Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Bangkok 3

Our second day in Bangkok, we took BTS Skytrain to Mo Chit Station around 9 am, where we walked for another 5 minutes to reach Chatuchak Market- the biggest market in Bangkok, with its full strength of more than 10,000 stalls opened, only on weekends.

 Morning at Chatuchak. As you can see, there were not many people there yet. Some of the shop keepers were setting up their store.

The market is really "huge". They are few entrances to the market and we fought hard to memorize the the direction of the entrance that we came in. We failed. Then, we discovered a good way to ease the effort- by open our mouth and ask. "Skytrain, Mo Chit, Mo Chit, where?" Although the folks couldn't understand English well, they still could give us the right direction for us. Well, the way back to the hotel was a long one, as both our hands were full.

Crooked pirate needs a parrot, malnutrition arowana needs vitamin shrimps, or frustrated mom needs unbreakable household utensils, you can get what you need there, in Chatuchak.

A little bit shopping tips for you- try to go to the market early (around 9 am). The folks there were desperate to close the first sale. In their believe, successful first sale will bring good luck to them for the rest of the day. So, we might be offered with extremely attractive price, even without bargaining With that information, we managed to get few good quality clothes with really very low price. Anyway, please bear in mind as well, don't ask for the price for the things that you are not really interested in, which end end up with turning them down, even with "record-breaking-low" offer. You will discourage them and bring them a great disappointment (of course, only if you are their first customer of the day).

Chatuchak was really a place for us to learn how to communicate through language barrier- the simple is the best! We used simple English, just a few key words, plus a lot of body languages to roll through the market, alive and kicking.

Public transports in Bangkok (clockwise from upper left): Taxi, do you ever see a pinky taxi before? Tut-tut- the tricycle taxi, BTS Skytrain, decoration in the taxi. The public transport system in Bangkok is well-organized. We tried taxi (with meter, but still can bargain), tut-tut, Skytrain, MRT, and ferry. The Skytrain, MRT and the ferry systems are well linked. We didn't take any bus as we found some communication problem with the drivers, about the route.

Back to the hotel, put down all the stuffs bought from Chatuchak, we departed again to Siam Square Station. From there, we started another shopping spree- MBK Plaza, Siam Discovery, Siam Centre, and Paragon (again for the 2nd time). The stuffs at MBK were more likely meet our budget. During the spree, we took a short visit to Thailand Art and Culture Centre, a road side concert by unknown Thailand artists, street dancing at an overhead bridge in front of MBK, and contemporary music concert at Siam Square, in front of Paragon.

Photos above show the inside and outside of MBK shopping center (upper row), and the performance on the stage and on the street, just beside MBK.

 Our photos, inside and outside of Siam Paragon.

Siam Square, a place where arts meet the people, gave us much suprises by the creative decoration and performance. The photo above shows fountain ornamenting Siam Paragon far behind. The photo below shows the Banana Festival 2009 held in Siam Square. We were so lucky to catch up the last day's performance of local musical instruments.

Besides attractive landmarks and fruitful shopping, there was another attraction of Bangkok- the food! We tried many types of local food, such as pork rice, tomyam, Thai pad (noodle), western food, chinese food, fast food, and coffee. We suggested that you should not miss the pork rice, tomyam and oren-zui (made by freshly squeezed local orange). We can find all this delicacies all around Bangkok. Pork rice and tomyam can be found in food court in major shopping malls as well.

Mixed rice and pork rice, available all around Bangkok. The pork rice taste really good. The pork rice was sold at around 30 to 45 Baht per plate.
Clockwise from upper left: Thai chicken rice, noodle, western food, and tomyam. Thai tomyam is in "must try" category for us.

The attractions besides the main roads (From left): Phrakan Fortress, Victory Monument, and Statue of the King.

We like Bangkok very much. It was in fact a peaceful place. Although there was political issue running around the city, all the tourists' hot spots were left untouched. The streets along Thanon Yauwarrat and Thanon Charoen Krung were clean and peaceful. The markets were clean without irritating smells. Well, we will definitely return to Bangkok for second time in the future. For more information about Bangkok, you can visit Thaiway Magazine for good maps, Tripadvisor.com for comments on hotels, and any other webpage that we can get from search engines, such as Bangkok Hot Guides.

