Sep 13, 2006
I don’t know where to start.
This city somehow has been an obsession to me. It may not be special to a lot of people since a lot have been there either for vacations or job-related visit. But hearing others’ experience and mostly good times in Bangkok (or Thailand) really dig out my curiousity about the place.
And so I went.. :)
GOING THERE. Sept 1, 06.
Me, my sister (I call her by Uni), her friend (whose name’s also Vira), Budi, Adja, and Astri meet up at Soekarno-Hatta airport for our 10AM flight with Valuair/Jetstar. I’m not sure what the deal is with the name Valuair & Jetstar. I think they use the name Valuair in Indonesia and Jetstar in other countries.
All I know, our trip to Bangkok with this flight requires a transit at Changi airport, Singapore, before continue flying to Donmuang airport, Bangkok. We arrived at Changi at around noon and our next flight was at 5.35 Singapore time. So there should be enough time to get out of airport, go to Orchard Rd and do some windowshopping or something, right? Well..the answer is.. not exactly. Yeah, we did go to Orchard Rd by chartered Mercedes minibus, but we only had about 1 hr to roam around there. We had to be back at Changi 1 – 1,5 hr prior to our flight cos we had to check in again.
- Plane ticket (2-way) : about Rp 2,4 millions / US$ 250.
- For int’l flight with Valuair we do get seating number.
- There’s free meal on the 1 hr flight from Jkt-Sin, a box of almost plain fried rice. But on the way from Sin-Bkk, there’s no such thing as a free meal, eventhough it’s a 2 hr flight. They have menu list in the chair pocket, along with the safety instruction thingy.
- Burger King’s Mushroom Chicken Burger Meal costs about S$6.
- Chartered Mercedes minibus from Changi-Orchard (1-way) : S$35 up to 7 passengers. Cab fare is probably S$12 (according to Adjie, a friend of mine who lives in S’pore) up to 4 passengers. Taking 2 cabs for the 6 of us would be slight cheaper but a little more hassle, so we preferred the minibus.
- The ride from Changi – Orchard took us about 30 minutes. Hm..how come Adjie said it’d only be 10-15 min..?
Dropped in the back entrance of Takeshimaya mall, we spread out after munching on Old Chunky in front of the mall. 2 satay sticks of fried seafood and its special chilli sauce cost about S$3.
Browsed for graphic books at Kinokuniya (2 floors up from the Ground) but didn’t buy anything. The minibus got to the meeting point on time and we were starting to worry because Uni & Vira were a few minutes late. Cars weren’t allowed to halt for long at the back entrance. Just when the driver was about to go around and gonna get there again, they showed up running like Flash Gordon with Top Shop bags in their hands. Haha.. I guess shopping trip has started!!
FIRST NIGHT IN BANGKOK. Friday, Sept 1, 06.
HOSTEL AT SUKHUMVIT
Arrived at Donmuang airport at around 8 PM Bangkok time. We took 2 cabs for the six of us, 3 people in each. Our luggages were too big to fit in the trunk, but no worry cos the cab driver was ready with some elastic ropes (with hooks on each end) to hold the trunk cap tight to the bottom. That way, eventhough the trunk couldn’t be shut closed, our suitcases were safe.
The ride to our hostel (Suk 11 at Sukhumvit) plus the highway fare and the driver’s tip cost us 360 Baht (360B). But the guys in the other cab only paid about 240B cos they didn’t take the highway and they probably didn’t tip as much. The ride itself took about 30 minutes, no hassle, no heavy traffic, and the highway constructions and city scenery reminded me a lot of Jakarta, especially the highway area in Rawamangun! (too bad it was too dark and the cab went too fast for me to take pictures with my amateur camera)
It’s a backpacker hostel, so the rate is quite cheap. 1300B/night for a group room (1 double bed + 3 singles) for us 5 girls, and Budi got his own room. I really like the hostel. Wooden floors, walls, stairs, lotsa unique details, small but effective spacing, and the atmosphere is so traditional, natural, humble, and relaxing.
Lobby is wooden tables and wooden long stools. That’s also where visitors have their breakfast, and wireless internet connection is also available. Just put a few Baht for each minute you use the connection to a box on the table. Reception is a wooden booth, open only from 8 AM – 11 PM. If they close early, they’ll let you know in advance.
Narrow and steep wooden stairs made it kinda difficult to drag our suitcases up to our rooms which were on the 3rd floor. But hey, it’s a backpacker hostel. They expect visitors to bring backpacks, not suitcases **grin**
SUAN LUM NIGHT BAZAAR
After dropping off our stuff in our rooms, cleaned up a little (washed our greasy faces), off we went to Suan Lum night bazaar.
