So I arrived at the Bangkok International Airport approximately two hours too early. I figured that being late would be pretty unacceptable considering the noise I make if one of them isn’t waiting for me at Belfast when I fly in from Stansted on a monthly basis. Plus, I had Prison Break and the airport had decent eateries – so I muddled by! Despite my generous timings, I still managed to miss the buggers. I waited at the wrong gate and Mum had to holler the length of the International Arrivals Terminal before I realised it was them. Should really try and unpack those glasses.
After Mum had her first Thai bust up with at least three separate taxi drivers (none of whom had a boot big enough for their bags, quelle surprise), we hit the road into Bangkok. Little did I know that Mum had organised a ‘best price’ of 700 baht - twice what I had paid for my trip in. It soon became apparent that keeping an eye on this pair was going to be fairly labour intensive. I feel like I’m transitioning from the caree to the carer…. Worrying state of affairs.
Things took on a more relaxed feel when we rocked up at the Four Seasons. After giving us a very generous upgrade, we found ourselves in a beautiful room. Mum didn’t even ring and complain about it – has to be a first! Thought I’d include a few pics of the place, particularly before we wrecked the room….
With an hour to spare, we hit the pool and had a few sneaky cocktails before we headed out for dinner. Things looked a little less rosy when the bill arrived – I hadn’t paid those prices since I left London! Perhaps just as well that I’m not expected to foot the bill for those rounds.. Thought I should include a group picture whilst we were still in a spirit of love and harmony!
We met up with TJ and went to ‘Cabbages and Condoms’ – a great restaurant in Bangkok, the proceeds from which are used for a sexual health programme. They’re pretty consistent with their theme – lightshades, model men, santa claus – seems they can be used for anything!
After a very good dinner, Mum had scoped out a nice bar at the top of the Banyon Tree hotel The Moon Bar is on 59th floor of the hotel and overlooks the whole of the city.
The rain seemed to have realised that it was now winter time so we had a dry evening which makes all the difference when you’re on a bar on the top of a building with no roof! Had a bit of a play with Mum’s new camera – I’m so artistic you see.
Dad was pretty wrecked so I said my (very very sad) goodbye to TJ and headed back to the hotel for another little Prison Break fix. Tough life hey?!
The next morning, we had a very early start thanks to Mum and her militant schedule! At least the early wake up call was softened by complimentary tea and coffee brought to the room – these guys are posh as. Trip Advisor had pointed her in the direction of a good guide who rocked up (with her bus) and took the three of us round Bangkok for the day.
We headed to the Royal Palace first – which is a pretty impressive spectacle. The Royal Family don’t live there anymore but it is still absolutely revered by the Thai people, who are monarchy mad! They are really strict about dress code etc but we were well warned so we seemed to past muster. Think photos really do the talking for the Palace so thought I’d include a bit of a selection!
Before we went in...
A painter touching up a mural.
The famous Emerald Buddha - photo thanks to a serious zoom because you're not allowed cameras anywhere near this thing!
Mum blessing herself and anyone who got in her way. Maybe she is considering a Buddhist conversion...
The changing of the guard.
The tour took us a couple of hours and was actually really interesting – even though our holidays aren’t usually renowned for their cultural immersion! During the short walk from the Palace to a coffee shop, Mum managed to buy a rather fetching hat and a shite bag from some little ladies – think I realised at that stage how much crap we were likely to accumulate over the course of three weeks!
We then headed out on a little longboat through the residential canals of Bangkok which was very interesting. Highlight may have been watching Mum trying to get in and out of the boats though... The whole community functions by boats – we saw the ice cream boat, post boat, bin lorry boat, grocery boat! The water levels were seriously high, would make you pretty nervous if you lived in one of those pads!
After that, we went to Wat Po, one of the main temples in central Bangkok with a mahooosive reclining gold Buddha.
I also did some penny dropping – where you buy a small plate with about 50 tiny coins and then go down a line of pots, dropping a card in each pot. You’re supposed to have 50 wishes but who has 50 wishes standing by?! Think I ran out of imagination after about 5!
Also pretty sure the monks ripped me off because I definitely didn't have a penny for every pot!
Our guide then took us for a very good, and very very cheap lunch. Definitely a good locals spot. Think it cost £7 to feed and water the 4 of us. Afterwards, we headed to a tailor who sat us down and launched straight into trying to order up Dad a full wardrobe. He said he could do a good deal if Dad bought 4 suits, 3 pairs of trousers, a casual jacket and 6 shirts. Bargain apparently?! We managed to avoid such a mass order but Dad still got persuaded into a couple of things and Mum jumped on the bandwagon too... I think, for the first time in my life, I was the only one not buying clothes!
