So I did it. I was able to come back in one piece. It was my first time leaving the country so it was kinda of a big deal. Our destination: the “City of Deity”, the capital of Thailand, Bangkok. It was a very short but I have to say well-planned and well-executed, jam-packed two-day trip (kudos to us!). Initially I thought I booked it for four days. Rookie that I am, I realized later that the we leave the Philippines on 9 o’clock in the evening of March 5 and come back 12 in the morning of March 2008. So all we have is 2 days. Tricky, tricky. Nonetheless, setback is never a reason not to have fun.
We landed around 11 in the evening at Bangkok airport. It’s nothing like when I saw Baguio for the first time. You know, that weird feeling you have when you are in a foreign land (though, technically Baguio is not a foreign land but you get my point). Bangkok strangely feels the same. The place somehow looks the same. People look the same (don’t get me started on how many times we were mistaken as local people). I had a mental picture that Bangkok immigration would somehow find problem on my passport and interrogate me and our entire trip will end to an episode of ‘Border Security’. But no, everything went smoothly. Later, I just found ourselves exchanging some dollars for Baht, that’s when I realized “I’m in Bangkok”!
We head straight to our hotel, called CentrePoint Silom. CentrePoint is a chain of hotel in Bangkok. Its a nice and decent hotel. Price is very reasonable. For $60/day, you’ll have a room for two with nice view, amenities and breakfast. I know it’s silly that UI have to mention this, but when traveling always get the one with breakfast included, it saves a lot of hassle plus most breakfast are buffet, yeah! After breakfast, we had our first item in our itinerary (shameless plug: itinerary courtesy of Tripit, you have no idea how much I love this tool): temples. From our place, there are several ways to get into the temples, but the best way is through ferry. Instead of taking a regular ferry, we rented a private one for 1600 Baht. It was a well-spent money. The ferry toured us in Chao Phraya river and took us to one of Bangkok’s floating market. The ferry trip was a lot of fun. There are so many sights to see. It’s amazing how Bangkok was able to convert the river as one of it’s public means of transportation.
The floating market can be reached through narrow canals branching out from Chao Phraya river. It’s a 30-minute ride from the dock. Here, food variety is insane. There are gazillion of foods around here. Most of them looks really interesting. Eating them can be a different case (maybe because I’m not that into exotic foods). Food here are very cheap but also mostly around Bangkok so it’s not really big deal. After that we went to see the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew which sits right next to each other. These two are testaments on how amazing Thailand’s culture is. The level of detail for every temple, wall and monument is unbelievable. We also visited the Royal temple and met one of the locals. He was very hospitable and generous enough to give us some backgrounder on Thailand’s history. We weren’t able to finish the temples on day 1 because they are closed for King’s visit. So we have to go back the next day. Instead, we went prowling the street of Bangkok. Man, we’re glad that we did. It was fun just walking on the streets, riding the tuktuk, eating street foods and just immersing on the place. For the dinner, I did some research on where would a good place for fine dining. Here’s what I found: Spring/Summer. A very modern restaurant that serves some of Thai’s best dishes. The food there was amazing. The service was also great. By the way, this place is very hard to find. Even on some of the blogs I read, they had a hard time finding the place. So I suggest take your map with you and learn a few direction-related Thai language. Don’t worry, it’s totally worth it.
The next day, we picked up where we left off, the remaining temples: Wat Arum and Wat Pho. Wat Arun can be reached by crossing to the other side of the river on That Tien (last ferry station). It will cost you 3 Baht for the ferry and 35 Baht for the entrance on the temple. The temple’s architecture is just mind-numbing. The level of detail and attention put to this is unequivocal. You just have to see it for yourself. Pictures and words just won’t do justice in describing them. The climax is climbing the temple itself which can be pretty intimidating. I’m not kidding when I say that it’s an 80-degree climb! But it’s part of the experience so we have no choice but to climb. The last temple that we visited is Wat Pho. There’s an entrance fee of 50 Baht. The main attraction here is the Reclining Buddha, a huge, 46 meters long Buddha. Our last itinerary is, of course, shopping and where better to do it in Bangkok than in Chatuchak market place. It’s the Divisoria of Bangkok. You can buy virtually anything here at a cheap price. Well, maybe. Compared to Divisoria, it didn’t sound that cheap to me. But it was close enough that we were able to get some stuff for both of us.
On our last night, we felt that we’re done eating Thai food and we need some familiar flavor for our tongues. Walking a few blocks from our hotel, we found an Irish pubs that serves steaks and San Mig light. Oh what a relief! A perfect way to end our first and short escape. Next, Saigon!