Time to Fly

Our arrival at the Bangkok airport was better than expected. Research has indicated that the customs/immigration process was poorly organized and could take hours. It took us about 10 minutes. Perhaps it was because of some divine intervention from a group of Monks on the plane!

Monks taking their seats on our flight.

Data and Voice

After collecting our bags, we headed for the SIM card booths. Jim had researched which company and plan he wanted, so this process was seamless.

Public Transportation

Sim card in hand, we decided to take public transportation to a stop about a 10-minute walk from our hotel. In the basement, we found the kiosk where we could purchase the token for the Airlink train. After 5 stops, we had to exit and change to the BTS Skytrain. The process of switching from one to the other was a little confusing, but we eventually figured it out.

BTS Skytrain in Bangkok.
Train station in Bangkok.
Street below the skytrain tracks.

It's Hot Out Here!

Although the trains were pretty full, they were air-conditioned, which was appreciated as it was hot and steamy outside. We arrived at our destination station and exited the train. Once on the street, we headed for what we thought was the hotel. After a few blocks, Jim determined Google Maps had led us astray, so we turned around and headed the other way. There was a massive highway between where we were and where we needed to be. Luckily, there was an overhead pedestrian bridge with which to cross the road. Unluckily, we had to carry our bags up two flights of stairs.

Did I mention it was hot and steamy, and we were already sticky and stinky? Thankfully, a strapping young man came to my rescue and carried my suitcase up the stairs, leaving it at the top for me to claim once I was able to get there. He also offered to take Jim’s bag, but Jim would have none of it and struggled up the steps, breathing heavily.

Holiday Inn Silom Bangkok lobby.
Display in the lobby of the Holiday Inn Silom in Bangkok.
Lobby of the Holiday Inn Silom in Bangkok.

Holiday Inn – Silom, Bangkok

We arrived at the reception desk at the Holiday Inn – Silom, hot, tired, and sweaty. The young lady checking us in ignored our disarray and quickly took care of the paperwork. She then took us to the elevators and sent us on our way. This complex has two buildings, so we appreciated her taking the time to ensure we went to the correct elevator bank.

After quick showers, we headed downstairs and had dinner at the hotel’s dining room. It was pretty good, and the desserts were a work of art.

Dessert at hotel.
Jim's dessert at hotel.

The room’s air conditioning was warm, regardless of our selected temperature. We decided to see if it cooled off overnight.

Service Order

Unfortunately, the room did not cool off overnight, leading to a fitful sleep, so we stopped at the reception desk to ask if someone could look at it. The service order was placed, and we went on our way.

In Search of Sustenance

The day dawned cloudy (and hot), but no rain was in the forecast. We knew the hotel had a breakfast buffet, but we were pretty tired of buffets, so we stopped to see if they had a breakfast menu we could order from. They did not.

Starbucks was just a few blocks away, but we kept an eye out for other breakfast options on the way. Besides 7-11, which was pretty busy, I might add, we didn’t see any other choices, so we had coffee and a pastry at Starbucks. While eating, it began to rain, which was unexpected. It slowed down after a while, and we headed back to the hotel to gather our umbrellas and headed back out to explore.

Street in Bangkok.
Street in Bangkok.
Street in Bangkok.

Robinson's

A few folks in one of our social media travel groups had mentioned a department store called Robinsons that was not too far from our hotel. It’s rather unique, with a food court and an entire grocery store in the basement. Jim also found Swneson’s Dairy on the first floor; it appeared they had hot fudge, which we had not been able to find up to this point.

McDonald's, Dairy Queen, and Subway!

There was a grocery store in the basement, a Dairy Queen, and a Subway! McDonalds had premium space on the first floor. Although we have seen McDonald’s in most cities, we have not seen a Dairy Queen or Subway until now. Jim wanted a blizzard. After reviewing all the lunch options, we settled on a veggie sub from Subway. Jim changed his mind; he wanted a hot fudge sunday from Swenson’s instead of Dairy Queen. Real hot fudge had been elusive this trip.

