Huray 5 days getaway!
– I don’t usually post travel journal (if that even matter. lol).
– All the photos are not entirely mine but are permitted to be published. Photos without the source mentioned are either taken by me or my other friends.
– I’m not a Buddhist. So I apologize in advance if there are any mistaken Buddhist references. Please feel free to correct me.
Day 1 – Friday, 15 October 2016
OFF WE GO!
First of all, let me show you the squad.
Anyway, prior to our departure, some ‘bombing accident’ happened in Bangkok. It wasn’t that major but enough to make us waver. We almost decided not to go but then we braved ourselves and just off with it. Aaaand… on the Thusrday (14/10/16) the King of Thailand, King Bhumibol Adulyadej passed away! Oh no no no… It seemed like the universe didn’t bless us to go to Bangkok. But we carried on anyway, even with a mindset that holiday places will be closed there. In the end, we were glad that we didn’t cancel the trip. Because Bangkok (even in its mourning atmosphere) is amazing!
We flew from Jakarta Soekarno Hatta to Bangkok Don Mueang at around 10am and arrived around 1pm (no time difference between Bangkok and Jakarta). Through our flight, with a little chitchat with other passengers, we learned that any festive activities in Thailand are canceled due to the mourning period. Well, we were on the way anyway, so there’s no turning back. Arriving in Don Mueang, the immigration line were packed with people. Let me repeat; PACKED with people! We almost spend one and a half hour to pass through the immigration gate.
Once we have done with it, we directly bought a local SIM card. Near the exit gate, on the first floor, people were offering the prepaid package local SIM card. They came to the new coming tourist hoping that they would buy their package. It looked like some kind of sellers competition, but actually what they were offering was the same, so you don’t have to worry getting higher price from different vendor with the same service.
We ended up buying a 7-days unlimited internet package (with some phone credit, I guess) for THB299 (app. USD10 or IDR120k) which is not a very bad deal. We only bought one SIM card and the rest of us could tether from that. Mind you, if you were willing to use this method, you have to prepare some powerbank handy. Because tethering process could drain out the ‘hotspot’ phone’s battery.
We took Uber from the airport to the hostel. You could use taxis, by queuing on the taxi counter at Arriving Terminal Gate 8 (not complicated, you can easily spot it on the corner). But that time the taxi line was craaaazy! Seriously. They said that the street was packed with traffic due to the mourning period (again). People of Bangkok were driving to prayer places to pay their respect for the late King, which happened to be located near the touristic areas (near our hostel, as well). Hence, the traffic, right? Oh, by the way, you could also use buses and other coaches to Khao San Road (some kind of tourist street) but since our hostel was not exactly on Khao San Road, we weren’t confident enough to take them.
That traffic also made our Uber came so very late. We waited for a good half hour at the airport. The wait was not the big deal, even though we were hungry as hell. What worried us the most was that the GPS signal could not exactly locate the position of our Uber car and we could not communicate very well with the driver because he didn’t speak good English. After some times, the Uber car finally arrived and I actually felt so relieved. Pheww. Anyway, we were waiting at the wrong Gate 6, where only taxis and public transportation were allowed pull over there. We should have waited at Gate 3 or 4 (Okay, then, for next time Don Mueang!) The Uber cost THB470 (app. USD14 or IDR180k) including Toll ways.
Even though the Uber driver did not speak good English, he was very friendly. I did not know much about the street condition, because I slept through the ride and suddenly arrived in front of our hostel. Lol. We stayed at Baan Namtech Hostel. It is a very cheap hostel with great staffs. For 4 nights and 4 people, it cost THB5,640, so it was around THB352 per night per person (app. USD10 or IDR130k) which is a good deal. We met the staff (or the owner I guess), his name was Job. He explained everything very well and gave us some recommendation for restaurant and any means of transportation to get by. He’s very helpful and super friendly, too. The hostel itself was nice and clean. It stood near a river (or canal) bank. Its common room as well as breakfast balcony that overlooked that river was nice and relaxing. The overall ambience was great.
Once we put our baggage, we realized that we soaked in sweat. Bangkok was hot, people! It’s similar to Jakarta, though. We briefly changed and hunt for food! (we were very hungry, remember?) Khao San Road and around, which was the street food place, was within walking distance. So we walked there, and along the way we found flood of people wearing black. It turned out that these people came from the Temple to pray for the King. From mix sources, we learned that the mourning period will last for 100 days and monks as well as the royal family members will pray to the temple for 100 days and people will wear black for 100 days as well. I didn’t bring black outfit (I don’t even have one I guess), so I definitely stood out with my rather coloured clothes. I just hope that the locals wouldn’t hate me that much for not being mournful enough.
