Thursday, August 30, 2012

Yet another Bangkok trip

Another business trip again this week in the majestic city of Bangkok, Thailand. This time, I stayed in JW Marriott Hotel Bangkok as all of my official stays in the city were done in Conrad Bangkok due to its proximity, closer to our local office.
 
I arrived last Saturday afternoon after a 40-minute taxi cab ride from Suvarnabhumi Airport, the international airport gateway of Bangkok. Check-in was a breeze and just minutes later, I am already on my room, ready to leave and explore the city. As I came here for business, I just squeeze in travels in between work schedule whenever I can. The lobby of the hotel is inviting, however it was confusing at first to find where the check-in counter is as it is located behind at the far end.
 
The room I stayed this week is a 1 King Bed Deluxe Room (THB5000++, corporate rate) inclusive of internet and breakfast. The layout of this 33sqm room is just perfect although I find some of the furniture (and even the flooring and carpeting) aging, dated and would need refurbishment or replacement.
 
coffee board
 
bed
 
working area and couch
 
television and working area
 
fresh fruits in the room 
 
bathroom
 
toiletries provided
 
hallway
 
view from my room
 
As soon as I have settled, I left the hotel and walked towards BTS Nana station (around 3 blocks away) and rode the train to Mo Chit station (THB40 per way).
 
It was weekend and I plan to visit the Chatuchak Weekend Market which will close in a few hours. I have been to Bangkok a number of times but never been here before since I come to the city mostly during weekdays. The rain started to pour just as the train is about to reach Mo Chit station. By the time it reached the station, it was raining hard and I was stranded for a few minutes for I don't have a raincoat or umbrella with me that time.
 
The drizzle was still on when I approached the weekend market. True to its promise, the place is so big that I find it instead confusing rather than a shopaholic's paradise as the stalls were not organized very well (or I don't know how to make out of it). Still, I checked out some of the vendors and see if there's anything good to take home. I still prefer going to Pratunam Market for clothes though.
 
I was hungry and luckily there was a street food vendor selling vegetable spring roll (THB20) which I happily munched over.
 
An hour after, I left the weekend market, dismayed as I didn't get to buy anything. Most stores were starting to close already and rain water dripping over my head wasn't that fun at all as I scout for a good find. I took the MRT from Chatuchak Park station to Sukhumvit station. (THB33)
 
It was cheaper than my transportation coming here, yes, but it turned out to be a very bad decision. The map clearly says that Sukhumvit station stops at Sukhumvit Road, nearby Phloen Chit road. It turned out to be around 10 blocks away! The map was very much misleading. Anyway, charge it to experience, I did walk back, and didn't take the BTS (Asoke station was the nearest so it was actually two stations away!) and just enjoyed the brisk walk as I haven't been to this part of Bangkok before.
 
Before reaching the hotel, I saw KFC where I ate with my family before (it was just across JW Marriott Hotel Bangkok actually) and bought a bucket meal to go consisting of 8pcs. fried chicken, 4pcs. WingZ Zabb, a couple of fries, and a couple of egg tarts. I added steamed rice too as it wasn't part of the meal by default. Now dinner is served!
 
What I like about this meal is the WingZ Zabb, chicken with spicy marinade and crispy coating. I haven't tried this and didn't see this in other KFC stores in other countries so far and this yet is my favorite. Too bad they don't serve gravy here like they do in the Philippines, but the ketchup and sweet chili sauce would do for now.
 
Egg tarts. They don't serve this too in the Philippines, and didn't notice if they do in Malaysia.
 
You may be wondering why I bought a lot. It was still early in the evening but I stayed the whole night in the room working and preparing for my workshop the next day, so as much as possible I should get all I need in there without the need for going out, and I was right.
 
For those who should know, the hotel I am staying is near some of those sleazy places like massage parlors and bars. I'm sure single men would have loved to stay at this hotel.
 
The next day, I woke up early to prepare for the workshop, dress up and arrive early at the customer place. I had breakfast in Marriott Café (located at the ground level of the hotel) before heading off. The restaurant has a complete spread of food catering to different tastes like Asian (Japanese and Chinese food), Western food (bacon, ham and the likes), Vegetarian, Pastry, Salad, Cereals and a whole lot more.
 
my breakfast for that day

The rest of the day was spent with my customer and as I came back, I was glad to find out they refilled (and changed) the fresh fruits inside the room.

I didn't bother going to a restaurant or a fancy place that night for dinner. I just went to the grocery and bought stuffs, as I still need to prepare a lot for next day's workshop.
 
Third day was very similar, I woke up early, had breakfast at Marriott Café, headed off to customer place for work and night was spent for work.
 
