Ah ah ah ah Staying Alive, Staying Alive…. With all our misconceptions and paranoia. How did we survive in this city? Well we just go with the flow and eat ice creams.
With our carry-on bags we have managed to pack light by wearing most of the heavy clothes on a well air-conditioned airport in Hanoi. Passing security and custom, this seems like a breeze. During the flight, we are dreaming of the wonderful Thai dishes and exotic sites to see. Damn, cannot wait!!.
Arrived at Bangkok in the morning and wow it was hot. Departing away from North Vietnam, we came to a country that’s averaging on 30 degrees Celsius. It’s time to strip back our clothes and feeling light as comfortable. This time, we haven’t made any reservation in hopes of finding cheap hostel but we knew where we headed. We took the bus to a nearby train station that intersects to other train lines. According to Google Maps, the bus trip should take at least 50 minutes but this would depend on car and foot traffic.
There are a few train lines which leads to a party scene central of Khaosan road, to the upper class scene and Chinatown. We went neither as we headed to a hostel that we bookmarked on our Google Maps in hopes that’s vacant. Alas, it wasn’t 😦
We head straight to a nearby mall that has WiFi and spent a few hours at McDonalds to use the internet (Apparently we need to buy something to use it). After a few soft serve cones and a Burger meal (don’t order the local meat burger, do yourself a favour and get a Big-Mac ) we have found a place through Hostel World and reserved it pronto. This place we headed to requires a bus ride of 30 min (surprisingly we did not pay a fare, usually paying the fare requires someone to sell tickets on the bus) but it feels like an hour as we’re stuck on traffic and 15 minutes walk. Passing through the wonderful smells of Thai food to the smell of sewage and garbage we found our lovely home that’s 10-15 minute away from Khaosan road.
Our first night stay is at Si Bamboo Hostel and Bar. Its pretty quiet. The dormitory we booked for was practically empty so we have the whole room by ourselves.
Bathrooms are OK, just need to get used to seeing the toilet bowl right next to you when having a shower. 1 night stay is enough, plus it feels that it’s not quite close to the centre or the night-life. So decided to find another hostel elsewhere. For this hostel, we paid $15 in total
On our second night, we went to a place that’s quite close to city centre and a 5 minute walk to Patpong Night Market. This is a mixture of clothing/food stalls and red-light district. Quite close to the train station and accessible to other supermarket outlets. Getting to this place is a challenge as it took nearly 10 minutes to find the place on the same street. Eventually found it that is tucked close to a Jewelry shop. Got a pretty low rating in Trip Advisor but is still pretty good. Paid around $18 in total.
Last but not least, it’s close to Citibank that we accustomed to withdraw cash. We chose this bank in order to avoid Withdrawal Transaction Fees.
Speaking of fees, Most Banks charge 200 baht (which is close to $8 AUD). We chose CitiBank because it’s widely accepted across SE Asia and does not charge any fee, although do a bit of research of where to find them. Usually we cash out on how much we’ll spend for the next week or so. But generally we use our BankWest Mastercard because of better exchange rate and no additional fee in doing credit transactions. One thing to consider, AEON bank ATM has a lower transaction fee of 120 baht.
Another thing to consider is using foreign cash to exchange to baht. There are plenty to shop around especially going into less tourist areas or some train stations have outlets that offer good exchange rates. We exchanged our Malaysian currency of 300 MYR to around 2370 baht and bought ourselves the best Bread buns ever! … plus Ice Creams.
Within walking distance to such parks, we relied much of on Google Maps or Maps Me. But before that, we stumble upon the local eatery store where you choose two of any type of dishes at a relatively low cost. Just be careful, and not to choose where flies has landed. This was our first Thai meal we had, it wasn’t spectacular but it has made us wanting more to try dishes from other areas.
We came across to Phra Sumen Fort, one of the last few remaining forts in Bangkok. This was used to defend it’s city from river invasion. Although some of the cannons are pointing the other way. I guess it needs to defend all of it’s bases.
Walking through historical cultural background of Thailand is where we ventured to next. We get to see the massive golden Buddha structure that’s overlooking the entire neighborhood. The surroundings are also special which includes shrines and past royalties of Thailand. Tourists and Local alike write names on the bells to ask for wish and peace on earth.
Whatever you heard about Bangkok’s crazy antics, is pretty much true. Nothing much is censored and ticket sellers would try to entice with free beer included. Holding my wife’s hand, we politely said No and we’re on our way walking away until another came by and another. In Khaosan road, there are a lot of restaurants of cheap meals such as Pad Thai and curry. But one thing Bangkok is famous for are the exotic delicacies e.g Scorpion, Frog, Cockroaches and other critters. If needed to take a picture of it, they require upfront payment of 100 baht.
Everywhere in the street, there’s massage parlors offering foot massage or Thai massage for 250 baht (half hour) or 350 for an hour. Lots of tourists taken up the foot massage offer but in all experiences of getting massages they’ve made the right call. Piece of advice, I would not recommend getting a Thai massage. It’s coarse and rough and irritating and it get’s everywhere (sorry had to steal that line …) On the flip-side, we opt to get ice creams at 7-eleven.
Visited Chinatown, and I say it’s really too much. I mean it’s too much electricity to be used for in 1 street. But I guess it seems like an attraction and there’s a lot of and I mean “lot of” people. Food wise, it’s quite pricey compare to the dishes in Khaosan road. Moreover, most of the restaurants are all seafood dishes. We opt to go the side streets and try our luck there. Food was delicious and affordable.
I get people saying avoid Bangkok because it’s really developed and the city somehow swarms you into this great big well that you feel trapped (I was going to say cesspool but I don’t think the definition justify the meaning of this beautiful city). Aside from that, it’s a nice place to visit. Coming off the airport is tricky and exhausting, but once you ignore that it’s actually not too bad. Just make sure to have lot’s of ice creams, stay hydrated, and use minimal cash spending if you can. 2 night stay is enough for a city fix as we head to an island called Koh Chang.
Thanks for Reading and Safe Travels