Day 1: Bangkok

I woke up really early to get to Singapore’s Changi Airport for really early check in. I did web check in the day before, so I didn’t have to actually reach Changi at 5 am for the 7am flight to Bangkok. But, oh well, a person like me, I hate rushing. I prefer going early for scheduled activity than getting to the place right on time. It’d have taken more energy for me worrying whether I could make it on time or not. So, being early and just take things slowly was preferred. Plus, I had time to enjoy Subway at Changi T1 with my two cousins, Niko and Yos, who would be with me for the rest of this trip. We ordered foot long sandwiches but ate only half of each.

Itinerary for the day: Chinatown, Yaowarat Road, Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Pho, Khaosan Road

We landed at Thailand’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport 0830hrs, five minutes early! There were long queues at the immigration with only 4 immigration counters opened on our side. There were two sides with four layers of lines with about 30 people on each line. I queued up for almost 30 minutes but I did not complain though. 😁 I won’t let some small details ruin my first multi-coutries trip.

Oh yeah, my cousin, Yos, got his arrival card checked in the queue and the female officer kinda told him to fill up the flight number column rudely. “Indonesian? Flight number (pointing at the column a few times). Yeah.. Yeah.. Yeah..” And walked away. Welcome to Bangkok, I guess.

It cost me THB40 from the airport to Rachaprarop by Airport Rail Link (ARL). Our hotel, KC Place, was just right one block beside Rachaprarop ARL. There were many tourists with big backpacks and suitcases on the train. Some locals joined us at the next few stations for work. I couldn’t believe it was still morning. The one hour difference between Singapore time and Bangkok’s shortened our flight by one hour, so to speak.

I checked in at the hotel and left our backpacks there. The staff were friendly and the owner was there to monitor. No wonder. He was nice too though.

I don’t know if I lack understanding about the trains in Bangkok, but BTS ARL MRT lines are not working together. What I mean is, each line have their own tikets which makes it troublesome to transfer trains. I had to buy tikets every time I transfer trains between any two of the lines. And I had to queue to buy the tickets at the ticket machines. But overall, the transportation was clean and quite comfortable. I asked a lot of questions and the staff at the train stations answered them patiently. They were helpful towards tourists.

We went to Hua Lamphong Railway Station by Exit 2 from Hua Lamphon MRT. We wanted to check if we could buy our train ticket towards Aranyaprathet for our trip to Siem Reap. But they told us to buy the train tickets on the day itself.

So next, I visited Wat Pho – Wat Phra by Tuk-tuk to see the Reclining Buddha. Tuktuk was efficient. I mean, it was cheap. At THB100, the three of us could travel 30 mins from Hua Lamphong to Wat Pho. I didn’t know the place was that far! But of course, the dirt and pollution were the drawbacks of riding tuktuk. To enter Wat Pho you need to buy the tickets sold at THB100. We spent quite some time walking around this huge place from 1300hrs to 1430hrs. Even Obama went to this place when he visited Southeast Asia. You have to visit this place too.

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We could have taken the river taxi to Wat Pho and the other Wats, but we were lost looking for the river. So we took the Tuktuk instead.

Across Wat Pho was the Chao Phraya River. I saw the famous Wat Aron across the river but didnt take the ferry across.

Then we walked towards the Grand Palace through the side street filled with flea markets that sold mostly Buddhist totems. We had lunch at a cafe at the end of the street and tried this “popular” Thai-syle omelette with rice for THB 35, which turned out to be a bowl of plain rice with not-so-special omelette on top of it. Something that I could cook easily at home. But I’d be lying if say I didn’t like it. Given thr fact that my stomach was empty at that moment, the dish was just delicious and affordable. I almost felt at home, actually. Also, the aircon in the cafe was superb. The temperature outside was 34 degree!

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When we walking towards Khaosan Road, next in our itinerary, we met a teacher in front of the national Museum who directed us to a travel agent. Heha Tourist Information provides tours including transportation to siem reap for tbh 600 per person. After thinking and considering the pros and cons of travelling by ourselves, we thought the price was worth it. So we took the deal for our trip to Siem Reap on the 2nd of February.

From the travel agency we walked to Khaosan Road, which was the centre of backpacking tourists. The atmosphere was so relaxed. Tourists, mainly european, were everywhere. The cafes were full of them. It was almost like I was in Europe but in Southeast Asia. Or as if Bangkok was in Europe. We had someone drew our faces there. The result wasn’t so satisfying because we all looked the same! The only thing that differentiated us was our hairstyles. We stayed at the road till 1730hrs and decided to go back to the hotel for some rest after so much walking.

We continued our trip and left the hotel at 1930hrs. We made a visit to Platinum Fashion Mall which was unfortunately closed! It was probably because of Chinese New Year or the protest at the road just at the junction of Pathum Wan area. But nevetheless, we ate dinner and bought some nice street food. Btw, don’t eat at this restaurant below. My cousin had a fly in the food he ordered and the owner wasn’t even sorry. He let my cousin order another dish but still pay for it!

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Anyway, we decided to visit the protest area which was pretty tourist friendly. Someone checked my bag, but when they found out I don’t speak Thai, they welcomed me in to look around. People camped and cheered as the leaders made their speeches on stage. There were booths along the street, that was closed for vehicles, selling “Thailand Shutdown Janurary 2014” and “Reform Thailand” shirts. Pretty interesting and rare sight.

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That was today! We didn’t make it to Chinatown because the person who drew our faces told us that the shops there closed at 1700hrs. We were too late to make it in time.

Tomorrow’s itinerary: Madam Tussauds, Chatuchak and Patphong!

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