Bangkok, Hari Ketiga & Keempat

The sun shined bright again that day, we are blessed. After having breakfast prepared by my lovely wife, we head to Chatuchak Market. The market is easily accessible by MRT or by Sky Train. We went there by Sky Train to Mo Chit station and took Exit 1. It was not difficult to locate the market as the crowd was heading to the market too.

Since I’ve been to Siam market at the border of Malaysia at Padang Besar and Bukit Kayu Hitam, I thought the shopping experience was nothing different but I underestimated. There were much to see and there were several halal eateries – up-to-date clothes, beautiful accessories and marvelous food!  I got for myself several t-shirts; my wife bought some necklaces and cardigan; we got for our son lion and zebra shirts and pants with tail. And the price, it’s cheap. The excitement exploring the market made we forgot about the time. It was already afternoon, so we went back to hotel for prayer and rest.

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Chocolate Banana at Chatuchak.

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Coconut Ice-cream at Chatuchak.

Late afternoon, we went to Jim Thompson House. Using Sky Train, from the hotel we stopped at National Stadium station and took Exit 1. We managed get to the entrance at 4pm, before it closing time at 5pm.

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Our tour guide at Jim Thompson.

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Front of Jim Thompson House.

We were guided to explore the house by a lady, her English was fluent. She explained the architecture of the house, Jim Thompson’s collection and the mystery of his lost at Cameron Highland, Malaysia. Unfortunately, photograph is not allowed inside the house. This place is well persevered and indeed worthy to visit. We ended the visit there by having drinks at the restaurant, facing the beautiful koi pond.  That time, I felt like we were on honeymoon again. My son was sleeping, giving us chance for romantic moment.

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At the restaurant, Jim Thompson. The same picture used for my gravatar.

It was almost dark, from Jim Thompson, we continued to Siam Paragon. We felt the mall was unique because we saw the second floor was selling luxurious and super car such as Lamborghini, Hummer, Maserati and Ferrari. Other than that it was normal to us. My wife didn’t feel to eat there so we went back to Terminal 21 and continued shopping. Indeed, Terminal 21 has become our favorite mall in Bangkok.  We shopped until the mall closing time and walked back to hotel.

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Toilet at Tokyo Level, Terminal 21. Toilet at each level has unique design according to the level theme.

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Tokyo Level at Terminal 21.

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Shops part of the double-decker bus, London Level at Terminal 21.

The next day was our last day in Bangkok. Before checking out, we went again to Terminal 21. My son and I bought our favorite crispy seaweed at Taokaenoi Land.

Taxi to airport, flight check in, it was smooth. From DMK, we went back to SGN. I would came again to Bangkok, to shop.

Bangkok, Hari Kedua

From the big glass window, the sunrise shined to our room. My son was having his milk on the bed while we were preparing the breakfast. For early riser like us, having early breakfast in the room is always convenient.

The main agenda for that day was Grand Palace Visit. Quite convenient, we took Skytrain to BTS Saphan Taksin Station and took Exit 2. It was about 5mins walk to the Chao Phraya Express Boat Sathorn Pier. We wanted to purchase return ticket, but the person at the counter told us it can be bought at the respective pier, which was true and no hustle. Our boat ride just to one destination for the Grand Palace, we didn’t choose to visit all of the Wats because it is common to us. In Malaysia there are number of Wats since there are more than 40,000 Malaysian Siamese mostly in Perak, Perlis, Kedah and Kelantan.

The boat was huge, open air and gave us full view of both sides of the river. The water was murky but many fishes can be seen playing at the surface. They’re large, probably catfish. A plump tourist guide with microphone explained to us about the river. The name of the boat company was taken from the river, Chao Phraya. As I read in the internet, the tourist guide cautioned us to be careful with this infamous scam nearby Grand Palace, where a man will tell the Grand Palace is closed and offer his Tuk Tuk to other interesting places which actually gemstone/retail shop – they will force to buy at very expensive price.  Fortunately, we did not encounter that.

Instead of Tha Chang Pier, our stop was at Supathra River House. From there it was 7mins walk to the Grand Palace where we passed stalls selling religious goods. Quite unusual, the stalls also were selling dentures. We bought ticket at the counter there before getting in.

It was hot and crowded so the visit at Wat Phra Kaew was short. My son can’t bear the heat and he was crying. So we walked to Phra Thinang Chakri Maha Prasat. It was less hot there since it was under the shadow of the Throne Hall. The building is beautiful, a blend of European and Thais. My son stopped crying and he had a photo with the Royal guard there. At Grand Palace, that area is our favorite.

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At Wat Phra Kaew.

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Main entrance of the Phra Thinang Chakri Maha Prasat.

