Saturday, January 8, 2011

Wandering around Thailand - The Land of Smiles

{Post from April 2009 trip} I made myself a promise that I would try to visit a foreign country, once a year. And it has been that way since 2007. It’s a good thing that work finds me every time, so it immediately makes-up for all the expenses I’ve made. And although I end up going broke after a trip, God always makes a way for me to go back on track. And every year, he blesses me another trip to look forward to, just like my first trip to Bangkok, Thailand.

I was still working for a fashion company then when I decided to invite my friend Clarice for a vacation. And since she hasn’t been out of the country for five years now, she decided to finally end her 5-yr streak. And so, a month before our trip, I booked us both plane tickets and accommodations via Cebu Pacific’s Fun Tours.


I booked our flight on Clarice’s birthday. But of course, she didn’t celebrate it 30,000 feet above sea level. She actually ended her special day in the plane. But nonetheless, we celebrated further by eating some late Phad Thai dinner at a bar by Khao San Road --– the backpacker’s haven.

But before we even got to our accommodations by Khao San, we made tour reservations by the Suvarnabhumi Customer Service Lobby. We booked a City and Temple tour under Great Bangkok Travel and Co. Bookings, since they offered a promo that we could not resist. It was actually a good idea to book at that time (lucky girl caught us in our groggy selves, thus making us real vulnerable with those cheap deals!), as it would start our day on an active mode right away. 

We got into a cab afterwards, and finally made our way to Sawasdee Inn after an hour' s worth of travel. Take note, our cab fare was about 300 Baht from the airport to our accommodations. 


Our room at Sawasdee Inn by Khao San Road looked like a dormitory. Our room was on the third floor, so we had to carry our heavy luggages all the way up as the inn had no elevators. We were actually disappointed with the room that we booked under Cebu Pacific, since it looked really cheap for the price that they offered.

We got a small room that didn’t look maintained. The bed sheet looked a bit dirty, and there were a few insects in the room. The sink wasn’t even in the bath room, but was placed inside the room (situated by a window). Apart from that, our bathroom was also very small, and we had an improvised sprinkler-like device for a shower. The CR area was so small that you can actually take a bath while sitting on the toilet. Sounds icky but it’s true. It was a totally uncomfortable encounter. But then again, we just charged it to experience. The 4 nights that we spent inside that room wasn't that cozy, especially given the price that we paid for. Good thing though was that the A/C was working at full blast.

Now, if you are staying in Bangkok, you have the option to stay at Mad Monkey Hostels. Make sure you check out the Best Hostel Bangkok near Khao San.


Clarice and I started our day (the next day rather) real early, despite having only 4 hours of sleep. We ate our breakfast at 7 AM (complimentary American breakfast from Sawasdee Inn), and got picked-up for our tour a few minutes later.


The service from this travel agency looked all high-profile. Their tour guides were all dressed in matching white long sleeved polo’s, and an ID with their full names on. They also provided a private car for us, and brought us to our destinations on time. 

Our tour guide knew how to speak in English. But he still had a hard time communicating several words to us. Nonetheless, our guide Macky was very professional and was really accommodating. Oh by the way, we were able to visit the following sites via the tour: a City tour, the Grand Palace, the Wat Po temple (where the reclining Buddha is), and a few gem galleries.


After our morning tour, we ate at this authentic Thai place just across the Grand Palace. And since we had a good time with Macky's services, we booked another tour under his agency (booked the Grand Palace tour and Night Cruise). Although we weren’t assured that we’ll get Macky for our tour again, we knew that the agency will still take care of us.


It rained really hard that night so we were a bit worried on whether the tour will push through or not. Rain or shine, it still did. So Clarice and I were really happy about not getting ripped off. So after we got picked up by this white van (with ten other people inside), we headed straight to the pier.

I think it was about 8 or 9 in the evening when we reached the pier. But as soon as we got our tickets, we were asked to stand beside this lady in a Thai costume for a quick cruise picture. After that, we headed straight to the boat to look for our table. We were in luck as our table was by the window; and we were immediately given free cocktails to start the night off. 