- 10 min walk to the nearest BTS (skytrain) station, Nana Station.
- Continued with subway train (MRT) to Suan Lum.
(sorry I forgot what the cost was)
- Dinner at the night market : rice + fishcake (fishnugget) = 40B, a bottle of mineral water = 20B.
O’REILLY BAR, SILOM
It’s located at a corner on Sala Daeng Rd. Budi & I had planned to see a live band who plays The Beatles songs since we were in Jakarta. So we went there by MRT(20B), got off at Silom station, crossed the street (jaywalking didn’t seem to be a problem in Bangkok, just like in Jakarta), and there it was.
Listening and singing along to Beatles songs while watching people enjoying themselves, mostly were ‘bule’. One American ‘bule’ who sat next to Budi started a conversation with us looked like he was drunk and tried not to get asleep..hahaha. He didn’t know where Indonesia is. He thought Indonesia and Malaysia are the same. “I’m American, so I don’t know other countries,” he said, joking of course. Or was he not? Well, he’s American, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if he didn’t care about other parts of the world! (stereotype? Haha..)
At 12 AM we were done with the bar. I spent about 120B for a little drink which I didn’t finish. We went out the bar, walked among little kiosks that sold various stuff. T-shirts, shoes, girly accessories, you name it. Bought some t-shirts for 1000B, and then we took a cab to our hostel.
SECOND DAY IN BANGKOK. Saturday, Sept 2, 06.
GETTING READY IN THE MORNING
One shower, one toilet, 2 hairdryers, 5 girls. Somehow we managed to be ready for our shopping spree quite on time. Breakfast was bread+butter, banana muffin, tropical fruits (papaya, pineapple, and watermelon), plus coffee or tea.
Located near the very end of BTS route, Mo Chin station, this low end market provides cheap stuff. Clothes, food, pet accessories, bags, shoes, sunglasses, stationery, beverages, y.o.u n.a.m.e i.t.
We were there in the maze of "consumer goods" from 10 AM – 2 PM, in the very sunny day. Luckily I didn’t forget to bring my lovely little towel to wipe off my sweat!
- Lunch : again, I had rice + fishcake, this time with vegies = 65B. Wanted to try other menu but the the ones that looked good were mostly mixed with pork. Too bad.
- Drink : cold Green tea by Oishi. They come in 4 or 5 tastes. It became Astri’s and my favorite drink all the time we were in Bangkok. Each bottle = 20B (but only 15B in Top’s Supermarket).
The group was divided into 3 little groups. Uni+Vira, me+Adja+Astri, and Budi alone. At 2PM we were supposed to gather at our meeting point. But the place was such a crowded labyrinth that we got lost and confused wether it was Section 10 Soi 18, or Section 18 Soi 10 (Soi = street / aisle). And it was such a relief when we finally met the leading group (Uni+Vira) at the right spot. It was Section 10, and there’s no such thing as Soi 18 since there’s only Soi 1 – 5. Hahaha…
As much as I like shopping, limited budget and the heat didn’t make me too crazy about Chatuchak that people (especially girls) are very fond of. (I can’t even stand Melawai or Mangga Dua – well, mostly.) Or maybe it’s because they have too many tiny clothes that won’t fit my figure. Hahahaa..
- BTS fare from Nana to Mo Chin station = 40B.
- One-day pass BTS (wherever you go, as often you wanna go in that one day) = 120B.
- In every station there’s a standing route map, a booth to exchange note money to coins and to buy the one-day or other kinds of passes, and a machine to buy a one-trip pass with coins.
- They provide free carry-around BTS map nearby the booth.
SIAM SQUARE, KHAOSAN ROAD
6.30 PM I went with Budi to see a friend of his, Meyra, while the other girls went shopping at MBK. Dear God.. they still had the strength! Hehehe..
I wanted to spend a vacation in a place that I visit for the first time with not too much shopping. Aside from budget issue, I wanna see life. I wanna feel how the people live their lives, I wanna know their culture, their history, etc.
Khaosan Road is a famous backpackers area in Bangkok. Lotsa cheap hotels / hostels, bars, and cheap stuff. Since Khaosan is quite far from any BTS or MRT station, we met Meyra at Siam Square (by BTS from Nana station to Siam station with our one-day pass). Siam Square is a huge modern mall with a big open-air plaza.
