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  1. Bangkok: Showdown Day 1

    Thursday, 5 July 2012

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    It's shopping time again! Not just for the ladies, but for me it's going to be exciting too. Having booked our flight a month earlier on Jetstar, there wasn't much planning to do unlike Taiwan. Small hello's brother's a thailand guru, so we only had one agenda in mind - SHOPPING!!!

    BKK is a shopping haunt of many Singaporeans, so bear with us if you disagree with some of our thoughts, as we try our best to have some information for first timers! And perhaps, even seasoned BKK travelers may find something useful here.

    We took a morning flight at 7.15am and arrived at Suvarnabhumi International Airport at 8.45am. Note: BKK is an hour behind local time! 
    First picture of me with braces on the blog! 

    As usual, we looked for the telecommunication station to get their prepaid card! The telecommunication station is located near the taxi area and you can see it as soon as you exit the customs. There are several telecommunications that you can choose from and we chose True as they had the shortest queue! The prepaid card was really cheap!! For 100 Baht ~ SGD$4, you can get 15 Baht calling time (1 Baht per min), and 1GB FREE data! 
    There are 2 ways of transportation you can travel out to the city from the airport.
    1) Airport Rail Link
    One way trip costs 90 Baht, while round trip costs 150 Baht. Do take note of where the trains stop. Apparently express trains don't stop at every stop. For example, Ratchaprarop is the one nearest to our hotel (Baiyoke boutique), but we didn't take it because of our luggage and laziness haha..
    We can't share much on this as we didn't take it. If you're travelling alone, airport rail link would be a better choice as it's cheaper. However, we feel that the roads in BKK aren't really even, so it would be quite tough to lug your luggage around especially if you're carrying more than 2 pieces. Since we had 4 people, it's much better to take a taxi.

    2) Taxi
    There are meter and non-meter cabs in BKK. We took the non-meter kind from the airport to our hotel at 400 Baht. It was only in the cab that we saw the price list on how meter cabs are based on, and it was then that we realized that 400 Baht was overpriced. Do doubly make sure the taxi is a meter based fare! Don't feel bad about rejecting them.

    My brother recommended hotels in Pratunam area, and so we chose Baiyoke Boutique as they offer triple beds in a room. We booked directly through the hotel as Agoda did not offer triple beds deal. We got the room at 6600 Baht ~ SGD $268 for 3 nights (inclusive of breakfast). Really cheap as Baiyoke Boutique is centrally located right in the heart of Pratunum shopping area close to Thailand tallest hotel “Baiyoke Sky Hotel”, surrounded by retail & wholesale garments and easy walking distance to the very famous Platinium Shopping Mall; very convenient location for the shoppers. Only 30 minutes by car (when there's no traffic) to Suvarnabhumi International Airport and 10 minutes walk to BTS Sky Train at Phayathai Station!
    It's very easy to spot the tower! It lights up at night!

    The room is exactly the same as what the hotel website shows. The toilet is a lil old but clean. The safe and the telephone were both not working so we had to get them changed. There is no wardrobe, but they do provide 3 hangers. Good for short stay! There was, however, a little weird smell, but bearable.

    We had lunch near the hotel and walked around the area. 
    Along the streets are lined with many restaurants, and most of them sell Indian Muslim food. Since they were vegetarian friendly we just headed in. First off, the service was quite poor (I had to take the menu myself) and slow. However, the food was pretty good. The curry was really good tasting, and filled with lots of veggies that were pretty fresh. The Naan is the highlight. Crisp and crunchy, without much oil to it, it's a refreshing dish! Well perhaps that's because I'm not a Nan Guru. Overall, food wouldn't be a problem for us Singaporeans!

    There are lots of small shops near the hotel where you can easily spend 1-2 hours combing each shop. The clothes are really cheap, ranging around 150-300 Baht! If you're getting >3 pieces, you can get it at wholesale price which is around 20-30 Baht cheaper! There are only ladies apparels sold in that area though! 

    The shopping area spans a long street with side branching networks, and this long street leads all the way to Platinum shopping mall.

    Placed my shopping loot back in the hotel before we set off to Chatuchak aka JJ Market!! Took another mode of transport available in BKK - Tuk Tuk!
    The driver was really friendly and chatted with us along the way and sent us to Chatuchak for 40 Baht with supposedly 1 stop. For these drivers to earn extra $$, they would have to send us to these tourist spots and we would have to stay in there for around 10-15min. Previously when my brother took tuktuk, he went in and came out very quickly but the driver did not say anything. This time round, the driver "whined" that we came out too quickly and he can't get the extra cash so he drove us to another stop without us agreeing. We took tuktuk for the experience and according to my brother's experience, the younger drivers are usually more adventurous by taking the smaller lanes and driving in between cars. 
     The nearest BTS station to the more crowded side of Chatuchak
     Filled with locals and tourists

    The quality of the clothes sold at Chatuchak is really quite good. We bought loads of apparel and accessories at cheap prices. As compared to Taiwan, the goods here are about 30-40% cheaper, especially for guys. You can get tees for less than $8, berms for less than $12. If you bother to bargain, you might get even better deals.

     The sizes are also more SG friendly (me being plus sized myself). The place is really big, other than clothes/accessories, they do sell household items and pets there too. There are maps to aid your navigation, but in a nutshell, the market is made up of concentric lanes, and you can choose your route of advance in any way. Either comb outwards, or inwards, or clockwise, or counterclockwise. Just make it systematic so you don't miss any shops.
     Thai Iced Tea - MUST DRINK! Different from the Teh Tarik we drink in SG because the tea taste is much stronger and really rich.
     Popsicles - Great way to cool yourself down BKK's sunny weather. Personal Fav - Sprite!
    Except for my heart dropping experience from eating chicken hearts (an accident which happened due to poor lighting), the street food all smelled pretty good. Downside was the difficulty of identifying what was what since everything was in Thai. Make sure you're buying what you want! 

    That aside, the chicken satay thinggy above tasted quite good, and the stall is quite a big one, near to the Kamphaeng Phet MRT. Only 25 Baht!

    After 4-5 hours of non-stop shopping in Chatuchak, we explored 2 more modes of transport in BKK - BTS and MRT, to reach our dinner place at Thong Lor.  
     Single journey tickets costs around 15-40 Baht depending on the number of zones crossed
     Token to enter!
    Card to enter!
    Make sure you download the system map before you travel to BKK. 
    The BTS/MRT stations do not show the full map!

    My brother brought us to a restaurant that he visits very often - Thonkrueng
    Vegetarian menu available at the restaurant!
    No photos of the food cos we gobbled down our food as we were really hungry from all the walking! Nonetheless, the food was nice though there's lil variety. One thing to note is that their vege food doesn't seem to have egg, so if you want egg, you would need to indicate to them. As Thong Lor is an area where many expats live in, the staff there does understand some English (:

    Green curry, pad thai, carrot cake (with peanuts sprinkled on top) and stir fried veggie were the dishes we had on our first visit. And we would return! Because their green curry is just so awesome. But then again, all green curry sold in Thailand seems to be awesome. In general Thai food, as most people know, would tend to be a little sour, and VERY spicy. So prepare your tastebuds! And if you do have a weak stomach, make sure you have some rice or carbs before you down the spicy dishes.

    Cabbed back to the hotel as we were really tired. Stay tune to Day 2-4 in BKK! :D

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