Published: August 26th 2012August 26th 2012
The American Breakfast
This is the best deal we found i8n Bangkok - US$1.75 for a full breakfast.
Kevin and I arrived in Bangkok the night of the 19th
of August. After the cold of Auckland, the heat – 30 degrees C at 9 PM – hit me smack in the face. Luckily, the luggage came off fairly quickly, so we re-organized bags to carry a small one each, checked the big stuff for 3 days and headed off to the hotel via the great train system here.
The hotel, the Bel-Aire Princess, is in a centrally located part of town, and only one block from one of the train stations. The beds felt hard, and we were a bit concerned, but it ended up being a great night's sleep.
We were up bright and early the first day as Kevin had lots for me to see, and it was out the door to look for breakfast. We found, much to our delight, a 24-hour restaurant, the Took Lae Dee , which served an American breakfast of 2 eggs (we chose fried), a piece of bacon, 2 pieces of toast with butter and jam, juice and coffee for a “Happy Hour” price of 58 Baht, approximately $2.00 US each. You can't beat it. I was already enthralled!
Dim Sum and then Some
This was only half of what we ate - a little embarrassing, really...
We found our way up the river to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and the Royal Palace. You have to travel along the river to get there – we picked up an all-day pass, which really gave us the freedom to go up and down as we wanted. Many of the more expensive hotels are on the river, and have their own barges, and of course there are the water buses. Bangkok is called the “ Venice of the East” and for good reason, as the river was the main route of transportation for the two centuries it has been the capital.
The temple was gorgeous, and a wonderful introduction to Bangkok and its history and religion. On the same grounds was the Royal Palace, which was in use from the time of its building till about 50 years ago. It is still used for certain royal functions today, and I was disappointed we didn't have access to more rooms. We had gotten the audio guide which was very comprehensive and most informative.
We finished up the Palace and headed off to Chinatown to find DimSum. Finding a restaurant was difficult but we finally found one with
Who knew the Thais could do these wonderful cakes? Again, in the Siam Pavilion
pork buns in the window so we figured it would work. We had a LOT of dim sum (12 baskets actually) and we each had an additional plate. Kevin also had 2 beers while I had iced tea. The bill worked out to about $20 US, a big splurge for us, but it was really good and we didn't mind. Chinatown was crowded, and loud and we had NO idea where we were. On our way back down the river, Kevin mentioned that he wanted to go see a temple and I mentioned the Royal Barge Museum. That would be the next day...On our wanderings, though, we decided to go to the house of Jim Thompson, world-famous in Bangkok for actually reviving the silk weaving trade in Thailand in the 1950s. His house, made from 5 teak houses that had been moved and joined together, was a beautiful showcase for some exquisite antiques. While waiting for our tour to start, we went and had a couple of drinks. Mine was a mango and lime juice concoction that was very thirst-quenching. Kevin had a lychee and mint smoothie. With the heat they were very well-received. The flavor combo of the mango
This was the wonderful selection available. I wanted one of everything, but that would have been a bit piggish, eh?
and lime just hit the spot. I will try and make it at home...
On our way hack to the hotel we stopped at Siam Pavilion, because Kevin wanted me to see the Food Halls. The first thing I saw was a Krispy Kreme donut shop – I thought I had died and gone to heaven! I promised to come back and get one before leaving. But we needed to have a wander around the rest of the halls. They had a gourmet market fully of beautiful fruits, vegetables and pastries, lots of desserts. I found a mochi ice cream stand which had about 12 varieties, and it was hard to choose. Kevin took two and I took two, all for a total of $3.00 US, about the same price as Trader Joe's, but a much better flavor selection. I had chocolate and lime that day, and Kevin had mango.
Heading back to the hotel, we stopped and looked at various menus and settled on a restaurant near us that had traditional Thai fare. I had a beef noodle concoction and iced tea, while Kevin had a seafood thing with a coke. I don't remember the price but
A detail of the wonderful tile work with the Chinese pottery shards.
it was so reasonable – all the food that day was good, and at good prices. If we spent $10 US it would be high.
Bangkok was hot, but everyone was very friendly, and I was pleasantly surprised.
The next day, Tuesday the 21st
, we got up after another good night's sleep on the boards, and headed off to our favorite breakfast restaurant for our favorite cheap and cheerful breakfast. Then it was back down to the river, this time to go to the Wat Arun, across the river. Upon arrival we had our morning coffee – iced is preferred in the heat here – and we were ready to take on the temple. Only up close can you appreciate the beauty of the details. All the inlaid work was done with pieces of Chinese pottery which had been used for ballast in the bottoms of Chinese trade ships a couple hundred years ago. It really is beautiful. There are also bells on the eaves that make the most delightful tinkling sound. It was breath-taking. The only drawback was the stiars going up and down, which got steeper with each level. I made it up two,
Samson getting shorn
It was either $10 US in Bangkok or 20 Pounds in England...
but couldn't manage the third, which was like a ladder. We decided to forgo the Royal Barge Museum, and went instead to the Chitralada teak palace in the Dusit Park. This is the largest teak building in Thailand if not the world, and was used as a palace by King Chulalonghorn (of Anna and the King of Siam fame) and his family. Unfortunately, there were only 2 tours in English, which we missed, and they had no audio guides or booklets. As there wasn't any real signage in the palace either, it was hard to know what we were looking at and we were disappointed for that reason, as it really is a beautiful building.
Lunch was at a little over-the-water cafe. I think it was my personal favorite as far as flavor went, a beef noodle thing (you can't go wrong with that in Bangkok!). But it had a lot of flavor! All for the princely sum of about $2.50 US. Off we carried back down the river to go back to the hotel room. It was hotter than the day before and we needed to revive.
For dinner that night we went back to Siam Pavilion
A mediocre meal in Siam Pavilion. This was mine.
to the food hall and settled on a Thai restaurant. Service was marginal, the food was marginal. I had sticky rice and mango for dessert which I am sure could have been better elsewhere. We were surprised, because the place was busy, but it just wasn't great. And it cost more than what we had been spending. After leaving there, we went and got more mochi ice cream, this time I had chocolate, and mint. SO GOOD!!!! Kevin wanted to go to see the new Bourne movie and I wanted to stop and get my Krispy Kremes but he thought I was crazy, so I gave it a miss. Well, the motto for this trip will be “Carpe Diem”, because I never got my Krispy Kremes and will now have to wait till the US.
All in all, I have to say the Bangkok experience was better that expected, and I look forward to our return in three months, when we go to the River Kwai and get shopping done for the return home.
Bring on England!!!
There are more photos below