We noticed at our ticket the visit was included with visit to Pavilion of Royal Regalia, Royal decoration and coins. The place is near to the entrance to Wat Phra Kaew, so we walked to where we began. Before we reached to the exhibit, an old Turkish lady gave Salam to us. From the Salam, we started to chat. Seeing me carrying my son in baby carrier, she thought my wife is the breadwinner and I’m just a house husband. It is indifferent to the past, where in the past generally only woman played role in raising child while the man mainly focus on how to earn for the family. Now, it is common for man to heavily involve in taking care of the child and not uncommon for woman to work. We ended our chat, with Salam and the Turkish lady, Fatma Meral, gave a card she made by her own. We continued our walk to the exhibit nearby.

At the Pavilion of Royal Regalia, we saw a lot of exhibits. My wife seemed to enjoy reading about the sword, coins and learning about all of the Royal Collection, while I enjoyed the most being in air-conditioned. It was weird, because my wife not really into museum while I love museum.

From Grand Palace, we had lunch at Pier21 before resting at the room.

That night, I was thinking to try something different. Based on pictures at the internet, it looks like a haunted mall. The place is Mansion 7. From our place, we took MRT to Huai Kwang Station and walked out at Exit 1. We walked about 5 minutes to get to the Mansion 7. I was expecting for shopping experience but the major attraction of the place is the Dark Mansion, a haunted house. There were several restaurants, bars and few stalls. We checked out the souvenir shop but nothing to buy. Anyhow, the place achieved to be in eerie with their decoration. My wife suggested trying the Dark Mansion and she will wait but I didn’t dare to get inside alone.

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Entrance to Mansion 7.

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The Dark Mansion.

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Huge! At Mansion 7.

So we went back to Terminal 21 for shopping and had dinner at Manhattan fish market restaurant before resting at the room.

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Lighthouse at Terminal 21.

Bangkok, Hari Pertama

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The Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall.

Using part of my remaining annual leave in December 2012, I’ve decided to bring my family to travel to Bangkok. I’ve been to Thailand twice before. One when I was in secondary school, there was a program with Princess Chulabhorn College, Satun and another one was a visit to Krabi with my friends.  The experience helped to set some expectation to this welcoming smiling city.

From Saigon, my son, wife and I took Airasia flight to Bangkok. We noticed that the check-in at Airasia Saigon was still required even though the passenger already done it online, so the queue at drop bag counter was not really quick. Instead of Suvarnabhumi (BKK), the flight landed at Don Muang (DMK). At DMK airport, conveniently we changed some of our cash to Thai Baht before queuing and taking taxi to our hotel.

Along the way we had a look of the city. A unique Elephant Building was sighted.

We got to our hotel in about less than 30mins. The hotel we chose was Grande Centre Point Hotel & Residence – Sukhumvit Terminal 21. Based from online reading, we selected this place because Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) & Bangkok Mass Transit System (BTS) Skytrain are just next to the hotel. The hotel also connected to Terminal 21 Mall that eased us to get halal food there.  The halal shop is located near to the lift.

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Selling Halal food, Pier 21.

The room type we stayed was Deluxe Premium. There was free Wifi, huge fridge, combo washer-dryer, electric stove and microwave. The groceries can be purchased at Gourmet Market, lower ground of Terminal 21, making it convenient for us to have meal in the room.

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Available in the room.

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The kitchenette.

After settling in and short rest, we visited Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall in the afternoon. BTS & MRT were not within the area, so taxi was the best way to get there. I’ve decided not to take any tuk tuk since there are so many scam stories. Days before we visited the place, the King had event for his birthday there. It is not allowed to take picture, not just inside the Throne Hall but also at the garden. All visitor need to wear proper attire, even woman wearing pants or jeans is considered improper.  Wifey was wearing jeans that time so she purchased the Thai Sarong which cost only THB50. She didn’t mind since she bought it as souvenir. For the ladies who don’t want Sarong as souvenir, you should be wearing long dress/skirt for the visit.

The Throne Hall has European architecture. At the dome ceiling, drawing of Siam history and culture can be seen. Among the exhibits, includes crafts made of gold. We were wondering whether some part of the gold was originated from Northern states of Malaya. Kedah, Pattani, Kelantan & Terengganu were presenting golden and silver flowers to Siam but the reason was unclear whether in the form of tributary or friendship. The practice ended in 1909 when British established their rule.

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Postcard of the dome ceiling.

At the Throne Hall ground floor, we visited the Queen’s exhibit until the exit door. At the exit, guestbook was available, which I wrote down our thank you notes.

We took taxi to get back to the hotel. The taxi driver was friendly and chatty so we talked quite number of topics. During our conversation he said that there is no freedom Malaysia, I was shocked and said, I don’t understand. He explained that there is no freedom in Malaysia because the drink (alcohol) is expensive.  Bad things are not cheap in Malaysia, cigarette is also expensive – my short reply. Then he changed the topic to English proficiency among tourist.

Our first day in Bangkok was mostly spent for traveling, so it was short. We had our dinner at Pier 21, Level 5 of Terminal 21 and strolled in the mall. Since the hotel is connected with the mall, we spent the time until we tired.

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Replica of San Francisco bridge, taken from Pier21 food court.