The next few posts will be a series of my travels the past May to Southeast Asia, starting with Bangkok…
The past May, I went to Bangkok for a 6 day 5 night stop, as part of my South-East Asia Tour. I took Air Asia from Hong Kong and it arrived at 12 pm, which I figured would be sufficient to have the afternoon for exploration. What I did not anticipate was the afternoon traffic within the city (it literally does not move – I was tempted to get out and walk with my suitcase), so by the time we checked in at our hotel Citadines Sukhumvit 11, and got settled down it was almost 3 pm!!
A bunch of Bangkok’s streets perpendicular to Thanon Rama/Thanon Sukhumvit (a main road) are numbered, so it’s actually really easy to navigate where you are. In case you were wondering, we obviously lived on street (called soi in Thai) 11.
We walked to Terminal 21, the closest mall to the hotel in search of lunch. Along the way, the sidewalks were cluttered with vendors selling all sorts of merchandise, including toys, t-shirts, and counterfeit handbags which were right alongside Viagra and related products!
Terminal 21 is a relatively new multi-level mall, neatly categorized starting with a large supermarket on the bottom level, and separate levels for men’s fashion, women’s fashion, restaurants, and a food court on the very top level. The mall is modeled like an airport terminal for departures to exotic locations around the word. Each floor is decorated and themed of different cities, including Kyoto, London and San Francisco.
I found the restaurants to be expensive, so I headed upstairs to the food court.
The food court is actually one of the best I’ve been to – clean, cheap and a large variety. As if intentionally not to compete with one another, no two stands sold the same dishes. It is also efficient as diners simply load up a money card, and vendors swipe the card to deduct the balance. In one meal that costs maybe $3 CAD, I got noodle soup, mango sticky rice, and a juice! I actually liked the food court so much that I went back for dinner another day and got pad thai, a thai sago dessert and a drink for about the same cost.
The supermarket on the bottom level is worth a visit as well. There are food stands in front of the market, selling everything from grilled meat skewers, to sushi, to a bakery, flavoured milk, and of course Thai food. The supermarket is likely higher end, so it was clean and order. It was also quite large so there was a lot of variety to choose from.
After lunch, we decided to hunt for a spa around the area. Sadly, all the ones I wanted to go to were booked full for the day! Instead, we made appointments for the upcoming days and found a quaint mani-pedi spot at one of the malls around Siam Square that did quite a good job for a reasonable price. I think I paid $10 for a pedicure? I’d really wanted to go through the night market through the lanes behind Siam Square, but by the time my pedicure was done, the stores were all closing! What kind of night market closes by 9 pm?
Instead, we headed for dinner at a Thai restaurant in the Siam Square area which turned out to be full of tourists, bland and not very good. Next, we found a shady looking massage place full of people, so we figured why not. I think I paid $10 for an hour and a half of foot/neck and shoulder massage. I’d really wanted a Thai massage, but those were booked full!
After the massage, we decided to walk along the main road and what a sight to see – endless stalls and throngs of local Thais packed the streets, mostly selling women’s clothes, shoes and jewelery. It was overwhelming after a while, so we ended up taking a tuk tuk back to the hotel to end the day.
This particular tuk tuk driver ripped us off though. We paid $150 Baht for a short ride back to our hotel (2 Skytrain stops from Chit Lom to Nana), when it should’ve really been $50!!! We learned our lesson for next time though!