Jet-lagged in Bangkok... get over it

This was my first trip out of the United States, and after one night in Tokyo, we arrived in Bangkok -- the first leg in our Thailand adventure. I'm not sure if I was ready for this.


Jet-lagged in Bangkok... get over it

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by Laura Rabbit on June 26, 2003

See the major sites -- Grand Palace, Jim Thompson's House, ride on the river ferry. Don't be afraid to go to Patpong, it isn't that scary.
Marvel at the exorbitant number of 7-11's and how truely kind and warm the people are.${QuickSuggestions} Get massages and buy knock-offs. But know that both with probably be better and cheaper if you are going north in Thailand (both will be more expensive if heading south to the beaches). Recover from your plane ride, so you can handle the spicy food. From my personal experience: don't eat Tom Ka Gai on an empty stomach. Bottled water is cheap and readily available, so don't bother drinking from the tap - or including ICE in your drink... not worth the risk.${BestWay} WALK, take the skytrain if your destination allows (it's wonderful), taxis - MAKE THEM TURN ON THE METER . . . and beware of the tuk tuk -- worry about your safety and your lungs, only use them for a very short distance. You have heard that the traffic is horrible - IT IS! Avoid rush hours, and if you get on the expressway, know that the driver will make you pay the toll. For domestic travel in the country, use Thai Airways. It is FANTASTIC (planes, flight and service). We booked Bangkok-Chiang Mai-Phuket-Bangkok direct flights for $233 on Expedia. Well worth it.

Baiyoke Sky

Member Rating 1 out of 5 by Laura Rabbit on June 26, 2003

This hotel is clean, modern, and hospitable, however the location is dirty and congested. After staying somewhere else at the end of the trip, I concluded that I would not stay here again. The price ($47) is similar or more expensive than other hotels we saw in better areas of the city (try Jade Pavillion or Windsor Suites).

The pros are that the staff is helpful, the rooms are clean, the bathroom is large, and overall, the interior is modern and nice. The major con is the location. It is near street shopping, but that is it. There seems to be many more stray dogs in this area than other areas of the city I visited; and it seemed very dirty and smelly.

The hotel has two computers with internet access (the night staff never did figure out how to work them) and a huge breakfast buffet on the upper floor with a great view of the city.

Baiyoke Sky Hotel
222 Rajprarop Road
Bangkok, 10400
+66 (2) 656-3000

Comfort Suites Bangkok Airport

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by Laura Rabbit on June 27, 2003

Don't expect much from this hotel aside from a cheap comfy room and free airport transportation. The rooms were amusingly simple and not particularly up-to-date (the bathroom was prison-like). But we were picked up at the airport by the free shuttle, went out for a last hoorah in Bangkok, and took the free shuttle back to the airport in the morning. Don't stay here unless it is essential to be near the airport because it is not near anything else to see or do.

We paid something like $23 for the large room. They did offer a breakfast buffet as well. It was mostly insolated from airport noise . . .

I'd stay there again.

Comfort Suites Bangkok Airport
88/117 Viphavadee-Rangsit Road
Bangkok, Thailand
02 5528921

Patpong

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by Laura Rabbit on June 27, 2003

I was indifferent about seeing the Patpong area of Bangkok during my trip. But many people suggested that since it is a significant attraction in the city, I shouldn't miss out on the experience. So, on our last night before returning home, I went.

Contrary to what I had read, I did not see any "small girls with old men." Instead, I would describe these few blocks as an oversupply of strip clubs with cheesy "shows" in which the girls looked rather silly and bored.

The area itself seemed rather clean and modern. Nice restaurants and a lot of shopping. The market on these streets is a great place to pick up a few final souvenirs.

There seemed to be a mix of legit and questionable "massage parlors" and the girls in the strip clubs are not shy about cozying up to you, regardless of your gender. Most annoying is the guys on the sidewalk trying to get you into their club. Harmless, but annoying.

I still felt safe being in this more seedy district, and would go back, but probably not by myself.

Patpong
Bangkok
Bangkok, Thailand

Wat Arun

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Laura Rabbit on June 27, 2003

Wow. This place is impressive.

Take the Skytrain to S6 Saphan Taksin Station (Silom Line). Leave via Exit 2 and walk to nearby Chao Phraya Express Boat - Pier 8. Take a cross-river ferry to Wat Arun. Admission to the Wat is a 10 Baht donation.

