Bangkok Stop-over; the capital of the Kingdom of Thailand

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June 2nd 2016
Published: June 2nd 2016
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The flight to Bangkok on Thai International Airways is OK, though the food was not impressive (pasta dishes mainly, from a Thai Airline – nuts!) and the ‘In flight’ entertainment was pretty boring – we saw Spectre (the latest Bond movie), Everest (better than M expected), Black Mass with Johnny Depp - boring and finally to kill time M sees Hotel Transylvania (a kids cartoon film). That’s pretty desperate.

We arrive into Bangkok earlier than scheduled after an 11-hour flight. This is great as it’s 8.15pm Tuesday in Thailand, but 2.15am Wednesday in NZ. It’s pretty hot and humid as expected. This is mid March’16 and we are at the end of a 8 week trip to NZ and this is our stop over. The UK is still 6-8 degrees C!!

The cheapest & possibly quickest way into the city is to take the City Link 45Bht each (less than a 1£UK) to Phaya Thai. From here we get a local cab arranged for us by the Tourist Police at the station. They took pictures of the cab driver and us getting in. Despite all this the driver did try to scam us but we had done our homework re price for the fare at the airport information desk and had the GPS on so got the right deal. We paid 200Bht.

We arrive at the Riva Surya Hotel by the river in central Bangkok and it’s a fabulous 4star place. It’s free courtesy of Thai Airways as it was thrown in for free when we booked our flights. This is a real change from hostels & campervans and we quickly decide that we ought to try doing this more often now and again.

The room is fabulously luxurious. The service is absolutely great and the location on the river near the main tourist areas is ideal for a few days stop over here. Breakfast is also included and the variety of food is delicious and amazing. So it’s going to be 3 days of R & R to look forward to, as we haven’t really come here to do too much as we have been here before a few times. In addition, after all the travelling around NZ and the long flight, all we need and want is to chill out.

We sleep fairly well, unfortunately C eventually ends up with a cold as a result (we think) of the air con set to low temperature by M. It’s up early and we head to breakfast at 7am, out doors by the pool and alongside the river with views across to parts of the city. The food options are superb, including lots of fresh fruit, fried rice, eggs any style, cheeses, breads, meats, cereals, yogurts and various Thai food selections. M makes his own version of Nasi Goreng and C has an omelette spiced with Thai condiments and prawn dumplings. Fruit juice, teas and coffee are good too.

We decide to spend the day relaxing, so chill for a while in the room, then down by the pool. We also treat ourselves to a Thai massage each, at 550 Baht (just over a tenner for both of us) for an hour its great value, though we could get it for half that price on the streets near Khao San Road. The massage entails a good pummeling and being bent into shapes we didn’t think possible!! It does the trick though and the shoulders feel more relaxed.

Lunch is by the pool at the hotel. We try some seafood and rice with a couple of beers, which go down a treat in this heat.

Later we go for a walk to get orientated with the area, and head for the area around Khao San Road area. We suddenly realise that we are staying just around the corner from where we stayed on our last trip here (paying a pittance then as we were backpacking). Its hot and humid but feels great to be here. The bustle, colour, street hawkers, scents (even the drain smells), music and amazing array of food stalls just adds to the atmosphere and it seems too difficult to decide where to eat later.

The trusted 711 corner stores are everywhere, so we buy some beers, cold water & local whisky and “refresh” ourselves in the room before heading out for dinner in the evening. We hit the street stalls and end up trying some chicken and pork satay on sticks; shrimp pad thai, mango and sticky rice, chopped fresh mango and an awesome pancake with banana and honey with condensed milk!!!! M then tops it all off with a Massaman curry from a stall we find too late – a must for tomorrow we decide. We may just have over indulged ourselves!

The next morning after another great breakfast we try to take some pictures from the riverside but the cameras keep misting up due to the humidity. For a change we decide this will be more of a sightseeing day so head off on one of the riverboats down to the area for Chinatown and Wat Traimit (The Golden Buddha).

Walking through Chinatown is an experience and we take loads of photographs and eventually find the temple. Entry is 40Bht each. The statue of The Buddha made of solid gold and looks fantastic. It dates back 700 years and was covered in plaster for protection and they only discovered it was actually made of gold in the 1950’s when it was dropped accidently while being moved.

Afterwards we get the Metro from Hua Lamphong to the Siam area to go shopping (not that we do any). The Metro system is very much like Delhi, India in design and operation. Even the station layout, platforms and announcements are the same. At times C thinks she’s back in Karol Bagh (the district of New Delhi where we stayed on our visit to India)!!

The main difference is that this Metro is more expensive – it’s almost a £ for just a couple of stops and some lines are on a different system so you can’t get just one ticket to a destination across 2 lines which is pretty crazy.

For lunch we make our way to a Thai Institution (we’d read about in the guide book) near the area where there are many embassies. The route (very long and tiring in the heat we discover) takes us past the Hindu shrine that was targeted by terrorists last year. It’s packed and very colourful, with office workers and passers by offering flowers and incense to the gods and saying prayers. Unfortunately, the place doesn’t have any beer, or some of the dishes on its limited menu. So we settle for fried rice with pork and morning glory (a bit like spinach), which is not bad.

Rather than dealing with the challenging Metro system again, we take a local Tuk Tuk back to Khao San Road. The vehicle is of a better quality and condition than the ones in Delhi and a fun experience. Our only tip to travellers is should make sure you agree the fare before you get in.

It’s lovely to take a dip in the hotel’s magnificent pool & enjoy a couple of beers before heading out for dinner at the Banglamphu street stalls. It’s lively, noisy and colorful – a real party atmosphere with a lot of happy people around.

On our last day we take our time to enjoy the luxury of the room, then check out at noon and spend the rest of the day by the pool as M isn’t feeling too good and it’s it’s hot and humid. So access to the pool, café and facilities is ideal for us. Lunch is simple – mango & sticky rice, and C’s choice a monstrous ‘Roti’ with banana & strawberries & ice cream but filled with whipped cream. She also indulges in another massage.

Eventually, we leave at 7.45pm taking a cab to Prahya Thai (Bht 150) arranged by George our cheerful and very helpful doorman. We decide on dinner at the Mango Tree as it was so good on the way here – however, it’s another branch and is a bit disappointing this time. Shopping at the airport is also pretty disappointing unless you want very high-end Brand stuff – watches & fashion mainly.

Our flight is delayed by 40mins but once on the Airbus 380 (new, smart & double decked) everything is pretty good, including the food, drinks & the entertainment. M see’s his first ever and latest Star Wars film & the film Creed in which there’s great performance by Sylvester Stallone (hadn’t anticipated that name and “great” in the same sentence says C) for which he was nominated for an Oscar.

We arrive in London on time at Heathrow terminal 3 just as Sarah (M’s daughter) & Simon (her partner) are in Terminal 1 flying out to Lisbon for her Birthday (and Simon’s proposal of marriage she isn’t aware of yet!). Then it’s ‘Home James’ on the Tube and to getting back to normal – whatever, that means in our life. In our case, more planning for the next adventure!!

Additional photos below
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2nd June 2016
Fried scorpions anyone - Khao San Rd

Luxury digs and feasts! Love it that you got this luxury hotel with its pool, breakfast buffet and massages as a thrown in bonus! A fabulous way to end your holiday!
Love it that you got this luxury hotel with its pool, breakfast buffet and massages as a thrown in bonus! A fabulous way to end your holiday!

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