Friday, October 31, 2014

Three Nights in Bangkok - Part 1

View from our AWESOME hotel
Bangkok is...well...Bangkok. It's HUGE! It's a crazy huge city with crazy energy. There is SO much to do in Bankgok and having only 3 days made us feel a bit overwhelmed. We reached out to our Thai friend and a friend of mine who spent a month in Thailand and tried to figure out a plan...because having only 3 days, you need some sort of a plan. They sent us a few ideas so I've condensed them in to a list of top 10 things just in case you're interested:

Top 10 Things to Do In Bankgok:

1. See a temple, one suggestion was Wat Po or the Grand Palace Temple
2. Check out the shitshow on Kaosan Road
3. Take a river taxi along the Chao Praya river
4. If you're tired of touring, see an English-soundtrack movie in "Gold Class" seating, and never be able to watch a movie in the USA again
5. Go to a night market and eat street food
6. Ride in a three-wheeled tuk-tuk, making sure you agree on the price (and destination) before you get in. Hang on for dear life!
7. Visit Nana Plaza hahahahahahaha (this advice came from a man...)
8. Go to Ayutthaya
9. Go to the Lebua State Tower at sunset and have a drink
10. Go to a ladyboy show (and this advice came from a woman...)

Only being their 3 days - we were not able to do all 10. So this is what decided to do...

Unfortunately our flight was delayed that morning, and took forever, so after landing and taking the train in to the city, we were pooped.  We hauled our packs up to our hotel, the Pullman King Power Hotel which was Andrew's pick (he picked all of our Thailand hotels and did a fantastic job!).  It was AMAZING! We looked like total bums walking in to this gorgeous 5 star hotel (for only $90 a night).  It was beautiful. There are 5 restaurants, 4 bars, and an infinity pool.  Out of sheer luck, we got upgraded to a room on the very top floor...high rollerrrrssssss! When we entered the room the tv displayed "Welcome Mrs. Patricia Hofland. We hope you enjoy your stay". Snap. We were all tuckered out so we decided to take a bath, get all dolled up, and have a date night, taking advice #4. We looked up places to see a VIP Gold whatever whatever movie and found the Paragon Cineplex theater that was at a giant mall...sounded promising. So off we went to figure out the train system (which was pretty awesome by the way). 

When we arrived at the Siam Paragon Mall we were pretty much in shock. That place was freakin HUGEEEEEEE! It is home to the largest aquarium in SE Asia, 16 theaters with the largest movie screen and seating capacity in Asia, an opera concert hall, an art gallery, bowling alley, gourmet market and huge food court, 10 stories and over 270 stores. Wow. We started the evening by purchasing our tickets to a showing of Fury (there weren't a lot of great options) for a hefty price of like $25 a piece, and yes that was in USD. However, we were there for the experience so we sucked it up. After purchasing our tickets we went down to the food court to check it out. Oh my amazing. I ended up getting a bunch of different dumplings from one of their little stands, including a durian dumpling which was disgusting. We also got our first bubble tea.

After a while of checking things out it was time for our movie so we went up to the VIP lounge to get our snacks and drinks that were included with our purchase. It's no american sized treat - but they were cute and I got a baby Ben and Jerry's ice cream so I was excited. The theater itself was filled with awesome leather lounge chairs all sectioned in to two's.  Each seat had a pillow and a blanket and reclined so that you could put your feet up and lay back. Pretty much...amazing.  After the previews (all in English but dubbed in Thai), the national anthem came on.  It always comes on
in every movie and you have to stand or else you look like a jerk. So that was interesting...especially since the country is going through their whole Marshall Law thing. Then the movie started and all was normal. The movie was good...but not $25 good haha.  However, if you're an avid movie-goer, you must have this experience. It was quite unique.

The next day was our touring day. We started the day with breakfast at our fantastic hotel. They had the best buffet ever! Fresh fruit, fresh pastries, real pancakes (most places made crepes instead of American pancakes), and fresh hot dumplings, noodles, and more. It was a dream.  After a big breakfast we caught a cab and went to the Grand Palace Temple, suggestion #1. We paid too much for our cab because they didn't sue the meter (which we learned later) but that was the least of our scamming worries haha.

When we arrived we were approached by a man who seeeeemmmmmeeeeddddd to be really nice. He gave us a map and said that unfortunately the temple didn't open until 12:00 so he suggested that we get a river boat and see the canals. Sounded fun, so we decided to go for it and check off to-do #3. He said that we needed to be sure we told the boat people that we "are living in Thailand", not visiting from the US, and he taught us how to say hello in Thai so that we wouldn't get "scammed".  Then he "called" us a tuk tuk and they dropped us off at a pier to "catch a boat". First thing they said was "hello" and so I answered "Sawasdee ka" (yes!) and Andrew said "Hello!" (no!) and they said "Oh, you speak some Thai"so I had thought I saved us. Then they asked "Where are you from?" and Andrew said "The United States". Fail. There went our we're from here so you can't scam us bit. So we haggled on a price for the boat and though it wasn't as cheap as we probably could have gotten it, Andrew still got it down to a price we were ok with...$20 for the boat ride. And it was a private boat. So we said sure. They took us all around the canals, even to a sad little floating market of 3 boats (haha).  It was pretty neat to see some of these homes on the water...barely being held up by wooden stilts that were eroding.  It lasted for a little under an hour and then they dropped us off at the pier in front of the Grand Palace Temple.

When we got off the boat we realized that though it was fun...we were definitely we vowed not to listen to the "nice" people who "offer to help us". We walked through the crowds and little vendors set up along the street and got stopped yet again by someone who said "the temple is closed until 2:30pm, you should go to the blah blah temple instead, it's free today only" and yada yada. "No thank you" I said, as I dragged Andrew away haha. Once finally in the temple, Andrew had to borrow some pants because shorts were not acceptable. Luckily I was fine in what I was wearing.  We toured all around the temple and it was absolutely beautiful. Loved every minute of it! They had lovely paintings on the walls telling stories that I couldn't really understand since I didn't know the history of their religion...still gorgeous though. A few hours later we were pooped, I was getting hangry, and it looked like it was going to rain so we decided to grab some ice cream then head back to the hotel for a shower.  Andrew took to the streets to haggle for a cab that would take his 150 baht but after about 30 minutes of no luck, it started to rain, and luckily we found a tourist stand that called us a cab. It was $5 the first time we took a cab and "haggled" vs. only $2 to go back when the tourist services staff made them use the meter. Now we know.

That night we went out to do activity #2...check out Kaosan Road. Apparently it used to be a crazy time, but now that Marshall Law was enacted, it was pretty tame. It was like all of the other night markets we visited except this time the stuff they were selling was pretty crappy.  Very touristy stuff that didn't seem unique at all which sucked considering I still had people to shop for.  We did a bit of shopping, bought nothing, ate some curry, and got asked multiple times if we wanted to go to a "ping pong show" (ummmmm NO). Andrew got adventurous and ate a scorpion...gross...and then we decided to retire in because the trip was definitely wearing on us...we were so tired...but we still had one more day of adventures before we could call it off to sleep we went to prepare ourselves for our final day in SE Asia. 

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