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).
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).
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!