May 29, 2014

Cameraderie: Bangkok - Sights and the People

Spending four days and three nights in Bangkok is definitely a short trip and I’d say I can’t get enough of the bustling city. The friendly people (the endless smile and the quintessentially Thai gentle intonation draws me closer to the city), the sights and smell, and of course, the rather different style of outfits Bangkok-ites don are all new experience to me. Not to mention everything seems a little bit cheaper than in KL (one of the highlights is the storewide discount at Uniqlo!), so I guess that’s the biggest plus for travellers on a budget comme moi.

We stayed in a ‘studio suite’ building at the Silom area (famous for its red-light district - which also has given a new perspective on sexuality to me) and needless to say going about the area is convenient with the nearby BTS station (like an LRT in KL). From having morning jog at the ex-royal Lumpini Park which is just a stone’s throw away from our lodging, to hopping on the BTS train to Bangkok’s typical tourist attractions and then shopping, everything was done without a glitch.

Walking along the Muslim street food area at Petchburi Road, hunting for halal Thai food

We tried buffalo wings from this guy!

The BTS station near the Petchburi Road (stop: Ratchadewi)
 The next destination was of course, retail therapy-related. We headed to the city's most extensive shopping quarter called Siam. All the biggest and famous malls are located here side by side, so no matter what your budget and taste is like, I'm pretty sure at least there's one mall that caters to you. Siam Centre is a recently refurbished mall from the 70's and boy, how I love the interior! Everything looks new and experimental, from the interior decor to the local Thai labels which primarily predominate in the first and second floor of Siam Centre (more on this on the next post). The more upscale labels reside in the likes of Siam Paragon (separated by Siam Centre by a small plaza where seemingly all the stylish young'uns strut their stuff across the place), further down the road there's the luxurious mall of Gaysorn (comparatively the Galeries Lafayette of Bangkok), Erawan Hotel, where Club 21 labels are stocked and Central World, the new-ish departmental store.

People-watching at the plaza

Dungarees/overalls-wearing chick

Let me take a #selfie

A touristy trip in Bangkok is incomplete without a boat tour along Chao Praya river (the form three Geography lessons sprung in my mind - I remember the teacher repeatedly told that the river is a significant waterway in Thailand alongside Mekong river). The affordable unlimited boat trip for a day gave us the chance to see Bangkok from the river view - there are numerous important and historical building, temples and markets along Chao Praya. After hopping off the boat we  rode the city bike (Bangkok Smiles Bike - it's free of charge!). Despite an online review that says riding in Bangkok is suicidal I thoroughly enjoyed the short ride. Even though the bike lanes are a bit erratic I managed to ride safely in my pristine white Muji flip flops (there's a Muji store from right across where we stayed!), although there were circumstances where I was inches away from a speeding bus or lorry! (I guess living in a city like KL indeed really taught me the survival of insane traffic ha ha!). 

We stopped for a fruit shake during the ride. One mango / papaya shake (one can combine 2 fruits) costed like RM3!

A friendly ?Korean couple we met during our bike ride

Afterwards we headed to the VERY touristy Grand Palace and admired the majestic Thai architecture of the compound. Under the scorching heat, we headed to Chinatown in a tuk tuk (not sure if cramming FIVE adults in a tiny tricycle is legal in Bangkok but that was how we travelled there!)

Decency is key in visiting formal places like Grand Palace - hence the loaned baggy linen pants

There was some pretty interesting action going on around the neighbourhood where we stayed. There's a bustling night market open daily along Silom Road - a great place to ogle at the clothings and thingamajigs including, ehem, adult toys and the people of course!

Text by Hafidzudin Zainal
Photos by Yat


thompsonboy said...

tell me more about the new perspective on sexuality....I love staying/always at Silom anyway. More raw and gritty.

naboonies said...

Thompsonboy: I figured how open sex as a commercial commodity in Thailand is. And the first experience of peeking into that world is eye-opening! ;)

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