One night in Bangkok and the world is your oyster

23 Aug

I’m back in Kimchiland after 12 glorious days away and sitting in an empty school Thailand feels like a dream that I woke up from too soon!  Thailand was amazing and it was the best time of my life.  And that I got to share it with my family was even more special!

Our wonderful adventure started on Thursday the 5th of August when we had to wake up at 6 AM.  Getting all our baggage ready, we had to be at the Seobu Bus terminal at 7 to catch our bus to the airport.  When we got there we noticed that the Bus was only going to Gimhae the town and not directly to Gimhae the Airport just outside Busan.  So we quickly ran to the subway and got on the train to Dong Daegu station where we knew of a bus going directly to the

airport.  In half an hour we were there and got our tickets for the 9 AM bus to Gimhae airport.  Just after 10 AM we were in Busan and had to wait until 11 AM to check in.  Before we knew it we where in Beijing where we had 5 hours to kill before our connecting flight to Bangkok!  Now this was my first time to enter a communist country (even though we didn’t actually leave the airport) and I have to admit that all the official looking people did scare me a little.  But once we got through immigration Beijing airport was fun.  There were m

ore than enough shops to keep us busy.  Finally we heard our Boarding call and off course it was on the other side of the terminal with signs informing us that it is a 10 minute walk to our gate.  We made and finally the excitement sets in.  I am just over 4 hours away from seeing my parents and the gloriusness that is Bangkok!

Bangkok greeted us with a bustling airport as thousands of tourists scatter around like ants.  The line at customs was long and my anticipation made the wait even longer.  No matter where you go  in the world immigration officials are the unfriendliest people of all.  I can understand this because it must suck to see thousands of tourists everyday excited about what awaits them while the little immigration booth is your final destination every time!

As we passed through the arrivals hall we were greeted by a very friendly Thai man with a little poster that read CHRISTOFFEL DE WIT – NICOLA JACOBS.

In all the places I have been around the world I have never been one of those nameboard people.  So this was a first.  And even though Thailand is probably the one of the easiest country’s in the world to backpack I am glad we chose the alternative route.  There was no hagling with a taxi driver or worrying about where the hell will I spend the night (this is how I travelled both Egypt and Malawi – just pitching up and taking it from there).  In less than an hour we arrived at the oh so fancy Eastin Hotel and Spa, got our key and waited while our luggage made it to our room.  We were on the 25th floor and my parents stayed on the 29th floor.  They already arrived in Bangkok and where waiting for us in their room.  As I knocked on their door a sense of relief came over me and it was as if the hardships and cultural shock’s (yes, multiple) of the past six months all went away.  It was great to see my folks and we chatted and exchanged gifts.  We went to bed at 3 that morning and had to wake up super early to make the most of our 24 hours in Bangkok.

With only four hours of sleep my first impressions of Bangkok in daylight was a bit blurry.  It’s only after a cup of decent coffee and a full farmhouse breakfast at the hotel that Bangkok came into focus.  Just outside of our hotel a long line of taxis waited to bullshit tourists and taking them for a ride – literrally and figuratively.  After multiple taxi dismissals we finally found a very nice driver that was willing to switch on the meter.  We wanted to go to the Grand Palace first but he recommended that we take a boat along the canals to the grand palace.  obviously some sort of commission awaited him when he dropped us off at the port.  But we didn’t mind because in our half an hour taxi ride through little side streets of Bangkok he told us about the political unrests of a few months back and how he drove around with his gun ready at hand.  He told us that Thai people didn’t want the monarchy anymore and would prefer to have a republic.  interesting enough he always generalised his opinions to those of the Thai people as bad mouthing the king or the monarchy can lead to your death!  At the port we haggled a bit to get a better deal.  We skipped out on the “optional” excursions included in the tour as visiting a snake farm is not that enthralling if you come from South Africa.  I guess what sets us apart from other western travelers is that we have monkeys and crocodiles and elephants and all sorts of wild animals in our back yard basically.  So the novelty of these siting’s have worn off.  We thoroughly enjoyed the boat ride and it is a spectacular way to take in Bangkok’s precious sites away from the hustle and bustle of the city.  It was amazing to see how these people lived along the river, and how clean it was.  Although Bangkok is run down and very rustic in some places it’s generally very clean.  Much cleaner than any Korean city I’ve ever been in!

At the Grand Palace port we walked through this little market where vendors sell all sorts of everything at very inflated prices (i found out later).  The grand Palace complex is surrounded by a grotesque white wall and finding the entrance was a bit tricky as we walked in the wrong direction.  After deciding to backtrack a bit we were confronted by loads of taxi and tuk-tuk drivers all informing us that the Palace is closed and will only open again at two.  They do this so that you will agree to go on one of the many excursions they offer.  We found out from a taxi driver later that day, that the commission these tuk-tuk drivers get from taking tourists to random jewelry factories or something of that kind is much more than the fare they charge you.  Luckily a little research beforehand warned me about this and we finally found the main entrance.  The palace was open and ready for us.  There is a strict dress code at the palace which caused us to wear jeans and sneakers in the heat of summer – little did we know that there is a separate area where you can actually rent appropriate clothing.  Nicola wore tights and seeing that those weren’t allowed she quickly rented a sharong type skirt.  After returning the skirt she actually got her money back.

There were hoards of tourists and the palace reminded me of a lavish department store sale.  But even with thousands of snap happy tourists (like myself) the beauty and splendor of the Palace took my breath away.  The two hours we spent there was amazing and if it had been a little cooler we could have easily spent much longer taking in the beauty that is the Grand Palace.  From here we struggled once again to get a metered taxi but eventually we got one that took us back to our hotel.  We decided to cool off in the swimming pool on the 10th floor, had a drink and took in the view!  Bangkok is any shoppers’ heaven and even though 24 hours in this magical city does not allow a decent shopping spree we headed to a close by electronics market.  Since I accidentally took the wrong memory stick for one of my cameras in Korea I bought one for dirt cheap!  Given enough time and money I could do some serious damage in this city.  After about an hour of browsing we headed to our hotel, and just in time as the daily thunderstorm was about to hit.  Back at the hotel we showered and had a wonderful buffet dinner at our hotel.  The restaurant in the hotel is situated right next to a busy highway and the view of hundreds of cars speeding by at night-time is magnificent.

After dinner we headed to Skypark, which is the second tallest building in Bangkok.  We wanted to have a drink at the lavish skybar which is on the top floor but once again Nicola failed to meet the dress code.  The skybar is on the 60-something floor but we were only allowed to enter the 56th floor bar which is just as breathtaking and lavish.  There we enjoyed very pricey cocktails and took in this fascinating city from a birdseye view.

After a full day of Bangkok’ing we were exhausted and it was time to hit the sack and get some rest before flying to Phuket the following day.

Phuket adventures coming soon.

Cheers from ‘a not as nice as Thailand’ Kimchiland!

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One Response to “One night in Bangkok and the world is your oyster”

  1. karliendupreez August 24, 2010 at 04:13 #

    How cute is Nicola…a real Thai lady….ummm..not that all Thai ladies are ladies. Anyway. Now the song is in my head “one night in bangkok and the world’s your oyster!” Shake your booty, oh yeah, party party party!

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