Monday, December 10, 2018

Bangkok 2018 - 4 Days, 5 Nights' Itinerary to the Capital of Thailand!

Out of the 20 over travel itineraries posted in this blog, three were on Bangkok but since the last one was in 2016; i thought the time is now apt for me to provide an update although this would be a relatively scaled down version without my typical yet detailed per-day posting!

There will still be separate entries on new places i visited (like Or Tor Kor market), including updates to popular destinations in Bangkok; e.g. my all-time favourite Chatuchak weekend market. For reference on what we did daily, please refer to the list below.

- Tailoring Shirts & Pants @ Galaxy Tailor
- Short Stay at Platinum Mall and CentralWorld

Day 2
- Terminal 21 Shopping Mall

Day 3

Day 4
- Big C Shopping Centre


Day 0 (Thursday, 08 November 2018)
I have no choice but to come out with a day zero as i would be travelling to Bangkok right after work! Frankly, i purposely planned this way so that i can have a better rest by arriving at night to check in to the hotel; enduring an early morning flight has been found to affect my mood the following day!

Bright lights of Bangkok greeted us at about 11.15 pm; it's actually my second trip to the capital of Thailand this year! I am now contemplating if i should learn the Thai language since i visit so often.

We flew by Scoot and arrived 10 minutes ahead of schedule (at 11.20 pm) at Don Mueang International Airport. In addition to the cheaper airfare (for landing at Don Muang Airport), the airport is closer to the city and given our late flight;  key priority was to get to our hotel as early as possible.

By the time we reached our choice of accommodation (Kritthai Residence) via taxi from the airport; it's already 12.30 am! We were exhausted and quickly washed up before throwing ourselves onto the comfortable bed! *snore*


Day 1 (Friday, 09 November 2018)
All rise and shine for breakfast! I didn't have that great a sleep as the sound proofing for the hotel was rather bad and i started hearing, from maybe about 7.30-8.00 am, the persistent whistling from the traffic controller working for the office building next door!

I am the only one who was so affected by the whistling as my two other friends were perfectly fine; they claimed they didn't hear anything until i pointed it out. Anyway, Kritthai Residence is conveniently located next to the National Stadium BTS; the upward escalator (exit 1) was directly outside the residence's entrance!

Navigating Bangkok's canal boat service! I have used it before and i can guarantee you that aside from being wallet-friendly, the journey is usually faster than taking the BTS, MRT or taxis. More is shared here!

Bangkok Hospital - please be assured that we didn't have an accident! After alighting at Thong Lo pier, we walked to this part of the city as one of our intentions for this trip was to make shirts and pants.

Remember Galaxy Tailor? We were pleased with the bespoke shirts and pants made in April and returned for some alterations, and to tailor more shirts and pants!

Galaxy Tailor has moved from the previous location near Asoke MRT station and while the new store is not near any MRT / BTS station, GRAB is always an option and Bangkok Hospital is a landmark in that area! For more specific directions, however, Galaxy Tailor is next to Holiday Inn Express Bangkok Soi Soonvijai and right opposite Amari Residences Bangkok.

We tried walking from Thong Lo pier and it took us 15 minutes! Hence, for our next destination, we opted for GRAB; glad we did as it started drizzling!

Lunch at Nhong Rim Klong - it's famous for providing affordable local Thai dishes with generous serving of seafood, specifically crab! An overdose on crabs from the three main dishes would be the correct sentiment after the meal and to be truthful, all three of us were not fascinated with what we ordered; except for maybe the crab fried rice.

If you have time, check out the vine-covered building next to Nhong Rim Klong. It housed Kaffe 50; a vintage-decorated coffee place where you can also buy the furniture / decorations. Review score on Google was spectacular at 4.7 over 22 reviews but sadly, we were too full to squeeze in coffee / desserts.

Adorable street dog along the way! As our tummies were so bloated; we opted to walk to Chan Issara pier to take the canal boat. Walking is good for digestion, as my mummy always says.

A hilarious incident took place here - we actually requested for takeaway for a crab dish from Nhong Rim Klong that we couldn't finish and Alex was twirling the plastic bag when the bottom broke, with our takeaway flying into the locked compound of a factory!

We definitely had a good laugh over the incident but it was so Alex Chiu; he has that unavoidable tendency to have such things happening to him. Hahaha.

At Chan Issara pier - this specific canal, known as Khlong Saen Saeb, is the largest in Bangkok and stretched about 17 kilometers from Panfa Leelard Pier to Wat Sriboonreung Pier!

Alighted at Pratunam interchange for the canal boat as we would like to visit one of Singaporeans' favourite shopping haunts in Bangkok; Platinum Mall.

It's catered more for the fairer sex but men would still be able to get some shopping (for t-shirts, pants, underwear etc) done. Try to schedule your visit on a weekday (as we did) as the crowds on weekends can be ridiculously large!

