I’m back after a long silence ^^ I never meant to stop writing, but lately I’ve been traveling a lot, then had friends visiting, then had parents visiting, got busy at work, etc. etc., and having so little free time, I could not update my blog, not even sort my thousands of pictures to select the best ones and publish them. But I’m back, and it should be to stay, as winter is coming up and weather doesn’t allow much action outside anymore.
Also I wanted to say sorry to my subscribers, because I accidentally clicked on “Publish” instead of “Save Draft” (I’m not used to the WordPress console anymore lol), so subscribers got an email with my draft… and then I immediately reverted the post to a draft, so you probably clicked on the post and nothing appeared… Anyway, sorry! Now it’s fixed so you can come and read my adventures in Thailand 😀
DAY 1: Arrival to Bangkok [Khao San Road]
Thailand was hot, really hot! We were wearing shorts and flip flops but it was still too hot, so the first thing we did was to head to our hotel’s swimming pool! Our first night was at Buddy Lodge Hotel, located in the same Khao San road. We got there by taxi from the Suvarnabhumi airport. I had read on diverse forums that the trip to Khaosan should be around 400-450 baht, but somehow even though we got the meter and didn’t seem to do detours, our trip costed more than 600 baht. If you book with Buddy lodge you can get a taxi service for 500 baht (I didn’t ask about it though, just saw it on reception).
The hotel was very cute, with the towels folded into elephants as I had seen in pictures before (and honestly, I think that was a major reason I chose this hotel, besides the pool). Hotels in Thailand are relatively cheap, although they are continuously increasing as it becomes a popular tourism spot. We paid 1,400 baht for one night (as of now, that’s W45,000, $40, or E36) and it was a room for 2 with bathroom, swimming pool, and 2 free SIM cards. We could have paid less, but I was fixed with this hotel and with having a swimming pool.
We headed out to Khao San road to get some swimwear as we didn’t have ours with us. Khao San road has a lot of small vendors selling clothes, bags, swimwear, souvenirs, food, juice, etc. There are also several massage shops in between. It is lively during the day, and super crowded at night, when most bars start playing their music at loudest volume.
We also went to eat some food as we were really hungry from the poor plane food. Note that Khao San is not the best place to eat well. I was tempted to try some street food, just for the experience, but they didn’t look hygienic at all… there were flies flying around the food at some times!
So we found a small restaurant with a nice outdoor setting and ordered Green Curry and Pad Thai. After a long time waiting (we were the only 2 people sitting there at that late lunch time) we saw a waiter coming from far away with our food. I was wondering whether they didn’t have their own kitchen and was a bit afraid of the aspect of the kitchen where our food was actually cooked, but we were OK and nothing happened. The food was not that great though, so remember to eat somewhere else if possible.
Here is a gallery with more pictures of our meal 🙂
After lunch and some time at the swimming pool, we went for a walk at the river to try see the sunset. We couldn’t see much, but we found a small food mall called Tha Maharaj (like the pier) that looked really fancy and had a lot of dessert shops. There were a lot of locals and also some tourists eating there. We saw many street cats and how some of the shops had adopted some of these cute felines to attract more customers. Had some kebab and bought mooncakes, as it was soon the middle autumn festival.
On the way back to the hotel we passed by Khao San road again and bought a “roti“, a popular dessert with Indian influence. Roti is usually just a flat bread that Indians consume a lot with any meal. However, here in Thailand, they’ve made a dessert similar to a crepe but with roti bread. It was amazingly delicious! The guy making it was very agile and fast, but a long line started forming behind us while I was recording him making my “nutella banana roti”.
Khao San Road at night had transformed into a bar street. Some bars had girls trying to attract new customers while playing loud music that would resonate steps ahead. The massage parlors seemed very full, but it was weird to see people receiving a foot massage outdoors while a lot of people were squeezing their way out and bumping into these massage places. When we went back to the hotel, we found a long line of people waiting to enter a disco that was located in the same building. Good thing we were really tired and fell asleep quickly, because with that much noise, I’m not sure I’d be able to fall asleep on a normal night.
DAY 2: Bangkok temples
On our second day in Bangkok we decided to explore the main tourist attractions in the Old City (Rattanakosin):
- Wat Arun (temple of Dawn)
- Wat Pho (temple of the Reclining Buddha)
- Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew (temple of the Emerald Buddha)
We walked to the river and took a tourist boat that goes along the river for 40 baht since we didn’t feel like haggling with a tuktuk in the morning. This was pretty nice as it was very windy on the boat and there was also a guide explaining what we could see on each shore. There seems to be another type of boat, but we couldn’t find any information by asking the lady at the counter. However in the hotel they had told us there was a commuter ship that was just a couple baht (less than 40 for sure). I’m assuming we took the wrong one, although for the price, we accepted it. But one thing I really don’t like of Thailand in general is how they always try to get more money out of you, and even when you’re pre-informed of the real price (I usually am), there’s nothing you can do because they will not give you the information once they see you’re a tourist. Not cool…
The boat left us at the pier near Wat Pho, and since we first wanted to check out Wat Arun – the temple of Dawn, we took a small boat that takes you to the other shore. This one is incredibly cheap at 3 baht, making me wonder why we even need to pay. The boat waits to get full (about 5~10min) and departs.
