Saturday, 29 March 2014

Day One in Bangkok

We started our day a short ride in motorcycle taxi to Phahon Yothin MRT station. I didn't try this mode of transport in my first two visit, so I was kind of excited at this new experience. The 2 or 3 minutes ride without any safety gear costs 15 baht.

The first stop was a clinic in Sukhumvit because Sal had an appointment at 10.30 am. Before we had our brunch, Sal brought me to a Doi Krom outlet, a Thai Royal project to raise the standard of living of rural poor. His Majesty had donated fund to build a manufacturing plant to process agricultural produce into F&B, and health and beauty products.

My first Thai dish for this year was a plate of seafood pad thai. This local restaurant boast a claim that their food was ranked by CNN Travel as Top Five's Best Food! The portion was generous with 'lauk' but contained very little rice noodles. It costed 135 bath with a glass of very sweet fresh bael juice.

With a full stomach, Sal and I went to Platinum Fashion Mall for our retail therapy. According to my host, this is THE place to shop fabrics and clothes. It is situated next to Indra arcade and near the Pratunam market. Here, you are entitled for wholesale price if you purchase in quantity of three. "One, normal price. Three, wholesale price", the common tagline used/adopted by the retailers there. After two hours of strolling the five-storey shopping mall, the time has come for a drink. We decided to join the crowd in Swensens for its all-time favourite, the creamy (and guilty) iced white tea. 

At first, we thought of taking cab to the Hua Lamphong train station to purchase advance ticket to Laos. It all changed when we failed to a taxi, and Sal suddenly saw the 'blue bus'. This is a free bus service sponsored by some rich people in Thailand for selected routes. Although the aim was to go to the train station, once again our plan changed with spontaneous idea to visit Rattanakosin Island.

According to the travel guide, the man-made island was created when King Rama I moved the Thai capital to Bangkok and ordered the construction of canals circling the royal city. Important landmarks here include the Grand Palace, Temple of the Emerald Buddha and Wat Pho. Nearby, there is a jetty (Tian Pier) for boats to ferry you to the other side of the riverbank. 

We took 8 baht boat ride to visit one of Bangkok's most spectacular sights i.e. Wat Arun. The temple is not huge, but it has a steep steps to the top of its porcelain-bedecked prang that gives nice view of Rattanakosin Island. We didn't stay that long because it was hot and we were sweating like pigs. We took the same boat (they call it ferry) back to Rattanakosin Island and strolled along the sourvenir shops near the Silapakorn University until we found the Bangkok Smiles Bike station.
Some of the architectures around the Old Siam
Sal came up with this wild idea of cycling our way to Hua Lamphong train station! I don't even cycle in Kuala Lumpur, and the last time I rode a bicycle was 2008 when my friends and I visited the Putrajaya Wetland Park. Frankly speaking, I'd never ride a bicycle in city, what more big and congested cities like Bangkok.

At the end, I managed to buy my train ticket and definitely we lost a few pounds from that 90-plus minutes ride. And not to forget, the golden opportunity to see the colourful life of typical Thais outside the touristic areas of Bangkok.

After returning the bicycles to the station which situated next to Tourist Police post, we had a leisure 5-minute walk to bring down our temperature. We found a halal foodstall near the Nagaraphirom Park and stopped for another delicious seafood pad thai. This one is cheaper (60 baht) and gave more rice noodles but less 'lauk'. 

By the time we finished our meal, the time is just perfect to view Wat Arun at sunset. So, we walked to the nearby Sala Arun, a boutique hotel which has an open deck cafe overlooking the Temple of Dawn. The sunset view of Wat Arun from Tian Pier side was kind of overrated to me. 
Enjoying the sunset overlooking the Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn)
After we finished our drink, we walked our way to the flower market. Ya Rabbi, I've never been to a market that sell flowers of this scale. And the flowers are cheap too! A two dozen-plus of red roses was only 40 baht!!! No way I can get such price in Kuala Lumpur. At least, I found one thing that is cheaper here in Bangkok than my hometown.
Colourful and cheap fresh flowers at the flower market

At 8 pm, we decided to call it a day and took a bus home. The bus fare was 8 baht in case you're wondering :) 

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