Day 0 – bags packed, house empty (sort of) and we were on our way to Heathrow airport to set off on the trip of a lifetime. No jobs to run back to, no return flight booked, just us, our backpacks, passports and more Malarone than felt healthy!
After the usual stroll around the departure lounge and the obligatory cheeky pint or two, we set off to board our EVA Air flight direct to Bangkok. Having never heard of, let alone flown with, EVA Air I wasn’t sure what to expect. As it turned out, the flight seriously exceeded my expectations, it was clean and comfortable, the film selection was huge and the crew where friendly and attentive. I especially liked the added extras in the bathroom, not just soap! There was moisturiser, facial mist, aroma mist and various other niceties, it felt more like a mini spa experience than an aeroplane bathroom.
The food was also surprisingly tasty (by plane food standards) as well as plentiful and the standard legroom looked pretty decent. We bought the emergency exit seats which had more legroom that even Andy couldn’t fill, so that wasn’t an issue for once – which meant both of us were able to get a few hours sleep which was very much needed.
The 11-hour flight flew by and before we knew it we had landed at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport.
Arrival in Bangkok!
Getting through Bangkok airport was smooth sailing – we boarded the Airport Rail Link to Phaya Thai Station, this was our first experience of how cheap Thailand can be compared to the UK, the tickets cost around 30 baht each (c.75p) for an approx. 40-minute air-conditioned journey across town. From Phaya Thai we changed to the Sukhumvit line, or as I prefer to call it, the green one. We rode this for one stop to Ratchathewi where our hostel was a 5 minutes walk away. Despite only being 5 minutes, we both arrived looking like we’d been for a swim. It’s hot and humid in Bangkok in May (start of the rainy season) and was quite a change from the warm but dry conditions we’d been seeing in the UK before we left.
Our check in to Bed Station Hostel was straight-forward, it was a great hostel, really social and the staff encouraged this with their crazy activities (a highly entertaining dance session to some cheesy western tunes & K-Pop being the highlight!). We were both shattered from the journey so after a cold bottle of Chang we strolled out to the local street market with a room mate to find some authentic Thai food. What we found was maybe a little too authentic. It came in plastic bags and cost 30 Baht (c.75p), I had no idea what I was eating but I knew I wasn’t enjoying it, I think the same could have been said by Andy or our fellow traveller friend. To the bin it went. Andy’s turned out to be slices of fish that still contained all the bones in a curry sauce and was pretty much impossible to eat without nearly choking to death. It didn’t taste awful but was perhaps a step too far for our first meal.
We then settled in the Hostel with a couple more beers and continued to chat with some interesting people, a great way to finish off Day-1 before heading up for some very much needed sleep.
Time to Explore
It was a slow start, partly due to Andy’s snoring through the night, but mainly the downpour outside. We headed into the main part of town to visit the Grand Palace and other generic tourist stuff. We discovered that a long boat down the canal was the best way of getting across town. Costing the grand sum of 9 baht each (c.20p), these boats aren’t designed for tourists but are a local’s way of getting around, they fly down the canal and kick you off at the end, this was one of my favourite parts of Bangkok as it allowed you to see so much more of how people actually live than you did from the road.
We walked to the Grand Palace and loved looking around, so much detailed work had gone into every inch of the place and everything was so well kept. After a few hours taking hundreds of photos, we walked over to the Reclining Buddha which was AMAZING! The statue is 46 meters long and 15 meters high, unlike the name suggest it is not reclining but reclined, it is gilded in gold with intricate mother of pearl designs on the feet. We then spent some time wandering around, we walked through a park before deciding to head back to the Hostel.
We learnt from our bag food incident and decided on a classic Pad-Thai for dinner. We then got in a cab to the Sky Bar, the world’s highest open-air bar, unfortunately Andy didn’t meet the strict dress code (no shorts) so he wasn’t allowed up. Our traveller friend and I got into the ear popping lift to the 64th floor, it was clear when the lift doors opened what all of the fuss was about. It was fancy but my God it was expensive, glancing at the drinks menu for the cheapest I ordered a £12 coke! I guess that is the price you pay for a view that cool.
Exiled Andy went for a stroll around the local area while we were taking in the view. Turns out there isn’t much going on around there and the hotel the bar is on top of is actually pretty run down – I guess they make their money from the bar.
A couple more nights for us!
As we had only booked two nights at Bed Station ☹ the “planned” portion of our trip was over. What to do next? Chiang Mai was a strong contender but we hadn’t researched it yet and we didn’t feel ready to leave Bangkok so we booked a couple of nights in Yaks House Hostel on the other side of town. This would give us a few days to work out our plan, sort out some admin and see a different side of Bangkok. It was a really nice place, more out of the way than Bed Station and a lot quieter (we didn’t see another guest while we were there).
From the Hostel we strolled to the Wanglang Market to find something for lunch, this was a real locals market and the prices reflected that; the food was good and cheap. We stayed around the Hostel that night and found a brilliant spot for dinner.
It was now our last full day in Bangkok and we had decided on our next destination; Chiang Mai. Initially we thought we would fly there but the price of flights started to add up, instead we found a sleeper train so decided that was the option for us. We headed towards the main station to buy our tickets for the following day – we took the orange flag boat down the river which I really enjoyed (it seems I have developed a thing for boats). We mingled around China town which was very impressive grabbing our tickets and lunch as we went.
That evening we got dressed up and flew down the river again to get some dinner, after walking up and down we came across Nalin Kitchen a nice Thai restaurant serving the best Pad-Thai since we arrived. A few stops on the train later we arrived at the Banyan Tree Hotel and jumped in the lift to the Moon Bar, Andy was appropriately dressed this time so admittance wasn’t an issue, they were also much more lenient on the dress code than at the Sky Bar. The view was still amazing and the drinks still expensive (although reasonable compared to the Sky Bar). We enjoyed our drinks just before the heavens opened and we decided to call it a night.
On the way up to the Moon bar, we were joined in the lift by an elder English gentleman and his ‘date’. Another guy in the lift clocked the situation and gave Andy a few glances – she was a very well dressed, beautiful, young Thai woman who didn’t appear to speak much English… They went in and settled down for dinner which was presumably ruined by the downpour, but it was an entertaining lift journey with the guy in there clearly finding the situation very amusing!