Floor directory of Platinum Mall for your reference.

I didn't buy anything for myself although i did manage to get the aprons (without pockets) that my mom had been looking for, for a long, long time!

Taking the bridge connecting Platinum Mall to Centralworld shopping mall; this bridge has been around for quite a few years i think but it's my first time crossing it! Convenient and much safer as compared to the old times where the narrow pathway was just beside the busy main road.

Guardian shrines of Centralworld; Trimurti Shrine on the left, housing the god of love and Ganesh Shrine on the right, honouring the god of success!

Centralworld didn't excite me as much as it did in the past and after a while, we got bored and wanted to chill at Krispy Kreme cafe (Alex remembered how yummy the hot chocolate was); i was ecstatic to find out there's a store within the mall but it turned out to be a takeaway counter. :(

Menu for your reference; pricing in Singapore for Krispy Kreme is just too expensive at more than doubled the price we would have paid for in Bangkok and Malaysia.

Proceeded to our next destination via the overhead pedestrian bridge from Centralworld to Siam BTS station; chanced upon this LOL Market by Lazada.

99% ladies' stuff.

Our first animal cafe for this trip; the Little Zoo Cafe which has dogs (no less than 3 corgis), cats, chinchillas, cockatoo, meerkat, rabbit, fennec fox, raccoon, arctic foxes!

MBK Centre - another shopping mall that i used to visit every time i was in Bangkok! With so many shopping centres in the city, it's important for a mall to have that uniqueness (e.g. Terminal 21) and / or wow factor; for example, exclusive stores.

One thing that Singapore can take a leaf from Bangkok is the construction of overhead pedestrian bridges that connects the shopping centres; underground passages are just too claustrophobic!

Beautiful artwork near the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre.

I was tasked by my younger sister to check out Harmenstone; a store selling handcrafted gemstone accessories at Siam Discovery but i couldn't find the store. Another day it shall be then.

Quenching my thirst with a bottle of lemongrass and pandan drink from Soontra Fruit & Herbal Drinks store! You can find the store in some of the BTS stations like National Stadium / Asoke etc.

Back to Kritthai Residence for a rest and we were lucky to step in right before it started pouring! Nice weather for us to sleep in but i can't afford to lose time when i am overseas!

Tried to GRAB to our dinner venue but the drivers were all too busy! We eventually took a metered taxi; one thing i realized after visiting Bangkok so often is that the taxi drivers nowadays would willingly switch on the meter. In the past, i always have to haggle with them on the pricing they demanded.

Making shirts / pants at Galaxy Tailor was one reason for returning to Bangkok for the second time this year. Another equally motivating factor was the above; all three of us missed the delicious taste of the unforgettable phad thai from Thipsamai! Maybe due to the earlier rain, we got in after queuing for less than 10 minutes!

Took the taxi again! Before we left Thipsamai, we were deliberating over visiting the new ICONSIAM (which was having its opening that same day) or Asiatique night market.

Asiatique the Riverfront Night Market won as we figured it might be too crowded at ICONSIAM and as with mall openings nowadays, it's usually in phases.


Day 2 (Saturday, 10 November 2018)
Breakfast time at Kritthai Residence! Alex was super happy to know that i have added breakfast this trip as i usually don't have breakfast and many hotels' breakfast offerings can't make it. Turned out i made the right move as the breakfast at the residence was darn delicious!

Another picture showing how close Kritthai Residence was to the National Stadium BTS.

We took the BTS even though where i needed to go was just a station away. I was all for walking but the lazy bum (Alex, in case you are wondering) insisted he didn't want to expend his energy.

A Glico Pocky event that Alex should have participated as he always buys pocky and whenever he is in Bangkok, he will buy like a dozen boxes for himself.

At Siam Centre; i got the mall wrong for the location of Harmenstone. My sister requested that i checked the pricing as it was said to be cheaper in the physical stores. After about 30 minutes of meticulous calculation, it turned out that the deals were better online! Tsk tsk tsk.

Taking the BTS again.

Would you like to guess where we would be going? The hint is weekend as this place only operates on Saturdays and Sundays; that's the reason why i always plan my Bangkok trips to take place across the weekend.

The humongous, happening and lively Chatuchak Weekend Market! I have said it before and i would say it again; i can spend literally hours in this market and a personal record is from 10.00 am till about 7.00 pm!

Even my friends couldn't manage my pace and gave up shopping in less than four hours! They insisted on taking a rest back at Kritthai Residence whereas i decided to proceed out alone; no way am i going to waste my time sleeping when there's so much more to see outside!

Explored the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre; interesting art installation (Basket Tower) featuring plastic baskets by Mr Choi Jeong Hwa from South Korea, as part of the Bangkok Art Biennale 2018.