We had a spectacular view of the river. But aside from the scenery, the view of the buffet dinner table was amazing too! What was even more amazing was that they offered different cuisines from all over the world.

Anyhow, the night river cruise sailed for about an hour. But before it docked, Clarice and I went up the boat’s deck to take some photos. Soon after, Clarice asked to have her picture taken with the Filipina Singer on board the cruise ship. 


Before calling it a night (after coming home from the night cruise), we booked another tour --- but this time with our hotel. We booked a Pattaya day trip that cost us only 1500 Baht.

Our third day in Bangkok started with a complimentary American breakfast again, and then a tour at Pattaya soon after. We were picked-up real early again for the road trip but we were prepared to look our best this time. 

The tour started with only me, Clarice, and a French couple. So we basically had the van all to ourselves. Anyhow, the trip to Pattaya was more or less 2 hours. And as soon as we set foot on Pattaya, we were immediately directed to board a small boat bound for the White Beach. This island tour was managed by this mean Indian tour guide. So another mishap right there. Then again, the white beach made up for this bad encounter.

We actually had to ride two kinds of boat. We rode the first boat for about 5 to 10 minutes. And then boarded a yacht. We had to wait for 30 minutes more since there were a few tourists from our tour that availed of the paragliding activity. So when they finally had theirs done, we sailed again. We probably got to the White Beach just in time for lunch.

OK, so lunch was so-so. Lunch was included in the tour that we paid for --- but we really didn’t get to enjoy much of the dishes that they served us (mostly fish viands). 

We picked a spot in the white sand beach right after lunch. The chairs that had umbrellas were offered for a fee. And since we were on a budget, we opted not to get one. Although we were a bit worried about leaving our things behind while we swam. We just took our chances.

We had a lot of fun. And the water was really warm. And there was this Indian guy who kept following us, and kept asking questions. He just finally left us when I said that I was already married, and that Clarice was already engaged. Laugh-trip! But the bad things during that tour didn’t end there. We also had a mishap with the bathing arrangements, as there were no showers. Also, the kids who brought us our pail of water, actually charged us for it! Boo! Okay, so we left soon after, and then probably got back in the city around 5 pm. We had some more time to kill before heading back to Bangkok, so we asked our driver to drop us at Gem’s Gallery. We stayed at the gallery for about 2 hours since Clarice bought a ring that had to be resized. I bought one as well. Anyway, we headed back to Bangkok around 7:30, and arrived at about 10 pm.

We got back in Bangkok really hungry, so we made an effort to go around our area to look for a fast food chain. Good enough, Burger King resurfaced right before our eyes. And what was good about its location was that it was a stone throw away from the night market. Serendipitous! So after some BK dinner at BKK, we walked across and started shopping. We probably finished around midnight. And when the stalls started to close down, we too started our journey back to our crappy accommodations. But before heading back to Sawasdee, we grabbed a few drinks at a nearby Bar. We probably came home at around 3 in the morning.


Our last day in Bangkok was saved for some whole-day shopping. After eating breakfast at Sawasdee, we went back to our room to do some final packing. But before heading out to shop, we checked-out of the inn and had our luggages stored for the day. Soon after, we scouted for a nice restaurant in time for lunch. Our feet eventually lead us to an Australian owned restaurant. But of course, the food was still curry dishes and all that. 

We also took the Tuk-Tuk after, and went down near the Platinum Fashion Mall. Our bonding experience at the mall was definitely a lot of fun.

I won’t be divulging any more details as to what transpired during our shopping escapade. But it was a happy experience, and I was glad Clarice enjoyed shopping in this ‘Divisoria’ like haven. 


We got in probably 4 hours early from our supposed check-in time. But it was better to be early than late, right? So before settling in, we had our dinner at Tate’s Café (inside the airport), and then made our way to the ticketing counter. As soon as we did, we waited another 2 hours before flying back to Manila.

And so here ends my BKK adventure. I was really happy that I got to I spend those 4 days with my good friend Clarice. I'm also very grateful to God, for he kept the two of us safe throughout our backpacking trip. 

And as always, another Travel Expense Sheet for sharing. =) Hope it helps in one of your future vacations in this beautiful country! Until then…

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