I’ve been meaning to write entries for this blog of mine but I’ve been busy with school and org work so I decided that my first entry will be about our trip to Bangkok.
We left for Bangkok last October 27 aboard the Cebu Pacific flight 5J 929 and we arrived at Bangkok a little past 9 AM, Bangkok Time (Thailand and Philippines have a one hour time difference, with Philippines being ahead). It’s always been a habit of mine to take photos of the airport with its name as the plane lands. Almost all of the airports I’ve landed at had a name I can take a photo of from the window of the plane. Unfortunately, Suvarnabhumi wasn’t one of them so I had to content myself with this photo:
Suvarnabhumi Airport isn’t as fabulous as HKIA or Changi but it has its own charms. Along the walls of the airport are paintings, which I assume, show Thai culture and places. I wasn’t able to take a lot of photos because we were on a moving walkway (which were actually quite fast).
After we were done with immigration and customs stuff, we walked around the airport looking for our transfer to our hotel. From the airport, we traveled for around 15-20 minutes before we reached our hotel – Diamond City Hotel. The Front Desk lady was nice enough to let us check into our room even though it was just 10 AM. She even showed us a map and recommended places where we can go (Chatuchak Weekend Market, MBK, Siam Square, etc.).
At around 11 AM, we decided to go to MBK Shopping Center. This is one of the largest malls in Bangkok… MOA has nothing to say against MBK. It. Was. Huge. Heck, it has a map of its own!
According to the lady in the front desk, MBK was just a 15-minute walk away so we did go there by walking. It WAS near but the scorching heat of Bangkok (plus, it was around noon) made the walk feel like 30 minutes. Also, we walked because we have been warned of the horrible traffic in Bangkok, which we experienced during our transfer to the hotel. HAHA.
We had our lunch here. Since it was our first day in Bangkok, I wanted to eat some authentic Thai food. So we ordered some Tom Yum…
And some fried rice with shrimp.
We did some pasalubong shopping in MBK before we decided to head back to the hotel. On our way back, we noticed that the walkway from MBK is connected to another mall on the opposite side of the street – Siam Discovery. Since we were already there, we went to Siam Discovery and checked it out. Unlike MBK, which was sort of like Divisoria where there were (quite literally) hundreds and hundreds of stalls selling almost the same things, Siam Discovery was more of the Greenbelt of Bangkok. The mall, which was quite smaller compared to MBK, was filled with designer brands. After a few minutes of looking around, we decided to go back to our hotel.
We wanted to go to Chatuchak Market. It was a weekend market so the only chance we could go there was on our first day (which was a Sunday) but since we were too tired from our trip (perks of a 6:35 AM flight), we decided not to go anymore. We spent our first evening resting at our hotel room. We even ordered room service for dinner because we were really tired and we didn’t want to go out anymore. 😛
The next day, we were up early because we were going to get picked up for our Temples Tour. There were only four people on our tour. My mom and I, plus two Australian guys. Our first stop was Wat Traimit, the Temple of the Golden Buddha.
According to our tour guide, the Buddha statue here was initially covered with concrete (probably to conceal the fact that it is made of solid gold). It was only discovered to be made of gold when the concrete covering was broken when it was being transferred.
The Golden Buddha is a 5-ton golden statue. It was amazing.
Aside from the giant Golden Buddha, the temple also has several other images of Buddha surrounding the big golden one. It was really just fascinating. Of all the temples we went to in Bangkok, this one is my favorite.
Our next stop was Wat Pho, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. Though gold in color, the Reclining Buddha isn’t made of gold. Our tour guide mentioned what it was made of but I already forgot. HAHA. Anyway, the Reclining Buddha may not be made of gold but it certainly makes up for it with its size. The statue is 15 meters high and about 50 meters long!
Its feet is covered with some inscriptions/symbols made from mother of pearl. The feet are so massive I couldn’t take just one photo of it.
Wat Pho does not only house the Reclining Buddha. It’s actually a pretty huge area full of other Buddha statues and a monastery for monks. We were actually able to witness Buddhist monks during a prayer ceremony. Thankfully, tourists were allowed to come inside the temple and witness the ceremony. It was so peaceful and lovely. It was amazing to see Thai, more so, Buddhist culture happening in front of your eyes.
Next, we went to the Royal Grand Palace. We were welcomed by this (forgive me for not knowing what this is called HAHA) :
I’ll start off by saying this: The Grand Palace is a huuuuuuuge place. According to the brochure they are handing out upon entrance, the palace covers an area of 218,000 square meters. Inside it is the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew), royal residence and throne halls, and a number of government offices. Unfortunately, our tour only includes a visit to the Wat Phra Kaew, the Coronation Hall and Royal Funeral Hall. Of these places, only in Wat Phra Kaew were we allowed to take photos but only from outside (we can’t take a photo of the Emerald Buddha from inside the temple).