After lunch, we wandered the streets on the way back to the hotel. We found a Dunkin Donuts at the base of the local hospital. We were so excited that we purchased one for the next morning; then, we got lost on the hospital grounds. A friendly security guard met us and escorted us off the premises.

Eating the regional food has been great, but after a while, our home brands have become a welcome site!

A Look at the Past

We had no plans for the next day, so we decided to look for a small section of a neighborhood purported to represent life in the area from long ago. According to Google Maps, getting there should take us about 20 minutes.

Even though we left the hotel early, it was already hot and humid. There was traffic around, but it was still quiet, so we were able to stop and check out places that otherwise might have been crowded. Mr. Google said we had arrived, but we didn’t find what we had anticipated; we were at a bus stop in front of a Christian hospital.

Christian hospital in Bangkok.
Christian hospital in Bangkok.

Jim refreshed the Google Maps app, but it gave us no other help, so we decided to walk around a bit. A few blocks further, we found a wide street that did look like it might be a local area; it was a wide street lined with bars, clubs, and even a disco. Lights were strung from one side of the street to the other, along with some lanterns. The place reeked of beer; I bet it would be a blast at night if you were into that scene. It looked dirty in the daylight and didn’t smell very good.

Party street in Bangkok.
Bar signs in Bangkok.
Burger King in Bangkok.

At the end of the street, there was a more extensive road that parallels the original route we had been on, so we decided to take that back towards the hotel. After ducking in and out of a few alleys, we found the area we were initially looking for quite by accident. There were large buildings like the food centers we had seen in Singapore and Vietnam, with local folks setting up stalls to sell their creations. Since it was still early, very few were open, so after wandering in the area, we turned back toward the hotel.

Street in Bangkok.
Street in Bangkok.
Crazy looking building in Bangkok.

We found a bakery!

One thing we’ve not found much of is baked goods. We’ve checked grocery stores, markets, and convenience stores, but baked goods tended to elude us other than bread or croissants. The morning was inching closer to midday as we walked back toward the hotel. We had stopped at a local market to pick up a few things (they had no baked goods) and were back on our way to the hotel when Jim pointed out a bakery (well, not a storefront kind of bakery, but close enough for me).

We were able to pick up a few baked roll-type things that another customer raved about, as well as a bag of butter cookies. The unknown roll, filled with a flavored custard, would be breakfast in the morning.

Bakery buns
Bakery muffin.
Bakery cookies.

Finally back at the hotel, in the comfort of air conditioning, we rested for a bit with a plan to eat lunch in about an hour at a food stall we had seen the day before. At the appointed time, we went to the food stall only to find it closed. It was Sunday, and apparently, they were not open on Sundays. There was a business-type building across the street from the stall, which advertised a few restaurants and a place called Tops. Tops was also the name of the grocery store we had found by Robinsons, so we went to check it out.

So Many Choices

Not only did we find the grocery store, but the restaurants inside had several options for lunch. There was even a little bakery, Auntie Ann’s pretzel place, and Jim’s coveted Mister Donut! We chose one of the restaurants, Terraces de Bangkok, and although our server spoke no English, we ordered a great meal and refreshing drinks (pointing at the menu listings). After lunch, we stopped by Mister Donut, and Jim bought two of his favorite double chocolate donuts for breakfast the next day.

Cold beverage.
Pad Thai with tofu.
Tofu with veggies.

Pool Time

Up to this point, we had not used pools at any of the hotels we’d been to, but we were so hot from walking around all day that we hit the hotel pool. There were not many people at or in the pool, and it was so refreshing.

Authentic Italian

Dinner tonight was at an Italian restaurant we had passed earlier. The dinner menu on display showed they had a vegetarian lasagna, something we had not seen since we started traveling. Unfortunately, they had run out by the time we got there, so we ordered other dishes that were very good.

Italian restaurant in Bangkok.
Pasta dish Bangkok.
Pizza in Bangkok.

