So, with the lyrics fresh in our heads, we decided to make one night in Bangkok stop #2 on the Bob & Eileen Asian tour of 1999. Bob and Eileen flew from Tokyo to Bangkok earlier in the week and we joined them on Saturday before we all headed to stop #3 - Railay Beach in Krabi.
Our travel planer, Tara, had booked us on a 7:10pm Singapore airlines flight that arrived at 1:00am into Singapore. We needed to fly through Singapore since that is where Seth's business was taking him. We planned to get 6 hours of sleep in the Singapore airport hotel and then be on the 8:30am flight to Bangkok the next day. However, 6 hours of sleep turned into only 3 since our plane was delayed. We did get a kool passport stamp out of it though since we entered the country to collect our luggage and then had to have that stamp voided to get back to the Airport Hotel.
We highly recommend the Changi Terminal 2 Airport Hotel in Singapore if you'll be connecting overnight. But, it's a good thing we made a reservation first, since at 3am on Saturday morning, it was all booked up.
Arriving in Bangkok, Tara's first memory during the taxi ride from the airport to the Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel is of the really cute bus stops along the road. They were on stilts and had bright, steeply peaked roofs. Unfortunately, we never got a photo of them.
Once at the hotel, we found Bob and Eileen and went for lunch. This started one main theme of our Thai holiday - absolutely fabulous, delicious and cheap food! After lunch, we headed towards The Grand Palace by private long boat. What a way to travel!! Right outside the hotel, there was a pier where multiple long boat drivers awaited passengers. We hired one to take us to the Grand Palace and all clambered in. Cruising down the river was a very nice way to see the city. The only problem was that the boat had a very loud motor.
Upon being dropped off at the Grand Palace, we had no idea where to go for sure. We walked towards the walled palace, but didn't see any place that looked like an entrance. We randomly chose to go right and walked, but didn't see any entrance. Often, tuk-tuk drivers would pass by and ask if we needed a ride. We didn't. We were still unsuccessfully looking for the entrance when a friendly man walked by and started to talk to us. He explained that the Grand Palace was closed to tourists now for a special religious service that he was going to. His English was excellent and I remember that he was a doctor who was going to be married soon. He suggested that we take a long-boat ride around a nearby klong (canal). It would take about an hour and then we could come back when the Grand Palace was open. We had no idea what else to do, so we let him write down on our map where we wanted to go and then he hailed a tuk-tuk for us.
This was our tuk-tuk experience! Riding in a tuk-tuk was one of the things Tara had wanted to do while in Bangkok. It was a fun experience - especially since we ended up living through it! Four big tourists in the back of a 3-wheeled tuk-tuk designed to accommodate maybe two big tourists, three at the most. Tara ended up sitting on the floor and everyone was hanging on for deal life as we rounded the corners and the tuk-tuk precariously leaned to one side.
We did end up taking a river tour and saw lots of houses along a main river route.
We enjoyed some time at the hotel pool as well. Seth and Tara even treated themselves to a massage.
Bob and Eileen decided to opt out of evening entertainment, but we were not going to miss the Pat Pong district. We really should have gone in and seen a live sex show. But, after being dropped off at that seedy, back alley place by the hotel driver, it put us off a bit. We wandered until we found the main area of Pat Pong. We looked into lots of topless clubs with the bored, swaying ladies standing up high bars and hanging onto poles. We were in the right place - but we wanted to find a bit nicer place than a topless bar to people watch from! We settled into a nice little bar where we sat in the back and watched passerbys. In the little bar itself, there was a middle-aged, white man trying to pick up the 3 Thai bartenders. We also enjoyed seeing the he-she who came to the bar. After we saw its friends, we decided she was definitely a he under her clothes.
We also thought about going into a massage parlor but Tara's ankle was still sore from when she fell coming home from the grocery store. Since we wanted foot rubs, she was hesitant to try to explain to please rub gently. So, we ended up just walking around some more until we found a tuk-tuk for the drive home.
We really should have picked up some fried grasshoppers for Bob and
|Tara had to cover up since we planned to visit the palace.|
|We all rode to the palace in a private long boat that we hired outside our hotel.|
|We ended up not getting into the palace because it was "Buddah Day". We took the recommendation of a local man and all four got into a tuk-tuk and took it to a place where we could rent a boat for a river tour. The river tour was interesting since we saw just what have a river as your main street meant.|
|The view of the city from outside our hotel door (our room faced the river).|
|We got a kick out of this sign in the airport.|
|Overall Experience||8||An excellent one night stopover - if only for the fried grasshoppers|
|Ease of Journey||7||No problems.|
|Accommodation||7||We stayed at the Royal Orchid Sheraton since Seth had recently joined the Starwood preferred guest program and would get a special bonus if he stayed 5 times at a Sheraton or Westin. It was an OK, standard first-class hotel.|
|Activities||9||Cruising along the community along the river and people watching in the Patpong night-life district were most interesting.|
|Coolness||8||One night in Bangkok and the world's your oyster
The bars are temples but the pearls ain't free
Royal Orchid Sheraton in Bangkok