Finishing up in Bangkok – the last of our SE Asia trip
Leaving Phi Phi and Phuket behind, we arrived in Bangkok (3 of the better place names there!) to some great news – we were getting a free upgrade of our hotel room at Baan K residence to a suite (pretty much a one bedroom apartment). We had wanted to book somewhere nice so we could spend our last few days in Asia in comfort and this place fits the bill perfectly.
Our first impressions of Bangkok were that it’s huge and really spread out. Despite having a pretty good public transit system the traffic is terrible here and whenever we go anywhere by taxi it seems to take at least an hour. At least the taxis are cheap though.
The main problem we’ve had with taxis are the idiots driving them. Most of the time we’ve been really organised and had a map with the name of our hotel and directions written out in English and Thai. Despite this, nearly without fail, taxi drivers will have no idea where to go. At one point we were pretty much on the main road that we needed to drive down to get home but the taxi drivers were so confused they wouldn’t take us (I offered to drive the taxi myself as it was so easy to get there). Map reading skills are definitely not their strong point.
On our first night in Bangkok we got a taxi to one of the (very) few places taxi drivers can all find here, Khao San road. I was expecting a packed, crazier, busier version of Bangla road in Phuket but Khao San was actually pretty tame in comparison. The main feature seemed to be a lot of stalls selling the usual cheap t-shirts.
We did find a really cool bar with live music to sit and have a few drinks at. The musicians here can be so good at covers it’s crazy. They can’t speak English that well but that doesn’t stop them from perfectly imitating Chris Martin for a Coldplay song.
Our second day in Bangkok also happened to coincide with my birth 26 years ago so we had a good excuse to go out. Being in Thailand where there’s so much good local food, you would think we would go out for some more nice local fare right? Well after 2 months in SE Asia, I am quite over rice, noodles, curries and soups and we instead opted for the home of Bangkok Burger Company (the same place we went in Phuket). The choice was not regretted.
The only problem with our choice of dinner location was that it was quite far away from our next intended stop – the Sky Bar at the Lebua. If you’ve seen Hangover 2 then you would know this place from the rooftop bar scenes there.
We tried getting a taxi but couldn’t find one that spoke a word of English so ended up hiking around for quite awhile until we found a sky train station. From there we didn’t have a problem though.
The Sky bar is outside on the 64th floor and has an amazing view of Bangkok. The drink prices were also amazing (a beer cost $18) but it was worth it for the view. We made the error of not taking the right camera lens so we couldn’t get any really good photos but we still tried.
We haven’t been feeling like seeing many of the tourist sites here and we both decided that this is probably travel fatigue finally setting in and the fact that we are already quite busy with trying to get jobs in London. However, we did shake this off for a day of sightseeing to see the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew.
We discovered another scam (there’re SO MANY) outside the temples where local Tuk Tuk drivers explain to you very kindly that the temples and palace are closed until 3pm for foreigners and only locals are allowed in until then. They conveniently had a list of alternative places that they could drive us though while we waited. So nice right?
We smelled a rat and left on foot where shortly after we heard a loud speaker that basically warned against the scamming Tuk Tuk drivers. I think the frequency of scams like this has definitely contributed to our travel fatigue but mostly we try laugh at how stupid the scams are.
Shortly after we were at the Grand Palace swapping our inappropriate western attire for some more conservative local clothes. They (very kindly) rent you these clothes for free just inside the entrance to the Grand Palace but that doesn’t stop “entrepreneurial” locals (I would probably use another word to describe them) trying to drag you in to their store to get you to pay to hire the same clothes.
The rest of our time in Bangkok has involved a lot of phone calls and emails with recruiters to discuss jobs and set up meetings and interviews. I now have 12 meetings or interviews set up for next week in London (and Dayna’s list is quickly growing) so it’s going to be busy!
We did find time to make a sweet pants purchase on another trip to Khao San road. We were inspired by my free rental pants at the Grand Palace so went haggling our way around the pants stalls for similar pairs. Dayna opted for a somewhat traditional pair of “Elephant pants” while I opted for what I’m calling for the moment my new “Party pants”.
And so now here we sit (in our sweet suite), enjoying the last of our opportunity to chill out before we hop on our flight to London at midnight tomorrow!
The change in temperature alone might be a bit of a shock…