We were up and out by mid-morning, having woken up feeling great after eleven hours sleep, following our night flight from Cyprus. The hotel breakfast had a massive range of Western and Oriental breakfast delights. Whilst we love Oriental food, the idea of the Oriental equivalent of meat and two veg. for breakfast has never appealed to us. We settled for tropical fruit, local yogurt, fresh bread, plus Alf had a bowl of congee which is the eastern equivalent to porridge, plus espresso coffee.
We had chosen our hotel for proximity to the Bangkok Skytrain. It’s by far the quickest way to get around the sprawling city and avoid the massive traffic jams. The Skytrain is really easy to use and popular with both locals and visitors. Apart from rush hour it’s not too crowded and nothing like the subways in Delhi and Beijing. The Skytrain provides the visitor an excellent opportunity for people watching. One of the first things that the visitor notices in Bangkok is the huge number of Western men with Thai partners – the men range from the early twenties to what look like early eighties that have just bought a new lease, but the women are always young and attractive with dreams of the West; by comparison, one never sees Thai men and Western women. For a more detailed explanation, we recommend the colorful novel, ‘Bangkok 8’ by John Burdett.
Anyway, we left the hotel about 1030 and walked to Nana Station – we found a short cut, without having to go through the red light district. We changed trains in the center and got out at the river. We allowed ourselves to be talked into a longboat trip up the river and through the canals – we’d been on the river ferry several times but had not seen life on the canals before. We saw various types of accommodation including luxury property to wooden shacks on stilts, small floating markets and temples. It was quite fascinating really.
After the boat trip, we were exploring the river area, near our embarkation point. A friendly tuk-tuk driver told us that ‘there wasn’t much where we were walking’. Yes, you’ve guessed it, he persuaded us to let him show us a few highlights. We asked him how much he would charge and he replied ’50 Baht for an hour’ The first stop was an interesting Thai temple, away from the tourists. Then he took us to some specialist shops for made to measure silk garments and then on to the copy shop as in designer handbags, really great stuff and Marilyn has earmarked a couple of items to be purchased on our return here in March, he then dropped us off at a shopping mall in the city center.
We popped into Boots for some items that had been forgotten and asked for a recommendation nearby for a light lunch and a Thai noodle bar was the order of the day – it was delicious and cost us circa GBP2 (for two, plus a generous tip). We crossed over the busy road using the pedestrian bridge. We hadn’t been to this mall before – it was full of designer names at European prices, so after exploring we didn’t buy anything. Late afternoon, we took the Skytrain back to our hotel, where we had a swim, followed by a sauna. The pool was really cold but so lovely and refreshing. It was now 6.30 pm and time to think about dressing down for dinner.
In the evening, we went to a well-known local Thai restaurant. It promised, ‘Experience modern Thai cuisine, hidden in a romantic charming garden, in the heart of Bangkok in Sukhumvit Soi 8′. The meal was outstanding but we over-ordered. After one starter each and one main course each plus rice and green vegetables, all suitable for sharing, we decided that we needed a good walk afterwards as the portions were huge. The most notable thing about the food was that it was seriously spicy. We picked out the red chillies and left them on the plate – reconstituted there were probably at least four chillies in each dish. We took the long walk back to our hotel through the Soi 4 red light area – quite an eye opener; yes the professional ladies were out in full swing, wearing their little black numbers with skirts that can’t get shorter and tops that can’t get any lower.
We returned to our hotel about 1100PM and went to bed just before midnight.