It was Meyra’s last month interning at the UNEP and she came to meet us with her friend, …I forgot his name. We took a cab to Khaosan Rd. It was quite a traffic (but nothing beats Jakarta’s traffic jam so far), that’s why it was difficult for us to get a cab whose driver was willing to take us there with the meter on.
I thought she was gonna take us to one of the restaurants along the Khaosan Rd. It turned out that we only walked the whole road thru to meet 2 other friends of Meyra’s, one is a Korean girl and the other’s a Taiwanese guy who grew up in Holland.
The road was blocked for motor vehicles, and I saw lots of ‘bule’ backpackers with or without their backpacks. I liked the atmosphere a lot. I wish I could hang out there a lot longer.
We walked to a restaurant (not so nearby, considering my feet hurt so bad because of the long walk at Cahtucahk). But dinner was great. We had, like, 5 kinds of fish cooking. The curry, the red curry, etc. And I had Yellow Plum Juice which was too sweet for my taste. I wouldn’t know how much it all cost, since Meyra paid for all of it :D
Another friend of Meyra, an Austrian girl, joined us and the fun with new friends continued at bar nearby. I forgot what the name was and what street it was on, but I think it’s quite a famous place since it was too full that we had to sit outside on the sidewalk. And there were tables of visitors out there.
It’s interesting to have people from various countries in one table. And we teased.. (was it Catherine?) the Austrian girl about Austria being the ‘Sound of Music’ country.. It’s funny that according to her that huge movie is not as popular in Austria as it is in the rest of the world!
- Cab fare from near Khaosan – Sukhumvit : 75B plus 5B tip.
THIRD DAY IN BANGKOK. Sunday, Sept 3, 06.
Finally.. the trip quality went to a higher level.. hehe.. it’s the culture trip day! As it was only the two of us, we didn’t need to rush for anything.
- one-day pass BTS = 120B
- Nana station – Siam station
- Change track to the …Taksin route
- Public boat to Port 8 = 15B (if I’m not mistaken). Port 8 is nearest to the Grand Palace and Wat Po
When we got off the boat, it was almost noon. Both Grand Palace and Wat Po was closed for public due to a monthly ceremony. So we took a tuktuk ride to other small temples, a jewelry shop, and a fabric shop. We concluded that the tuktuk driver got some sort of percentage if we buy something in the shops. And now that I think of it, the Wat & Palace might have not been closed for real. But that’s okay, we were happy with the ride and it only cost us 40B + 10B tip.
A funny thing in the trip that day was everyone that we asked for direction answered us in Thai because they thought we’re Thai :D So I told them that THEY look like Indonesians. Hihihi..
A SHOCKING TRAGEDY
Before entering the Grand Palace we had ‘lunch’ in the park. Most of the food sold around there was pork, so our only choice was some scoops of cheap ice cream (one just like es tung tung in Indo) placed in a fold of bread.
The park was full of doves. There were people selling dry corn seeds to feed the birds. When Astri and I sat on a stone eating our lunch peacefully, there’s this weird-looking lady offering us little plastic bags of corn seeds. Certainly we turned it down and she went looking for other people. And then, after we finished our lunch she insisted us to take the seeds and feed the birds. After several times rejecting and she still insisted, somehow my stupid positive-thinking mind thought that she finally gave the seeds for free. So then I happily spread all SIX little bags of seeds to the hungry birds.
And then that evil woman forced us to pay for them! With her awful English, at first I thought she asked for 50B for everything. We were scared and didn’t want to get into trouble, so I paid. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a 50B bill, so instead I paid her with 3 x 20B. And then she corrected that it’s 50B PER LITTLE BAG!! So total I was supposed to pay 300B!! What the hell!! Good thing Astri helped to defend ourselves a lot. She insisted to that wicked woman that we didn’t have no money left! And she finally went away grumbling and left us in shock…!! There went my 50B for nothing…
GRAND PALACE + EMERALD BUDDHA
- Entrance fee : 250B
- Clothing rules: no bare shoulder & tummy for males and females, and only trousers and skirts allowed for females
- if not prepared with the determined kind of clothing, they’ll lend you skirts/clothings/shirts with your ID / driver’s license, or 100B per item as collateral.
- The borrowing office is only open until 4 PM.
Astri and I took a lot of pictures of the temples and ourselves. There are a several famous and historical temples in the Grand Palace complex, such as the Emerald Buddha. Ideally I would really love to spend more time there finding out the history behind all those pagodas, temples, statues, and paintings. I would love to know much more about the Buddhism belief and cultures. But instead we spent too much time for taking pictures. Oh well.
