Bangkok in my nose

I just got back from Bangkok, and boy, was it polluted, unlike my last visit about two years ago. Anyway, the trip to the LRT station, and from KL Sentral to the LCCT and from the LCCT to Bangkok were all smooth. The new airport at Bangkok was also pretty amazing, very brutalist architecture and very arty farty. They even left the concrete dust for a more brutalist effect!

view of expressway from our hotel window

view of chaos from our hotel lobby

Anyway, the Eastin Bangkok is near the Victory Monument, nowhere near the last hotel I was at, which is in the Sukhumvit area. This area is all dusty and full of tuk-tuks and really busy. Nice, but also a bit intrusive. The first evening, we got in, had a shower, then we were off to MBK, where we had dinner. We had Thai vegetarian food which was hot and salty and not much else…

love the signs

wires wires everywhere

We went back to the parents’ hotel, which was beautiful! Ours? Well, firstly, no coffee-making facilities, no newspapers in the morning, weird lighting, and a big warning sign above the toilet cistern, something like “Imagine the amount of water and detergent going towards cleaning hotel towels. Let’s keep things green. Make a choice! Towel on the floor means wash! Towel on the rack means don’t wash!” … Anyway, not as nice as the Indra Regent, but ours is cheaper, so…. We walked from the Indra Regent back to Eastin, and zonked out immediately.

ah, haze… when will you go away?

Ronald McDonald goes Thai

The next day began with buffet breakfast, followed by shopping near the Indra Regent. We went into the Indra shopping complex, looked at shoes and clothes and some touristy stuff etc. The whole area is just chock full of shopping. There were loads of shopping complexes around the Indra Regent, as well as other things tourists need, like guided tours.

ploen chit station

canal near phallus shrine

We just mooched around, went into tiny alleyways and into the throng of the crowded hot marketplace. It was fun for me because I hadn’t seen this part of Bangkok before, having lived on Sukhumvit before (which is much cleaner).

always been fascinated with urban junkle

saphan taksin station

Bangkok was covered in a pinky orangey haze when we landed, and because it was so cool, and less humid than KL, we didn’t feel it until much later. Apparently the news reports said it was “fog”. Right!

Thai strays lead a cushy life

We eventually went back to the hotel (i can’t remember what we did for lunch, actually), rested, then showered, then went shopping again! We needed to meet with my parents anyway, because we hadn’t brought an adapter and we both needed to charge our phones. So we headed back to the same shopping area, but explored bits and pieces behind the Indra Regent. We ended up eating in an Indian (!) restaurant.

waiting for the chao phraya cruise

The next day was sightseeing. I had done some rough planning, and we had our maps and our day tickets for the skytrain. We headed off first to see the Erawan Shrine near Chit Lom Station. The whole Chit Lom area is amazing and large and so Singaporean compared to our roads near the Victory Monument. The Erawan Shrine was packed, people praying and burning joss sticks. It wasn’t that bad, the smell of joss sticks, at least compared to the smell exhaust fumes…

this building reminds me of Joan Aiken’s “Black Hearts In Battersea”, don’t know why

We then headed to the Swissotel thingamijig near the Wave Place near Ploen Chit station (well, sort of near). Behind this hotel is the not-so-famous Phallus Shrine. Firstly, it was very hard to find. We asked at least three security guards as well as the hotel reception.

Anyway, the Phallus Shrine was quite interesting, to say the least. It was surrounded with wooden penises of all sizes and shapes. Apparently, inside the shrine was a Chinese goddess. I was quite impressed at how intermingled the Thais were in their worship. They worshipped Hindu gods and goddesses, Buddha (of course) and Chinese deities too! The Phallus Shrine was a shrine for fertility, you go there if you want to get pregnant.

this will be featured in the next thai horror story

this too

Next was Saphan Taksin station. There was a tourist bureau there, where we found out that we could take the Chao Phraya tourist boat for just 100 baht. So that’s exactly what we did.

The tour was interesting, and probably the highlight of the trip. We stopped at Wat Arun, which was quite incredible. One of those weird Thai blend of Buddhism+Hinduism, with massive raksaksa creatures in a mini-temple nearby but Buddha in the major wat (surrounded by carvings and raksaksa ornamentation – so weird). The architecture of the temple was weird, every corner you turn, you think you’ve been there before, but you haven’t really. Kind of Twilight Zone-ish.

We took the ferry back to the pier, then we headed down to the 2nd last stop, Oriental Pier, on the river public taxi. We were looking for the Assumption Church and another wat, but we were so tired and hungry (i think we hadn’t even had lunch yet), we ended up ditching the idea and headed to McDonalds. It was not my initial idea, and i was a bit grumpy, but the fact that it was all hamburgers (as opposed to beef burgers) made me very very happy, and after eating, i felt better.

wat arun

We headed back to the Saphan Taksin station (we passed by Assumption Church, School + College on the way to McDonalds) and made our way back to our hotel. The trip back was really tiring, and we were choked up with exhaust fumes and other fun breathing stuff on the walk back t the hotel. Needless to say, we had a shower as soon as we walked through the door.

After the shower was the Indra Regent again. We then had dinner at a Chinese tai chow across the road, visited the parents, then headed back. By this time, i was feeling really tired. We watched some tv, Discover Channel had something on Singapore’s history. I got to watch Lee Kwan Yew crying when Tungku Abdul Rahman told Singapore to bugger off…

The next morning was early buffer breakfast again, then the cyber cafe for me (such a computer junkie, but had a number of work emails to check on). We then packed, and headed to the Indra Regent. We took a tuk-tuk (say that fast!).

Anyway, we mooched around a bit for shopping, then had lunch at the same tai chow the night before. It was soon time to head for the airport, and home. By the time we were on the plane, i was feeling wonky, thanks to the Bangkok haze, which lived in the phlegm and mucus in my throat and nose for a full fortnight.