As it is cold in Europe (even in Seville), it is time for us to find some sun in Asia.
From Seville to Bangkok
We ran a simulation to find out which route was the most economical to link Spain and Siem Reap. Result: Barcelona – Bangkok. Since we liked the city last year, we decided to stay there for a week before going to Cambodia.
Honestly I don’t know if it was a good idea: we had to fly from Seville to Barcelona, sleep there one night, then Barcelona to Moscow (3h45 stopover) and then Moscow to Bangkok – in a small plane where even I am cramped. It is thus with aches and pains everywhere that we arrive in Bangkok in the morning.
Note: after calculation, we made this trip for 450€/person hotel included, compared to 647€/person for a more comfortable plane and 3 hours less. So yes, it’s worth it.
Airport => City center
After 1h30 of queue for immigration (for Asia, I now use my Vietnamese passport instead of the French passport, to save a little space on it), we retrieve our luggage and then resume our reflexes of adventurers who arrive in a new country: withdrawal of money (200 baht for each withdrawal so I withdrew a max cad 10000 baht); purchase of a SIM card at True Moove.
This time, instead of taking public transportation, we decide to take a cab (because we are exhausted). I show the driver the address written in Latin alphabet (Google maps what) and the driver has a lot of trouble because he only understands Thai writing. He hands me his phone so that I write the name of the hotel but his keyboard is Thai! So we had to compare his google maps to mine to finally find the location of the hotel. Next time I think I will enter the GPS coordinates lol
All this cost us 475 baht (350 for the race, 50 for the airport parking and 75 for the toll because we preferred to take the highway to go faster). Absolutely not economical vs. the subway and the bus but the driver is funny and I was able to sit for the whole trip at least!
So early the things left at the hotel (and the hidden valuables), we go out to eat. We discover with joy the proximity of our hotel with a school (which says school says street food cheap for children). We opt for a bui bui specialized in duck/owl soups. 150 bahts for two, not bad for a first meal.
With a full stomach, it’s time to pamper our tired muscles. We walk 10mn and find the massage center that we liked last time, in the middle of Chinatown. JB opts for a foot massage while my aches and pains appreciate a real traditional Thai massage (which looks like torture). On my way to the massage area, I notice a masseur walking on the back of a client. Frightened, I show this to my masseuse by saying “no” with my fingers. The only being in the world allowed to walk on my back is Rosalie (my cat), nobody else! But I didn’t tell her that because I don’t know how to mime this oh so indispensable information.
Repaired for 6€ each, we go back to the hotel to take a nap (too jetlagged) before going out in the evening for a Thai – Vietnamese “fusion” restaurant.
The next day, I wake up happily at 4am thinking I’ve had a full night (that’s the drawback when you have a room without windows, you lose all sense of time) and I’ll keep waking up at 4-5am like that for several days. JB adapts immediately to the Asian schedule (luck) whereas in that sense it’s normally very hard.
As a result, between 4 and 9 a.m., every day, I read, I think about my life, my work, my cat, the list of dishes I want to eat in Japan/Vietnam/Korea. I also think about those who come here for 2 weeks of vacation and do 1 week of jet-lag.
P/s : if you are in the same case as me, you should know that 7 eleven is always open 24/24, ideal for a night/early morning snack.
We go to the Siam Square district hoping to find a place in a well frequented restaurant. But the queue is so long that we end up at the food court next door. Sorry I only talk about food but actually I come here for two things: shopping and eating.
This is a soup (you can choose the type of pasta you want, so cool!)
And I still love Thai papaya salad.
Then follows a long shopping session to complete my face care routine (my excuse isn’t at all justified is that it’s too hot and too humid, I need specific hehehhe products)
Shopping is tiring, so we end up squatting in the ephemeral food market next door (a bubble tea is crying).
In the evening, we decide to go to the Khao San night market (a well shared address among backpackers). We explore Khao San street and the street parallel to it.
I must say that I am quite disappointed by this market which always proposes the same dishes (pad thai, kebabs and fruit juices). The prices aren’t that interesting compared to the market seen in the afternoon. Jb was able to taste a scorpion at a tourist price (100 baht instead of 30 baht); but the other dishes are all tourist-friendly.
