Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Loving and Hating Bangkok

What I love about Bangkok:

at floating market
Fresh fruits, freshly squeezed juices, pad thai, fried rice, chicken bbq, curry, sticky rice with ripe mango, rice toppings among others has the strongest appeal on my taste buds. The delicious smell from a nearby bbq stand would usually draw me closer to it and would make me surrender. It's also funny to see pad thai (freshly cooked) being sold on the street in a rolling cart while it's a restaurant menu here. Like us, Thai also like rice toppings and sell them like in a carenderia. I remember us buying a pork stew with hard-boiled egg rice toppings on a bus pit stop from Aranyaprathet to Bangkok city. 

Prices are very affordable as well. A kilo of Mangosteen is only about 40-60baht, street pad thai is 15-30baht, tasty fried rice is 20-45baht. Though restaurants has almost the same price ranges as here, the Thai cuisine is just as bursting as its culture.

Bangkok is a backpackers paradise most specifically the area of Khao San road. Affordable stays are absolutely everywhere. You can head directly to the area even without a reservation and look around if that works for you. From our experience, we booked ahead online, we were able to get a 300baht AC room good for 2 for a night with TV, a free wifi and own T&B, amazing isn't it. Even a starred hotel would cost only about 20-30USD a night including a buffet breakfast and all the perks of a comfortable stay.

@ Noong Noch Tropical Garden & Resort, Pattaya

I was swept away by these adorable giants. I knew they were trained to perform their scripted stunts but I just seemed to be elephant-struck as they drove a 3-wheeled vehicle, hooped a basketball, thrown darts to pop a balloon, took a strike on a soccer ball, t-shirt painting and articulately posed before doing an act. It must've entailed so much patience and perseverance for their respective masters for them to behave that way. I also adored the gentleness that these cuties exude when they lift enthusiastic tourists like me using their trunk, the same part they use for scooping bananas being volunteered by spectators.

Grand Palace

When the Thai says grand, it is indeed grand, literally. The towering temples and other statues look like real gold, very ostentatious. These landmarks do not only represent who they are and what they believed in but a proof of consistency on what matters to them (their values) despite the contrast of the other side of the face and the urge of the western spirit. As long as they remain loyal and respectful to their King, these structures will forever be perfectly polished and will continue to stun us grandiosely.


Oh, it's the bargain shoppers' haven. Pratunam area is definitely the mother of Divisoria. You'd wonder how these stall owners are able to profit if they are selling their items at below floor price. That's what I was concerned at first but if you see packs and sacks being bought, I shut off that thought. A thousand baht can go a long way - can complete a wardrobe in 3-4 sets or clothe your whole family. 

Weekend markets are still much of a hit as well including souvenirs (there are some good shirt designs in Khao San and those in floating markets are pretty much pricey). Do not hesitate to discover the small alleys, they most of the time got the better stuff at a better rate.

Why I hate Bangkok:

avoid top photo Tuktuk
They are simply annoying. Being a foreigner, even if your Asian, they'll take full advantage of that. It's very common for them to ask you if they can drive you to a gem shop or that sort so they can get free gasoline before getting to your intended destination. Alright, fine, you'd give in because you're trying to be helpful and friendly but after stopping one store and the driver still insisted (and very commanding) you'd drop by another, that's  it, never mind being kind (we got off the tuktuk not paying anything). Haggling has never been a headache . These Tuktuk drivers are pricing their rides same as cabs. Really ridiculous. I'll most probably get their service only at night when the freebie-shops are closed.

Behind the Buddhas and the temples is the other side of Bangkok. All-night partying and getting into trouble because of too much alcohol and some dose of 'pain-killers' when combined is as dangerous as getting inked in a so-so tattoo shop. But it's ironic to know that this is one of the major reasons why the city tolled almost 20 million tourists in 2011 and growing. That's not what I hate though. I believe there's a bigger picture to look at. There's definitely a deeper or maybe personal reasons with those homosexuals flocking the streets approaching every possible customers for some cheap pleasure. Or some economical or social explanations to the writhing world of Patpong. Or maybe there's really no hidden meanings, it is what it is.

What happened in Patpong,
stays in Patpong :)
I hate how the city turned to be that - wildest, extremely carefree and in a black whole.

Just like us, Bangkok is a place with more reasons to be loved than being hated. And when we travel, we are always given options. We can either risk it or keep on the beat.

Some few notes in getting around:
> Suvarnabhumi Airport (SA) to city is easy with either the Airport City Line (express) or the Airport Rail Link. The latter is cheaper, same end station - Pyathai.

> Don Muaeng Airport(DMK)  to city is more challenging. Take bus #29 at the highway/bus stop just outside DMK. You can get off Mo Chit BTS Skytrain station (30-45 mins) and navigate from there. 

> Going to the other airport is possible using bus # 554 or 555 parked just outside each terminal about 1-2 hrs.

> Most of the famous temples are within proximity to Khao San road, you can walk guided by a map that you can freely grab at the airport.

> Getting to Khao San. From Suvarnabhumi, take the train to Pyathai, get a cab from there (should cost about 50-70baht. From DMK, take bus #59 for 7.5baht, it should go straight, but if it dropped you off Victory monument, take another bus #44 for 8baht.

> Khao San to Pratunam and vice versa. Ride bus #60 for 13baht in a 30-minute ride.

> Going to outskirts or tours or transport to nearby countries (Cambodia, Laos etc) over land. Arrange at any tour operators/bus company in Khao San. Based on personal inquiries, K.M. tour & travels has the cheapest rates but there are plenty to choose from. Just get those PR skills rolling.

In a Graden Maze in Pattaya
> Early morning airport service can also be arranged same as above item when Airport trains are still snoozing (train operating hours 6AM-12MN).

Just an additional note, there are clothing restrictions at Grand Palace and some other sites so just keep from anything showing the shoulders for the top and bottoms  that are up to the knees (shawls not allowed as cover). Better to be prepared than to waste time queuing for cover-ups (actual long pants/skirts and shirts with sleeves).

Visited: November 2012

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About Dee

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I was born and raised attune with nature, grew up from the countryside and a strong believer in endless possibilities. I am drawn to adrenaline rush and was never a girly kind but I dig chick flix and plays some music. I started this site during a 6-month distressing/long sojourning away from the corporate world. I gathered all the travels I went and translated them into words. I am not fond of sharing details of my trip and thought looking at the photos I've effort-fully taken was enough. Yet to my amazement reading through it flashes back more wonderful memories like a gush of throwback Thursdays. This is also a good venue to practice writing and to connect. So, thank you for stumbling upon my corner. Sorry I can't update regularly but I hope you'd visit again as my journey continues, find some useful information here and most of all be inspired to go on adventures your own. See you on the road!