Landing at around 6 am, we collected our luggage, cleared customs and passed through the arrivals gate of Bangkok Airport. Next on the agenda was a journey through the history and landscape of Cambodia via the Angkor Wat Trail and Intrepid Travel. But first… Where was our hotel transfer?!…
Just as well we were still on “island time” and not overly in a rush, however, I did some asking around and one of the travel desks kindly gave them a call. It turns out that our transfer was stuck in traffic… Welcome to Bangkok!!
When it arrived, 15/20mins later, it took us 3hrs to do a 25mins drive (according to google) to get to the Novotel Fenix – Yes, traffic was that bad. Morning rush hour.
Note to self: try not to arrive during rush hour. Especially in densely populated areas like this – 6.5 million people, most of whom (it seemed) were on their way to work when we got in!! Sadly this meant we missed the chance to do the river tour at 8:30 by Urban Adventure. Grrr…
Once at the hotel – sleepy, hot and dazed – we got settled and refreshed as quick as poss and (as you do) went for a look around. We had until 6 pm free which was when we’d meet our Tour Leader and the rest of our group for the first time. So, first thing’s first, a Thai Massage!!
Across Silom Road opposite the hotel is a recommended spot called ‘Burberri’ where for 250THB and 60mins of your time you can be folded like human origami into positions you never thought possible by a masseuse who’s 5ft nothing and has the agility of an Olympic Gymnast and the strength of ten tigers!! Seriously, there was a moment when her elbow was buried so deep into my back that my leg started twitching and eyebrows raised so high that they nearly left my face!!
Why do people do this to themselves…?
Anyway, jokes aside I did feel good afterwards (awhile afterwards) but for the future – not my cup of tea.
After that, we checked out China Town where, among the many gold shops on the main strip, we found lots of food carts with picnic table style seating all with an array of choice local cuisine. After a little perusing, we took the plunge, selected our chef’s cart, pulled up to the picnic table and placed an order – roasted pork belly and rice. The meal wasn’t very large but for 40THB you can’t really complain especially as it was really tasty – I could’ve gone for another one, but we were really keen to have another look and try something else so after eating we ventured deeper into the market lined side streets. Not long in, we found some fried chicken served with one of the best Sweet Thai Chilli Sauces I’ve had!! Once the chicken ran out I continued on just the sauce.
As we continued walking through these narrow streets, surrounded by the bustle of people and beeps from the bikes horns as they pass you by, we felt like there was nothing to be alarmed about – No hint of vulnerability or worry. I still think it wise (no matter how well travelled you are) to keep your bags in front of you and away from the streaming traffic and to refrain from flashing expensive phones and cameras about. Pretty standard stuff really – Be respectful and don’t be a doosh and check with your hotel reception for areas to avoid.
Speaking of hotels, getting back to our’s was a challenge. Especially as it was rush hour. Both tuk-tuks and taxi prices seemed to have gone up from the 80thb it originally cost us by metered taxi to 200-250thb – no taxis would take us to Silom Road by Meter but with some persistence and haggling we did find a Tuk-tuk guy who accepted 150thb. It does pay to stick to your guns, however, during the journey, we quickly learnt why the others charged a higher fee… It was mental and jammed up so much that it took us nearly an hour to back as opposed to the 25mins it took us to get there!!
Note to self: Didn’t you pay attention to the previous note-to-self?!! Avoid rush hour. Also, it pays to check with your hotel regarding destinations and fares so that you stay safe and know when you’re being taken for a ride…!! I know… a bad pun
We made it back in time for our meeting where we met our tour leader Channa and the rest of our group. A nice bunch and we all seemed to get along nicely enough to all end up a dinner together and visited the night market (5min taxi ride) for a bit of shopping – baggy Thai pants were first on the list!!
The next morning was going to be an early one, kicking off at 8 am to begin our 8hr bus journey to the Thai-Cambodian Border and then on to Siem Reap.
It would’ve been nice to have had more time in Thailand to explore and to do the riverboat tour by urban adventures but, with the recent bombings just days after we’d left, we were very glad to have moved on when we did!
More for another visit, Thailand…