Live the adventures of Dan Walker's travels through reading his travel journal. The travel journals are listed below in descending order of date. To search the travel journals, use the keyword search at the bottom of the page.
|Wednesday, February 14, 2018 20:24:02|
China, Thailand to Singapore 2018: 3 Bangkok, Thailand
Monday, February 12, 2018 (Continued)
When we landed at BKK, the principal international airport in Bangkok, Thailand, there was no jetway to walk off the plane, it was necessary to carry our luggage down the stairs. In China whenever people saw my cane they immediately gave up a seat for me, or helped with luggage should we have it. Here there was no way – airport employees watched from the bottom of the stairs as I held up the rest of the passengers wrestling my carry on down the stairs. Once inside, though, the cane got us into a shorter immigration line.
I changed $100 at the airport to get taxi money and to serve until I understood where the best rates would be available. Taxis are very well organized – a slip of paper is given out with the driver's name and ID number on it, and the number of the spot where his car will be. When we reached the assigned spot a taxi pulled in shortly after we arrived. Leaving the airport the driver had to have his ID card scanned, so they keep a pretty tight control. The trip cost was on the meter, with me paying for road tolls.
We arrived at the Prince Hotel and eventually found our way to the front door. It was necessary to take an elevator to the 10th floor to check in, and then walk for what seemed like miles to get to an elevator that took us to our room on the 26th floor of another tower. It took awhile to master the winding path through various corridors, restaurants and meeting rooms. We did eventually find our way back to the swimming pool area where there was an outdoor bar/restaurant for a light dinner and drinks. It was nice to sit outside in light clothes and be caressed by a soft, warm breeze.
Tuesday, February 13, 2018
After catching up on email and getting some photos downloaded we went to the luggage area to confirm that we could leave a suitcase full of cold weather cloths with them. I had made the arrangement when booking the rooms, and Khiri Travel, who arranged most of this trip, confirmed the arrangement by phone. However, a very officious little man made it very clear that he would do no such thing, and that arrangements made with others did not concern him, as he was in charge of this area. With a few notable exceptions, this type of surly attitude was found throughout the hotel, which largely deals with Chinese mass tourism and conferences. Few employees spoke English. I'd definitely not recommend the hotel. The suite we had was pretty shabby, although the cleaning ladies were nice.
I discovered that I had booked the hotel for one too few nights. We took the elevator up 10 floors to reception only to be informed that there were no rooms available – this is Chinese New Year and millions of Chinese travel. Expedia came through with a number of rooms near the Don Mueang Airport, from where we fly to Chiang Rai on Thursday. We booked a room costing $38, which looked good in the photos, at the intriguing sounding Louis' Tavern Hotel. It will be interesting to see what we get.
Once this crisis was resolved, Marilynn and I walked a short way to a good sized market that sold mostly clothes at very reasonable prices. We still haven't changed more money, but even so Marilynn made purchases at bargain prices and we still had money left. The market seemed to deal with mainly locals, many buying at wholesale prices of 25% off for 3 or more of an item.
I contacted Khiri Travel, who set up an interesting tour for us tomorrow. They will pick us up at the Prince Hotel, do a tour, drop off our winter wear suitcase at our next hotel in Bangkok and take us to Louis' Tavern Hotel at the end of the day.
Wednesday, February 14, 2018
After breakfast, as we were checking out, our guide for today introduced himself. They had a 12 seat van for the two of us. Our first stop was the Grand Palace complex where we had been cautioned that dress regulations were long pants for men, and conservative dress for women that included clothes that went to the ankles but no tights. That left Marilynn in a bit of a problem, however in front of the entrance women were selling pants or wraps that would do the job, so Marilynn bought a wrap with an elephant motif to cover her tights for 100 baht, about $3.30.
The complex of palaces built by centuries of Thai kings is amazing. There must be truckloads of gold leaf on the outside of the many palaces, temples, giant stupas and ceremonial buildings that cover the huge royal area. Our guide was great at showing us through the complex in spite of the thousands of tourists. Most were in famous oriental mass groups with a flag bearing guide leading a pack of dozens on a route march through the complex. The last place we visited contained a giant, gold reclining Buddha. The head propped up on an arm stood about 3 stories high and the length was almost a city block.
Lunch was at the nearby fabulous Riva Arun Restaurant, where we ate in the roof top restaurant over looking the Chao Pra River. The meal was pre-ordered by Khiri Travel, with 4 courses of a total of 7 dishes, each with with brilliant flavours neither of us had experienced before. They also have a hotel on the lower floors that would be a good choice to stay. They can be contacted by email email@example.com.
Across the street from the restaurant we boarded a long-tail boat for a tour of some of the canal system which runs through many residential areas. It is amazing to see how many temples there are – they seem little more than a city block apart, and some are huge. It would take a lot of donations to keep these complexes financed. Most people here follow the Buddhist faith. There were a lot of boats on the river, many with a car sized engine balanced on a steering rod that has the propeller on the other end, a couple of meters behind the boat, thus being called "long tailed". The go like a scared rabbit!
The boat tour ended at a temple complex that we explored before taking a passenger ferry across the river to where our driver picked us up. The ferry fare was 4 baht, or about 2 US cents. We drove in heavy traffic to the Chatrium Hotel where Khiri Travel had arranged for us to leave our large winter clothes suitcase, then back in heavy traffic to our $38 hotel room near the Don Mueang Airport. The Louis' Tavern Hotel was a truly pleasant surprise – large, clean rooms far better equipped with amenities than the Prince Hotel, good wifi, friendly helpful staff and a comfortable restaurant and bar with good service and food. I needed photocopies, and these were done at reception at no charge. We booked the hotel through Expedia, but to book direct their website is www.louistavernhotel-bkk.com and email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thursday, February 15, 2018
An excellent buffet breakfast was included in the room price. The hotel has a shuttle that runs to Don Mueang Airport every two hours, but the 8 AM was booked and the 10 AM too late for us so reception arranged a taxi that arrived 5 minutes before our 9 AM departure. This hotel is truly one of the great bargains! The taxi fare was $4.
It took 15 minutes to get to the airport, where there was no line for a quick efficient check in on Nok Air. Security was quick and easy, so we were at our gate 2 hours before flight time.