Live from Bangkok in the Land of Smiles

Not interested in a South East Asia long travel day special, we flew from Siem Reap in Cambodia to Bangkok Thailand. With one way flights at $55 USD it was an easy decision to make.

I’ve been waiting for Thailand.

Clearing Customs at the airport in Bangkok took more time than we expected. We landed at 3:10 in the afternoon and didn’t walk out of the airport until well after 6 p.m. The queue wasn’t anything excessive and the immigration agents were not particularly critical in scrutinizing our passports (or anyone else), so my only explanation for the lengthy process is complete lack of organization.

Along with citizens of over forty other countries, Canadians can visit Thailand Visa free for up to 30 days when arriving by air.

Why Buy One When You Can Have Two for Double the Price?

We were obliged to hire two taxis from the airport to our hotel in the downtown area of Bangkok. This is one of those most frustrating things about travel for us. Families of five or larger are hard on logistics. Two hotel rooms. Two tables. Two taxis. Gah!

Supposedly we should have been able to hire a seven seat taxi from the airport but the taxi dispatchers refused to request one for us. Regardless, the 33 km 30 minute double cab ride set us back a whopping 700 baht (about $26 Canadian). Fortunately, taxi protocol is clearly detailed in large print on the wall adjacent to the dispatcher. The airport taxis are clearly obliged to use the metre. And the rates are more than affordable, even with Canadian dollars.

So we’ve been in Bangkok for three nights now.

We seem to be on a roll for bad timing. Or good depending on your perspective.

We arrived in Phnom Penh Cambodia the night before Pchum Ben, Ancestor’s Day, during which the entire commercial industry shuts down and people reunite with their families.

We arrived in Bangkok during the month of honour for the deceased King of Thailand.

Tributes to the King are everywhere. Literally.

One of the must see things in Bangkok is a visit to the Royal Palace. But it’s closed for a whole month leading up to the cremation ceremony which will take place over five days toward the end of October. King Bhumibol Adulyadej died on 13 October 2016 but a year of mourning was declared.

Except on Wednesdays and Sundays But Only When it’s Sunny

We’ve heard that the sale of wine, beer and spirits will be prohibited sometime closer to the cremation ceremony. This will add to an already confusing and often arbitrary list of prohibitions that were put in place a few years ago.

Stores can only sell alcohol from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to midnight. As far as we can tell, this includes restaurants. But somehow there are some hotel exemptions. Perhaps they just decide to absorb the fine.

Add in some other exclusions like yesterday, the end of Buddhist Lent period (Wan Awk Phansa), where the sale of alcohol was prohibited for an entire 24 hours. But somehow the beer stand outside our hotel remained open.

There is signage regarding the limited daily sale times but no advance signage for a total ban of sale like yesterday. Apparently there are no closures today. But that remains to be seen.

Beer Lament

Our days of fifty cent beer in Cambodia and Vietnam are behind us. Although we haven’t had much oportunity to browse due to the restrictions, we bought some local Singha beer at the grocery store for 45 baht ($1.70 Cdn). Ouch! But it beats the minimum 100 baht price we’ve seen in restaurants ($3.74).

Hotel Redemptions

Our first three nights we stayed at the Holiday Inn Siam (15,000 IHG points per night). Yes, I do not have unlimited Starpoints and Marriott Rewards.

This morning we checked into the Aloft Bangkok for their 3,000 Starpoint weekend redemption.

Alas, there are no real Platinum benefits for the ‘Aloft’ brand of Starwood. We opted for complimentary breakfast instead of our welcome bonus points. And the hotel was kind enough to put us on the 28th floor with a great view and gave us some vouchers for complimentary cocktails.

The Aloft may be too hip for us anyway.

True to our lack of ambition on travel days, aside from wandering around the hotel area for lunch and dinner we spent the afternoon by the pool.

Ben gives the small Aloft Bangkok pool a thumbs up.

Finishing this post off, the clouds are steel grey and some crazy thunder is rumbling around the corner.

Bangkok has been on my bucket list for years. Despite missing out on the Royal Palace, it’s great to be here. There is smog and sometimes awful car fumes. But the streets are pretty clean and it feels like I’m in…, well Thailand.

Even the stray Thai cats look healthier than where we’ve been recently.

Stay tuned for what we’ve been up to so far in Bangkok. There has been lots of walking, some Tuktuks and bargaining, a few temples, a bit of shopping , lots of Buddhas, many Thai dishes and Papaya salad, and just a few beer.  So far…

The best Pad Thai we’ve had was in Siem Reap. It was sooo good. We’re on the hunt to top it! I’m thinking Thailand should be able to beat Cambodia on this dish. Not yet though.

Thanks for reading! Colleen

3 Replies to “Live from Bangkok in the Land of Smiles”

  1. is it as hot as the other places? Looks good. How is the beer? The food I imangine is good with lots of noodles. I think the pools are cool. Would love to be in all of them at least once. Ben, how is the swimming?

    1. The temperature is a bit cooler – although yesterday it was pretty hot. Beer is Singha or Leo. The food is good but not stellar given the prices. Ben is enjoying the pools. He had a late night swim last night.

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