Day 1: Bangkok, Thailand (Grand Palace, Wat Arun, Jungle Curry..)
We arrived in Bangkok after what equalled three days of traveling on the calendar (but to be fair, was really only 2.5 considering the time change). We flew from Santiago to Madrid and stayed in Madrid for the evening (it broke up the intense amount of traveling and gave us a little time to try to adjust to the 11 hour time difference between Chile and Thailand). We left Madrid at 10:25 am, flew to Doha (interesting airport) and then onto Bangkok…finally arriving at around 7 in the morning.
We took the metro, or BTS as it is called here, to our hotel. In hindsight, it was about the same cost or maybe just a little less than a taxi (taxis are super cheap here) and we will probably grab a taxi when we go back to the airport. Besides, lugging our bags around on the metro was not so much fun.
Upon arriving at the hotel (Eastin Grand Hotel Sathorn), they informed us we wouldn’t be able to check in early as they had no rooms available. So, we gave them our bags to store, freshened up in the bathrooms (you would be surprised how refreshed you can feel with a few wet wipes), took a few minutes with their wifi hotspot and then headed out into the city!
We went to the Grand Palace first. Just as I had read online, there were people outside of the entrance trying to scam you. We had one guy tell us, “hey…the entrance is down there, pay down there” (actually the opposite direction we needed to go). We actually fell for it for about ten seconds before we wised up and went back in our original direction (in addition to seeing loads of other people going in the opposite direction as us).
As with other temples in the city, you should dress modestly (that means long pants and shirts with sleeves). Hence, we saw a lot of tourists walking around in the rented or purchased pants or skirts! You can’t miss them….baggy pants with elephants printed all over. Entrance to the Grand Palace was 500 THB per person, which wasn’t so bad considering how large the complex was.
It was breath taking to say the least. The detail, the colors, the grandeur was incredible to see. We opted out of having a tour guide (although if you are keen on history, you definitely should…we were just a little wiped from all our traveling and wanted to wander a bit). We stayed in the complex for 1.5-2 hours (less than I had expected).
I had planned for us to go to the Wat Pho temple next. So, we started walking in a direction that I thought was correct (I think Miguel realizes now though that maps and I are not necessarily friends). When we stopped at an area to check the map with the street we encountered, a young woman approached us asking where we were headed and if she could help. She told us we were headed in the wrong direction and we needed to turn around. She also said that a long tail boat was a good way to get around and see lots of temples from the river. She seemed pretty straight forward and helpful (although, as you will see, regardless of her good intentions she gave us horrible advice!). She helped us grab a Tuk Tuk (basically a motorized tricycle…pretty cool experience) and we went off to the pier she told us about.
For a cool 1200 THB we grabbed a long tail boat that was supposed to take us on an hour tour by some temples and a marketplace. We basically drove through a barrio along the river and got dropped off at Wat Arun to finish. It definitely didn’t take an hour and was most definitely a rip off. It was a spontaneous decision and we learned a little first hand about the scams here (although, bound to happen). If you are careful in Thailand, you can save a lot of money if you don’t do things like this!
Wat Arun cost us about 50 THB each to enter. It was a really beautiful temple, but much different from the Grand Palace. The complex was of course, smaller and the colors not as shocking. However, the detail on the temple was incredible. If you are afraid of heights, maybe reconsider going here. The stairs up are steep, narrow and closer to mild rock climbing that they are to stairs. When they say “stairs”, I think they mean “ladder”.
Next we went to a restaurant I had read about on a blog called Ran Gaeng Pa Sriyan (ร้านแกงป่า ศรีย่าน) located at 954/2 Thanon Nakhon Chai Si Dusit (954/2 อาคาร ติดกับที่ทำการไปรษณีย์ดุสิต ถนนนครไชยศรี แขวงถนนนครไชยศรี เขตดุสิต กรุงเทพฯ). It was a “northern jungle curry” restaurant. It was a little difficult to find. Our taxi driver dropped us off on the street it was located, but then it was up to us to find the address. When we eventually did, we found an extremely local place where (to my joy and Miguel’s apprehension) we were the only foreigners. We sat down and were given the English menu. All of the things that I had read about on the blog weren’t on the menu. I had a restaurant guide with me that I made and had the Thai names written down, so we ordered jungle curry with frog (แกงป่ากบ), Minced quail prepared Kee Mao or drunken style (นกสับผัดขี้เมา) and a type of snail dish (หอยขมผัดฉ่า). In Thailand, at a restaurant that is known for it’s spiciness….don’t order medium heat. Don’t fall down the same hole we did. The food was amazing, but truly the spiciest food I have ever eaten. The jungle curry, which was like a soup, was the spiciest. After a little while, our waitress brought over noodles with prawns and told us to eat it. She must have seen us suffering a little because the noodles were a welcome, mild dish! Afterwards, we left to return to the hotel (although we should have gotten some of that famous coconut ice cream to cool our mouths). Near the entrance to the hotel is a milk tea stand and I couldn’t resist a cold glass of milk tea (very delicious and put the fire in my mouth out a little).
We arrived back to the hotel around 18:30. We were both in dire need for showers, so Miguel took one first. You know that position where you sit on a bed and just kind of flop back with your feet still on the floor. That is the position I fell asleep in…in maybe 1 minute. Needless to say, we both crashed for the night.
It was a great first day in Bangkok, tomorrow is full of floating market adventures!