Anyway, we ate a lot of street foods! The price was considerably cheap, so we went a little overboard. I went back to the hostel with bloated gut. It was horrible being so gluttonous. We found some gems in the street, which was the Magic Max restaurant. It was a street restaurant that served Thai food. The gem was their Sticky Mango Rice. Man, it was smoothly gorgeous! It tasted none like any other sticky rice I’ve tasted before. Definitely worth a try!
And also, I found the fried insect vendors. The last time I went to Bangkok, I really wanted to try fried Scorpion. But I didn’t try it because I didn’t have the gut to eat it. Lol! Then I was back and finally had some courage to try one! Yeay!
I thought it was going to be mushy or horrible tasting. But it turned out that it was crunchy and tasty. Maybe the taste came from the seasoning, but anyhow I liked it a lot. If it wasn’t that expensive, which was THB100 for a piece (app. USD3 or IDR40k), I think I’d buy a plastic full and snack on it like crisps. Oh, and I saw fried spiders! Man, those were such huge spiders, even bigger that the Scorpion that I ate. I was curious for that one, but I didn’t have a budget (and the guts, too, lol!) for that. For one spider it cost THB500 (app. USD18 or IDR200k). For that much money, I could eat 3 full meals for a day in the street of Bangkok. Well, it wouldn’t be that easy to find that big a-spider, I think the price was worth it, though. Maybe, for next time, hopefully.
Day 2 – Saturday, 16 October 2016
ALONG THE CHAO PHRAYA
On this day we started our city tour. The route will follow the Chao Phraya River. The Chao Phraya river which means The River of Kings is the most important river in Bangkok as well as in Thailand. In earlier times, goods from outside Siam (especially from China) were delivered through this river. Probably that helped drive the wheel of economy by that era. The development along the river also shaped the history of nowadays Thailand. That is why many historical touristic attractions are located along the banks.
Sanam Luang Park
First stop, Sanam Luang Park. All the attractions are within the walking distance. The weather was nice (well, it was hot but it was okay) so we decided to give walk a try. Job, the hostel staff, told us to stop by the Sanam Luang Park. It was a very big park near the Grand Palace. He kind of warned us that that day, the park and the palace were going to be crowded by Thais (with additional from the northern regions) who would pay their respect for the late King. But he didn’t know for sure what time it would take place nor would there be any other gathering happening.
We walked for around 20 minutes from the hostel and arrived around 10am. There, we already noticed some preparation going. Mass of people wearing black started to crowd the side of the park near the Palace entrance. There were also some charity organizations handed out some freebies, waters and foods. Some tents were built for emergency and medical purposes, with nursing station and all. As well as, mobile toilet installed along the park.
At first, we didn’t know what was going to happen, but we asked a few standby reporters from local news, and they said that these people were waiting for the King’s body to be transported to The Grand Palace. Hmm… no wonder people were crowding the street overlooking The Grand Palace gate. Initially, we decided to wait with the crowd, but the heat has already beaten us up, we had to retrieve and found some haven for shelter, which happened to be the Navy Wives Association Shop.
Honestly, I was amazed by the love of Thai people for their late King. I didn’t know anything about King Bhumibol Adulyadej before, but from this reaction I could get the feeling that he was a great King, compassionate and loved by the people. Brought up in a republic country where as long as I can remember, people always displeased by the leader, the devotion of these people didn’t make sense to me. It seemed like too good to be true. To me this was extraordinary and I was actually touched.
Little did we know, later that day, this happened on the very park:
The Grand Palace
The Grand palace was built in 1782 and since then was function as Royal residence of Thai Kings and his courts. But since the reign of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX), The Grand Palace was no longer used as the royal residence. King Rama IX, since 1925, resided in The Dusit Palace, on the other side of the city. Other than functioning as tourist attraction, the palace also holds royal ceremonies and state functions.
Unfortunately, since the King’s death, The Grand Palace is not open for public until the mourning period is over. The King’s body was moved there, so the mourning and the prayers will take place in the Palace for 100 days. We could only catch a glimpse of its glamorous roofs. Just from the outside, we could imagine how grand it must be. Next time, then. Hopefully, next time. Haha.