As I arrived to the customer place that day however, a beautiful day and clear sky greeted me and it continued the whole day, unlike the couple of days before when rain was on and off.
 
The morning and most of the afternoon of the 4th day (yesterday) was spent working remotely for customers as soon as I was done, I used the remaining time to squeeze a couple of items in my itinerary.
 
My first (quick) stop was at Jim Thompson Factory Outlet located in Sukhumvit Soi 93. I was able to go there by taking the BTS to Bang Chak station (THB45) and it was only a short walk from there.
 
Then I went back to the hotel to drop off the things I got and walk towards the Khlong Saen Saeb boat service pier in Sukhumvit Soi 3 (Nana Nua station), enroute to a temple. The piers of the boat service are usually accessible by getting down from the bridge towards the pathway near the water.
 
pier at Nana Nua
 
the boat as it approaches the pier platform
 
Passengers literally have to hop to the boat to board. I paid THB14 as fare to Panfa Leelard pier, where I was informed should just be minutes walk away from the temple I am to visit. It was a nice experience to finally ride this boat service as I've been longing to try it out. Now I have a reason to. I find it cute too that there are handles to pull so that the plastic curtain, covering the passengers from water sprinkles, would come up. A very "handy" item indeed.
 
There are two lines to the boat service. I took the NIDA Line first, which terminates at Pratunam pier, which serves as an interchange with the other line, the Golden Mount Line. I had to get off at Pratunam to change boats that will take me to Panfa Leelard and just showed my ticket to the conductor.
 
After around half an hour from riding the first boat, I finally reached Panfa Leelard. From there, I can view the temple I am to visit already.
 
bridge at Panfa Leelard
 
Few minutes walk from there, I finally reached the foot of Wat Saket, or what they also call as The Golden Mount. It is a Buddhist temple built on a site where another temple collapsed and ultimately formed a hill.
 
The current temple was built on top of the said hill, and for you reach it, you have to climb steeply on these steps (around 300) to reach the temple itself. In between, there are flat areas where one can briefly rest before continuing upwards.
 
bells
 
not yet there!
 
more bells
 
more steps going up
 
gong
 
The Buddha for worshiping is found at the end of the stair steps, a floor below the stupa on the top. A few more climbing and then I finally reached the golden stupa.
 
a bird carrying a bell
 
Phra Setthi Nawakot (nine-faced Buddha)
 
Tourist and locals also come here to catch a good glimpse of Bangkok skyline and the surrounding areas of the temple.
 
Rama VIII bridge
 
Grand Palace
 
me
 
As I go down from the temple, the beautiful view of the area still kept enticing me as I head back towards the hotel, riding the same boat service and walking back.
 
Before I reached the Panfa Leelard pier, I chanced upon King Prajadhipok Museum (King Rama VII). However it was already and was closed for the day, so I didn't get to go inside.
 
 
That night, I went out with Filipino office friends for dinner at Cabbages and Condoms, located Sukhumvit Soi 12 (we walked for around 20 minutes from our office in All Seasons Place). The restaurant promotes better understanding of family planning and population control, and in some areas, they have displays made with, ehhr.. condoms.
 
We happily munched and dined that night, telling stories as we seldom see each other these days despite being officemates due to regional roles we have. Here are some of the food items we had last night:
 
tom yang gung
 
deep fried chicken wrapped in pandan leaf  and beef green curry with eggplant
 
steamed whole sea bass with chili, lemons and vegetables 
 
And for dessert, sticky rice with ripe mango and ice cream! 
 
As they say at the entrance, "Sorry, we have no mints. Please take a condom instead.".
 
True to its words, when we billed out, we were given condoms each.
 
Breezing along some displays on the way out, we find the models and statues made of condoms queer and cute. Yes, they were covered with condoms if you look closely.
 
After coming back from dinner last night, I immediately went to the room to pack my things up. Too bad I am to leave early morning the next day. I also picked up my moon cakes from Man Ho restaurant earlier (at the 2nd floor of the hotel). They look yummy and was packaged nicely.
 
Left the hotel early today (around 7AM) after having a quick breakfast to catch our 9:30AM flight. The flight was delayed for almost an hour and I spent the time checking out the duty free shops at the airport and checking my email before boarding the plan. Glad that Philippine Airlines served lunch early and I was happy as I was starting to get hungry already as I didn't eat much this morning.
 
Bangkok has always been one of my favorite cities around and even if I've been here before, I wouldn't to be back again and again for business or for pleasure. I'm sure there are always new things to do and enjoy in the city. Looking forward to the next trip back!
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