This mural fronting the facade of Bangkok Art and Culture Centre is "Asian Workers Covered" by Mr Ralf Tooten from Germany. The background for this artwork is to "transforms local and migrant workers who are often overlooked as anonymous into people with pride and dignity." We need this artwork in Singapore.

I went MBK Centre! Nothing much that caught my attention although i managed to find the preserved guava with chilli padi that my colleague loves so much!

Met up with my friends to take the BTS and i found the above; the way to get to ICONSIAM! Two of my colleagues went Bangkok after me and it's true that you can take a shuttle boat at Saphan Taksin; like the way you do for Asiatique.

Dinner at Terminal 21 - where else but Pier 21 food court! At the same time, we couldn't resist checking out the Thai temple festival they have on the ground and basement level. Despite having a full meal, we also took on the tender grilled pork and the garlic and butter toasts from Punbun!

Back to Galaxy Tailor again to test our newly minted shirts and pants! The lady in the next store so cute sia; upon knowing i was taking a picture of Galaxy Tailor, she photo-bombed it!

As our items had yet to arrive, we walked across to Amari Residences Bangkok where we indulged in desserts at Buttercup Cafe! Come to think about it; that's a lot of food we had been eating for the past few hours.

Tested our shirts and pants which were a perfect fit! Guess i would be back to Galaxy Tailor the next time i visit! Heard from the owners that they might come to Singapore for a test and fit for some of their corporate clients; maybe i can choose my materials then and collect from them when i am next in Bangkok. A perfect excuse for making another trip!

I indicated this night market in my itinerary even though i wasn't that keen to check it out as it's quite out of the way. However, Galaxy Tailor, among all the places i intended to go, is the nearest and we thought it would be a pity if we were to decide to give it a miss. Hence, let me present to you the local Hua Mum Night Market.

Interestingly, there was this restaurant with muscular guys in lingerie in Hua Mum Night Market! I saw it on video before and didn't think i would chance upon it!


Day 3 (Sunday, 11 November 2018)
I just had to show you the breakfast we had every morning at Kritthai Residence! That's not mine by the way as i don't take baked beans and am not a fan of soft omelettes.

Cha Tra Mue - a popular Thai tea brand in Thailand and many tourists would buy packs of their pre-packed Thai tea as souvenirs. It's legit nice and like the many tourists i mentioned earlier, i bought quite a few packs back to Singapore.

By the way, we were back at Chatuchak Weekend Market! The few hours we spent the day before were disappointing but knowing my friends' stamina, i focused on what i wanted and while i could have benefited from a longer period; i only stayed for less than three hours.

Well, it's alright as the weather was hot and humid and we cut across to a nearby market via the MRT underpass at Kamphaeng Phet MRT station. Known as the world's 4th best fresh market, Or Tor Kor Market is also the place where i had my first taste of Thai durian!

I wouldn't have dared to walk along this quiet stretch of road at night but this road would lead us to our second animal cafe; one that centres on felines.

Mohu Mohu Cat Cafe! Residing in a terrace house, it was such a relaxing cafe that 90% of the cats were sleeping; even i was almost caught by the sleeping bug!

We exited within an hour and took a cab back to Kritthai Residence where we could unload our shopping. Note the Victory Monument in the above photo that i captured while in the taxi!

Again, both my friends wanted to take a rest in the hotel; guess the atmosphere at Mohu Mohu Cat Cafe had played a part! For me, i opted to have my first Thai massage on this trip, at the nearby Lek Massage House.

Met up with my (refreshed) friends after my massage and since we have yet to take the iconic Tuk Tuk; why not make a short trip? Always remember to negotiate for a better price!

While my friends joined the dinner queue which numbered around 30 persons, i ventured out to the nearby streets and the above caught my attention; the Giant Swing. Check out the pictures here.

Strolled past this place filled with Buddhist statues. Some of you might not be aware that such religious statues have to be blessed before you can pray to them. If not, they would just be empty vessels.

Whatever the case, i arrived right on time for, once again, pad thai time at Thipsamai! Knowing i would miss the food when i am back in Singapore, i even resorted to buying a few ready-to-cook padthai sets from the restaurant....

Chinatown - a regular fixture on my trips to Bangkok, the main objective was to purchase food souvenirs from this particular shop (合記林真香) that i have patronized since my first visit. Side objectives would be food; bird's nest and shark's fin soup!

The night wasn't concluded at Chinatown. As the night was still young, we boarded the BTS to the vice district of Bangkok; Patpong Night Market and its surroundings! We even found a street stall selling 10 baht tender grilled pork near the night market! Ended our last night in Bangkok with booze at a bar in the red light district. :P


Day 4 (12 November 2018)
Taking the cab again as it's the last day of our trip and we must make full use of the time! That pixelated building is the 314.2 meter King Power MahaNakhon! Opened in 2016, i actually mentioned about it in my 6-day Bangkok travelogue two years ago! 