Wat in Thai means Temple (or prayer places). Wat Pho is a complex of Buddhist temples closest to The Grand Palace. This temple is also considered as first-class royal temple. The admission fee for this attraction is THB100 (app. USD3 or IDR40k). Wat Pho was built before King Rama I moved the capital of Siam from Thonburi (near Wat Arun), located at the other side of the river, to Bangkok (Wat Pho’s side of the river). Thonburi and Bangkok used to be different administrative regions, but now Thonburi is a part of Bangkok. During the reign of King Rama I, the renovation of Wat Pho took place. He moved Buddha images from abandoned temples from the last reigning dynasty to Wat Pho. Up until now the collection of Buddha Images in Wat Pho reached up to 394 images. Wat Pho is also considered as the leading school of traditional Thai Massage in Thailand. So if you’re interested, you could spend some time here trying out the ultimate traditional Thai Massage. We didn’t try it, though.
But, the highlight of this temple complex is The Reclining Buddha image. The image is actually huge. The dimension of the statue is 15 meters tall and 46 meters long. Located in a normal size temple made the image seemed like he’s been squeezed into the building. The feet were 5 meters long and decorated with mother-of-pearls illusion of 108 Buddha’s characteristics that leads to his perfection as Buddha. I thought that there was only one Reclining Buddha image, which is in this Wat Pho, Thailand. I didn’t know that this is an actual pose of Buddha. It was the pose for his last day on earth before he went back to Heaven. That was why the position was reclined as if he was half-sleeping waiting for his time to come. Seriously, I initially thought that the maker of this image was being playful (I’m sorry!). And apparently many famous temples around the world also housed other Reclining Buddha image. It’s good to know something new, so that next time I’d be talking about Reclining Buddha I wouldn’t sound like an idiot.
To enter this temple, you have to be properly dressed with clothes that don’t expose too much skin and shoulder. You should also remove your shoes before entering the building. Surrounding The Reclining Buddha, there were many intricate details such as murals, wall decorations, as well as prayer tools. What caught my attention the most were 108 bronze bowls installed along the wall where you could put 108 pieces of coins in each bowls. When the coin enters the bowl, it will create a clanging sound. So that when some people drop the coins simultaneously the noises will sound rather melodious. Maybe some would think it sounded chaotic but to me it was nice hearing a little ‘clang clang… clang clang clang… clang’. Anyway, putting 108 coins in that 108 bowls is said to bring you good luck.
Flower Market / Little India?
Next we decided to go to the flower market or some kind of little India. But apparently we kind of failed because we didn’t find anything that even looked like a flower market or little India. Job said when he was a little, his mom used to shop there and the market was famous. Our expectation was that the Flower Market would look like Khao San Road with more Indian inspired dishes. After that we gave up looking for the place and just went to a nearby KFC in the Old Siam Plaza.
We had to walk from the Old Siam Plaza to Wat Arun because no Uber or taxis would want to take us there. The traffic was so bad that day (now we know why), one taxi driver adviced us to walk. But thankfully we’ve been recharged by the KFC so that slowly but surely we arrived at the crossing boat pier (we have to cross the Chao phraya river to get to Wat Arun) safely on foot.
The crossing boat to Wat Arun cost THB6 (app. US cent 17 or IDR2.5k), extremely cheap, but the boat ride only took about five minutes per trip. The admission fee to Wat Arun was THB50 (app. USD1.5 or IDR20k). The Wat Arun complex is noticeably smaller than Wat Pho. This is the only tourist attraction that lies on the west side of the river. Wat Arun is also known as The Temple of Dawn. The name came from the Hindu God Aruna, which is the God of the rising sun. The name ‘Temple of Dawn’ also related to the history of King Taksin (Burmese King who took over Thailand before King Rama I) who arrived at the temple when the dawn was breaking. The first light of the morning reflects off the surface of the temple, but people say the sunset view is also magnificent. We arrived there around 4.30pm and left just before sunset, so we didn’t get to see how it looked.
Asiatique the Riverfront
Asiatique is some kind of a shopping place by the river. It was once a trade port, but then it was transformed into a mall and one of the hippest places in Bangkok. It is a semi-outdoor mall with rows and rows of boutiques and restaurants. The vibe reminded me of a mall in Bandung, PVJ. Other than mall, there are also Muay Thai performance and Cabaret Show. But once again, they are not operating due to the mourning period. But for around THB1200 (app. USD35 or IDR450k) for each performance, trying that out might be a good bargain.
