Bangkok Getaway 2013
A couple of weeks back, Mr D and I made another short trip to Bangkok. This time we were there for 5 days, one day more than our previous trip.
Upon arrival, we bought SIM cards at TrueMove booth at the airport. A mistake actually. I had wanted to go to DTAC. Anyway, it was 199 THB for 100MB and some talktime. Not too much data, but more than enough for us. All I remembered was the staff took a really long time to do the settings for us and a few of them were all acting busy. It was on 2G rather than 3G. Over those few days, the speed was good enough for reading news, some Whatsapping, but if you are the sort who has to upload your pictures to Facebook every other minute (which I totally am not), you might just feel like wanting to throw the phone into the Chao Phraya river.
After we finally got our SIM cards working, we tried the Airport Rail service, which saved us the hassle of haggling with cab drivers who refuse to switch on their meters. The (non-express) service took us about 30 minutes, the same time it would have taken us by cab (without a traffic jam) and it was many times cheaper – 90 THB for express, about half for non-express. Only downside was I found myself having to carry my suitcase up and down stairs at Phaya Thai station where the Airport Rail service ends for us to change on to the BTS service. I am a tortoise – I literally bring my whole house with me when I travel, so walking those stairs was not exactly enjoyable. However, the thought of not having to haggle and not getting stuck in jams would certainly be enough to entice me to use the service again.
This trip was just eating, shopping and massaging. Being not one of the many Singaporeans who come here with empty suitcases and go home with filled with clothes, I found myself window shopping more than actually buying. Some clothes are really cheap, if you would overlook the quality and would spend the time to try to lower prices. I like hanging around at Central World but we walked to Pratunam and Platinum Mall one day, because I am always hearing people mention this place. Within 10 minutes, I was ready to leave. It was a wholesale fashion place which attracts a lot of people, and there are many shops, selling all sorts of fashionable clothing and accessories. It’s haven for a lot of ladies, but I’m already considered my most fashionable self if I am out of my tee and jeans ensemble, so you could guess this place is not for me.
Compared to our visit last year when it rained everyday, it was really hot and sunny this time round. We darted from mall to mall, and used the skybridge whenever possible. But we found some time to go on the river cruise and visited the temples.
The river wasn’t the cleanest of places, being the colour of iced tea. However, it was really an important transportation channel for the locals, and for tourism.
* Warning! Pictures below may induce salivation*
As if to make up for lack of good food on our trip last year, the rest of the days, we just ate, ate, ate, and went for massages.
On our way from the Grand Palace (which we eventually did not go to, due to the guards being confusing and inconsistent about having to put on longer pants for Mr D), we stumbled upon Krisa’s (read my TripAdvisor review here), which was just opposite the palace entrance, and had my most satisfying meal.
I could still smell and taste the chicken just by looking at it, but despite being fed well at Krisa’s, I could not resist trying the coconut ice-cream from the roadside cart and that was one of the best decisions I made.
One of our meals was at a restaurant on the top floor of Siam Paragon. We walked around the entire floor 2 rounds, undecided. When I noticed the customers in this place were mainly local, I decided we should eat there. Fresh cockles and crab were popular dishes with the customers, but with what we had already ordered, our stomachs would explode, so we skipped them. Every thing we ordered was good, and we finished every bit of them.
One night, I
insisted suggested we go to Coca steamboat for dinner. There used to be a Coca in Ngee Ann City back home, but they have closed (due to high rentals I heard). They were more pricey anyway, so I supposed they would be cheaper in Bangkok. I think they are, though still more expensive than I expected. Price aside, the meal was most disappointing. We ordered the seafood platter, which ironically, wasn’t abundant with seafood. The prawns (if you could spot them in the picture), are tiny and the least fresh of all the meals I had. The soup base was alright. I swear the sight of food from the street-side carts made me salivate more than this.
Everywhere we went, we saw this Japanese ramen store which stated it was some TV champion. Perhaps the Thais are also fans of Japanese food. Being a sucker for Japanese ramen, and at half the price of Singapore’s, how could I miss it? No regrets about that bowl of noodles. Flavourful broth, tender chasu with fat that melted in my mouth, I could smile in my dreams.
During this trip, I noticed a lot more dessert food shops everywhere we went. Cakes, pastries, macarons, cupcakes and even cake pops! Of course I bought some, it was an occupational hazard!
At night, the streets near our hotel at Siam Square came alive, even on weekdays. As if from thin air, carts selling food and what-nots magically appeared before we realised it. By next morning, just as magically as they appeared, they disappeared into the air, leaving no traces of the crowds the night before.
It has become a habit for me to visit the fast food restaurants in other cities, to see what different items they have on the menu. Since it was nearing the mooncake festival, McDonald’s was selling mooncakes. I would not expect them to be good, honestly, but bought 2 boxes out of novelty.
There was also a mooncake fair at the basement of Siam Paragon, like the one at our Ngee Ann City, but at a much smaller scale. There were several hotels (e.g Intercontinental, Shangri-la, etc) and restaurants which had booths there. One interesting thing was ALL the mooncakes come with salted egg yolks. YEAH! Unlike in Singapore, I do not have to feel I’m paying extra for the yolks!
They are not as big on packaging like us. The mooncakes in Singapore have become ridiculously expensive in recent years and year after year, they just try to sell us more expensive boxes. The ones from Intercontinental Bangkok comes in modest looking printed cardboard boxes. We also bought the ones from Shangri-la Bangkok which came in a nice sturdy box with 4 drawers (picture not enclosed), all at less than 50% of what you would get at Shangri-la Singapore, and also cheaper than what you get from our neighbourhood bakeries. The mooncakes from both hotels were very good.
So you could imagine when we were coming back home, my entire carry-on luggage was mooncakes. Actually, I regretted not buying more, when we later realised we did not have that many to share around.
On our way back, we took the express Airport Rail service to the airport. At 5pm, it was almost peak hour but the service was punctual (leaves every 30 minutes) , fast, comfortable and cheap. Fantastic in short. Since it was express, there were no stops and we reached the airport in less than 20 minutes.
It’s no secret that I think Bangkok’s Suvanarbhumi airport is the most boring and depressing looking airport I have been to. Every time I see their airport, I feel really proud of Singapore’s Changi airport. The bare grey pillars look uncompleted rather than a deliberate raw look. Our departure gate happens to be right at the end of the terminal. That area was rather dim because more than half the lights at that part of the terminal were switched off, no kidding. However I see this poster every time. I wonder is this deliberate humour? How is it possible otherwise, that this would be near the immigration counter and no one corrects it?