Earlier in the day, when we were on our way to the pool, we met an elderly gentleman in the elevator and had a quick conversation with him; he said he was from Italy. As our meals were served, our new friend from the elevator walked into the restaurant and was seated next to us. Come to find out, he travels to Bangkok often on business, and this was one of his favorite restaurants. If a guy from Italy likes the place, you know it’s going to be good!

Menu cover
Italian food in Bangkok.
Inside Italian restaurant in Bangkok.

Cruising on the River

Like hop-on, hop-off buses, Bangkok has a hop-on, hop-off ferry. They also have several ferries that locals use for work, but we preferred the convenience of only stopping near attractions and not getting in the way of someone trying to get to work. The cost was minimal, so we walked to the pier, got a ticket, and hopped on the Blue Line (tourist) ferry.

After looking at the map provided with our ticket, we decided to stay on the ferry to the last stop and then work our way back, getting off the ferry at places we thought looked interesting. The river is busy with many ferries, long-tail boats, and other watercraft. We even saw this big yellow craft sweeping garbage from the water into a bin on its deck. Many of this region’s waterways could use that piece of equipment!

Boats on river in Bangkok.
Ferry interior in Bangkok.
View from the ferry.

When the ferry arrived at Phra Arthit, we got off and searched Khaosan Road. It is supposed to be filled with lots of local shops and restaurants. It was already a hot and steamy day. We filled our water bottles before we left, but I’m pretty sure they will need a refill before the day is over. The walk was longer than anticipated, and Google Maps seemed hot and tired, too, as it took a while to load and get us going in the right direction.

Refreshments Needed!

Needing to take a closer look at where we actually were, we stopped at a local café and had a snack and a refreshing beverage. We were already drippy messes from the heat and humidity. Deciding the shops here appeared to sell the same stuff we had seen everywhere else, we started our way back to the pier. We asked our server what she thought a tuk-tuk might cost from our current location to the dock; she said around 10 baht would be reasonable.

Street in bangkok.
Tuk-tuk ride in bangkok.

Our First Tuk-Tuk Ride

The first tuk-tuk driver we encountered was trying to sell a tour. We had been warned that tour tuk-tuks were often scams, so we continued down the street. The next guy also wanted to sell us a tour; we asked him what he would charge to take us to the pier, and he said 50 baht each. Nope, we weren’t doing that.

Just as we were about to move on, another man offered to take us to the pier for 20 baht per person. Jim countered with 10 baht per person, 20 baht total, and he agreed. We hopped in the tuk-tuk, and he took off. The ride was not as bad as the motorcycle rides in Vietnam, but there were still some scary moments.

He dropped us off at the pier, and another couple jumped in as soon as we jumped out.

Shopping in Line

The wait for the ferry was about 15 minutes, but there was shade available and a slight breeze, so it was bearable. Jim had looked at a shirt as we walked to the loading platform, but they didn’t have his size. While waiting for the boat, the local shop owner came up with the shirt Jim was looking at, which was bigger than he had requested. Knowing that the sizes run a little small here and the fact that it was 100% cotton, Jim agreed to the bigger size. The shop owner now wanted 50bht more than the sign indicated; Jim told her he would only pay the original price, and she agreed, and the shirt was his. This was our first experience of shopping while waiting for a ferry.

Hop-On

Back on the boat, we looked at the map and decided our next stop would be at Wat Arun, a beautiful temple site. The ferry ride was pretty nice, as there was shade and a breeze. Being in the sun and heat for long periods of time is taxing.

Wat Arun in Bangkok.
Two ladies dressed in traditional wears in Wat Arun, Bangkok.
Smaller temple on the Wat Arun grounds in Bangkok.

Wat Arun

There were so many people at Wat Arun, many young girls and young men dressed in traditional garb getting their pictures taken. Depending on how you entered the complex, there was a charge to go further inside the main temple. Because there is a dress code that we were in violation of (we had shorts on, and you are not supposed to show your knees), we decided to stay in the complex but not go into the main temple. We wandered around for about an hour. It’s a huge complex, and then we stood in line for the boat. The line was very long, and it was so sweltering; we were pretty miserable.

Temple in Bangkok, Thailand.
Statue on temple grounds in Bangkok, Thailand.
Icon Mall view from river.

