Bel and Phil's Adventures

Our adventures through Europe, America and Asia

Posts from the ‘Bangkok’ category

Bangkok and Ireland

We ended up finding a restaurant in the shopping centre next door, the MBK centre, and found a restaurant with a lot of local people, so we thought we would give it a try. It was interesting and ok, but we wouldn’t rush back there again.

After a very lazy start to our first Friday, we had a leisurely and delicious breakfast at the buffet in the hotel. We then went back up to our room to attempt to resort the bags to reorganise the weight.

We then headed into the MBK Centre for some shopping. One scarf and some hair accessories were the limit as the bags were already at limit due to the items I’m taking over for my sister.

We had a lovely time looking around and I was spoilt for choice in terms of scarves and hair clips. I eventually made a decision and we ended up at Swenson’s for some ice-cream. When Chris, Ryan and I were in Thailand in January 2006, the boys loved going over to Swensons for dessert after dinner. Phil was quite impressed by the banana split he ordered as well. We walked back to the hotel a different way and discovered a Meat eats Fest so Phil was disappointed that he couldn’t eat another bite. Phil needed his sunglasses, so he raced back to the hotel to get them. Then we explored a ‘night market’ across the road (although it was afternoon). Phil found this place in there that was doing a foot massage for 150 Thai Baht for 30 minutes. That’s a whole $6. He was definitely in for that. It looked painful from where I was sitting, but he enjoyed it and said that his foot felt heaps better for it.

We decided to relax back at the hotel, as we had our flight to Europe on Friday night, leaving Bangkok at 11:00 pm. We got ourselves sorted, and packed the bags. We decided to get an early dinner and found another place in the MBK centre – Chicken BonChon. Again going with a place that had a lot of local people. This was amazing and we were both so glad we tried it.

We then went back to the hotel to collect our bags and meet our transfer to the airport. We left the hotel at 7:00 pm to allow for traffic for an hour! It was chaotic. There was a bus broken down out near the airport and the traffic was banked back for kilometres. There were 3 lanes of traffic, however our intrepid driver decided to make the breakdown lane another lane of traffic. We got to the airport and checked in, with no problems at all. After all that hassle, they didn’t even weigh the cabin bags! We made it to our gate and got onto the very full Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt.

We were so tired (and still full from dinner) that essentially we went straight to sleep – well Phil did – snoring away. I dozed. I woke up thinking that I hadn’t slept for very long and yet we were five hours into the flight. Phil was still sleeping / with the occasional loud snore. I found it very hard to go back to sleep as I couldn’t get comfortable at all. We have both agreed that we won’t be doing an overnight economy fare again. We arrived in Frankfurt without a hitch. The airport is massive. You could imagine our surprise when we were following directions to our gate for the connecting flight to Dublin when we found ourselves at a train station to get to the other hub. We then went through security screening again and we clearly got onto the wrong line – the slow line.

We got through and found our gate. The plane was parked on the tarmac right near the plane that we had just gotten off. We had no idea why we had to go so far to end up where we started. It makes sense to someone I guess. The flight was uneventful and 1 hour and 40 minutes later we landed in Dublin. We eventually got through immigration (only 1 line for the Non EU passports) and collected our bags. We found a cab and made our way to Megan’s. It was so fabulous to see her and Paul again. Megan’s house is amazing and very stylish.

After we had given her the things that we had brought (the records survived intact – thankfully), we ended up watching the Australia vs Ireland Rugby Union match. Megan, Phil and I were all happy with the result – not so much Paul (Australia won 18 – 9). We had some lovely lunch that Megan and Paul made us – fried rice. Phil and I decided to go for a walk into Dublin. Paul pointed us in the direction of a very scenic walk and off we went.

It was a beautiful sunny day and lots of people were sitting on the banks of the canal and on the grass in St Stephen’s Green enjoying the fabulous weather. We walked down the canal and then headed off into Dublin. We went to Dublin Castle, as we wanted to know where it was so we could explore it when we have more time (it was after 3:30 pm). We then decided to find St Stephen’s Green, as it was on our way back to Megan’s. As we were walking through the streets of Dublin we saw some amazing buildings that looked really pretty in the sunshine. We found St Stephens Green and thought that it was so pretty, with people out picnicking, playing games or just strolling around the gardens.

