Posts Tagged 'Bangkok'

One Last Stop In Bangkok

We broke up our journey home from London to Australia with three nights in Bangkok. It was our fourth time in Bangkok this trip but unfortunately the apartment we had stayed in the last two times was already booked out. I spent days trawling accommodation sites searching for the perfect spot to end our trip. I wanted to enjoy our last few nights, I wanted somewhere comfortable to recover from the flight and jet lag, I wanted a swimming pool to keep the kids happy, and I wanted to be close to the skytrain for easy access to shopping but away from the main areas where protests were happening. Finally we settled on the Adelphi Grande. It ended up being a great choice and I would have no hesitation staying there again.

kitchenette

Kitchenette in our studio room

For $AUD136 a night we got a room with one king size bed and one extra single bed, full buffet breakfast for 4, a kitchenette, a washer/dryer, a huge bathroom, two complimentary beers, early check-in and late check-out (perfect for our flight times), and wifi (not the best in the room but good everywhere else). The hotel is an easy walk from Phrom Phong BTS station and also the Emporium shopping centre. We ate dinner every night at a place on the street (the sign just said Good Cheap Thai Food) which was great. It was also walking distance to Benjasiri Park which has two good playgrounds, one for older kids and one for younger.

Hotel review by Lillian.

Hotel review by Lillian.

sunset from hotel

Sunset view from our room. You can see the skytrain track.

It's good to be back in Thailand! Dinner here tonight: spring rolls, two mains, three serves of rice, one big beer and one water = $12AUD. (Or €8 or £6.) And with that special roadside ambience.

Dinner here: spring rolls, two mains, three serves of rice, one big beer and one water = $12AUD. (Or €8 or £6.)

We spent our first day recovering from the overnight flight and exploring the immediate area around the hotel. The Emporium shopping center had a big Lego display set up which the kids had fun with.

lego bubble Lil

Lego at the Emporium

The next two days were spent shopping. Dave needed new work shirts and running shoes so on the first day we all went in together. The next day Lil and I had a girls day out and did some more shopping (hippy pants for all!) and got our nails painted (toes for me, fingers for her.)

Lil got her nails painted while I had a pedicure.

Sparkly nails

Before we knew it we were heading back to the airport to fly home.

Off to the airport and heading home after an amazing six months! With a few more bags than we started with.

Waiting for the taxi to the airport

More posts to come! Costs, stats, thank yous, being home.

Bangkok’s Grand Palace and the Flight to London

To finish off our three and a bit months in Thailand we had another six nights in Bangkok. It was our third stay in the city this trip and we spent it at the same Air BnB apartment that we stayed in last time. It was nice to come back to the same place where the doorman recognised us, we knew the area, and the apartment was just as we had left it. Even my washing powder was still there.

The main thing I wanted to do this time in Bangkok (besides shopping for shoes for the kids) was visit the Grand Palace. We chose to go to the palace on a Sunday. It was hot and it was busy. Much busier than I remember it being in 2004. Perhaps a week day would have been quieter? Anyway, we were there and we were on a mission to have our family photo taken in the same place as my mother and her family had theirs taken in 1961. First we had a little look around and tried to dodge the crowds. Lillian really enjoyed the murals.

mural gazing

Mural gazing

I really enjoyed the details.

flowers

Flower walls

And then we found the place for the photo. In 1961 my mother was almost 8 years old when she visited the Grand Palace with her family at the start of their big family trip. You can see more photos from their time in Bangkok here. The palace in 1961 was quiet. No crowds!

1961 and 2013 Grand Palace Bangkok

1961 and 2013 Grand Palace Bangkok

The day before we flew to London I did some shopping (alone!) and bought some books for the kids to help keep them occupied on the thirteen hour flight.

Surprise goodies for the 13hr plane ride tomorrow. The book bottom left is a comic about a novice monk!

Activity Books

I went to the Kinokuniya bookshop in the Siam Paragon shopping mall and happily stumbled upon these Thailand activity and colouring books by Nancy Chandler. They have great things like a hilltribe paper doll to cut out, masks, and word searches with Thai towns and places. I also got Edward a new sticker book about London. Sticker books are always popular. The Satima book is a comic about a novice monk that I couldn’t resist for Lillian.

The flight to London went well. It was a daytime direct flight with British Airways and was only half full so we ended up with six seats for the four of us. Because it was daytime we also had some spectacular views out the window. We flew right across Afghanistan and it was amazing to look down on that landscape, so mountainous and barren, and see tiny villages and wonder what those people’s lives were like.

snowy mountains Afghanistan

Afghanistan

When we arrived in the UK the sun was just setting and the plane flew right over the city. We saw the London Eye, the Thames and a beautiful sunset. Getting through immigration was a breeze and Dave’s mum was there to meet us on the other side. Two kids fell asleep (short-lived) in the taxi on the way home. More on our first week in the UK to come.