I overheard a tour guide who explained to his tour group about the Emerald Buddha. According to him, that Emerald Buddha was found long time ago burried in the ground, plastered. But on the nose part the plaster was kinda chipped and revealed the emerald (bright green) covering beneath it. That’s how the name Emerald Buddha came about. Too bad we weren't allowed to take pictures of the Emerald Buddha.
It was kinda funny to see so many tourists in the temples while there were also many believers praying among the noisy crowd.
THE LONG WALK TO WAT PO
Wat Po is another big temple where the famous Reclining Buddha is located. Wat Po is located quite close to the Grand Palace. Walking from Grand Palace to Wat Po wouldn’t be such an agony if we hadn’t had tired feet and inflexible shoes/sandals to walk on. Dang.. we shoulda taken the Tuktuk!
RECLINING BUDDHA, THAI MASSAGE
What I had been really really eager to experience in Bangkok is the traditional Thai Massage. One of the known places to get massage is at the Traditional Thai Massage School, inside the Wat Po complex. So all I cared about other than the humongous Reclining Buddha was to get massaged ASAP. Moreover, Wat Po is only open until 5.30 PM, that means we had to kinda rush to get to the Massage School since we got there at 4.30 already.
- ½ hour massage = 220B
- if you’re not comfortable to be massaged by the opposite sex, you can ask for the same sex staff.
- They don’t wash up you feet first. So they go massaging your feet, legs, body, hands, AND face! Yup, the bare hands that just rubbed my feet then went rubbing my face! Haha.. but I didn’t care, ‘cos I LOVED EVERY SECOND OF THE MASSAGE! :D
Because it was already 5.30PM, the wats were already closed for public. We didn’t have time to go across the Chao Phraya to get to Wat Arun, another big & famous temple (wat). So we just went to the port and took pictures with Wat Arun as the background.
Some say that it looks much much more beautiful in the dark because it’d have lights on and everything. Just like you’d see on postcards.
It is a shopping mall near the National Stadium BTS station. Since there was no BTS nor MRT station near Wat Po, we took a cab to MBK. The fare was about 90B.
Some say it’s more or less just like Mangga Dua or Melawai of Jakarta. I was actually looking for cute shoes for myself and some Thai snacks as gifts for friends in Jakarta. But astri and I were too tired to walk around much, so we just shopped for the snacks at Top’s Supermarket and then had dinner in a Thai restaurant. I, again, failed to have a taste of the original pat thai and tom yum soup because almost everything that looked good was mixed with pork.
Shops soon closed at around 9PM. We went back to Sukhumvit by BTS, still using our one-day pass. Clear signages of the BTS you can find in the MBK.
THE LAST NIGHT AT SUK 11
The hostel, as I’ve said earlier, has a unique interior design. Since the first time I got there, I fell in love with the lobby and wanted to spend some relaxing time there or at the side porch, just next to the lobby. So that’s just what Astri, Budi, and I did before we went up and packed our bags for the next day’s trip back to Jakarta.
Our relaxing time at the porch was accompanied by some satay sticks ala Thai.. Sticks of chicken meat, beef, chicken liver, fishball, chickenmeatball, or beefmeatball with a piece of paprika and pineapple in the end plus a small plastic bag of chilli sauce. Of course they came in pork also. Choose your pick.
- Beef / chicken / chicken liver / pork satay @ 10B
- Fishball / chickenball @ 5B
In the lobby there was a rack of big notebooks that guests are free to write on. I couldn’t help but writing something on it :D and of course did a little drawing of us the 6 travellers..
BYE BYE BANGKOK. Monday, Sept 4, 06.
BANGKOK TO SINGAPORE TO JAKARTA
Checked out at 8:30 AM
2 cabs to airport. Not all cabs were willing to have the meter on, so you gotta ask the driver first, or have the hostel guy to find cabs for you.
It was Monday morning, traffic was crazy, but luckily we were going to the opposite direction :D
Boarding time at 10:55 AM.
At Changi, more shopping ;P 3 tubes of candy for my niece and nephews. No trip to Orchard Rd this time.
Had sushi for lunch. Cost only a little more than Sushi Tei would for the similar menu and quality.
There was a miscommunication concerning our baggage. 2 of our bags which were supposed to be checked thru all the way to Jakarta were dropped off at Changi. That’s just crazy!! Fortunately it didn’t take long to have it taken care of.
At 8 PM we landed on Cengkareng. Vacation’s over. Back to reality!!