Lastly, we would like to express our special gratitude to our friend Alex Leong for his clear instructions and useful advices, as well as all the staffs at Salil Hotel for our wonderful time there.

Bangkok 2

Thanon Yauwarrat leads into the inner part of Old Siam- an area filled with historical wats (temples). Majestic Wat Pho, Wat Phra Kaew (Emerald Buddha), unique Wat Benchamabophit (Marble), Wat Phu Khao Thong (Golden Mount) and well crafted Wat Arun (Dawn) were some of the temples that we had visited. We also spared some times to visit one of the well "prayer-answering" Buddha- Temple of Black Buddha, not to pray, just to fill our curiosity. Arun Wat is a temple that located at the other side of Chao Phraya River. We took a ferry there, with the opportunity to witness the view of the great river in Thailand.

Our photo taken at a far corner of Wat Pho with magnificent pinnacles errect few hundreds feet into the sky behind us. Covering an area of 80,000 square meters, Wat Pho might be the largest temple complex in whole Thailand, which the temple being divided into several sections with their own unique designs (the pinnacles are in the middle section of the temple). The wat was built in 17th century during Ayutthaya days, long before the establishment of Bangkok as the capital of Thailand. Wat Pho is believed as the birth place for Thai massage.

A part of Wat Pho, displaying a great craftmanship in carving the roof of the building.

Photos above show the fine designs of Wat Pho.

Flanking another side of the royal palace, grand Wat Phra Kaew stand proudly, facing the passer by from the main road.

Wat Phu Khao Thong (Golden Mount) greets visitors with more than 300 spiral stairs. According to history, the wat was built by Rama IV on the foundation of a collaped temple more than a hundred years ago. Rama V, later add the relic of Buddha from India to the wat. We cannot see the golden part of the temple nearby as the part stationed at the top of the temple. We didn't take any photo of the golden temple, however, you can take a look on it in Wikipedia.

The narrow spiral staircase required good stamina to be conquered. The bells for each of the visitors to sound, in order to bring good fortune.

Great view on the top of the Golden Mount.

From Golden Mount, we took tut-tut to visit Wat Benchamabophit (Marble). The wat is not as significant as the previous temples, and it is located quite a distance away from old Siam. So, we won't recommend you to visit this temple, unless you really have nothing to do. We again took tut-tut from the wat to the ferry point at Chao Phraya River. From there, we took ferry to visit Arun Wat.

Wat Arun, Temple of the Dawn, more than 250 feet tall, located at the bank of the great river of Chao Phraya. Built in 1809, the structure stood as a hallmark of the reign of Rama III. The photo below shows a closer photo of the wat.

Every temple has its own opening hours, and not every temple will open all year round. So, our advice, please put the opening hours of the temples into consideration when you are putting up your itinarary.

The Royal Temple Ratchabophit of with a many golden decoratives.

From inner Old Siam area, we started our journey back to Hua Lampong around 5:30 pm, starting from Ratchabophit, through Thanon Chareon Krung. We grabbed the opportunity to visit the night market there. Well, our advice is, visit inner Old Siam area first and go to China Town later on your way back. In that way, you can visit the temples with your camera alone, without been bugged by the things that you bought from the market.

Follow us to for Food and shopping in Bangkok.

Bangkok 1

Bangkok, Capital of Thailand, gave us many surprises as we took our 4 days 3 nights tour over the city during May, 2009. From the movies such as "Bangkok Dangerous", "Ong-Bak", "Ong-Bak II", and all sorts of Thai's movies, our impression about Bangkok- full with antiques building, wats (temples), Buddha statues, small streets, villagers' looking folks... We are right, partly, as we missed up the modern and contemporary part of Bangkok.

Suvarnabhumi Airport, contemporary and antique, commersial and religiously blended hub to the outside world, gives warm welcome to whoever step their foot on the land of Siam.

Upon reaching the Suvarnabhumi Airport, at 5 pm, we took a taxi to our hotel. Even we used expressway and toll paid, we still get knew to "Traffic Jam The Great" in Bangkok, which caused us 2 hours time to reach our hotel, for a 25 minutes journey. Much more terrible than the worst case we ever have in Malaysia. So, if you plan to visit Bangkok, make sure your flight arrive outside the rush hours (7-9 am, 5-7 pm), eluding the frustration that might kills your fine holiday mood. The traffic is less jam on Sunday or public holiday as well, as we experienced a very loose traffic on Labour Day (1st May 2009).