List 46/52 – Costs in Thailand

coin bowls

Temple coin bowls

At time of writing $AUD1 equals about 30 baht.

– Our cheapest accommodation: 600 baht

– Our most expensive accommodation: 2500 baht

– One way internal flights with Nok Air for four people: about $AUD200

– Visa extension for 30 days: 1900 baht per person

– Coffee: ranged from 15 baht for a cup of instant to over 100 for a coffee from international coffee chains. Usually about 50 – 70.

– Small bottle of water: 10 baht

– Big bottle of Chang beer: 65 – 90 baht

– Thai dish in a restaurant: 50 – 90 baht

– A serve of plain rice: 10 – 20 baht

– Condensed milk roti: 5 – 15 baht

– Banana waffles at market: 20 baht

– Loaf of bread: 37 baht

– Ice-cream: Thai style on a stick 10 baht, Cornetto 24 baht

– Short tuk tuk or songthaew ride: 40 – 80 baht (for 4)

– One hour songthaew between towns: 100 – 200 baht (for 4)

– Local bus between towns: 70 – 100 baht (for 4)

– Skytrain ride: 35 – 45 baht per person

– Taxi from airport to Bangkok: 400 – 500 baht inc. tolls

– Cross river ferry in Bangkok: 3.50 baht

– Laundry: 20 – 50 baht per kilo

– Nappies: 37 baht for a 3 pack, 150 – 180 baht for a 12 pack (pull-ups)

– Foot massage: 180 – 200 baht per hour

– One month data on sim card: 399 baht

– Entry to Grand Palace in Bangkok: 500 baht per person

List 40/52 – The Best Things About Staying In An Apartment Instead Of A Hotel

We’ve used air bnb twice now to book apartments in Bangkok. These are the reasons we love apartments!

1. More space.

2. You get to pretend you actually live there.

3. One modem just for you! No sharing with a whole floor of a hotel.

4. Your own washing machine. Sure, getting your washing done in Asia is cheap, but still not as convenient as being able to do a load whenever you need to.

5. You can do your own breakfasts. Eating out for breakfast lunch and dinner adds up fast. We like to buy cereal, milk and bread and eat in the apartment. Much easier with kids.

6. You can even cook some dinners. Pasta with pesto sauce is a cheap and easy one pot dinner.

7. Great facilities. Swimming pools, ping-pong tables, supermarkets in the building, a library! These are all things our apartments have had in Bangkok.

8. Awesome views. Obviously this depends on the apartment you choose but we have been lucky.

9. Price. For all the above we have paid $AUD72 – 86 a night including the air bnb fee. Not exactly budget, but great value, especially when you consider the savings on eating out all the time.

air bnb apartment

Our first Bangkok apartment

 

Back to Bangkok

It’s been a week now since we said goodbye to our lovely host family and flew from Ubon Ratchathani back to Bangkok. We got a good view of the floods surrounding Ubon as the plane took off.

flooding Ubon Ratchathani

Flooding Around Ubon Ratchathani

In Bangkok we stayed at another air bnb apartment. It was in the same area as the one we stayed in at the end of August but a different building. The apartment was perfect with a great view over the river, a fantastic swimming pool, ping pong table and very comfortable beds. Best of all we had our first hot shower for a month!

night view from apartment bangkok

View from the apartment at night

We stayed in Bangkok for five nights and the time flew by. Our main task was to extend our Thai tourist visas. Our visas were originally for 60 days and we were able to pay to extend them by another 30 days. The process was fairly straightforward but has to be done at a huge government complex that was a bit of a trek to get to.

We caught the skytrain to Mochit station (the end of the line) and from there a taxi to the government complex. All up it took at least an hour to get there and then two hours to get the actual extension. We got home again the same way in reverse.

We spent one evening visiting Asiatique and riding the ferris wheel there. We could see the wheel from our apartment and the kids were begging to go on it. It was an expensive excursion with the ferris wheel tickets (Ed was free) and dinner there too, but at least the boat to get there was free! The views from the wheel were great.

still excited

Excited on the ferris wheel

Another highlight of Bangkok this time around was meeting two other travelling families, Flashpacker Family and Away We Go Bye Bye. They came over to our apartment for a swim and all up there were five kids under 6! Lots of fun.

We love Bangkok but it always seems to suck up a lot of time without really doing much! We’ll be back there at least one more time before we fly to the UK in November and there is still lots to do on my Bangkok list.

