To get the 840pm flight, we packed the day before and have to rushed to the airport once got off from work. It was an Airasia flight and it was flying to the smaller Don Maung airport as compared to the usual Suvarnabhumi Airport. Travelling time was about 45mins from the airport to where we stayed at Glow Pratunam Hotel that was sitted at the top of Shibuya 19 shopping mall. As it was late, we did manage to see the glowing signboard of the hotel but weren’t certain how to get in as the front doors of the shopping mall was closed.
Once alighted, we had to walked to the left side of the mall where there was a small entrance and a lift directly behind it that led to the hotel reception area on the 7th floor. Once out of the lift, we entered a modern designed reception area and proceeded for check-in. We were asked to have a seat near the recept area and the restaurant area while the paper work was being processed and it wasn’t long that we were given the keys. Took another lift at a location further right of the reception desk to access the rooms.
The main reason why we chose this was because it was situated opposite the Platinum Fashion Mall, a monster of a shopping mall consisting of 6 storeys of shops that sold a variety of clothings at wholesale prices. Last time we were here, spent almost 3 days walking the shops. Once of the main reason for this trip too.
Room comes with wifi. But we slept soon enough since by the time we finished our bath, it was already way pass midnight.
Day 2 Temple touring started early and we went to Chit Lom BTS and alight at Saphan Tak Sin BTS. From there, we walked to the Central pier that was along the river and wanted to buy tickets for the river ferry from the ticket counter but found that the tourist ferry had not started business and only the local ferries were working. There were 2 queues and we boarded the one that was going to the right, heading towards the direction of the Grand Palace. There were many people taking the ferry but we were lucky to have gotten a seat. Took a shot of the map at the ticketing counter to give us an indication of the stops. While on board, the ticket aunty was collecting fares for the tickets and at that time, I didn’t have change so she went off first to collect fares from others. When she came back, I paid and was about to get off as our stop was supposed to be Tha Tien where the Wat Pho temple was. When we finally made it pass the crow to the exit, we didn’t manage to get off and the ferry started to move off! We had to change our plan to exit at the next pier instead. While waiting at the exit, another tourist was amused by my OMD camera and started a small conversation on camera and such. He asked if I knew if there were any place where he could get photo printing services but I didn’t know. And then we alighted.
It was a short distance walk to the Wat Phra Kaew temple, home of the Emerald Buddha and the neighboring Grand Palace. The weather was similar to Singapore but hotter. Soon we saw a various golden structures behind a wall fortification and a lot of tourists loitering and we knew we have arrived at the entrance.
There were so many people around. We went had to purchase tickets and whilst going through the gate, my wife was asked to proceed to the change room where they provided a shirt and pants for covering up as she was dressed inappropriately in sleeveless and shorts. We had to also make a deposit for the clothes rental before going into the crowded attraction.
The area was massive and there were some pretty golden architecture all around. But the main attraction was the Emerald Buddha that was housed in a center building. The security had further limited access for better crowd control. Footwear was not allowed and so we had to deposit our shoes on the floor (because the shoe racks were overflowing). Then we had to squeeze and slowly proceed into the main hall along with the flow of the crowd. It was a large hall but the Buhhda statue was placed in the middle. Just like many of the places of worship, the hall was decorated majestically to complement the Buddha. However, when we were getting stuck like sardines, there were much we can appreciate.
After the walkabout, we had to return to the initial point where we deposited the clothes and exit from there. Once out, we boarded a Tuk Tuk (of course with a little negotiation) and informed of the next location, Wat Pho. The great thing about the Tuk Tuk was that it had great mobility especially in heavy traffic. In no time, we reached the temple.
So similarly, dress code was implemented and we proceeded into the temple. This was unlike Wat Phra Kaew and did not had the crazy crowd in Grand Palace. But I preferred this temple for the gigantic sleeping Buddha that the temple housed. At the back of the sleeping Buddha, there was a counter selling bowls of coins for us to “donate” by placing one coin into a bronze pot that lined the wall. There were about 100 bowls. It was fun trying not to fumble and drop too many coins into the pot and then ran out of coins by the end of the line and so we had to focus, and at the same time not hold up the line behind.
