18.01.2013 - 18.01.2013 33 °C
We have been all over Bangkok it feels like today.
We decided to see Wat Arun this morning, this is a temple that sits on the river and has five huge chedi's (big spire structures). It is named the temple of dawn as it is a beautiful sight by the river when the sun rises, it was past 11 am when we arrived so we don't know what it looks like at sunrise. We got the river boat down to pier 8 for 15 baht each and then there is a ferry crossing boat that takes you over the river for 3 baht each.
The area surrounding the temple is really picturesque, there are landscaped gardens, pavilions with lanters and other temple buildings. It costs 50 baht each to enter and you must dress modestly (no skirt for Liam today though as knee length shorts are fine). The temple is huge close up and consists of a huge pyramid shaped spire in the middle with 4 smaller ones surrounding it.
We walked around the temple and then decided to walk up. You can climb the temple steps to the top but anyone with a fear of heights beware. The steps are quite narrow and very steep, and each step is very tall. When we got to the top there were orange clad monks erecting an orange sheet of fabric around the temple spire. They were handing out safety pins for people to clip on and one was handed to Liam which he fastened on. It was really beautiful at the top with the orange fabric and there weren't many people so it was quiet.
The views of the river and Bangkok from the top are really nice but walking back down the steps is quite terrifying. Liam went first and we decided it would be best to walk backwards. Once you were on it's wasn't that bad but at the top there was a Thai lady totally freaking out. Chelsea helped her and carried her bag as she was terrified with her head in her hands wondering how she was going to get down.
The temple is quite different to the one we have seen so far and it is entirely decorated with mosaic, Chelsea has decided it is her favourite one. We would definatey recommend it if you visit Bangkok and it is really easy to get to and cheap to visit. From here we decided to get the bus to Siam square. We had researched what bus we needed but couldn't find the street or the bus. Chelsea went into a cafe to ask but the lady didn't understand so we sat on a bench with our map trying to work it out looking confused. A nice man inside the cafe must have heard us ask for directions as he came out to see if he could help. He told us exactly how to get to where we needed to be. We took bus number 57 from Wat Arun to Khlong San pier and then took the river crossing boat across to the other side, we then took bus number 36 to Siam square. He was really helpful and friendly. There are two types of buses that we have seen in Bangkok, the non air con ones that cos 8 baht each and the air con ones that cost 11 baht. The bus stops, once we got used to them, are quite good, better that other cities in Asia we have seen as they have the bus numbers on that stop there.
Siam square is an upmarket area in Bangkok. The area is full of skyscrapers, malls, shops and cafes. There are the main roads and then lots of smaller soi's (lanes) that branch off these. The soi's are full of small boutique style shops that look like individual one off shops full of fashionable clothes and other items. The main roads have all the big shops on and huge malls. We bought some dinner off a street vendor and found a fashionable cube bench to sit on and eat it. All over Bangkok and there are these drinks vendors on the street that have carnation milk signs all over them. We decided to go to one to see what they did. The vendor didn't speak English but some friendly girls in the queue in front asked what we wanted. We didn't even know what he sold so we asked what they had. One of the girls had an iced coco drink so we said we would both try that. The vendor mixed all sorts of things together, coco, malt powder, milk, sweet carnation milk and poured it over ice. It was yummy and tasted like a malteeser milkshake.
We went into one of the malls to have a wander around called Siam Centre. We both agreed it was the best shopping centre we have ever been in. It was ultra modern and had wifi throughout. All the shops were upmarket and quirky and they sold extremely modern items. Even the fittings within the mall had been made into art installations. The chairs were boutique chairs, the places to sit had table lamps, there was artwork on the walls and every shops had a striking modern installation. Even parts of the roof had huge screens on them playing images of ceilings of grand buildings with bells hanging. It was amazing, it was what it would be like if a modern art museum crossed with a shopping centre. Chelsea loved it. By this point it was 3.15 and we had to be at the Myanmar embassy between 3.30 and 4.30 to pick up our visa so we had to leave the mall. We got the sky train from the Siam Centre to Surasak a street near the embassy. The sky train is a great way to travel around the business district of Bangkok as you get great views of the skyscrapers. It is easy to use but cost more that other forms of public transport in town, it cost us 25 baht each.
The queue at the embassy when we arrived was huge, it went right to the end of the street but the doors hadn't opened yet as it wasn't quite half three. There was a crowd gathering at the door waiting to go in as well as the queue so Liam decided to join the crowd. When the doors open he was straight in and a few people from the front of the queue. Two people pushed in front of him but he didn't say anything as he had just pushed in himself. when you apply for your visa you get a receipt that tells you what counter to collect at, you queue up and collect your passport with the visa inside. It is a quick process and within five minutes the queue had gone right down to just outside the door.
We walked to the river from here and caught the boat back up to our guest house area. We walked to Khao San road straight away to get our US Dollars for Myanmar. We had read on someone's blog to go to Au Thong travel as they keep new US Dollars but we had tried them yesterday and the bank was offering a better rate. We explained we needed brand new dollars at the bank and this was not a problem, the lady at the counter counted out the dollars and checked them all thoroughly for marks or creases before handing them over (we also had a thorough check). To pay on a visa card like we did you need to take your passport along but it was easy and stress free, we just have to keep them pristine now for the next two months.
For our Friday night we decided to go to China Town. We had researched what bus to get and our map said we could get bus number 9 from the top of Khao San. The ticket lady didn't speak English so it was hard trying to explain. In the end she gave up and let us ride for free. Another friendly Thai lady asked us where we wanted to go and told us we were on the wrong bus. She gave us directions and told us to get off at the Grand Palace and to get bus number 1 to China Town. We had no problem getting the bus but we weren't exactly sure where to get off. We were looking at our map with confused faces and a Thai couple again asked us where we were going and told us we had gone too far but gave us directions. We got off the bus and had a five minute walk into the centre of China Town. The Thai people we have met so far are extremely friendly and helpful and have been very kind when we have been lost (which has been a lot of times). There are a lot of people in the tourist areas who are trying to con you but the majority of regular people have been lovely.
China Town at night is mad. The streets are crammed with people and traffic and the neon signs on the shops are huge and lit up like Las Vegas. There are hundreds of street vendors selling all sorts of things and the huge busy streets are lines with stalls and tables and chairs where you sit and have a meal on the street. We picked a place with roast duck hanging in the window of the cart and picked noddles with pork Wantons and roast duck and greens. Liam had the soup version and Chelsea had the dry noodle version. It was delicious, the duck was gorgeous and the wantons were yummy. We walked up and down the main street, Yaowarat and looked down a few soi's.
One of the smaller streets had lanterns all the way down it and more vendors so we found a table and had a beer under the lanters watching a man cook seafood meals on his own for at least 20 tables, he was fast.
It has been a really good day and once we got our head around the buses they are a fast and cheap way to see opposite ends of the city in one day. Tomorrow is our last day in Bangkok and we are going to try and go to a sky bar tomorrow evening to celebrate our final night.