Back in Chinatown again as my friend needed to buy some stuff for his colleague and the shop was already closed when we went the night before. Frankly, i prefer to explore Chinatown in the daytime, especially its wholesale market along Sampeng Lane.

Random photo. 

Quite a number of coincidences took place on this trip; i was reading about this unique cafe in Bangkok before my trip and i happened to walk past on my way out of Chinatown; the Lhong Tou Cafe with its captivating seat layout that reminded me of coolie quarters in the past! 




Kuan Yin Shrine that's under the Thian Fa Foundation; though established only in 1902, there's a statue within said to be made of teak and over 800 years old. Pity i only know about this information now, via this article

I think there's a hospital within the temple as the plaque clearly indicated hospital in Chinese.

Main archway signaling entry to Chinatown! Right behind is Wat Traimit; famous for its Gold Buddha which was estimated to be worth over 250 million dollars! It's worth a visit if you are in the vicinity! 

Since we were quite close in distance, i managed to persuade the two friends to join me for another round of meal at Chong Kee Pork Satay! Yes, i think it's hard to lose weight when i am overseas on a free and easy tour. 

Made our way to Big C Supercenter where many people would stock up on food and snacks! Its concept would be similar to the Lotte Mart in South Korea

I was very conservative; not because i don't want to buy. Reason being i have the feeling that my luggage might have already reached its limit and i still have pressing items to buy... Wouldn't want a recurrence of what happened in Taiwan

The pressing items were requested by my dearest mom and some of you would know i would try my best to accommodate to her requests. This time, her request arose from the Bangkok trip my elder sister made; she brought back a pack of collagen rice milk soap that my mom likes a lot. 

Other places do sell the soap but this particular shop at Big C Supercenter sold it the cheapest at only 120 baht a pack! The quotes i got from others ranged from 150-200 baht and the cheapo in me could never stomach paying so much more, especially when i knew a trip to Big C is also part of my itinerary. p.s. i got a few packs of lemongrass and pandan too. 

Nice Alex helping me with my bags of shopping! It's beneficial to have him around since he doesn't shop much. Only problems are that he loves to go back to the hotel to rest (a waste of time) and he doesn't eat much (means i can't order too much / i have to eat a lot).

Use your imagination.

14 Pumpkins by Ms Yayoi Kusama from Japan; represented by her signature polka dots style, i do regret not going for her exhibition when it was showcased in Singapore. 

Since we are on the topic of Japan; why not a soba lunch at Sagami Soba? We were attracted by the words "No 1 Soba Restaurant" although it wasn't clearly stated as to the exact area where it's number one. Is it a town, a city, a country, a region or the whole wide world?!   

Another go at Thai durian! This second experience taught me an important lesson; never eat Thai durian the way we do in Singapore / Malaysia! Click here to read more. 

The Thai durian was sponsored by the vouchers given to Singaporeans by the Tourism Authority of Thailand! Given the popularity of Thailand among Singaporeans, let's hope for more of such fantastic deals in the future! 

A short 30-minute back, neck and shoulder massage at Lek Massage House! Thanks to Alex for volunteering to pay for the hotel extension so that i can have a quick shower before we checked out of Kritthai Residence.

We booked the private airport shuttle from the hotel at 450 Thai baht per car! Thank god we managed to squeeze everything into the car. If there were four of us, we would likely have to fork up more for a bigger vehicle.

Random.

Our return flight would depart from Suvarnabhumi Airport, not Don Maung! For departure, i prefer Suvarnabhumi as the airport is newer with more retail outlets. We would need the retail therapy as we prefer to arrive earlier to avoid the risk of missing a flight due to unavoidable conditions like traffic jams.

The iconic tug-of-war scene after checking in. We checked in via the fast boarding lane for Singaporeans and i don't find the time saved was substantial as you still need to queue up to get your passport stamped. 

Alex trying to act cool.

Our dinner place; the usual area comprising of a few outlets like Burger King, Dairy Queen, Pizza Company. Prices were exorbitant; in future, i must make a mental note to eat at the outlets in the public area.

Going to the boarding gate! 

My boarding pass - i would have loved to go home earlier as it would be midnight when i reached my flat in Yishun. However, the price differentials were too wide and i am happy to state that i managed to turn up for work on time the next day.

Leaving soon! The good thing about night flights is that i don't have much things to take photographs of since the low lighting would be a challenge for amateur photographers like me. 

Duty free liquor - a must do whenever i travel back to Singapore! In the past, i wouldn't get beer but now that i have taken a liking to alcoholic drinks, i make it a point to stock up! 

Lastly, a picture of my haul for the trip! 

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