Very unfortunately, Wat Arun was covered in scaffolding as it was undergoing repairs, so we couldn’t really enjoy it. This would also explain why we couldn’t see it from the river the night before. To enter the Wat Arun you need to pay 100 baht and have legs and shoulders covered, otherwise you won’t be allowed to enter. You can rent long pants there for 20 baht (+100 deposit), but you might as well just buy a pair for 100~120 baht and use it at all the temples.
We walked around the grounds of the Wat Arun and saw some monks having lunch, some kids playing with a string, and some really exotic flowers we had never seen before. We ordered a coconut so I could try it for the first time, but I didn’t like it very much. We then took the boat back to the shore of the Wat Pho.
At Wat Pho you will need to buy a ticket just to enter the building where the big golden reclining Buddha rests, the other parts of the grounds can be visited for free. With the 100 baht ticket we also got a free small bottle of water each, which in this hot weather was a great gift. To enter and see the Buddha, you may need to cover your legs and shoulders, but there was some staff judging and wrapping an extra layer of cloth around those who needed it.
The Buddha inside is very impressive, better than I had expected. Cameras cannot really capture the whole Buddha from the right angle, so I thought it was really worth seeing it in person. Once you have seen it all from the front, you exit the building and go back in, seeing the Buddha’s back. There, you can buy a tin of coins to offer to the Buddha. It was quite weird to me and I didn’t do it, but you just drop one coin per tin that they have put all along the back of the Buddha.
Last but not least, we were going to visit the Grand Palace, but it was really hot and we decided to go back to the hotel’s swimming pool before our check-out time. Did we miss out on a great place? Maybe, but it really was hot and we really were tired! So we asked a tuk tuk to give us a ride back to the hotel (like 1,5km away) and they were not willing to do so for 100 Baht! (W3,200/$2,8/E2,6) However, the tuk tuk driver flagged another younger driver and he agreed on giving us the ride for a bit less.
After one last splash in the swimming pool, we went for lunch at an Iranian restaurant that was amazing! It was a bit hidden in some backstreet of Khao San, so how did we find it? We originally planned to eat in an outdoor Indian restaurant, but it was so hot we decided to walk in an air-conditioned restaurant nearby, and that just happened to be this place. We had lamb sharma and chicken sharma with some hummus and it was just so delicious!
Afterwards we went for a massage. You can get them pretty cheaply, for around 300 baht ($8,5) and they are good. However, we do suspect we might have been pick pocketed while receiving the massage, since later at night when we counted the money we had spent, we were missing around $60… When the massage finished, it was pouring outside, so we ordered a lemon juice and a milk tea and waited for the rain to calm down. We found a taxi and moved to our second hotel, this time nearer the modern city centre.
The taxi ride was around 200 baht and this hostel, called Hostel Stay, was cheaper and more convenient for going to Ayutthaya than the previous one. The Hostel Stay was hard to find because the address listed on the booking site was kind of wrong, but we eventually found it with the help of a very friendly waiter at a luxurious Argentinian restaurant. Stay is managed by a very nice family that was very helpful all the time. They offered a simple breakfast as well, but don’t expect anything luxurious in this place. The rate was half price of Buddy Lodge and the location was 2 minutes away from Asok station, so you can’t ask for much more.
For dinner we met our good friend Mook, who used to work with us but now moved back home. We went to a quirky restaurant I had found on Tripadvisor called “Cabbages & Condoms”. It is opened by a non-profit organization (pda) to increase the awareness of prevention methods and to improve family planning. The benefits they earn go to their several social development programs.
Their menu is quite extensive and has cute items like rice in the shape of a heart. On the tables and walls, there are a lot of references to condoms, like for example frames with condom brands from a specific country.
Food was pretty good, although Mook said it was OK but not for the price we were paying. For us who had just tried Thai food in Khao San, the food was amazing already. And yes, it was really expensive, but we were paying for the experience. Oh, and for the free condoms that they give you when paying the bill 😉
Here’s a small gallery with pictures of all the food we had 🙂
After saying bye to Mook, Victor and I headed to Soi Cowboy (a red light district) to see what it looked like. There were a lot of women trying to get customers in, even though we went really early (around 8pm). There was 1 bar with lady boys, which was the only one where you couldn’t see anyone from the outside, and there were some bars with funny quotes… But overall, we were surprised of how short the bar street was!