This time, I decided to make this entry more detailed. I made notes as I went, to keep it useful for travelers. These are my notes from the trip, divided by day, and written mostly as the events took place. This trip was to attend a 3-day strategic planning meeting, but we (the lady who I was translating for and I) had a 5-day ticket, so I used every single free moment to explore previously-unseen areas. And I did a lot of free things. I had researched every area nearby and all the attractions, so I knew where I wanted to go, and I had planned out the directions. This made it superbly easy for me when I got there. Notes: Bht is Thai Bhat, a soi is the Thai name for a lane, MRT is the subway train, while the BTS is the sky train. 1mile is 1.60934km. There might be some area name issues, but I have tried to keep it as close to the original name as I remember.
Day 1 (June 8th 2014)
We were in Windsor Suites Hotel, in Sukhumvit Soi 20. So, we took the airport rail link to Makkasan from the airport, and from Makkasan, took the MRT to Sukhumvit. Bht51 per person for the entire journey. We walked the last bit, through alleys and “soi”s. Would not be able to find it again, without asking people! Weekend market: After settling in, I walked to Terminal 21 (read my review on Trip Advisor here), which had one level for one destination, i.e. Paris, Tokyo, London, San Francisco, and Hollywood.
Then went to Chatuchak weekend market (Review on Trip Advisor) in the MRT. Lovely smells all over. Coffee, food, and souvenirs jostling for attention, I didn’t know where to look first. At 6pm, they played the national anthem. After paying due respect, people went back to business as if nothing happened. Have no idea if this is a new addition (following the coup) or an old practice. Travel: Went from Sukhumvit to Kempheng Phet (Bht36) in about 20mins. After the market, I took the MRT to Lumphini (Bht40). Saw the ghost building (a giant 50-storey building that has apparently been abandoned for many years, except for a hoarding on the roof). Walked past one of the entrances to the Lumphini Park (right opposite the MRT entrance). Bought custard bread at Bht15 and a Sky classic (lovely drink) at Bht32 before walking back to hotel. Took me about an hour, but it was worth it. It helped me later on because I knew what lay in which direction.
Day 2 (June 9th 2014)
Bht30 to Siam on the BTS, and it connects to Siam Discovery Centre and is a short walk across the road from Siam Paragon. Walked through the Discovery Center, Madame Tussauds, (which I thought I will skip, at Bht800), then walked to the Ocean World under Siam Paragon (Bht950, so didn’t go to it either). However, I guess they would be good places to go to for most. I decided not to go because 1. I had seen Madame Tussauds in UK, and I didn’t want to go to a sister show, and 2. I had just seen great marine life in both Malaysia and Maldives in the last 3 months, both in the natural habitat and in a created environment, and so didn’t feel I needed to repeat the experience here.
Walked out of Paragon, saw Central World looming ahead on my left, so I took two left turns, asked the guard, and was brought to the 2nd floor, corner of which was The Rink. This was one of the places I had jotted down for ice skating, so I strapped on skates at Bht210 for an hour of skating (500 extra for trainer, although I didn’t get one as they were all busy teaching little kids) and just wobbled over. I put one foot on the ice, held on to the railing for dear life, then put the other foot also on the ice, took one more step, and fell! 🙂 Ice guards needed to help me up, not only this time, but a few other times. Bht210 was good for 3 falls and 3 near falls. I took it laughing, although my arms and body hurt like mad with every fall! At least I can now stand and walk haltingly, letting go off the rail for 2 seconds at a time. 🙂 By the end, I was finishing the round in 3mins (started at 10 mins per round) and I went one entire round without falling! And at one point, I was standing completely by myself, about 3cm from the railing, stationary and without support. I was very proud of myself! 🙂
Day 3 (June 10th 2014)
Took a motorbike taxi to Asoke pier from my hotel (Bht30). Was scared out of my wits, kept pulling back limbs one by one because I was scared they will get torn away. The bike went through the smallest gaps at normal speed. Scary ride. Got the boat from the left. Changed boats at Pratunam which is the last stop for passengers for the first boat. Bought a ticket for 14bht, all the way from Asoke to Sapan Panfa (aka Panfa Leelard). First boat issues the ticket, in the second, you only need to show the ticket. (First boat goes past Nana Nua, Chidlom/Chit Lom and a few other stations). Just follow the crowd, or ask if not sure. Got off the boat and took the wrong turn. Went about 500m, turned right, walked back about 0.5km on all three roads till the right turn. Came past the massive monument in the middle of the road, past the traffic lights, turned right, and there was the tourist haven, Khaosan.
