Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Thailand Day One. Bangkok.

Because of time differences, We were tired on arriving at the Guest house. Due to the flights arriving so early, we were to early to check in. But we were able to leave our cases at the accommodation. We walked down the road and got breakfast at one of the many restaurants located in the area. We have have been to Bangkok before, as a three day stop over on our way to Australia. As well as a few times with work. So we have visited a few of the main sights. During breakfast I consulted the Lonely Planet and drew up a short list of things we wanted to do. Fortified by the large breakfast, we hailed a TukTuk to Wat Po Temple to go to the Massage Center. We saw a lot of people from our flight at Wat Po! Obviously the thing to do for tired, jet lagged tourists?
First we looked at the reclining Buddha. He is 46m long and 15m high, and very difficult to capture the impact on a photo. The feet are made of Mother of Pearl. Wat Po has a centre for teaching traditional Thai Medication, this includes a Massage School. They do accept students from all over the world if you want to learn the skills. The Massage Center is in a large building that is located within the temple, it is air conditioned. We all enjoyed had a body massage, they were layed in a line on small, hard beds, and a student walked and climbed all over them. I had the 1 hour long foot massage. It was odd, I couldn't decide if I thought it was relaxing or painful, but I was tried and almost fell asleep.

We went back to the New Siam III at around 11.00, our rooms were ready. It was very basic backpackers accommodation. The girls had a twin room, whilst ours was a double. The room was basic but very clean. I had opted for the hot water rooms, so we had a shower with hot water and AC. There was a small courtyard downstairs to sit in, with a small cafe type thing serving tea, snacks and soft drinks, as well as a tour desk. We were very lazy and used this tour operator to book us a day trip for the next day.
Due to jet lag, although it was 12.00 Thai time I needed to sleep. I slept till about 14.00, when I was woken up by red ants biting my face! The previous occupants of the room had had sticky rice and put a few grains of it under the bed? The cleaner cleaned it up, sprayed the some with some kind of DDT and that solved that problem.
The Lonely Planet describes the area of Khao San as a ‘long tourist trap’. I do not agree with this statement and think this does the area of Banglamphu an injustice, as after a quick walk round, we found the area to be charming and had easy access to the river. On our last trip to BKK we had stayed on the Sukhumvit Road in the Landmark Hotel. Bangamphu with its Guest Houses and busy streets was much better that that area. It was not all 'touristy', opposite our Guest House was a Temple complex, I think it was the Mon Temple called Wat Chana Songkram. The temple is worth a visit, it had nice murals, a large temple bell, Bougainvillea vines and beautiful trees. You were free to go in and it was a lovely peaceful oasis in the city. By walking through the Temple you came to the main Khao San Road and the very busy market area.

In truth, this Lonely Planet Guide Book was one of the worst I have used! At times the information in the book was 'patchy' at best. If I was asked to reviwe this book I think I would only reccomend it if this is your first time in Thailand and you don't consider yourself to be too demanding when it comes to guidebooks, then you'll find this book to be a satisfactory buy. If however you're a bit more demanding and you like to have a good range of accommodation recommendations to choose from, then you'd be well advised to consider an alternative guidebook .
We then headed to Jim Thompsons House, I thought this was a old historic Teak building, but I was wrong! It was just a shop selling very expensive silk....I think we went to the wrong place? We were close to a park, so hoping for some afternoon tea, (very British!) walked over to it. It was Lamphini Park, and as it was Sunday afternoon, the park was full of local people working out to mega aerobics classes. It was a very festive atmosphere and difficult not to join in. At 18.00 the very odd tune was played over the loud speakers, and all the people stood still. I think it was the national anthem. Mr B did not stand still, but goose-stepped his way up the path!!!!!!!!!!!! I was expecting the police to come and clap him in irons any moment.

It was then on to savour the sights of Pat Pong Night Market and get some fake sun glasses, watches and Tiffany jewellery.
It was 4 very weary travellers who enjoyed our first Thai meal, with G & Ts and Beers that night...a family of 4 fed and watered for less than £20.00....magic!