Monday, January 11, 2010

Thailand - The Bangkok experience

We took the long way to Thailand. The very very long way. Flights (and trains to the airport) in Japan are expensive, so instead, we flew for about 1/2 the cost from Korea using Malaysia Airlines. Sure it took a couple extra days to get to our final destination, but we got to see friends in Korea on the way, so it was worth it.

(side note: Malaysia Airlines is amazing. Best airline food I've had, best service, best outfits, and very comfortable. They routed us through Kuala Lumpur actually, and since we booked 6 months in advance, there was (of course) a schedule change, so they ended up paying for one night's stay for us in KL. Fun!)

In Kuala Lumpur's Chinatown with the first of many many coconuts.

After KL, we flew into Phuket airport and hopped right onto the local, cheap but good Nok Airways to Bangkok for a 3-day stay.

Arrival at Phuket Airport.

Nok Airlines.

We arrived at our super friendly, cute, and highly-recommended hostel, Niras Bankoc... after getting scammed by the taxicab driver (FYI: always pay the tolls yourself when the cab arrives at the toll booth, because you pay them in the end anyway, and if you wait to the end of the trip then the taxi driver might lie and try to confuse you about the total cab fare and cause a scene).
Anyway, Niras Bankoc hostel: Highly recommended, once again. Only a 20 minute walk from the "lively" Khao San Road (read: full of foreigners, street vendors trying to distract you with green laser beams and sell you something and random noisy chaos), and 20 minutes walk in another direction from all the main Wats (Buddhist temples), it was perfect. At one point, no less than 9 Americans teaching English in Japan were in the hostel lobby, which is hilarious considering the hotel only has 7 rooms (some of which are dorms).

DAY 1: Shopping Day
The first full day we spent shopping, since Bangkok is the place to do it. On advice from our hotel and our guide book, we went to MBK, a 7-floor mall with approximately a bazillion independent shops selling everything from electronics to clothes to food to decor (many of them selling the exact same thing at different prices). And all prices are highly negotiable.

MBK and traffic.

A light dinner that night was at the infamous Chote Chitr. While not as hard to find as everyone says, the prices appear to have tripled since it acquired fame from a New Yorker article. It was empty when we arrived at 8pm, but that may have been due to our late night eating habits (or other foreigners' later night drinking habits. We had the banana flower salad (amazing) and some stir fried veggies. We decided that more filling things could be eaten at other, cheaper places.

We spent that evening wandering Khao San Road, eating in the street stalls, people-watching the other foreigners, and doing some more shopping. In the process, we discovered that you could buy many of the same things that were available at MBK but the starting and final (after negotiation) prices would be significantly lower on Khao San Road. We also got a 1 hour, full-body (naked!) oil massage for only 200 baht a person, which is a little less than $6. Needless to say, we took full advantage of this and got massages all three nights in Bangkok, twice at the fabulous Joe's House, located on a smaller street parallel to Khao San Rd. Truly, truly... Heaven.

DAY 2: Sightseeing Day (plus Christmas Eve)
The second full day was crazy hectic, but fun. We managed to visit the major Wats in Bangkok: Wat Sraket, Golden Mount, Wat Mahathat, Wat Phra Kaew- home of the 'Emerald' Buddha, the Grand Palace, Wat Pho, and Wat Phra Chetuphon - home of the 46m Reclining Buddha.

At Wat Pho/Grand Palace

Mia and the Emerald (but really Jade) Buddha

With the 46m Reclining Buddha.

Incredible Christmas Eve dinner view at Deck restaurant.

We ended our stay in Bangkok by going to a lady-boy cabaret show at Calypso Cabaret.

Calypso Cabaret

Next: Khao Sok National Park, and our Thailand
jungle adventuring.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for mentioning Malaysian Airlines being cheap and also best airline food, best service, best outfits and very comfortable...
    Feel very proud of it... and your one night stay in KL was fun !!!
    Please feel free to come over to Malaysia again because there are more beautiful places to visit. such as Langkawi, Malacca and of course Perlis. You can surf my blogs for details...