We’re now in Kanchanaburi, enjoying ourselves and wondering where to go from here. Our original plan has kind of gone out the window due to flooding in central Thailand. We will see!

Koh Samui to Bangkok

Koh Samui had a tough act to follow after Koh Phangan. We kept saying we should have gone there first as it just couldn’t live up to what we had been used to on Koh Phangan. That said, we still had an enjoyable four nights here. We stayed at the Ibis Bophut resort, booked through Agoda for $AUD94 for a family room, which was actually two adjoining rooms. One room had a double bed and one had two singles and a wii player which kept Dave and Lil busy. The Ibis was a standard comfortable hotel. Rooms were small, but we had two! The beds were the most comfortable of the trip so far. Bophut Beach couldn’t compare to Haad Yao on Koh Phangan and we didn’t go further afield to explore other beaches. Most of our time was spent at the pool or resting in the room or eating.

dinner time

Bophut Beach Koh Samui

We left Koh Samui last Friday on what turned out to be a rather epic travel day. It started at 12:30pm with a 30 minute taxi ride to the ferry pier. We ran into a family there whose daughters Lil had made friends with in the pool on Koh Phangan so she had fun playing while we waited. The ferry ended up leaving an hour late and took one and a half hours to get to the mainland where a bus was waiting to take us on to Suratthani. The bus also took longer than we had expected and we arrived at the train station just after 6pm. Great! We thought. Less time to fill in before our 8:15pm train departure. Let’s get dinner and buy some snacks.

We're at Suratthani train station. Time for dinner before we get the sleeper train to Bangkok.

Dinner at Suratthani

Dinner done we headed into the train station to find out that our train was delayed. This board became our focus for the next six hours as every time it got within about 20 minutes of the train’s expected arrival time someone would come along and rub it out and put a new time in.

361 minute delay

Delay Board of Doom

All the trains before and after our train came and went with various minor delays but ours was nowhere to be seen. The kids made friends with a couple of Dutch girls sitting near us. Thank goodness for them and their entertainment! Edward did not sleep during the whole wait and Lil only slept for the last hour.

Waiting

My face says it all

Finally at about 2:30am the train arrived, we climbed on, found our bunks and settled down to sleep.

2nd class sleeper carriage

2nd Class Aircon Sleeper Carriage

Our overnight train turned into a night/day train as we didn’t get to Bangkok until after 3pm the next day instead of the expected 9am.

coming into Bangkok

Coming into Bangkok

On arrival to Bangkok we found a taxi (that would use its meter) and were soon at our air bnb apartment. I was very glad I’d decided to splurge on this place for our three nights in Bangkok. (We paid $AUD86 a night for this apartment with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, washing machine, pool. Highly recommend!) We were all exhausted and after a wash, a rest and dinner nearby it was time for bed. Which is when disaster struck.

Lillian’s beloved pillow (seen above at dinner) was nowhere to be found. We remembered her carrying it off the train, she remembered having it in the taxi but after that nothing. It was still in the taxi. All we knew was that the taxi was pink. Do you know how many pink taxis there in Bangkok? Lots. There were many tears that night but eventually she fell asleep while I googled madly trying to find a central taxi contact number. In the end we found out there are some radio stations that the taxi drivers listen to that make announcements like this.

The next morning the security guard at the apartment pulled a random English speaking passerby in to help us and she called one of these stations. Our air bnb host, who I had emailed the night before also called a radio station. But alas, pillow did not return. This photo makes me a bit teary. Lillian’s last ever sleep with pillow. She used to say she loved pillow more than me (I was number 2) so perhaps I should be pleased.

last ever sleep with pillow

Last sleep with pillow. Sniff.

Our few days in Bangkok passed quickly with preparations for our teaching homestay. We got all the things on the list ticked off and on Tuesday we flew off to Ubon Ratchathani for the real adventure to begin.

List 34/52 – Bangkok To Do List

We’re in Bangkok for three nights now before we head to the village where we’ll be doing our month long home-stay and English teaching. The next couple of days are all about preparing for that. Site-seeing will have to wait till next time!

1. Washing. The air bnb apartment we’re staying in has a washing machine. I am washing all the things! I even washed my handbag.

2. Buy a Thai phrasebook/dictionary.

3. Vote in the federal election at the Australian embassy.

4. Meet with someone from the organisation who arranged our home-stay.

5. Shopping for teaching shoes and shirts.

6. Pay our home bills and move some money around.

7. Use the excellent internet here (one modem! just for us!) to download some stuff and upload some stuff.

Good morning Bangkok!

View from bed

 

8. Haircuts for Dave and Edward.