Friday, January 04, 2008

postcard from j: sawasdee khap, thailand!

Arrival at the Suvarnabhoomi Airport in Bangkok was a relatively good experience. The airport was really humongous, clean and well-maintained. Even though it was quite early in the morning (around 5 or 6 am), the place was buzzing with activity. Since Thailand lets tourists get their visas on arrival, we went in search of the Visa counter. Visa formalities were a breeze (Thanks Naveen… for insisting on just getting them done in Bangkok). Immigration check done and with my first stamp on my passport, I set foot in another country. Super!

David, where art thou?

We had a bit of confusion with our contact point for the transfer to the hotel. We had made bookings for hotels/transfers/some sightseeing with Thomas Cook. At $250 per head, I say we got a good deal from them. And our airfare roughly worked out to INR 18000 per head through an online booking with Indiatimes Travel. As per the Thomas Cook document, we were to go to a specific point and look for a certain Mr. David. Kept going back and forth and finally saw my name on a board some guy was holding up. He asked us to wait as he was looking for some other passengers.

We spotted a restroom and quickly freshened up. The loos were so clean. I love this place already! David asked us to head towards a coach whose driver’s name was Supraath. The young Thai didn’t know much English, so it was very funny when Sneha tried to get some information
from him about where to shop. Sneha had come armed with the greatest advice for Thailand: Shop at MBK Mall (supposedly a shopping paradise). Supraath somehow managed to convey that MBK was close to the hotel we were to be put up in. He drove us to the Ambassador Hotel on Sukhumvit 11 after a longish drive.

Checking in and "checking out"
First images of Bangkok? Long roads, cars, overhead bridges for the BTS (the Sky Train), hoardings… First impressions? I didn’t really feel that I was in another country. Felt a little disappointed with the non-excitement. Isn’t travel supposed to inspire a little awe and wonder?

When we reached the hotel, we were asked to wait for an hour before we could check in. So, we thought, why not explore the street outside and get some breakfast too. Found a nice café next to the hotel itself – the staff and the prices looked friendly. Asked for Twinings tea and sandwiches. Hmmm, delicious stuff... till we saw the bill :(

We left soon – still baffled at how we got charged so much.


It took us a little while to get used to the time difference. Not that it was a huge difference, but none of us wanted to adjust our watches. We still wanted to be on Bombay time, not Bangkok. So, we had to look at our wrists and calculate what the time was. Silly, I know!

We checked in to our hotel the room was good enough for three of us but it had a pathetic view of the hotel's other section being renovated. After a quick freshening up, we headed to the streets and thought of checking out MBK Mall – the biggest mall here.

MBK!!!

What an experience! Shoes, bags
– any style, any colour, most sizes – greeted us when we entered this monster of a mall. Went giddy with the low prices and shopped away. There was this nice store called 'GeoG' which sold all bags for just 199 baht.* Stopped over at McDonald's for a bite: the (beef) deluxe cheeseburger was a super treat.

Tokyu, a mini-mall by itself inside MBK, was a bit of a bore for me. High prices and itsy-bitsy lingerie are not the reasons I came to BKK for.

Feet started complaining after all the walking. I mean, this was the baap of all malls. Thank God I picked up a pair of slippers – they were quite interesting, one black and one white.


Back home, I wouldn't be caught wearing slippers while shopping. But here in Bangkok, anything goes. Especially when it's about comfort. So the next few days, wearing only slippers while walking up and down the malls. Plus, it just gets easier to try on all those funky shoes on display.

We decided to head back to base and have some dinner, which turned out to be a damp squib. Since it was only our first night here, we decided not to get too adventurous with the food. Found an Indian restaurant called "Moghul Room"
– ordered black daal, bhindi and chapattis. For the money we ended up paying, it was totally not worth it – neither for the quantity nor quality.

Back in Room No. 722 on the 7th floor, we watched some news and soon enough hit the sack. Just before that, we managed to call home and tell everyone that we were alive and kicking. Took us a while to find a phone booth. On enquiring at a convenience store, we were told to buy phone cards to make calls. But we weren't sure we would be using them extensively. And definitely not cards worth 300 baht. This internet cafe had an ISD calling facility, so managed to call and check mail for 15-20 minutes.

Day 1 ended with a lot of money spent in the shopping spree.
Day 2 had a Temples Tour lined up. I'm definitely looking forward to that – Buddhist philosophy has always fascinated me. "Desire is the root cause of all sorrow."

Also, my research on the net had suggested the Chatuchak Weekend Market is a must on your travel itinerary. Sawasdee khap, Thailand...

4 Replies:

Anonymous said...

Dying to go on another trip an get a massage.

Ajeesh Koshy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ajeesh Koshy said...

i actually meant 2 say...

hey did u find ur w700i?
i saw u posting sumwhr that u lost it n landed up here...
i lost my w700 2 days back?

i sent a mail 2 cop@vsnl.net...
is there ne specific email id for Pune?

Krshna said...

Hmm, Okay now, this feels a bit wierd, because I lost my mobile phone too (a slick HP iPAQ 512 Smartphone voice messenger) and I just thought I'd follow up whether you got a positive reply from the cops at the mail address at the mobile phone blog, or whether you get your mobile back at least!

ANyways, sorry for the comment, io couldn't resist asking , I love my phone too much !

I saw your photo blog. Great name :) and very very nice pictures :)

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