I may have waited too long, so I’m disappointed and I end up drowning my sorrow in a (very good) Vietnamese sandwich. I resist the urge to do a facial at 300 baht but given the neighborhood – too touristy – I am more likely to find myself disfigured (lesson learned in Budapest).
The next day, we are motivated to go to the Royal Palace – because it is always invaded by thousands of tourists and especially groups of 60. Bad luck, the gray sky turned into a cloudless sky and we find ourselves like idiots to be burned by the sun (my SPF 30 cream was clearly insufficient).
But in exchange, everything is grandiose. We walked walked walked walked nonstop. The royal district is so huge that between the first entrance and the real entrance of the former Royal Palace, it happened a sunburn and a bottle of water.
Tourists who aren’t fully clothed are directly away from the crowd (by this I mean uncovered calves and arms, they were not in bikinis either). We pay the entrance fee (500 bahts each, cash only) and discover with surprise the famous jadeite Buddha statue. It is really small! But hey, it’s like going to see the biggest diamond in the world and saying to ourselves, when we see its size “hein c’est tout?”.
To emphasize it well (otherwise it isn’t seen), they put a golden altar of several meters very elaborate. Today he is dressed with a golden dress, it is his winter outfit. Yes he has different clothes (3 in all, too stylish), there is even a museum dedicated to all his clothes (and other things, that we obviously did not visit)
The heat finishes us and this accumulation of gold and sparkling stones burns our eyes, we are motivated to go and see the funeral palace of the former king of Thailand.
Seen on the way :
I am bluffed by the Thai organization. The entrance is divided in two (foreigners/thai). Foreigners must give their name first name and nationality. Then we go through a long way where several people give us things: flyer, cakes, water, umbrella, badge.
Thousands of chairs are already there. In fact, it is to better organize the visits. They make the visitors sit in rows. Cakes and bottled water have been provided so that people don’t faint in the heat. And umbrellas, so that they don’t die under the sun (unlike us who didn’t see an umbrella). Every 15 minutes or so, they bring in 3 rows of tourists.
The visit is done very quickly for us because it is already noon and the sun is too strong. There are several exhibitions explaining the work of the craftsmen, the king’s youth… we understand better why it took a year of work and 30 million euros.
On the way out, we give back the badge, the umbrella… then we end up back in Chinatown for a seafood lunch and a massage (yes for 5€ we can’t do without).
In the evening, we go to the Korean Town plaza where there are several Korean restaurants.
The barbecue at Jang Won’s is impressive with a large number of side dishes provided. Please note that in South Korea, the quality of the side dishes is as important as the quality of the dish. On the other hand, here, everything is very spicy, I found myself with a swollen mouth at the end of the meal. But how good it was! (Besides, I didn’t even take care of the cooking)
Today, we are working. Our clients have kindly accepted that we work Asian hours. So when they leave for lunch, we have finished our day. And when they are still sleeping, we work (in “night shift” mode).
I was supposed to work from a coworking space but the police blocked off part of the street at the exact spot where I had to cross to reach the space. I can quickly guess that it is a bomb threat. And while the police are working to investigate the nature of the bomb, the curious unaware of the danger are all there, filming the scene live on Facebook. Wait, I’ll share mine with you…
No, I’m just kidding, I’m the type to run away as fast as I can. Finally, I work from my hostel. Later, we will learn that two fake bombs were found in a garbage can at the entrance of the Burmese embassy
Speaking of the hostel, we are at Bunny Burrow Hostel, a very clean, well decorated hostel, but unfortunately our room has no windows.
I am no longer used to sharing the bathroom. With the humidity, the spicy food, the air conditioning, my skin screams for help, it doesn’t understand anything anymore. The advantage is that the usual blemish areas become clear, but the disadvantage is that other areas, such as the T-zone is affected even though I have had no imperfections for a year. A quick visit to Boots later (a kind of parapharmacy), I am well equipped with make-up removers and cleansers. And I change my routine (no more cream in the morning, just a serum, but full hydration only in the evening because of the air conditioning).