We were both really tired though and decided to head home. We got back to Megan and Paul’s about 4:30 and had a chat with both of them. Paul cooked a beautiful dinner on the bar-b-que, which we had early – about 6:30 pm as jet lag was starting to take its toll (along with my rotten cold which I still haven’t shaken). I made it to 8:30 and headed to bed, Phil not long after me.

We really enjoyed our first day in the city of Dublin and spending time with Megan and Paul. We can’t wait to explore this city further and spend more time with my sister and her husband.

Bangkok Day 2

Today was an early start as we needed to meet our tour guide in the foyer at 7:00 am. We had an early breakfast, which was amazing. There were so many options we were definitely spoilt for choice. I had an omelette freshly made for me, enjoyed with bacon and finished with pineapple and watermelon. A lovely start to the day. We met our tour guide and travelled south heading to the Damnoen Saduak Floating Markets.

Our tour guide was Lucky and our driver was Wat, which means glory, or that’s what Lucky told us. Lucky was talking to us about life in modern day Thailand and the minimum wage for workers about 300 Baht per day (13.60 AUD) and if you have a degree the starting wage for day is ($22.72 AUD). She did point out that people were able to earn more by working overtime and extra days. Lucky stated that this was the starting point, but sometimes people (especially educated people) were able to negotiate higher wages. Buying and renting an apartment (or condominium as they are called here) in Bangkok is super expensive. It was an enjoyable trip down the coast.

Our first stop was the Mae Klong railway market, which is also called Talad Rom Hoop, which roughly translated to closing an umbrella or awning. This market has a railway line run through the middle of it. When we first arrived, the awnings and market stalls were set up all the way to the railway line. There were lots of people walking, looking and selling. The train was due through the markets at 8:30am. Sure enough, just before 8:30 people started pulling in their awnings and their stalls. All of the stalls were on wheels so that they could be wheeled back. Tourists squashed into stalls so that they could still take photos as the train limped past. It was going very slowly. As the train went past, the stall holders had their awnings back out and their wares available again within 1 minute of the train passing. It was amazing and yet nothing special to the people that worked there. The train has gone through the market for many years.

After this stop, we headed to a place where they make coconut sugar, (which is used for cooking), coconut milk and coconut oil. It was a very interesting process. Bark off the coconut tree and flower were used as fuel to heat the bowls used in the sugar making process. All parts of the coconut are used, including the shell, which is broken down at a factory and used to stuff mattresses.

The final stop was the floating markets. We arrived at the pier to get onto our boat to travel through the floating markets on the waterways as they originally were used. We had fresh cool water and watermelon for us. We got on the boat and went exploring. There were heaps of boats in the canals causing quite a huge traffic jam at different points. The engines that are used to drive these boats are small 4 cylinder car engines. I was starting to feel quite ill with all of the exhaust. Phil was shocked as there weren’t any guards or protection over the engine, so if the drivers slipped they could potentially lose fingers and / or hands.

People were selling all kinds of goods on both sides of the canal such as souvenirs, scarves, tablecloths, mobiles, dresses, clothes, sarongs. t-shirts, homewares and food. Although most of the food vendors had their own boats who wended their way through the markets. Some of these food vendors even had small stoves on their boats to cook their food. It was crazy. We then veered away from the craziness and got to travel down some areas that weren’t just the markets and we got to see some of the houses that lined the canals. There were some beautiful homes that were stunning. Some people had lived in this area for multiple generations.

