A Travellerspoint blog

Thailand

Bangkok: More of a ‘fizz’ than a ‘bang’

In which we recount our non-adventures in Thailand

As certain people have pointed out (yes, I am looking at you, Hrvoje), it has been a while since I last posted anything. This was not my intention, I assure you: my plan was to write my entry about Japan whilst on the flight to Bangkok, then post it as soon as I had sorted out the photos and could find a decent Internet connection. I actually did write the thing, but everything after that went a little bit pear-shaped. As a consequence, the next few posts will be out of order. I’ll give you the Bangkok update now, and will post the Tokyo entries tomorrow.

So, as I said, things went haywire pretty much on landing. I became ill, developing a miserable cough & cold which I generously shared with Pete. This meant that we were both too sick to travel or do anything much for the best part of a week, apart from sit around the hotel, moaning, coughing and surviving mainly on the contents of our room’s mini bar. (It will be some time before I am able to face another packet of salted cashews!)

Then we got better, finally looking forward to seeing something other than the interior of our hotel… and all hell breaks loose in the city. You’ve probably heard about the Thai anti-government protests in Bangkok – it’s been all over the news. Fortunately we were quite a long way from the riots; unfortunately all the interesting stuff we wanted to go and see was in the danger zone. After half a dozen urgent emails from both the British and New Zealand government agencies declaring a state of emergency in Thailand, we decided we wanted out and arranged for expedited visas to Vietnam.

Exciting reading, isn’t it? Well, I did warn you.

To be honest, we didn’t have a lot of luck in Thailand generally. Our first hotel leaked like crazy during a thunderstorm (we are lucky we still have a laptop!), and our second one, despite being advertised as an oasis of peace and calm, was a nightmare: two days of twenty-odd horrible teenagers running up and down and making a racket, followed by two days of drilling and building works immediately outside our hotel door. (You should have seen the customer feedback form I submitted at the end of that little adventure!) Our third hotel was, happily, a nice environment, and we would like to go back there when we return to Bangkok (*).

So, enough with the whinging already. We did get to do odd bits and pieces while we were there, so it wasn’t a complete waste of time. Bangkok is proof that the however bad the economy gets, consumerism is still alive and well. I have never seen so many malls in one place! And to get to these shopping centres, you often have to elbow your way through a crowded street market or two. And you can forget walking on the pavements with any ease, ‘cos they are all packed with street vendors.

I’ve probably mentioned before how much we hate shopping, but there was one acquisition that we are very pleased with:

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Our little Cube speakers – perfect for upping the volume on our Netbook, but small enough to pack away and transport easily.

The only other photo we took in Bangkok was this one:

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It’s rainy season in Thailand and although it's hard to see it in the photo, the rain was bucketing down! We took it when we got caught out in a storm and were forced to take shelter along with a couple of sensible locals. It turned out we were the tourist attraction on this occasion, ‘cos passengers on the buses kept waving and laughing at us. Personally I don’t see what’s so funny about a couple of damp foreigners, but I’m glad they were enjoying themselves!

The other event that happened while we were there was the Songkran festival, otherwise known as Thai New Year. One of the main parts of this celebration is water-throwing: people line up at the side of the road with hoses, super-sized water pistols and buckets, and give each other a good dousing. It’s all in good fun, and although they obviously really like getting tourists, they will leave you alone if you ask them to. Pete and I got ‘splashed’ (i.e. drenched) a couple of times, but we had to ask them not to after a while ‘cos we ran out of dry clothes!!

Probably the most powerful memory we will take away with us from our short time in Bangkok is this: on TV we watched protestors clashing with the police, the army, and each other, yet downstairs in our hotel lobby the girl receptionists were squealing ‘cos the bellboys had ganged up on them with water pistols. It was like two different worlds, very hard to reconcile.

This state of unrest is predicted to hurt the Thai tourism industry quite badly, which is a real shame. We both liked the little we saw of Thailand, and intend to return once the political situation has been resolved. It was unfortunate that we had to leave before we got to see much of the country, but we both agree that this was the smart thing to do. We are now in Hanoi, Vietnam, and are hoping to take a road trip down the east coast of the country, starting tomorrow. I promise not to get sick again and will update soon (including interesting pictures!)

(*) For anyone reading this hoping for travel tips, the place we hated was the Anda Boutique Hotel on Ramkhamhaeng Road in Bangkapi. They are in the process of remodelling, and although it will be great when it’s finished, it really isn’t habitable right now. Aside from the noise and the dust, many of the facilities were not available (e.g. room service). The one positive thing we would like to mention about Anda is the staff. They were consistently courteous, helpful and professional, and managed to do an excellent job in difficult circumstances, but I still highly recommend checking to see how their renovations are going before booking.

The place we liked is the Sawasdee Sukhumvit Inn in Prakanong. These guys have reasonable rates and are perfectly situated for easy access to the city, plus they have lovely staff and a restaurant on-site.

Posted by Julie1972 04:16 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

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