Saturday, September 11, 2010

One night in Bangkok (and one day) 8 Sep 2010

After a big breakfast we headed out with a driver, who for a fixed price (200 Baht NZ9), was going to take us past the Teak Palace and drop us at the Upstream tourist ferry terminal. It was all pointed out on the map before we left  :-).

What we got was: a look at the outside of the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall Palace and the the teak palace down the road was pointed out. We were offered some shopping at a friend's factory, which we declined and then we were off for the river.

It was a short trip on the map but even allowing for the constant traffic jams it was taking much longer than it should. We found out we were heading for the downstream boat pier right across the side of town. Nothing lost, except an unplanned toll to get us on the expressway and a reminder to be aware.

We had decided today in 33C temperatures, with high humidity, that lots of full on walking was not ideal. So to get a feel for Bangkok a hop-on, hop-off journey on the Chao Praya River would be the story. And it was.

For 150 baht each (NZ6.5) it was a fun way to get about.

The river was busy with all manner of boats and a much easier way to travel than the traffic locked city.

We got off at the stop 8 and took a local ferry to the opposite bank to visit Wat Arun.

This was our first taste of Thai architecture and it was stunning. We were both amazed by the steepness of the stairs you could climb to the upper levels. It also gave us a good birds eye view of the river and city. The use of porcelain from cups and saucers as decoration was interesting.

Afterwards we had a good lunch on the side of the street and 300 baht for a couple of meals and Singha beers - very important to keep the fluids up.

We explored the street markets and the river a little before deciding to head back to the hotel.  We flagged down a taxi and were once again offered a fixed price of 100 baht, but insisted on the meter and it was 40 baht.  It was a relaxing afternoon at the hotel and a chance to swim in the pool.  There are not a lot of people staying and the pool was a bit underutilised.

With a late checkout (6:00pm) we had an expensive beer in the hotel lobby bar before heading to Hua-lumpong train station.  Our taxi driver wasn't impressed we were only going to the train station and not the airport, which he had assumed.  He got quite grumpy and demanded 100 baht and we as usual asked for a meter.  The trip cost 60 baht, but we gave him the 100 baht as it was a horrible 30 minute journey through gridlocked traffic - he deserved every cent.

We got on the overnight train from Bangkok to Nong Khai, on the Laos border.  12 hours 8pm to 8am in our 1st class sleeper cabin, not a lot of room, but no problems.  We ordered some dinner and breakfast and settled in for a relaxing trip.

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