31 July to 4 August 2016
31.07.2016 - 04.08.2016 35 °C
It's been ages since I wrote a blog post. I've had various blogs in the past on other platforms but they all died down. A lack of time, the rise of social media, and perhaps the fact that there wasn't a specific theme to my blog posts - I guess these are some of the reasons (ahem... or excuses) which led to me neglecting my blogs after a while.
But I'll be embarking on a once-in-a-lifetime journey very soon, and I think it would be worthwhile to keep a proper record of my travels of some sorts, rather than just relying on my memory and some photos. I have therefore decided... to give yet another shot at blogging! This time, focussed on something which I've been absolutely passionate about in recent years: Travel.
For a start, some photos of Bangkok which I visited just two weeks ago. As a Singaporean I can't really believe that this is only my very first visit to Bangkok - and a solo trip at that. Ask any Singaporean and I think most people would be surprised that I went to this shopping, eating and massage paradise alone. I enjoyed myself immensely nevertheless, particularly when I made a new friend from S. Korea in the hostel (see below for more details on accommodation) I stayed at and we hit it off very well. It has been 8 years since I stepped foot into another ASEAN country (less Johor Bahru!).
Coming to Bangkok is very much about eating, shopping, enjoying a good massage, and perhaps visiting the breathtaking Grand Palace and spiritual temples (which most Singaporeans so conveniently neglect). You might want to consider visiting Bangkok on at least part of a weekend if you want to visit their markets, because markets like Chatuchak only open on the weekends.
Chatuchak was simply impressive in size with virtually almost anything up for sale. It was almost impossible to finish covering the entire market in a day. In fact I didn't know which part of the market I was at more than half the time! Weather was really hot and humid, and the crowd was kinda crazy - so do keep yourself hydrated.
I wanted to visit Art Box Night Market as well, only to find out it has closed and will only be back in October. Another good place for shopping for fashion would undoubtedly be Platinum Fashion Mall. Again, it's a mega-huge mall and there's certainly something for everybody. I view myself as a really fussy shopper who's really particular about my clothes - but even I managed a shopping spree there. Clothes are cheap and there's room for bargain especially if you're buying more than one piece from the same shop. Met up with a Singaporean and he recommended me the oyster omelette at Platinum Fashion Mall's food court, which he said was famous. Not too bad I suppose.
Union Mall was another mall highly recommended by my friends (particularly for male fashion) but I did not manage to check it out on this trip. Other malls including Siam Paragon, Central World and Siam Centre consisted mainly high-end fashion which I could not afford. Those malls seemed reminiscent of those in Singapore's Orchard Road so I didn't spend much time there.
Food at Chatuchak market and Terminal 21 Mall foodcourt
Bangkok is famous for their street food - cheap and good. I tried some of them and it is not without a single doubt they're real tasty. Some people are concerned about the hygiene, but I couldn't care less because the food looked so good! And no, I didn't suffer any food poisoning thereafter. For snacks and tidbits, do visit Bangkok's hypermarket Big-C.
Other notable places which I went to include
- Thip Samai restaurant - famous for their Pad Thai (my newly found Korean friend called this "World Class Pad Thai"!)
- After You Dessert Cafe - famous for their Shibuya Toast
- MangoTango - really good mango desserts and sticky rice
- Som Tam Nua - known for their Som Tam (Thai papaya salad) and fried chicken
Went for a proper Thai massage at Chang's massage for 300 baht. My stiff joints were noticably loosened and the masseur applied the pressure just right! It felt good, albeit really ticklish at times when my sensitive spots (read: neck) were massaged. Haha.
I also went to an onsen at Yunomori Onsen and Spa. This was my very first onsen experience and it certainly proved to be really refreshing and rejuvenating. I felt so good after the onsen! In case you're wondering, yes, you have to go fully naked. I was initially apprehensive and shy about having to change, shower, and soak in the nude with so many other men. But the awkwardness went away in no time as everyone was just minding their own business. The onsen consists various tubs, each at different temperatures. There's a cold pool too and a steam room. There's a written guide/notice there telling you which temperatures to soak yourself in first to get the best experience.
Warning: Do not soak yourself in a particular tub for too long. You might experience giddiness after a while - I think due to rapid loss of water via sweating.
Yunomori offers massage services too but I did not take up the package. There's also a cafe there where I had my Japanese curry lunch.
The Grand Palace, Wat Arun, Wat Pho
Getting to the Grand Palace itself is already an adventure of some sorts - you would get to see the busy weed/vegetation-laden Chao Phraya river en route while sitting on a rocky, crowded boat.
The Grand Palace was utterly impressive and I was simply kept in awe. The entire complex of buildings shimmered with all their might under the crazy sun.
Note: Prior to entering the palace there would be guards checking your attire. If you're deemed to be "improperly dressed" (i.e. exposed shoulders/ wearing shorts), you would have to borrow clothes from them. A deposit of 200 baht is required.
Wat Arun was under renovation so I couldn't see much. As for Wat Pho, the reclining Buddha would undoubtedly be the main attraction. Visitors can donate 20 Baht in exchange for some "blessing coins" - which are in turn used for praying for blessings (by placing each coin in the numerous "blessing bowls"). See pictures below.
I stayed at Lub-d Bangkok Siam Square which was situated at a really splendid location. It's right next to National Stadium BTS and within walking distance to Siam area. Rooms are a little small but they're clean, so are the washrooms and showers. It was a 4-bed dorm room and I am so glad to have gotten to know a Korean friend there. Small gripe about the room - there are no mirrors in the room! Mirrors are my best friend so I felt a little inconvenienced when I was dressing up! Nevetheless, comfortable stay overall.
This post kinda sums up my 5D4N trip to Bangkok. For more pictures, do visit my Instagram @darrenzw!