Next Stop

Once back on the boat, we pulled out the map to pick our next stop. We had thought about getting off at the IconSiam mall, but it was full of really high-end stores from which we would purchase nothing, and we were hot, drippy, and, I’m sure, pretty smelly by this point. So, we set our sights on the very last stop, Asiatique. It was touted to have some historic buildings and other things to see at the pier. However, as we approached the stop right before Asiatique, most people were getting off the boat. This stop was where we would need to get off if we were not going to Asiatique, so we asked the staff member if the boat was indeed going to Asiatique. She replied yes, but not until 4:00 PM, so we hopped off the boat to start our trek back to the hotel.

Back To The Hotel

Our trek back to the hotel was long and hot. Although the physical distance was not bad, the crowds and traffic doubled the time it took to get there. We had considered another tuk-tuk, but they would just be stuck in traffic, so we pushed on. At this point, we had been in the sun and heat for almost 5 hours, and we looked it!

We noticed a street food stall near the hotel selling vegetarian pad thai, our favorite. We stopped by, ordered two, and then went to our hotel room for lunch. We talked about hitting the pool for a bit, but in the end, a shower and nap in air-conditioned comfort won out.

The remainder of the afternoon was spent quietly recovering from our day. For dinner, we went back to the Mexican place we had enjoyed a few days earlier for dinner and spent a quiet evening reading and watching a movie.

Trip To The Mall

It’s going to be another day of high heat and humidity, so we decided to take the Skytrain to a mall. There are so many malls here, so we did a little research and found a mall called Terminal 21 with many positive reviews.

After a ten-minute walk and ticket purchase, we were on the airconditioned Skytrain and headed to the mall.

Terminal 21 mall entrance.
Terminal 21 mall interior.
Terminal 21 sign.

Terminal 21 was massive but different from what we are used to in the States. There are no “anchor” stores, just lots of little stores crammed into this huge building. The entire fourth and fifth floor was food. We also found miscellaneous food options on most of the other six levels, and the basement had wall-to-wall food stalls. Some stores are so small that we’ve seen bigger walk-in closets.

We found a Mexican restaurant on the fourth floor with Beyond Meet for tacos. Win one for the day. The other exciting thing we found was a Mailboxes store in the sub-basement. We travel only with a carry-on bag plus a tiny duffel bag. As a result, we don’t buy souvenirs as we have no place to put them, and all of the airlines here weigh your bags. So even if we squeezed something in, it would make our bag overweight and subject to additional fees.

Sunrise Tacos

Our lunch at Sunrise Taco’s was great. The service was quick, and the food was excellent. It was a little more expensive than we had been paying for a meal, but it was worth every penny.

Mailbox Store

After lunch, we went down and found the mailbox store. The gentleman working the desk said that if we brought souvenirs, he would be able to ship them for us. Although we’ve never done this in the past, this is a long trip, and we wanted to send something back to the kids. Off we went, searching for Thai-related products (no food or flammable items) to send home.

The task was not an easy one. There weren’t any souvenir stores, as this mall was mostly for locals. Two shopping hours later, we found enough to fill a small box and headed back to the Mailbox store. The gentleman working the desk highly suggested we use Thai airmail. Although it would be expensive, it was much cheaper than FedEx or UPS. After comparing the numbers, he was right. He helped us with the paperwork, and off the package went. I hope it arrives home before we do.

Package to be shipped from the mall.

Sometimes You Win...

Tonight was our first meal failure. We had hoped to get some pad thai from the lady street vendor we had used before, but she was gone before we returned from the mall. Instead, we tried a Lebanese restaurant near the hotel. Generally, we enjoy Lebanese food, with a fatusch salad being a favorite, but tonight was not the case. The restaurant was clean, and the service was great, but there was some weird spice in our mushroom sandwich that neither of us cared for.

We’ll keep our eye out for the Pad Thai Lady tomorrow!

Water Works

It’s raining buckets this morning, which works for us. We could use a down day and we do have to pack for an early flight tomorrow.

On to our next adventure!