We didn’t do much there but we dined at a very nice seafood place called Chic Grill. We went to that place after reading some recommendation from someone’s blog that mentioned this restaurant as having great seafood. It is not recommended for no reason because the food was actually amazing! Gosh, we ordered a Tom Yum Gung and I couldn’t forget the taste until now. I mean, it was seriously good! It wasn’t that cheap, in fact we spent THB1,135 (app. USD35 or IDR440k) for 4. The most expensive food we had in Thailand, but it was so freakishly worth it.
Day 3 – Sunday, 17 October 2016
Chatuchack Weekend Market
Since it was still the weekend we decided to go to the famous weekend market. Before we went to Bangkok, everyone suggested us to go to Chatuchak market (yes, we Indonesian love to shop). It opened from very early in the morning to almost midnight. We went early (around 9am) so that it wouldn’t be that crowded, because when it got noon, more mass of people started to crowd the market.
We took a bus from near our hostel (If I am not mistaken it was bus no 3 or 523). The ride took less than 30 minutes and it cost only THB16 (app USD cent 45 or IDR6k). For 30 minutes ride, the fee was cheap enough. Even so, when we got back to the hostel, we unknowingly took a free ride bus. Apparently in Bangkok there were two types of public buses; one with fee (usually air conditioned) and one was free.
The weekend market itself, or also known as JJ Market, was huge! They sell everything with low prices. You can get things for half the price than in Asiatique. They sell souvenirs, clothes, kitchen utensils, and even artsy stuff like paintings. We bought our souvenir there. We bought t-shirts from a seller who speaks Bahasa Indonesia. Lol. My friend, Santy, was crazy shopping for clothes. It really was a shopper’s paradise (or hell) because you could lose track of time and money as well. I imagined if I were to shop here with my mom, I would’ve pout in some corner waiting all day for her to finish shopping.
When we finished shopping, around noon, it was raining hard. Maybe because the previous two days I was always complaining about the hot weather, the universe gave us heavy rain. We went back to the hostel before going out again to clean up from our soaking wet clothes and did some laundry. We were waiting for the rain to subside at the hostel’s balcony and saw people fishing in the river. And they actually caught some fish! Wow. I don’t think there are any living creatures in the river of Jakarta.
Siam Discovery (Madame Tussauds)
After we shopped at the Weekend Market, we were going to shop at the mall. From what I heard, malls in Bangkok are huge and sophisticated, just the image of a shopper’s paradise. Well, we didn’t really shop there, though. We just wanted to see how the malls were, because we’re poor. Maybe, next time, when we can bathe in money, we’ll shop in malls like madman. Lol.
You can go there by bus or BTS Skytrain (Bangkok Transit System not Behind the Scene. Boo! Bad jokes). But based on Job’s recommendation, we went there by boat. This boat is a smaller version than the boat that we took on the Chao Phraya river the other day and it does not go across the Chao Phraya River but the Klong Saeng Saeb canal. The fee itself was quite cheap, THB8 (app. USD cent 25 or IDR3k). I wasn’t sure at first, but I think the locals actually relied on this type of transportation, since the passengers always seem to fully occupy the boat. I mean, people would actually commute by this each day. In parts of Indonesia that I have been, I could only find this kind of transportation for amusement purpose only, never functionally. One of Bangkok interesting highlights for me.
It is wobbly, of course, since it’s a smaller boat. And the way we get in and out was quite daring for me, so I ended up needing assistance when stepping out of the boat. Rather embarrassing really, because people could easily tell that I was a tourist. Moreover, I guess I was the only one who wasn’t wearing black.
We finally arrived at Siam Discovery. Anyway, when you arrived at this spot, you can go to 4 different shopping center; Siam Discovery, Siam Paragon, Siam Center and MBK. Those malls are connected by bridges too, so that you don’t need to get out to the street to hop to another mall. By the way, for muslim tourist, there are prayer rooms available in MBK. But, I don’t know about the other malls, because I didn’t get to have a look.
The Madame Tussauds Wax Museum is also located in Siam Discovery. I didn’t go there because I’ve been to two Madame Tussauds already, but two of my friend, Santy and Ichwan did. Apparently, you can pay for cheaper ticket if you book tickets online. A walk-in purchase could cost you around THB999 (app. USD30 or IDR400k), but for an online purchase it will cost you THB790 (app. USD23 or IDR300k). Even more price cut when you buy the ticket before 12pm, the ticket will only cost THB645 (app. USD18 or IDR250k).
While waiting for the others exploring Madame Tussauds, I and Windra explored the malls a little bit. The vibe is similar with big malls in Jakarta such as Grand Indonesia or Senayan City. At the ground floor there was this small space décor exhibition. The artsy décor stuff that they were displaying was actually good. I liked it a lot.
