Bangkok day 2, whirlwind shopping!

Day 2 in Bangkok was a complete whirlwind! I made sure to set my alarm this time, and we woke up at a decent hour. As we made our way onto the skytrain platform, I noticed waffles for sale. I have an absolute weakness for all dessert. Since we didn’t opt for the breakfast option with our hotel, I couldn’t walk past the waffles without indulging. The menu listed a custard waffle, and my mouth started salivating. I took one bite out of the custard waffle and my face screwed up in an unlady-like expression. The custard was a green gel-like filling. My stomach turned and I gave up on the waffle.

When we got to Chatuchak, I was in awe. We spent most of the day there and I doubt we even made a dent in the map. They had everything you could possibly buy, from pets and chandeliers, to clothing, food and anything else imaginable. We bought some chicken and prawn kebabs from the food section, and ventured in. I was in shopping heaven, albeit a stifling hot and sticky heaven!

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Thai silk scarves.

I managed to get quite a few souvenirs at this market, my favorite being the Thai silk scarves (I paid 100baht per scarf). I came across another stall that sold Hong Kong waffles, and decided to try my luck with these ones, as they looked very different from the one I had tried earlier. These waffles were crispy balls covered in chocolate sauce, so delicious! After buying a few more items, we left the sauna-style market in search of an air-conditioned shopping mall.

We stopped at a themed mall, Terminal 21, which has a different country theme for each floor. It was fun trying to guess which countries were represented. The toilets were amazing here, each toilet had a side controller with various options – heated seat, air dry, water spray etc. I was amazed.

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Not good for calorie counters 🙂

We found what would soon be our favorite dessert chain in this mall, Swensens. Their ice cream and chocolate milkshakes were so good! As you can see in the picture, we had some awesome options to choose from.

Next up, we headed to the much recognized, MBK. A shopper’s dream! floor after floor of stalls. We bought a few t-shirts and shorts, as well as a Pandora-style bracelet. Some of the t-shirts we 99baht. Like I said, a shopper’s dream! After spending 2 days in Bangkok, I could understand why people recommend going to Thailand with an empty suitcase.

Day 2 ended with our first Burger King meal. We were exhausted, shopped out and ready for a cool shower. We went back to the hotel for an early night, as we wanted to be well rested for the Grand Palace in the morning.

 

 

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Surviving the first night & day

When we first arrived in Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport, I was ready for a shower, some chocolate and bed. We queued for passport control, and were happy to hear fellow South Africans behind us. Small talk out of the way, I started reading all the sign posts (the English ones, of course!). My heart stopped and my tummy dropped when I read the sign that stated which nationalities needed yellow fever vaccinations. The African continent was highlighted as a yellow fever zone. I felt sick at the thought of being sent right back home. As i came closer to the signboard I saw, with immense relief, that the small bottom part of the continent, was excluded from this list (yay South Africa!!!). No vaccine necessary…phew!

After making our way through customs and collecting our baggage, we bought our tickets for the airport rail link and hopped on board. It was 10pm when we arrived at our stop. Tired from a long journey, we made our way out of the station and tried to get a cab. I had done all of my homework and knew to only use meter taxis, but after the 3rd driver refused to use a meter, we gave up and agreed to pay 200baht to get us to the hotel. Our chosen hotel was Bangkok Chada hotel. Recently renovated, it was modern and spotless. Best part? Right down the road from a metro station. We settled in quickly, then left to find dinner. We came across a McDonald’s, and deciding not to risk street food on our first night, we ventured in. I was over the moon with the pork samurai burgers, and ended up getting them quite frequently during the course of our trip. It was midnight when we got back to the hotel and climbed into bed. It wasn’t a great sleep, I had the constant feeling that I was in a rocking boat. Mix that with jet lag, and 5 hours time difference, and you get the picture!

The next morning we woke up rather late, I blamed the jet lag! We quickly got up and headed off to our first stop. We purchased a combo ticket for Madame Tussauds and the Aquarium. Before we went into the aquarium, we decided to try Starbucks for the first time in our lives. Overrated, but we still did the embarrassing tourist thing and took photos. Once our coffee was downed, we went into the aquarium. It was cute enough, nothing amazing though. The hammerheads were nice to see, since our Cape Town aquarium only has ragged tooth sharks. We weren’t there long, it was probably our eagerness to do ridiculous poses with the wax models of the famed Madame Tussauds (another first for us).