After another little lazy session by the pool, we got dressed up to go on a dinner cruise down the river. The food was pretty good and they gave us a little guide so we knew what we were passing etc. Highlight for me was definitely the little man asking Dad if ‘everything is OK, sir’ as Dad tucked into an appetiser wrapped in banana leafs – banana leafs and all. It’s a bit like laying into a sandwich still covered in cling film. So the poor little waiter was obviously trying to give Dad the heads up – way too subtle for him. Dad just said ‘fine thanks’ and continued eating enthusiastically!
The next day we had to get up at 6am for another one of Mum’s great trips! The same little lady came with her driver to collect us in her bus and off we trundled for another day. First stop was a food market which was quite an eye opener and threatened to put Mum off Thai food for the rest of the trip – mounds of shrimp paste isn’t a particularly appealing sight at 8am! Our tour guide also kept buying local snacks for us to try – VOMATRON. I’m all about cultural immersion but a coconut/spring onion pancake does not sit well at any time of the day let alone from a suspect street vendor at breakfast time. The market was pretty cool though as it was set on the tracks of a busy train line and when they got the signal (every hour), they had to completely lift all their stuff until the train had come through and then relay their stalls. Completely crazy! But it is supposed to be one of the busiest stops so the vendors get a lot of trade from the train peeps.
We then headed off to the Floating Market where we sailed through the canals, pulling up at any of the stalls that caught our eye. Mum proceeded to buy more shite – Thai people pencils and the like. She swears its all for WI presents but beware – it may be coming to a stocking near you... The floating market is seriously touristy but definitely one of those ‘must do’ things when in Bangkok so glad we went for the ride.
In the afternoon, we visited a local craft market which was quite cool – all the proceeds from which were fed back into the slums. Good excuse for some more retail therapy anyway. We also visited an orchid farm and a pottery factory where a team of workers were hand painting made-to-order pottery. These people have such still hands! Can't say I am considering a career change anytime soon...
Highlight of the day may have been afternoon tea at the Four Seasons – I owned that spread! It was pretty amazing – some of the best grub I had in my whole time in Thailand. Well impressed. Common trend throughout my time in Bangkok was my admiration for the Four Seasons – thinking of setting up a fan club. Think Mum and Dad curse the day they ever booked it because I compare everything to them. They knew our names from the first day even if we hadn’t spoken to them before. They actually RUN to the car to get the door open for you – Dad beat them too it once and they were devastated. So yeah – really awesome. And afternoon tea followed this trend spectacularly well...!
Afterwards - another tailoring session, where willpower diminished further and more stuff was ordered. Although Mum did draw the line when she was discussing ordered a posh dress and the man basically said he would make her long sleeved black dress and she could just sort out the embellishment by buying a badge or two to stick on. Nice. Step away Lizzy.
In the evening, we went to the Central Department Store in Bangkok to see the flower display there, to celebrate the 60th wedding anniversary of the King and Queen – as I say, they LOVE their royalty!
The flowers were seriously impressive but I suppose its a lot easier when a bunch of 100 roses can cost about 2 quid in Bangkok. We would be drowning in flowers all year round at home if Mum could get flowers at that price! We went for dinner (on a very dodgy and expensive Tuk Tuk!) at really good place at another hotel and ate burgers. Think the food market had made us all keen to get some Western food for a change! Then home to bed...... Before 10pm. Mum and Dad will be very keen to tell anyone willing to listen that I was the one spoiling their fun and insisting on going home before 11 most nights. Think it’s called Respite.
Despite the early nights, however, it seems that jetlag was playing some role as we first woke at 11.15 the next morning – not really sure what my excuse is! Dad was devastated that he had missed his final Four Seasons breakfast. As you can imagine. To add insult to injury, Mum and I then bundled him into a taxi and made him take a suitcase to storage back out at the International Airport. To fill time, we headed to Siam Paragon – a seriously nice mall in Bangkok. This place would even show Mall at Millenia how to do ‘nice shopping’!
A Krispy Kreme shop had just opened at the mall and it seems the Thai people like their doughnuts – I’ve never seen anything like it! There must have been a 200 people in the queue. Apparently people will queue for up to three hours and then they are limited to a certain number per person. Nuts.
Mum and I had some lunch, did some shopping and stopped for a foot massage – it was a pretty tough day all in all. After reconvening with Dad, who had clearly had a riveting day, we had dinner and headed off to the train station for our glamorous ride to Chiang Mai....!
Apologies for the dodgy order – at least they’re getting done right?! Slowly but surely. CANNOT believe I am back in the country in three weeks. Excited though.xxxxxxxx