Got off the plane in Bangkok alone, just the two of us, no for leader, no group, oops, where is our hotel transfer? After some searching we located an OAT representative who got us a porter and a car to Pantip Suites in central Bangkok. Note to Dan and Malena: that is Pantip not Pantop. When we walked into our suite I was sure they had made a mistake. The livingroom/kitchen is about 30’x 20′ and the bedroom is about the same square footage. All of this on the 24th floor overlooking central Bangkok. We have learned that this condo/hotel was built before the 2008 recession and our “room” was built as a condo. Very nice quarters indeed especially since our next stop will include a stay in a tent. The rest of our group is two women due to arrive late today in time to leave for Myanmar/Burma on a 9 AM flight tomorrow necessitating leaving the hotel at 6 AM 🙁
Our explorations have been a bit limited as we have other things to do. Our first day we met Lucky, our guide for the Thai portion of the trip and got oriented with map and coffee to what to do in Bangkok. That afternoon we set off by cab for the pier on the river where all boat tours seem to start. We boarded a free shuttle to Aseatique, a recently developed shopping/entertainment/dining area in a former warehouse port area. It also houses a very large Ferris wheel, much like the London Eye. We shopped, bought a small suitcase to store our cold weather clothes here in Bangkok for pickup when we return on Dec 31 on our way to the states. This will lighten our luggage enough to get us well under the 44 lb limit which we crossed as we left Russia. We rode the Ferris wheel, we dined at Baan Khanitha right on the boardwalk, would recommend it to any visitor to the area. We took a tuktuk back to the hotel for an outrageous overcharge of 200 baht ($6.25) it only cost 72 baht to get there by cab, but that was daytime.
Sunday we loafed about in the morning before setting out for Jim Thompson’s villa. I won’t tell his entire story here. He was an adventurer who fell in love with Thailand in the 50’s and settled here and developed the silk industry. He was very successful, unmarried with no children when at age 61, while visiting a friend in the country he went out for a short walk and was never seen or heard from again. His collections of local art and artifacts have been retained in the original villa and are a must see. The shops, both at the villa and nearby are wonderful.
After some time at the hotel to relax, we set out for the Night Market, not far from the villa. This was very interesting. Not wanting to walk to the train after dark we took a cab from tne hotel to Silom Rd near the intersection of Patpong where the market is. We stopped in at the Jim Thompson store and enjoyed looking at many things we don’t really need. Then we start walking toward the market, a side trip down a brighly lit street found us surrounded by “girls” many in uniform outfits that barely covered. This long block was a major redlight district and we beat feet back to Silom once we realized where we were. We found our way to Patapong and began to check out the merchandise, it was lower quality than Aseatique but much higher than Siem Reap. We were looking to the side of the road for a restaurant and noted that there were many sex shows here too. Every other doorway gave a clear view of scantily clad pole dancers. Ignoring this to the extent possible we settled on TipTop Restaurant which offered a reasonable menu with an understanding of the needs for vegetarian! Carol produced her note that says in Thai that she eats no meat, fish, chicken and the hostess made it clear she understood. After a bit more walking we engaged a cab for 200 baht to take us back to the hotel.
Walking in Bangkok: traffic here drives on the left, remember to look right before stepping into the street, look left too as a motorbike could be coming from most anyplace, what rules? The sidewalk on many of the streets around our hotel are narrow, nonexistent even. Most are single file, there is no curb, and powerpoles and other sign posts force you into the street. We have learned to walk on the right facing traffic, at least you can see the motorbike that is using the walkway to pass a car! To cross the street step out with hand firmly extended toward oncoming traffic, they will adjust their speed and position to miss you, most of the time, be prepared to alter course if they don’t. So far we are unwilling to do this after dark.