant and Miss C and I shared an elephant. What a truly wonderful experience and so much more enjoyable.

We dried ourselves off and got changed into some dry clothes, and back into the van. Daeng turned to use and asked if we would like to see part of the death railway. Yes I quickly replied. It wasn’t very far from the elephant camp. We walk past a few market stalls to the railway lines which we walked along till the bridge and took a few photos and looked into a cave off to one side. We just got back to the van when 3 coach buses of Russian pulled up. Kanchanaburi is a nice area and I think is worth exploring a little more.
Nearly 3 hours back to Bangkok with good traffic conditions. We were totally worn out, it was a massively long day, and the girls stretched out and had a nap on the way home.

Back at the hotel we freshened up and rested for an hour or so and decided to take the small lane way next to the hotel with had a sign this way to Khao San road. So off we went on another merry adventure. The small lane way led to Soi Rambuttri, wow what a great vibe this soi had. There is a little something for everyone. We found a great little restaurant and sat outside in the street enjoyed a few drinks and a beautiful feed for dinner and spoke of our wonderful day.

Day 16

Finally a sleep in! Well…..8am is better the 3 or 4 am.  We went down to the restaurant of the hotel food isn’t too bad there and isn’t too expensive. 
We walked out front of the hotel and walked straight past the taxis parked out the front. They refuse to use the meter and charge an expensive price. I flagged down a taxi and asked if he would use the meter to Chatuchak weekend market. It cost me 95 THB in a taxi. 

I grabbed a free map from the information centre at the main entrance and off we wandered. This place is massive. And sell everything from flowers to food and pets. The pet section was a bit disturbing. But it was a great day out and some stuff is dirt cheap. Some shops will bargain and some won’t. But don’t be afraid to ask. We shopped around at a few shops and got stuff at a 1/3 of the first asking price. By 3pm we have had enough and decided to head back to the hotel. Well the fun and games started with trying to get a taxi back to our hotel. After trying 4 different taxis and 3 different tuk tuks it was getting tough. They either kept turning us down or wanting to charge an extremely high price. I finally got a tuk tuk driver who wanted to charge me 55THB over the taxi price this morning. Without many other choices I decided to take it.
By 430pm we were in the hotel pool cooling down and relaxing. 

The girls decided to stay at the hotel and I decided to see what the weekend walking street market was like out front of our hotel. There were traditional Thai dancers at one end of the street a DJ with a fire twirler at the other end with a family show in the middle somewhere. There were a lot of Thai handicrafts, a few 2nd hand clothes stall and plenty of food stalls. I bought a great rice and duck meal for 30THB and a couple of small pancake with a meringue filling, sweet and yummy and only 10THB each and an ice tea for 18 THB what a feast for 68 THB. I wandered around and watched a few performances for an enjoyable few hours. I had a bit of a giggle with two young Thai guys selling homemade soap made from Chang beer; I did wonder why anyone would want to smell like beer without drinking it.

Day 17

Yep…. You guessed it 6am alarm wake up. We quickly got ready and hurried down to grab some breaky. Daeng from Tour with Tong will be here soon. 650am and Daeng arrived we had a minute or two of general chat before heading to the van and getting on our way. I like Daeng she was full of knowledge and generally a nice person. 

Our first stop was the Train Market; we did a walk along the train tracks to see the markets and the fresh produce. The girls weren’t a fan of the smell of the raw meat and sea food. We grabbed a hot drink and waited for the train. But we found out the train had broken down and would be awhile before it got there. So we decided to carry on and go to the floating markets.

After a short drive we arrived at the floating markets around 9am, the place was empty which was great. We boarded our boat and off we went under paddle power. We passed a few shops and stopped at a small boat serving soup Daeng suggested we have a tom yung soup, it was delicious and just a little spicy. We carried on with our paddle tour of the floating markets and took a turn up a few less travelled back waters to see how some of these people live. We slowly drifted back and had a walk around and came across the snake man. Daeng got a good price for us for a few photos with the snakes. All was good until the snake man tried to get his snake to bite my penis. We all had a bit of a laugh and decided it was time to go. On the way home we went a long a few country roads for a while we past a fish and prawn farm and many fruit orchards. We made it back to the hotel for 1245pm and a great chance to spend some time swimming and relaxing by the pool.
Around 7pm we went out front of the hotel to have a look around, and then we slipped up the side of the hotel to Soi Rambuttri and have a meal and a few beers. After our meal we walked further down the road to a small lane way (I think I saw a sign that said it’s called “Susan’s lane”) we had a great foot massage at Pairin Spa 120THB for ½ an hour. We finished the evening off by having a few drinks at The Green House located on Soi Rambuttri.