First of all, the 2baht ride on the river was interesting in itself. These commuter boats are cheap and fun. A great way to see a part of the city that you may not otherwise see (if you can't afford to stay at the Penninsula Hotel).

Views of the temple from the river are gorgeous and upclose the structure is amazing. Take a stroll around and enjoy the peace. It is uncongested and quiet. Watch the monks and take lots of pictures. As with all temples dress appropriately -- avoid tank tops and shorts.

Temple of the Dawn (Wat Arun)
Thai Wang Road
Bangkok, Thailand

Jim Thompson's House

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Laura Rabbit on June 27, 2003

This is an urban oasis! A treasure in the middle of Bangkok. What a pleasant escape from the obnoxious rush of city life. Jim Thompson was an American CIA agent who helped make the Thai silk industry what it is today and collected many priceless works of art and Thai crafts. He disappeared mysteriously in 1967 and the Thai government turned his house into a museum.

Aside from the beautiful relics found at Jim Thompson's house, each tour group is given a pleasant guide who explains various facets of the home and life of Jim Thompson. The landscaping is lovely with a lot of plantlife and ponds. Attached is an over-priced giftshop and a pleasant cafe serving smoothies and icecream etc. Beware of the Durian.

You will leave wishing you lived there.

Photos are not allowed inside parts of the house.

Open 9am - 4:30. 100 baht admission
Take Skytrain to W1 National Stadium Station. Take Exit 1 and go strait ahead to the end of Soi Kasemsan 2.

Jim Thompson House
6 Soi Kasem San 2
Bangkok, Thailand, 10330
+66 (2) 216 7368

Shopping, eating, and misc adventures

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by Laura Rabbit on June 27, 2003

Shopping here is inevitable no matter what gender you are. Throughout the country there are crafts, clothes, statues and assorted other things to buy, just CALLING your name. When people tell you to pack light because you will end up buying a suitcase to bring things home, there are SERIOUS! Most of the handicrafts you see in Bangkok are not unique. If you are going to Chiang Mai, wait and do most of your shopping there. It is cheaper. But by all means, if you see something you want, go right ahead. Everything is very inexpensive. Don't worry if you realize you've forgotten something at home. Flip-flops, lotion, T-shirts are always nearby. I did have trouble finding hair shampoo and conditioner as well as cosmetics, but it’s there if you need it.

The hardest part is those first few experiences you have at trying to bargain a price down. It is expected that you do so, but coming from a country where isn’t common can make you a little nervous. An easy way I found to start the process, but not offend anyone is to say, "You offer discount?" Most will say yes and state a lower price and then you drop lower and begin the back and forth until one of you agrees with the other. It's not so bad.

A lot of things take getting used to. I felt so horrible when I woke up the first day in Bangkok. I had eaten Thai food at 3am after the second leg of a 21 hr journey from Chicago to Thailand. Suggestion number 1: Bring at least 10 protein/meal-on the go bars with you, you can't find them in Bangkok. I wish I would have had them to ease into my first few days. The food is similar to Thai food in the states, but much more INTENSE. Not hot, per se, but spicy. I've decided that I HATE lemongrass now, and the coconut milk was so overwhelming. Just be prepared. There was a good number of Indian restaurants around, and of course various Western foods and McDonald's. So, don't be ashamed if you can't handle the local cuisine right away. There is Coke, but no Pepsi. Ruffles, but no Doritos. One night we did see a group of boys unloading blocks of ice from a truck by sliding them across the filthy pavement. I never did get ice in my drinks . . .

Another surprise . . . toilets. Most places (modern restaurants and hotels) had Western toilets, but other places, like small bars and stores, had a very confusing piece of porcelain offering its services. Remember these tips: 1) BYOTP 2) Don't put the toilet paper in the toilet -- it goes in a basket. I messed up a couple of times while trying to follow these rules.

Summary, Thailand is such a wonderful country. Bangkok is INTENSE. At first glance I didn’t know if I could handle it. But in retrospect it was getting through the adjustment period that made all the difference. When you return home, you will be very upset that people are not smiling and saying hello to you every time you catch their eye . . . or offering you a two hour foot rub for $3. Soak it all in while you can.


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