We wake up with the noise of the fan, its hot, humid and sticky. Where am I? – I am confused. It takes me a minute to remember that I am in Thailand.
At the Aloft Bangkok, as in many hotels in Thailand, breakfast is included. But you have to make it downstairs before 11am. What sounds like an easy task, it’s quite a mission after 20+ hour flight, 14h time difference, jet lag and many Chang beers – side note, this light bubbly refreshing cheap elixir will quickly become the unofficial sponsor of this trip.
It is around 8 am. I am tired, as tired as when I opened my eyes they burn as I slowly open them. Coffee is much needed. I make some, and head down to the gym, I will try to go for a quick run to kick this off. Outside is the pool, it looks amazing.
Quick 5k run on the treadmill and I make it back to the room, grab the wife and we head down for breakfast. It is freaking awesome, espresso machine, guava, pineapple, smoothies, eggs, pastries all included, fresh, colorful delicious paradise.
Something I will come to learn is the fruit in Thailand is at a different level. We get ready to head out, the plan is to go explore.
Unintended ride to Wat Pho
There is a city loop that the Lonely Planet guide suggests to check out. Starts at Silpakorn University, the fine arts school walk to What Pra and Grand Palace. Check out the map below with all our stops in Bangkok for reference.
We need to get to the first stop, Silpakorn University. We ask the front desk for a cab to get there, he gently waves one for us, the guy gets here he tells him where we are headed, we get in the car and say hi. I immediately noticed the drive’s English is no bueno. We start moving, he drives through tight alleys, around bikes, chats with other cabbies out the window, we are moving quick. I show him the map and try to say “Sipalkorn University”, he responds “Wat Phoooo…” (long stretch “o” at the end of the word). We start rushing through tiny streets, more bikes, more people, more pollution. It’s hot.
The guy shows us a sticky map, with tours offers. They do that a lot here. I say no thank you, Silpakorn please. He says again, Wat Phooooooo… shit are we in trouble?
We keep driving through alleys, tuck tucks, tourists until we get to a place. Parks next to a tall white wall, the guy turns around and looks at me and says. Wat Phooooo. I smile and I say it back to him, extending the O as much as I can. He liked it. We tip him and get off the car. We will use this joke throughout the trip.
The energy of the city is impressive. People everywhere. Groups of tourists walking in packs, locals carrying shit, kids in school uniforms full the sidewalks, street vendors, cars and motorcycles. People waiving at you, offering massage, massage, massage! – It’s polluted. An exhaust stink that stays in your throat until you kind of forget about it. Reminds me of Santiago, Chile.
Remember that weird feeling I mentioned while getting off the plane? It is back -Three more weeks of this?
City Walk: Ko Ratanakosin Stroll
It’s getting hotter. More people everywhere, a sea of Chinese tourists getting off tour buses, umbrellas everywhere, its chaotic, is busy, it’s overwhelming, did I mention is hot?
We swing uphill like salmon against the current, umbrellas all around right at our eye level, poking our faces while we fight to make it to the next stop. Its around d 11am, It’s late, probably our fault. We should have come here earlier.
As we get into the palace, we find out that we need to cover up before getting any go the temple, I am wearing shorts – I have to buy some Thai pants to get in. They sell them right there, how convenient.
We see buddas crowded temples, crowded plazas, crowded streets, it’s exhausting, overwhelming but worth it. Would I do it again? Probably not.
The best part of the day Tuk Tuk back to the hotel
We are ready to head back, I feel we have seen enough. The plan is now just to eat and shower. We talk to a guy outside of the Palace, he gives us a price and we are off. He has a freaking fast Tuk Tuk, he charges hard, pedal to the metal, we pass cars and tuk tuks full with tourists racing back to the Sukhumvit. Fun, speed charged fun. In one hand, we could have died, on the other it was freaking fun.
Final day in BKK
After the whole trip was over, we booked one final night in Bangkok, just to rest up before heading back home. We just take it easy, and check the final tourist traps. This time we stay at the Marriott Hotel The Surawongse, most of our visit to Thailand was paid off with points. Perhaps I’ll write a post on how to wrack those to pay for vacations. But I feel there is enough info out there to do that. Thailand is a great place to exchange points, as you can get some kick ass hotels for less points that you would need at least in the US.
The Marriott Hotel The Surawongse did not disappoint. I wish we had more time to spend it there. Below some glamour shots from the pool.
Do’s and Don’t
- Ko Ratanakosin Stroll
- Wat Phra Kaew & Grand Palace – be prepared it is crowded
- Wat Pho – not horribly crowded, probably the nicest place
- Rooftop Bar – We had dinner at Lebua, pricey but great
- Japanese food – Tsu at Marriott JW, best sushi I ever had.
- Get a pedicure – just search on yelp, you will not regret
- Get a massage – same.
- Local Walking Markets, there are all over the place.
- Silpakorn University – skip
- Trok tha Wang – just poke your head in, don’t bother walking into crowded trap – skip
- Wat Mahathat – skip
- Amulet Market – your call
- Thammasat University – skip
- Sanam Luang “The Royal fields”- the hottest place on earth, nothing to see – skip
- Wat Arun – we missed it.
10 Lessons Learned
- Be open minded, it will be very different to what you know. Keep your eyes open, be careful but do not be paranoid, its a pretty safe place. Explore!
- Tuk Tuks are a great place to move around, you have to try it!
- It will be hot, stinky and polluted, but you will get used to it.
- Thailand is not Bangkok, this is just the first stop. Trust me it gets better.
- When doing the Ko Ratanakosin Stroll, get there early. Anything past 10am you will be like a salmon swimming uphill against the current.
- Get some Thai pants, wrapping a towel around your waste will not do it. There is actually a fashion police that kicks you out of the temple if you do this. You will use these through your visit.
- If you can, read a bit about the temples. Pretty straight forward, takeovers, tribes moved around, big palace and now a Kingdom.
- Be respectful of the King. You could end up in jail if you mess anything with the King’s image. Not my rules, you’ve been warned.
- There are temples everywhere, just pick a few, you don’t have to see them all.
- Would you like to see Bangkok, its alleys and like he says “all it has to offer” check out this ExPat CB Media dude – living and Vlogging from there.
Now off to the next stop, the North of Thailand.
Do you have plans to go to Bangkok soon? Have a question? Feel free to leave a message in the comment section below. You know the drill, like, comment share.