So, yes, Wat Phra Kaew.
Before we went to the actual temple that houses the Emerald Buddha, we saw quite a lot of other structures. I know I’ve been saying this over and over again but I don’t think I’ll stop saying this: They are so beautiful.
The place also houses a mini replica of Angkor Wat (found in Cambodia).
So, the main temple:
Fun fact: The Emerald Buddha is not really made of emerald, but rather of Jade.
Its clothes, however, are made of gold. According to our tour guide, the clothes of the statue are changed depending on the season of Thailand – summer, rainy and winter. When we visited, the Emerald Buddha was wearing the rainy season attire. The Prince of Thailand is the one responsible for the changing of the Buddha’s clothes.
After finishing here, we went on to go to other places in the Grand Palace grounds. We went to the Coronation Hall and the Funeral Hall. Sadly, in both places, taking of photos were not allowed. 😦
After finishing here, we then went to our last stop for the tour: Wat Benchamabophit (The Marble Temple). The temple is made of, obviously, marble.
It houses A LOT of Buddha statues (I did not even bother to count them all). What was really cool about this temple was that the several Buddha statues inside were in different poses!
After our tour, we were dropped in MBK (as per our request) and had lunch there. More shopping (still for pasalubong) and then we headed back to the hotel to have a few hours of rest before our dinner cruise along Chao Phraya.
So, that Dinner Cruise along Chao Phraya. 😀
Okay, this IS NOT what we rode along Chao Phraya but close. We rode the Chao Phraya Princess IV boat along the river. We were treated to an international buffet complete from appetizers, soup, main courses and dessert. While on the cruise, we passed by Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn) and the Grand Palace.
The dinner cruise was amazing. It was like a party on board! Props to the singer that they have. She can sing songs in different languages! The only thing I would recommend is that they light up the entire riverside area of the Chao Phraya so that tourists taking the dinner cruise have something to see. Other than that, it was really relaxing.
That ends Day 2 of our Bangkok Trip.
Our third (and sadly, our last) day was spent shopping! We’ve been told that Bangkok was a shopping heaven and so we did try to do this. In the morning, we went to Platinum Mall. Like MBK, it was a mall full of stalls selling their stuff. The difference, however, is that Platinum has a wholesale price (which was around 40 THB cheaper than the retail price). Now, our idea of “wholesale” is buying stuff in 6’s or even 12’s. However, in Bangkok, you can get the wholesale price by just buying TWO pieces! It’s no wonder why people think Bangkok is shopping heaven!
At around 10 AM, we headed back to hotel to pack up our things and check out of the hotel (because they have a ridiculous Late Checkout Fee of 100 THB per hour!). Good thing our hotel allows guests to leave their luggage even after they have checked out. Yay for customer service!
Once we were done with checking out, we headed to Terminal 21. This wasn’t reachable by foot from our hotel but it was fairly near if we take the BTS Skytrain (Thailand’s version of our MRT/LRT system). Luckily our hotel was near one of the stations (Ratchathewi) so we took the Skytrain to Terminal 21.
I have to say this: I ABSOLUTELY LOVE TERMINAL 21’S CONCEPT! The overall theme of the mall is sort of like an airport. Its escalators have a huge sign that says “DEPARTURE” and “ARRIVAL” and each floor’s design (and I mean the entire floor, even the bathrooms) are based on a fashion capital in the world. Aside from just numbers, floors are named after famous places around the world – Tokyo, Paris, Rome, London, Istanbul, San Francisco, Hollywood and Caribbean. See for yourself.
Our third day in Bangkok was my exact birthday and no birthday is complete without a cake!
After an entire day of shopping, we went back to the hotel and had dinner there while waiting for our transfer back to the airport. We finished check in and immigration procedures at around 11 PM and since our boarding time was at 11:50, we decided to walk around the airport. There were some shops so we tried to look for last-minute pasalubong items we can buy. Sadly, they were all so expensive (hello, airport overpricing HAHA).
We boarded Cebu Pacific’s flight 5J 932 on our way back to Manila and we landed at around 4:45 AM (Philippine time).
In more ways than one, Bangkok is a lot like Manila. It’s a very urbanized area with crazy traffic. What sets it apart, though, is that in that highly urban area, we can still see remnants of its ancient culture dating back to probably hundreds of years ago. It’s this mix of the past and the present that gives Bangkok its charm.