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Anthony Hopkins was a good sport 🙂

We had an fun and silly time looking at the lifelike wax figures. Of course, we had to pose next to all the ones we recognized. Some were amazingly accurate (David Beckham, Jack Sparrow, Kate Winslet etc), but some were barely similar to the real people (disappointing wax models included Beyonce and Brad Pitt). I was devastated to find out that the Robert Pattinson one was on display at another venue.

It took us at least an hour to go through the museum and see all the figures. This was one of my highlights of Bangkok, apart from the MBK shopping 🙂

After some aimless wandering around Siam Paragon, we headed back to our hotel for a quick dip in the rooftop pool. Once we were refreshed, we headed out to another shopping mall that was near our hotel. It had about 8 floors! Eventually we settled on a restaurant that had a domed hot tray in the centre of the table. After seeing our confused expressions, a sweet waitress attempted to explain the concept in very broken English. We needed to order a combination of raw ingredients from the menu, which we cooked on the domed hot plate. We had water boiling in a moat-like system around the dome, which the juices from the food flowed into. All in all, a delicious meal which I can still taste when I close my eyes and reminisce.

One thing I can say about Bangkok is that among all the chaos, they have an awesome transportation system. We made full use of subways and skytrains during the course of our 3 day stay. Only once did we resort to a tuk tuk (we did use them in Phuket though).

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Bangkok Skytrain

 

It was an amazing whirlwind first day in a foreign country. The bug had bitten, and I was going to struggle to sleep with the thought of the Chatuchak market in the morning!

 

The start of my first overseas holiday!

I should have started this blog years ago. 4 years ago to be exact. Over the next couple of weeks it may seem like I am travelling non stop, but I am just transferring my written journals into blog posts. This Thailand holiday was taken in February 2012, and so I shall begin 🙂

When I wasn’t working, I spent every free moment pouring over the pages of the internet, preparing myself for my first overseas holiday. I had my ticket booked, economy class with Emirates. I had booked my various accommodations through www.booking.com and www.agoda.com. It was daunting to book everything myself for my first holiday, but after taking advice from friends, my confidence levels were up.

Being the absolute OCD worrier that I am, I had a book that I carted with me everywhere! I had painstakingly researched subway and skytrain routes to every attraction that I wanted to visit. I knew when to get off, where to switch trains etc. I felt fully prepared for this new and exciting adventure.

The departure date in February finalcheck iny arrived. I knew I was going to a hot and humid city, so I thought I would dress appropriately. I donned my new little dress, complete with flip flops and a lightweight cardigan, and headed off for the airport. Oh what an amateur I was!

As soon as the time came to finally board, I excitedly jumped out of my waiting seat, scanned my boarding pass and entered the plane. “What is everyone moaning about?!” I thought, as I saw the airplane seats for the first time. This looked more than comfortable, and I had heard so many stories about how uncomfortable economy class was. Just as I was doing a positive cartwheel in my mind, the air hostess, prim and proper, looked at my ticket and pointed down the passage. “Economy class that way”. My mental cartwheels came crashing down when I saw the little seats in economy class. Ok, So business class looked comfy, no doubt about that, but I needed to make myself comfortable for the long flight to Dubai.

Sadly, my seat was in a very inconvenient place, and could only move back about half an inch. I could have been grumpy with the idea of the long flight in a practically upright position, but I was too excited about the movies I had prechecked on the Emirates website. Another amateur mistake. The food was as good as can be expected, as was the service, but coming back to my first mistake, the plane was freezing and I was in a little dress! I mentally noted to never dress like this for a long haul flight again! With about 3 paper thin airplane blankets, and endless movie options, I somehow survived my first long haul flight.

In hindsight, my 3 biggest mistakes were as follows:

  • Dressing for summer when airplanes have a permanent freezing feeling (maybe a slight exaggeration, but I feel the cold very easily)
  • Watching as many movies as I could – I should have been catching up on sleep!
  • Not eating the breakfast offered – this cost me some $$$ in Dubai airport.

 

Part 2 up next!