We hopped off the boat (which was quite tricky in itself being that we aren’t as flexible as we should be and it was quite a leap up). We then started exploring the markets on foot. Lucky was guiding us and we were taking lots of photos (I know, unusual right?). Lucky then told us where to meet her, so that we could explore independently. We bought a scarf for me (our one item from Bangkok as we are up to our luggage limit due to the items that we are taking for Megan to Dublin – luckily we are already planning a return trip to Bangkok next year). After our big one purchase, with all that bartering – she suggested 500 Baht, Phil offered 250 Baht and she agreed – lots of bartering there – we headed to find a Diet Coke for me and a beer for Phil. We found the perfect spot watching the traffic go by on the canal. After taking some more photos (cause you can never have enough), we headed to find Lucky and head back to Bangkok. This journey took much longer than planned, with us due to back in Bangkok by 12:30 pm but actually arriving at 1:00 pm to be met by Anna – our next tour guide.

She reassured us it was fine and we could push it back to 1:30, which gave us time to race up to the room (on the 22nd floor), change the lens on the camera for Phil and then race downstairs again. Luckily the cafe in the lobby had some bread rolls with ham and roast beef that we ordered and were able to eat quickly. They were delicious.

This tour (again by Buffalo Tours) was the City and Temple tour. Once again it was a private tour. The first stop with Anna and Tom the driver, was the Golden Buddha. This Buddha had initially been covered in plaster / concrete and had only been discovered to be solid gold when people had tried to move it to a new temple. The people constructing the new temple had organised a crane to lift and move it, but it was so heavy that the slings supporting it broke. The Buddha dropped to the ground (it wasn’t very far up) and a crack revealed some gold. It transpired that the monks had covered the Buddha when Thailand (once known as Siam) was fighting Myanmar (once known as Burma) so that the invading armies wouldn’t take the Buddha. The monks all died and so the secret remained until 1955. This Buddha is over 700 years old and is very valuable.

The next stop was The Reclining Buddha at the Wat Pho temple. The reclining Buddha is so long that the Buddha was created and then the building built around him. This temple site is massive and has the ashes of the first 4 kings. It is stunning. We put some coins into the bowls to bring good luck and also rang the bells.

Our last stop was the Marble Temple and was very beautiful, although it did start raining here. The Buddha inside was very beautiful, although I was most impressed with the architecture of the buildings and the ornate decorations. The bells here were ringing in the wind out the back of the temple and were just beautiful. We rang them again to bring us, our family and friends more good luck.

We headed back into Bangkok through the crazy traffic again to get back to our hotel. After a lovely afternoon tea in the lobby, we spent some time editing all of the photos (Bel’s 418 and Phil’s 181) and writing my journal ready to be published. We are going to head out into the nightlife of Bangkok – although we won’t be hitting any nightclubs this trip.

Bangkok Day 1

We had to be at Sydney Airport at 7 am this morning, so decided to spoil ourselves and start the holiday by staying at Sydney Rydges at the airport. This was the BEST way to start our holiday with a view looking out over the airport. It was the first night in ages that we had rain and staying snug in our hotel room looking out at the pouring rain, we were very glad that we had made that decision, rather than struggle in so early the following morning. Our room at Rydges was absolutely brilliant. It was just perfect to relax and prepare for our grand adventure.

We walked over to the airport and were there right on 7am. Amazingly, there was hardly any body in the queue and we walked straight up to check in our bags. We got through customs and learnt that a jar of moisturising cream was not allowed through. Bel was not happy as it was full! Anyway, I bought some more.

We got onto the flight without incident, although the flight was full. The flight was pleasant and the movies enjoyable. Phil was watching a movie and jumped and let out a cry of surprise. The lady sitting next to us and I laughed.

We arrived at Bangkok airport right on time. We were through immigration really quickly. Our bags arrived quickly too and we were out in the airport within 40 minutes of landing. We were super impressed by the efficiency. We found our car transfer people and got organised for the trip into Bangkok.

It took over an hour! There was traffic everywhere. 8 – 10 lanes of traffic, although far less horns than Vietnam. There were many more cars that I remembered too. The city is massive. We finally got to our hotel, the Pathumwan Princess Hotel, and they were so hospitable. We are having room service (although opting for Thai food)¬†and an early night as we didn’t sleep well last night due to excitement and text messages coming through.

We have an early start tomorrow as we have to be ready to go on a tour by 7 am and want to have breakfast first.

Day 1 is over and we are still super excited.

 

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