Honestly, I am not a mall girl, I get exhausted walking around malls. We, then, looked for a food place to eat. I think we crossed Siam Paragon, until we found a Japanese curry restaurant that Raditya Dika (famous Indonesian blogger/vlogger/standup-comedian) vlogged about. The place is called Coco Ichibanya, the curry is great, too. Good for hungry tummy.
After we were full, we went to Madame Tussauds again and wait for the others there. Apparently it took a looong time for them to finish the tour. Probably, because it was so much fun and interesting. So, if you haven’t been to Madame Tussauds, you might want to try that.
Day 4 – Monday, 18 October 2016
Thai tea has become a trend in Indonesia. I, basically, enjoy any Thai teas in restaurants in Indo but I even more enjoyed Thai tea (milk tea) that is sold along the street of Bangkok. Apparently, there is this local tea brand that has been widely used in Thailand. The Thai Tea Mix. Maybe this brand is as common as Sariwangi in Indonesia. Before we begin our trip, we hunt for the tea first. You could grab them in some Chinese store (like we did in Tong Hua Seng) or big department store like Tokyu. But you wouldn’t easily spot it in the market or convenient store.
I bought a pack and I tried it at home with additional condensed milk and it tasted like the Thai teas I had in Bangkok! If you’re a Thai tea lover, once you get to Thailand, you have to grab some of that.
Ekkamai – Pattaya
This day we went to Pattaya. We were looking for more outdoor activities. Since Pattaya is famous for its beach and the most reacheable destination from Bangkok, we decided to go there. We took a bus from Ekkamai bus terminal. From the hostel to Ekkamai bus terminal, we took Uber, because it was quite far. The Uber cost around THB200 (app. USD6 or IDR80k) which is not bad for 4 people. You could take BTS or city bus to Ekkamai, but it will take quite some time. The bus to Pattaya departs every one hour from 7 to late at night. The fee is THB108 (app. USD3 OR idr40k) per trip. By the way, there is also direct bus route Pattaya – Swarnabhumi Aiport, as well.
We arrived around lunch time in Pattaya. The street was not complicated, and Pattaya Beach is within walking distance from Pattaya bus terminal. Since it was lunch time, we stopped for a bite at a KFC (again!) along the way. In this KFC I just realized that they have this menu that we didn’t have back in Indo. It was called Chizza! A delicious chicken breast fillet filled with cheezy goodness and I hate how we don’t have that here! Why KFC Indonesia? Why??
After lunch we resumed our walk to the beach. You could also take a blue pickup wagon that passed along the street for we never knew how much, but if the weather was okay, it was best to walk. For me (probably because I’m Indonesian), I didn’t find the beach extraordinary. It was nice and relaxing, but not a bucket list worth of Thailand trip. But the good thing was, because it was Monday there were not so many people around. If you don’t bring beach towel, you could rent a chair for THB50 an hour (app. USD1.5 or IDR20k).
Weren’t it for the sudden heavy rain, I could spend my time relaxing on the chair, reading my novel, sipping coconut water, while listening to the swashing waves. But, just around 10 minutes we were chilling on the beach, sudden heavy rain came pouring so that we have to shelter across the street away from the beach.
The rain did not seem to cease. So what better way to wait that eating? (Again. I know) If I am not mistaken, we waited for almost two hours before the rain could finally subside. It was really really heavy that the street was flooded. After that we just walked along the street, get in and out of some shopping malls, and back in the street again, looking for street foods. Maybe because of the rain, there weren’t as many street food vendors as we expected. We found some near Boys Town, it was good enough but still rather quiet. We were mistaken for Thais by the sellers there.
We took the blue wagon pickup thing to take us back to Bus terminal. The driver charged us THB150 (app. USD5 or IDR60k) for four people. We had walked further away from the Bus terminal so that walking back there would be extremely exhausted and long. We took a 7.40pm bus to Ekkamai and arrived around 10pm. From there we took Uber again to the hostel and arrived around 11pm. Whew, what a soaking day.
Day 5 – Tuesday, 19 October 2016
SAWADEE KRAB, BANGKOK
It was time to go home! Oh no! 4 days seemed like passing by. There are still some things that I have yet to try. I haven’t watched the cabaret show, I haven’t got to see the National Museum (I’m a museum kind of person, everywhere I travel, museum has always been in my itinerary), I haven’t get to try the fried spider. Lol. Anyway, been there 2 times now, I can only tell that Bangkok feels like home and I’m really looking forward for another chance to be there.