Photos taken from the taxi along the highway. Low shutter speed yet with still high clarity, thanks to the traffic jam.

Anyway, our emotional agitation caused by a long trap in traffic was comforted by the warm welcome from the hotel staffs. Salil Hotel at Sukhumvit Soi 8, with Air Asia rate of RM160 per night. We booked our hotel together with air tickets through Air Asia. That's our first time in booking hotel online, and Air Asia washed all our doubts away. We called the hotel and got our confirmation from the hotel in less than 3 days from the moment we clicked the "yes" button on the web.

What can we expect from a hotel with such rate in Sukhumvit Soi 8? Everything else except one of the best... But what we had there was one of the best hotel we ever stayed. It's small with friendly English speaking staffs, whose collectively refused any tips in any form from us. The room was clean and well designed, the food served in restaurant, although short in variety met our taste buds. The hotel is 700 - 800 meters away from Nana Skytrain Station (further than the description in some of the tourism webpage). But the 24 hours service shuttle cart solved our problem. The hotel is 25 minutes away from the airport (without traffic jam), with taxi, cost about 500 Baht (including expressway toll). Last but not least, equiped with DVD player, we can get DVD for free viewing from the lobby.

Salil Hotel at Sukumvit Soi 8. Far upper row from left to right shows staircase, walkway, and buffet breakfast. The room is clean and neat, with cooling air cond, hearty snacks (even we didn't take any), coffee making, fridge, 32 flat screen, and two elephants as door gift. The photo below shows the electric powered shutter cart use to carry the residents forth and back from the skytrain station.

Photo shows Nana Skytrain Station at night, around 8 pm.

Around 8:30 pm, we reached Paragon, one of the biggest shopping mall in Bangkok, located 3 BTS Skytrain stations away from Nana Station. We took our dinner and a short shopping there, and head straight back to Nana Station. Just below the station, a few hundred stalls of night market awaited. We did some surveys about the price, quality, and, get our bargaining skills polished.

Night market from the overhead skytrain station. Photo taken around 10 pm.

The next morning, we took BTS Skytrain and MRT to Hua Lampong. Then, we took a walk into Old Siam area (Siam is the old name of Thailand) through Thanon Yauwarrat. Along Thanon Yauwarrat, we visited famous China Town Market, with hundreds of meters of lanes, filled with thousands of hawkers and stalls, selling various type of stuffs, food, clothes, toys, kitchen appliances, stationaries, sport equipments,adornments, drawings, souvenirs, and many many more. We bought some stuffs with really good bargained price (we will never get it in our country).

The routes that we took in Old Siam: We went through Thanon Yauwarrat and Thanon Charoen Krung on foot (red), to the temples around the area with tut-tut (green), and went to Arun Wat with ferry (blue). Map taken from Thaiway Magazine. As you can notice from the map, Old Siam area is surrounded by water ways (indicated in blue colour), which once served as moat.
Photo on the upper left shows Hua Lampong Station, which lead to Thanon Yauwarrat and Thanon Charoen Krung. Other photos show scene at Thanon Yauwarrat.

We continued our journey to old part of Bangkok, or been called old Siam, visiting several temples, mostly on foot. We took tut-tut to visit the outskirt temples and ferries for Arun Wat.

One thing that we would like to comment on tut-tut- always go for the more "high-priced one" (such as 50 Baht and above, depends on the distance) to go to your destination without any interference. The "low-priced" tut-tut (such as 20 - 30 Baht per ride or even free-of-charge) might end up with bringing you "go-a-merry-ride" to shops with very expensive jewelleries and clothes before yours destination. We had been brought to visit two jewellery shops and one taylor shop on our ride, and can you belief that we were actually pay nothing for the whole day ride? Well, the drivers of the tut-tut, once we were on, requested our permission to stop at certain shops, and in return, they offered us free rides. We fulfilled their request, and, what else? Free ride we had.

Please follow us to the Temples in Bangkok.