Walked all through the street, and on the way back stopped for a drink: Zombie for Bht80 at Kim Cocktails. Quite good, strong but tang of sweetness. Tipsy kind of drink, but watery within 10 mins. Sadly no view. Obscured by racks and carts. One thing to remember is that the boats stop at 8pm. So even though it only takes half an hour to get back, you must leave early to catch the last boats to Asoke. Given it was nearly 7.30pm, I took a boat to Pratunam, even though at Bht12, it was expensive. (But less risk).
Pratunam to Asoke was again Bht12. I decided to walk to the hotel from the pier. It was 1.23miles and took me about 27mins. Altogether, I had walked 0.75miles in Rattanakosin (Old City, where Khao San is) +1.2miles from Asoke to hotel.
Day 4 (June 11th 2014)
Took a taxi to MBK mall. Shared with two of my colleagues from the meeting. Went past Central World, Silom on one aide, Erawan, Siam Paragon, etc. Given we shared, it cost Bht30 per person (Bht81, but he had no change and we paid 90). Not being a shopper, I immediately took the BTS (Bht25 each way) to Lumphini Park. Beautiful place, so calm. So many things Sri Lanka can learn from Thailand. And best thing, everyone goes to the free aerobics class. And there were so many people running on the 2.5km track.
Came back in time to catch a few Muay Thai matches, free live shows outside MBK every Wednesday from 6pm to about 8pm. There were male and female matches, and the female ones, after 7pm, were quite intense!
After a while of watching, I took the BTS back to the hotel, and then went to subway around the corner, got a veggie sub at Bht79. Somehow, these subs never live up to my memories!
Day 5 (June 12th 2014)
Had a free day, so around 9.10am, walked to Asoke pier (there was a market in the university grounds just before I reached the Asoke Pier, which might be a Thursday thing), paid Bht14, got down at Sapan Panfa (Panfa Leelard), (I was in the old city by about 10.20) and walked past the main section. Turned left after the lights, to get to the giant swing and the flower market.The giant swing was easy enough to find, placed smack in the center.
The flower market was not so easy. Walked all the way to the memorial bridge, past about 3 intersections, a McDonalds, and various other markets. At the bridge, on your right, you should see a long road of flower sellers. It goes in different directions so this will take some time.
Then to go to Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn), I walked towards the bridge, only to be told Tho Thian (the pier with the ferries to Wat Arun) is in the other direction (where I came from). So took a bike taxi at Bht30, got to the pier, walked through a quiet wooden market of memorabilia, to the ticket counter. Only Bht3. Ferry left within 3mins of my arrival. And the journey was about 2mins. No physical tickets are issued but you are allowed through only once paid. Same procedure when coming back. The Wat Arun itself was a tourist-friendly place, but calm and peaceful. It was under renovations. A priest was blessing persons inside.
I decided to walk back to the pier. Took me 46mins, and was 2.2miles all the way to the pier. Ticket back cost only 14 because I could change at Pratunam. The walk back to the hotel was 33mins, and only 1mile from pier to hotel room. The 5 days over, I took the MRT from Sukhumvit, just across the road from the Exchange Tower (about 5mins from the hotel) to Makkasan for the airport rail link, and got to the airport within an hour and a quarter with all that walking. General note: The most important thing to remember is to give yourself time to really enjoy things. I walked super slow, and looked around everything before I kept the next foot. My head was spinning around at all times. Also, the sun is bright and the atmosphere is a bit warm. So, carry an umbrella (advice too late for me!), wear sunscreen, put your hair up, and walk slowly. Your feet and soles will be tired, but you can drag yourself a bit more, especially if you stop for some juice or ice coffee (at McDonalds – Bht44, 7-Eleven – Bht14, although the former is more satisfying and longer lasting) on the way. Thailand can offer so much, if you just know where to look. And so many things are free, so don’t think you have to have a big budget. Just go, have fun. And if you are willing to walk, you will get more enjoyment, find new things, and save a whole heap of money. Trust me, there is nothing to beat it.