Day 18

7am start today, and by 8 am we were ready to visit the King. We walked out the front of the hotel turned left and walked to the over bridge and walked underneath the bridge and just follow the road around which led straight to the front entrance of the palace, it took us about 15 – 20 minutes. When the gate was opened at 830am we were the first through to secure our tickets which cost 500THB. And we hurried inside to take some photos before the crowds filled the palace. The palace and grounds are kept beautiful. We wandered around for a while to take in some amazing sights.

We walked out the front gate of the Palace and turned left and followed the wall around, until a well-dressed Thai man stopped us and ask where we are going. I said nothing then he said The Palace is shut today. I stopped and pulled out the tickets I just bought at the Palace, Oh yeah well what are these. He quickly turned and walked off. We kept walking until we saw Wat Pho or the temple of the reclining Buddha. Entrance fee was 100THB with a free bottle of water. We entered the temple and got a few photos of the reclining Buddha and then wondered around the grounds. We grabbed our free bottle of water and sat in the shade to cool off.


We soon let Wat Pho and turned left and crossed the road and walked past a few market stalls to the wharf so we could get the cross river ferry, the ticket price was 3THB per person one-way. Once on the other side I purchased tickets for Wat Arun and started our pilgrimage up the steps the first two set of steps were easy but the 3rd set were very narrow and steep. The view from the top was well worth it, until it was time to ascend the steps wow these are step and I must admit I was a worried for a moment but took it on I went down sideways which seemed to be the easiest way to get down. If you’re not all templed out there is a few more behind Wat Arun.

Next pier to the cross river ferries pier I spoke to a woman about a tour around the Khlongs, which takes an hour. She wanted 1500THB but after a while I managed to get it for 1000THB. And we jumped aboard and off we went. It was an interesting ride to see the khlongs and the houses. There were quite a few large monitor lizards on the way around. At times the boat went to fast and I really could have done with-out the stop at the small boat which tried to sell me tacky cheap souvenirs. I asked the boat driver if he could drop us on the other side of the river. Which he did and I thanked him and gave him tip. Then the guys waiting at the dock want 20THB as a docking fee. Please, talk about sucking money out of someone. I walked off the wharf and across the road and stood next to Wat Pho and got a taxi, 47THB to the hotel.

We went two shops down from the front of the hotel and bough some chicken rice and a bowl of soup for lunch for 40THB per person. You can either have steamed or fried chicken and it’s yummy.

We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing by the hotel pool with a drink or two.

Later we headed down Soi Rambutti to the small laneway that leads to Khao San Road and called into the Parin Spa for a Thai massage 220THB for an hour. Then we shuffled around the corner and grabbed something to eat at The Green House and relaxed with a few drinks.

I loved Bangkok and felt as a secret was kept from me so I would return to try and discover it,  I'm sure me and Bangkok will cross paths again soon.

Taxi prices - here

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johnnyv said...

Nice and detailed report, thanks!

Anonymous said...

Really enjoyed this report!! Its given me some great ideas for our holiday :-)

Unknown said...

Thannks, I hope you have a great trip.

Anonymous said...

Hi Andrew,
I see you had a great adventure.
I will be doing a similar route to you with the exception of Changi Mai.
Not have as much time as you, What are the must do's whilst at these places.
I am a first time solo traveler and first time in all these place.
Leaving in 2 days.
Regards, Barry. NSW.

Unknown said...

Hi Barry
I loved Bangkok and exploring, which is strange for me as I'm not a big city lover. In Bangkok I enjoyed Soi Rambuttri, which has a great atmosphere and some great places to eat. I also enjoyed the weekend markets out front of our hotel New Siam 2 I think the amount of locals and how cheap it was really gave it a great feel. Even the tourist places were great the Royal Palace , Wat Pho and Wat Arun were all great to see. I hope that helps out a little, if i can be anymore help you know where I am .

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