Asia · Thailand

Bangkok

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We got a taxi from the Bangkok bus stop to our hotel and arrived at about 6am. AMAZING! Once again we paid nothing for luxury. We had a ‘serviced apartment’ with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a lounge, a desk area and a kitchen. We had a few hours sleep in a very comfy bed. At 10am we showered and the girls decided what they wanted to do. My leg was slowly feeling better but they wanted to go to the Grand Palace, which I visited when I came with dad and co. in 2009 so I wasn’t worried about going again. They also wanted to see China town and I have already been disappointed by numerous China towns this trip so I didn’t mind passing that up as well to rest my leg.

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We went to Starbucks for brunch because it was the first place we found to eat. I felt like a bit of a traitor to the local economy but it was close and we were hungry. The girls then went off on their mini adventure and I sat by the pool on the 33rd floor reading and taking in the views of Bangkok. About an hour later Lizzie surprisingly woke me up from my nap by the pool… They got to the palace but it was closed for the King’s sisters funeral. So instead we decided to go shopping.

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We had a brief look around Central World but it wasn’t what we were looking for so we made our way to MBK, by far my favourite place for shopping in Bangkok! It has stalls for haggling and a great food court. We went and got lunch in the food court (so hard to chose what to eat) and then spent the next 4 hours browsing, haggling and purchasing. We got back to the hotel just after 7pm and relaxed and changed before heading out to Khao San Road at 9.30pm, which we had heard about from everyone as the backpackers district and therefore the life and soul of the party. We’re not sure what happened but it certainly didn’t feel like that! We had a very low key Italian dinner complete with rogue cockroaches running and flying around the restaurant and wondered up and down the road. There were loads of stalls with cute clothes so we bought a few more bits but it got to 12am and we still felt like we (and everyone else) was waiting for something to happen rather than anything actually going down. We were so tired from only three hours sleep and a long day so we called time, finally found a metered taxi and made our way back to the hotel (passing the Democracy Monument on the way – built to commemorate the nations transition from absolute monarchy to constitutional monarchy in 1932 and is now naturally home to pro-democracy rallies).

On Tuesday we got up early (7.30am) and made our way to Lumphini Park, just down the road from us, to watch the early morning exercisers. We saw runners, walkers, tai chi-ers and even one man/woman (not sure) with a large sword. The park is gorgeous and even though it’s in the middle of Bangkok you really feel like you’re out of the city for a while. At 8am we joined the daily ritual of standing still to play the national anthem. We then got a taxi to try the Grand Palace (take 2)… No such luck, it was closed again! So we walked down the road and visited Wat Pho, the country’s biggest temple that houses a ginormous (46m) gold leaf reclining Buddha that dwarfs its sizeable shelter. It was originally an open university and now serves as the national HQ for teaching and preserving traditional Thai medicine and massage. It was very intricate and colourful and beautiful and sparked a very interesting discussion between us about religion, it’s role and how it fits into modern society. Once again we posed more questions than we debated answers but I’m sure our friend Mrs. Google will help us with some of the answers!

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We got an express river boat back up to Wat Arun to peek at it from the river. Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn) is where the General resurrected the Thai capital after the fall of Ayuthaya in 1767 but it lost its power with the crowning of a new king and capital across the river in Bangkok. It has a similar architectural style to Angkor Wat in Cambodia. We then got off that boat and got on another boat heading in the other direction to take us downriver. Although you can’t see a massive amount, it was good to see Bangkok from another angle. The river we were on was Mae Nam Chao Phraya (River of Kings) and it was interesting because you had Thai people living on the side the river along with world-class hotels, warehouses and temples… An odd mix that makes Bangkok what it is. We then wondered around looking for a place to eat lunch. You wouldn’t think it would be difficult to find somewhere to eat in a 24/7 city like Bangkok but unless you want McDonalds or KFC it can be harder than you think. We got ice cream and headed back to the hotel to spend a couple of hours by the pool.

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In the evening we had a nap and got ready for our final night out of the holiday. We went for dinner at an Italian restaurant and then made our way to the State Tower hotel bar on the 64th floor, which is where Hangover II was filmed, for cocktails. The hotel was extremely fancy and they obviously capitalise on the fact Hangover II was filmed there with a ‘Hangovertini’ cocktail. We have no idea what was in it because it just said ‘specially created by our mixologist…’ but it was the most disgusting drink we have ever tasted! And how much did we pay for this tiny, horrible drink? Β£12. To be fair the views were gorgeous and at least now we can say we’ve been there.

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We then made our way to Pat Pong road because standardly in Bangkok you have to see a ping pong show. We were intrigued and couldn’t believe some of the things we’d heard go on. So we sat down, ordered a drink and watched the show. We saw sparklers, bottles opened, ping pongs, bananas and a whole roll of ribbon. By then our curiosity had been more than satisfied so we decided to leave. I had been talking to an Australian couple next to us who had warned us not to ‘clink’ glasses with the girls when they came round because it secretly means you will buy them a drink. We decided to leave together with the couple because we had seen some other people arguing about how much their bills had come to.

We expected ours to be 400THB (Β£8) for our drinks but when I went to pay we had a bill of 6400THB (Β£128). I tried to get to the Australian couple to ask how much there’s had been but out of nowhere there were about 15 aggressive Thai women trying to stop us from going anywhere. After a frightening experience, suffice it to say they would only let the Australian man pay the 400THB for us (which he did) and only then were we allowed to leave (obviously we waited outside and paid him back and thanked him profusely). We spent about 20 minutes looking around the market but were really not in the mood to be out anymore so by 12am we were home. It’s a shame that this put such a dampener on the last night but at least now we have seen a ping pong show and know never to go again.

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This morning we had a lie in and went to the Golden Mount (Wat Saket), which was once the highest point in Bangkok. It was very serene and green and a beautiful haven hidden amongst the craziness of Bangkok. Although there were lots of steps and we’ve never been so hot in our lives we were so happy we went because it was peaceful and had some great views of the city. What was most interesting was the contrast between the poor grey housing areas, the colourful temples and the sky rise hotels, apartments and offices. Me, Eddie and Hayley also purchased very pretty lucky bells so hopefully we will have lots more luck now!

We then walked to the The Big Swing, which is a very disappointing monument that appears to have the frame of a swing but no actual swing! Next was the trek to Koh San road where we had a lovely lunch and then purchased some last minute bargains on the market. It looked really different in the day and I much preferred it. Late afternoon was spent by the pool, packing and napping. We went for dinner near the hotel and then got some snacks before me and Lizzie made our way to the airport.

The last two weeks have been amazing. I love Thailand’s diversity and have enjoyed everything we’ve done and seen. We had the crazy nightlife in Phuket, the beautiful scenery and relaxed atmosphere in Railay, the calm Koh Samui, the hectic and crazy Full Moon Party and the big bad city of Bangkok. We have a million memories from our time here: some epic, some not so epic and some just purely hilarious! We have gone full steam ahead into every experience and made the most of it.

Travelling can get weary and frustrating but 99% of the time we kept our sense of humour and turned it into a situation that we can banter about. I’m so glad I shared this journey with the girls. You meet people all the time when travelling but there are some people that are your soulmates, people that will be there for you no matter what and let you be yourself. Those people for me are Lizzie, Eddie and Hayley πŸ™‚

So now it’s ‘bye bye Bangkok’ and ‘hello home sweet home’.

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