It’s been several days that we try to dine at T&K seafood in Chinatown but without success because we arrive either too early (for lunch while the restaurant is open from 4pm), or too late (about twenty people are already queuing), we motivate ourselves to come at 7pm. Fortunately we wait only 5 minutes and we enjoy seafood at low price
We end the evening with a drink at the rooftop of the Banyan Tree, a 5 star hotel. It is so upscale that any guest coming with shorts and sandals is lent pants and closed shoes (this rule only applies to men). Cocktails cost about $15, and for dinner you have to order a dish that costs a minimum of $50. The service is average, but you should visit at least one rooftop in Bangkok
We are invited to dinner at the home of a fellow SEO colleague of JB who has been living in Bangkok for 2-3 years with his family. He describes a very cool professional world, a very zen life, the “everything is easy” side. The little I have seen of Thailand also shows the incredible ease that this country offers. I really feel that you don’t have to think a lot to lead a good life in Thailand – whereas in Vietnam, to lead a good life you have to have a lot of money, and to earn a lot of money you have to work hard and be stressed to death.
We thus end our stay in Bangkok.
To be honest, this time we are less impressed by Bangkok than our first visit here a year ago. Which is normal: Last year, we had just left Nepal and India where we had experienced forced vegetarianism, so arriving in Bangkok and enjoying its non-vegan food was a lifesaver.
This year, we leave Seville – a city where we can do everything on foot, and eat well – for Bangkok, where there are so many people that we don’t even want to take the subway. Add to this a feeling of guilt where we spend more time eating and getting massages than visiting Bangkok 😀
I think that if we go back there, we will prefer a hotel closer to Siam Square, where I will be less dependent on the Uber, and where there will be more choice of restaurants.
Part 2: Practical Tips
- Plane : Sevilla => Barcelona (Ryanair) + one night in hotel + Barcelona => Bangkok (Aeroflot) : 450€/person
- Hotel: 20€ per night, private room for two
- Restaurants :
- bui bui 40 to 60 baht per person
- restaurants : 100 to 250 baht per person
- Uber: between 50 baht and 150 baht
- Airport => Downtown :
- Cab: 475 bahts (50 bahts parking included + 120 bahts for the highway)
- Grab : 350 baht (without taking the highway)
- Uber: 420 baht (by taking the highway)
- We took a hostel near Chinatown, but we would have liked to be closer to Siam Square
- There are 2 types of subways in Bangkok: the aerial subway and the underground subway, to go from one type to the other, you have to walk a little bit
- There are 2 convenient apps for transportation in Bangkok: Uber and Grab. Grab is cheaper for long distances.
- If you’re alone, you can opt for scooters on Uber
- In the street, if you see bikers with a number on the back, it’s a motorcycle cab. There are also tuk-tuks, which are more expensive than Uber on short distances, in addition, you’ll get dust in your face so I advise against these modes of transport
- To buy Asian cosmetic products, I have already written a detailed guide here
- Here are some precious advices from our expatriate friend in Bangkok
At the level visit, I advise you Wat Pho and if you cross the river by boat you can do Wat Arun. In Wat Pho, there is a massage school, it’s often nice to stop for a foot massage or other. Otherwise, regarding massage, avoid the small lounges with girls waiting in front, even if it’s generally very good everywhere. If you’re looking for something better (but also more expensive), we like to go to Health land, there are several in BKK. Or ask at your hotel.My favorite temple is Wat Saket, it is very small but on a small hill.If you want to see old temples and get out of Bangkok, I advise you to go to the city of Ayutthaya, accessible by train from BKK. It is done in the daytime by leaving early.You are here for a weekend, so if you like walking, don’t hesitate to come to Chatuchak, it’s very big and accessible by BTS.The largest park in Bangkok is called Lumphini.You can walk around the streets of China Town and nearby there is Little India too.If you want to do something different from what the tourists do in Bangkok, you can go to Bang Krachao island, it’s the green lung of Bangkok, quite unknown, you can go there by boat and then you can rent bikes to ride around the island. There is a floating market (but without really boats) on weekends. To be checked. Bang Nam Phueng floating market. You can also ask on the spot. For lunch you can eat at the market or at BangkokTreehouse for example.For the rest, follow the guides and ask me for advice if you see something that interests you.We eat well everywhere in Bangkok. I advise you to have an apero roof top, the view is always beautiful. I often go to the Octave roof top because it’s close to my house but the Vertigo – Banyan tree is top too and not far from your hotel. We like to go to eat at the cabbages and condoms, the place is funny and the terrace is under the trees, very nice. Don’t eat inside it’s creepy. After we are rarely disappointed in Bangkok, look at Tripadvisor, it is never wrong.