In the last 14 months I’ve crossed at least 5 borders on foot, by train and bus, and by far the worst crossing has to be at the Cambodia-Thailand border.
We must have been in a queue for over 90mins, exacerbated by my need to answer the call, but there was no turning back once in the queue. Once out the other side we jumped into our new luxury mini-van that took us straight to our hotel in Bangkok a few hours later, for a total of 10 hours of travelling from hotel to hotel.
Our accommodation in Bangkok was the Prime Hotel Central Station. Our G Adventures tour was to end on the evening of our arrival, but John and I booked an extra night in an upgraded room (from a large window-less room to a small windowed room) before departing on our flight to Bali. The hotel seemed well placed with decent views of the city. Even the lobby bathroom had a view.
Towards the evening we met up with the group for our last supper, before saying our goodbyes. The rest of the group went to Khaosan Rd. John and I agreed to have an early night for a day of sightseeing and explore the chaotic Khaosan Rd the next evening. Photos courtesy of not me.
Next day we jumped into a shared Taxi with new friends Shabnam and Adil from the tour (who also decided to extend their stay in Bangkok) and directed the driver to our first stop Wat Phra Chetuphon or Wat Pho. This stop was the home to lots of colourful buildings, temples, the reclining buddha and plenty of statues. No dress code was enforced here and entry was not too expensive (and included a bottle of water). There was a small souvenir shop at the back with an expensive ATM but as always most places accept credit cards.
Walking around Wat Pho was actual quite pleasant and then only really busy part was around the enormous sleeping buddha.
After Wat Pho we walked along the front of the Grand Palace, looking for the entry. We did later find it at the north end, but took some time to look at the Saranrom Palace and the Ministry of Defence building with it’s large collection of cannons out the front.
As we walked towards the north side entrance to the Grand Palace we were approached by two separate vendors claiming that we need to buy their light trousers as shorts would not be allowed in the palace grounds. John and I knew better. We weren’t going to fall for these vendor tricks. We neared the palace and saw plenty of folks in shorts similar to ours and we were pretty happy with ourselves having not been conned out of an unnecessary purchase and a few minutes later we had bought our tickets into the venue…and the trousers we were told by officials to buy. Lesson learned! Now we have extra trousers for the next time!
Needless to say, wearing these loose hippie pants over my shorts was a little inconvenient especially because of the extra heat and the awkwardness in getting things out of my shorts pockets.
The buildings in the palace were simply stunning, plus we ran into our favourite couple Shabnam and Adil!
The whole complex was a linear experience except for the main area which included the Grand Palace Wat Phra Kaew (the tall domes covered in small golden tiles and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (which forbade the taking of photos from inside). There was also a large miniature (excuse the oxymoron) model of Angkor Wat.
Hunger set in, so we walked west towards the river and south Tha Tian Market, where down a dark waterside loading area we came across a restaurant called Eat Sight Story Deck. The food was alright, but there was a bit of a premium on the price we paid probably because of the view the terrace afforded us of the Buddhist Temple Wat Arun Ratchavararam on the far side of the Chao Phraya River.
Getting back to the hotel was a bit of a mission. Being in a tourist area and wanting to travel the 4km distance during rush hour, any taxi’s we waved down either wanted to charge us an extortionate fixed fee, or would plain refuse to take us. Thankfully we called a cab in the Grab app (Asia’s Uber owned equivalent), and 10 mins later a cab arrived (no different to the many that stopped and offered us nonsense deals, but took us without any problems and with the meter running.
At the hotel I took advantage of the rooftop view for some city photos. It’s a shame we didn’t have time to visit the Golden Buddha Temple near the hotel, would have been interesting to see the 5.5 tonne pure gold Buddha they have there.
That evening we enjoyed dinner and some drinks at Khao San Rd. Home of a pedestrianised area for bars, restaurants, scorpion vendors, lady boys and high priced Tuk-Tuks. It was our last night, so we had to take a Tuk-Tuk back to the hotel. Quite the exhilarating experience travelling in a three wheeled tuk-tuk at top speed, with nightclub lighting and being plain drunk. I wouldn’t recommend it as a primary form of transport as taxis are cheaper and more comfortable, but for the experience alone, you have to do it at least once when in Bangkok.