19.01.2013 - 19.01.2013 34 °C
Today has been expensive and indulgent but has been worth every penny. We woke late as we did not go to bed until 2am yesterday as we booked our flight for Myanmar. We fly in Yangon on 26th February and our return flight is 19th March.
When we finally got up this morning we caught the bus to Chatuchack Market. The bus journey took around an hour to travel 3km due to the Bangkok traffic, which is like nothing we have ever seen, five lane roads full of cars bumper to bumper with motorbikes filling up the little gaps remaining. The bus conductor told us when our stop was up as we had no idea where we were. We got off the bus and looked around expecting to see a large market but there was nothing. We had a walk up and down the road until we looked at our map and realised we were actually on the wrong road and the market was on the next road that ran parallel to the one we were on. As soon as we were on the correct road we immediately saw the market. There are thousands of stalls, selling everything you can possibly think of. We started by walking around the stall set up on the outskirts next to the road and then dived in.
The first section we walked through was for pets. There were animals for sale that we could not even identify. There were dozens of stalls selling puppies of all different breeds, most were tiny and in open top cages with several other puppies. Chelsea was both elated at being surrounded by so many puppies and shocked at the same time by how some were treated. The puppies did not look old enough to be sold and some of them had material sewn into their ears to make their ears stand up. Other stalls sold reptiles, rodents, fish and birds. One even had a giant tortoise kept in a box that was far too small for it. Once the initial amazement faded we felt bad for the animals that were on sale, they were crammed in cages and roughly handled. We had to leave the section before Chelsea decided to start freeing them.
We wondered around aimlessly for a while until we found a guy who had a map and directed us to where we could get our own. The market is laid out in sections according to what they sell, the map however was truly awful and made trying to find your way through the labyrinth of stalls even more difficult so we sacked it off.
Deeper into the market and we found the clothes section. Most of the clothes here were knock off designer clothes and bags but there were a few good stalls selling cheap and stylish gear. Chelsea had a good rummage through and bought a new dress and a new top that she liked, which together cost 250 Baht (£5). Liam bought a T-shirt that he had seen earlier in the week but at the time as too expensive but was cheaper at the market. We carried on through the market up until late afternoon; the hard part was trying to get out again. We had no idea which way we had come in so we just walked to the nearest exit. As look would have it, it was the road we needed so we walked to the nearest bus stop and waited for our ride back to the guesthouse. We would definitely recommend visiting the weekend market, we spent the whole day there and didn’t even see it all and we really enjoyed browsing all the thousands of stalls.
Tonight’s plan was a roof top bar at the Hilton hotel. We were not in very long before we were back out to find some tea before heading to the Hilton. We called at a street food place we had visited earlier and decided try their BBQ fish. We ordered a fish to share, a Thai Salad and some BBQ pork. We did not receive our pork and after a while Liam asked where it was and was told they had ran out. They had no chicken either but they recommended the squid, we said okay. Five minutes later and six giant BBQ prawns were placed in front of us. Obviously his English was not great but we did not complain as it is much better than our Thai. The prawns were the best prawns we have ever had, they were a bit messy, we had to remove the heads etc., but they came with a spicy coriander dipping sauce that was equally as delicious. The next shock was the bill. When he recommended the ‘squid’ he failed to mention the price. The prawns were 200 baht (£4) incredibly cheap by UK standards but it made the meal at 360 baht, quite expensive for our small budget.
After we had paid up we caught the bus from round the corner that took us to the Hilton. We had decided on the Hilton roof bar rather than the others as we had read that all the high-rise bars are equally priced but you don’t get the crowds at the Hilton as people are intimidated and so the atmosphere was nice. The hotel was immaculate, expensive cars parked outside the lobby and elevators that were better decorated than any of the rooms we have stayed in on our whole trip. The 31st floor is where the ‘Threesixty’ roof top bar is located. There is a roof top seating area of sofas and tables overlooking Bangkok and a round enclosed bar that offers 360 degree views. We sat in the open air section, there was hardly anyone there and we got a seat right at the front. The views were spectacular, Chelsea had a martini cocktail, and Liam had scotch on the rocks. We drank them incredibly slowly to make them last, the bar bill was over a 1000 baht (£20), which at two thirds of a day’s budget is a lot for us, but it was worth every penny. We had a walk around the enclosed 360 degree view section before we left, there was a jazz band playing inside and you could see the whole city, the bar really is stunning.
Once we had done we went back to catch the bus. We waited 30 minutes and still our bus had not arrived. It was getting late so we think our bus might have finished, there were other buses, but none went near where we are staying. In the end we paid a tuk-tuk driver and had a tuk-tuk journey through the night streets and over the river.
We have both enjoyed Bangkok way more than we expected. We think it is the favourite of the three big cities we had visited so far and neither of us would have guessed that before we came. We think we are leaving at the right time though before it becomes too much. Tomorrow we catch a bus to Kanchanaburi, the sight of the bridge over the River Kwai and hope to spend a few relaxing days sight seeing.