After this temple, we then proceeded to the Tha Tien pier, within walkable distance. At the pier, there was a small old caged counter with a lady behind who did not know English. Wat Arun, gave her the exact change (price list stated) and crossed to pier side boarded the ferry. It was a quick crossing of the river to the other bank and we could already see the towering structure of Wat Arun.
Same practised, buy the tickets, get the clothes and enter. This was an even smaller attraction but the view from the top was not too bad! The whole concrete type of architecture was rustic and beautiful, definitely worth a visit. After we exit, we visited the restroom amongst the rows of stalls that were there. Bought a coconut to de-thirst, but kind disappointing as the one that was given didn’t have a lot of juice and the coconut “meat” was hard and not sweet. Had to ask for a metal spoon that was not washed thoroughly for eating the coconut. After that, boarded the ferry return to the other bank.
Again we hailed a tuk tuk for a trip to Chinatown. This was a much longer distance and we arrived at Yaowarat street. There wasn’t really a town Chinatown and was merely place where most stores were set up by Chinese. We weren’t sure where to go and thus just kept walking along Yaowarat street, searching for mobile food stalls for lunch. As we walked, the location didn’t looked very touristy and we became quite lost. Having reached a junction, we went to a nearby mall for aircon and a fast food lunch at Chester’s Grill. The people serving at the counter looked surprised to see tourists, it was apparent that we were lost. Took a while for lunch and rest before going back the opposite direction. Then we saw more and more signboards and stores with Chinese words and then we felt like we were in Chinatown. There weren’t anything that was of our interest (there were many gold shops but we didn’t have the money nor the interest to get gold) and soon we reached a roundabout where there stood a giant size Chinese decorated Yaowarat gate.
While approaching the Yaowarat gate, we took a short rest at the gardens near to this gate. Then a man dressed in a security guard kinda uniform approached us. He started off with asking where we were from and then asking where we were heading to. Then he asked if we were interested in visiting temples and if we were interested in visiting the Black Buddha in Bangkok which was opened for a certain period of the year. He was able to arrange for the transportation and also to other attractions like the Grand Palace all for a really good price. Well, we weren’t interested as we had done the visit and were not keen with the Black Buddha, and the matter of fact that the deal sounded really dubious coming from a security guy.
We continued to walk to the River City Mall for more cooling down. The mall was catered mainly for people with interests for antiques. There were much to see and so we went to a cafe to chill and have Gelato, best way to cool down.
After rested for a while, we went to the massage shop above to fix our legs for walking so long. The massage was solid! It was a little painful but that helped to soothe the aching muscles. We exit the building at the back near the river and a security guard told us that the next ferry was some minutes later. That’s when we knew there was a complimentary ferry service back to Sathorn Central Pier. We boarded the ferry and returned to the hotel via BTS. Got back, showered and rested and got ready for the cruise dinner.
When it was time for the Loy Nava River Cruise pickup, we waited at the hotel reception area but there wasn’t anyone there. So we weren’t sure if they meant to wait at the reception or the ground floor. So my wife went to the ground floor and I had to go back to the room to get something. When I arrived back at the reception, I saw a man holding a name board and it was for the cruise. What a coincidence! We went down together, got my wife and boarded the van that brought us to the pier. There were some pick ups along the way too, and with the Bangkok Jam, it was about 30mins before we got onto the cruise.
The cruise was an interesting experience of dinner, on board entertainment and scenic evening show around on the Chao Phraya river. The 4 course meal was served while the boat made its way from the pier to the bridge and then a U-turn back to the pier, taking some 2hours for the whole trip. There was a booklet of information showing the route and about the various attractions along the way. On board there was a Thai lady playing a stringed instrument and also another lady that was dancing to the tune. Of course there were plenty of requests for photography especially with the Thai lady in the traditional costume. Tips were non-obligatory. We were all seated in rows of tables for 2 everyone had view access from the sides. The river wasn’t choppy and that made the experience nice.
The cruise ended at around 10ish and from the pier, the cruise company arranged for different vans to deliver the guests back to their hotels. It took a bit of patience as there were a couple of people around and some of the vans hadn’t arrived. Eventually, we boarded the van and returned back to the hotel. Rest of the night was spent relaxing with free wifi in the room. The next two days were planned for shopping and spa which would not be mentioned in the blog.