Much of what I know about Bangkok, Thailand, I learned from the internet, newspapers, magazines, and on television. To see it for myself, I went to Bangkok with my mother and a Filipina nurse friend, Bonivie to celebrate my 33rd birthday in August 2013.
It was drizzling when we arrived at the Suvarnabhumi airport that weekend. Thailand has the same season as the Philippines, but compared to the latter where in the highland area in winter months can get fairly chilly, Thailand is hot and humid most of the time especially during November, December, and January.
It’s extra hot with 35 degrees Celsius during March to May; and still hot and technically wet season during July to August. It is also an hour behind Philippine time.
A few minutes, Bonivie arrived at the airport all the way from Malaysia. We were welcomed by a guy from the travel agency, who picked us at the airport and dropped us off and other tourists to our respective hotels.
Since mom and I are not fans of backpacking, unlike other tourists, we booked our hotels with an organized city tour in advance. They say backpacking is a lot cheaper, fun, and exciting, but for my mom, comfort and security, especially when you’re in a foreign country for the first time, are very important. She doesn’t like worrying and getting lost.
Besides, we’re only here for three days and it would be a waste of time to ask people around to find our way back. Backpacking is something I would love to try in the future, but not on this three-day short trip.
We were welcomed by the traditional Thai grace, hospitality, and ambiance at Indra Regent Hotel.
Conveniently located on Rajaprarop road, the hotel is just blocks away from Bangkok’s famous entertainment and shopping area, exotic Pratunam market with local delights being sold at a very cheap price.
The only problem I had with the hotel was it doesn’t offer free Wi-Fi access. I assumed all hotel offer free Wi-Fi access so we didn’t bother mentioning that to our travel agent, but sadly, this hotel didn’t offer one.
Although they offer high speed internet access at 200 Thai Baht (PhP 276.82) for two hours or 600 Thai Baht (PhP 830.47) for 24 hours, which is good for one user only, we’ve decided not to avail of the service.
Travelling sometimes forces us to be disconnected from the world only to make us appreciate the things in front us that we usually ignore because we’re always connected to the virtual world. Besides, this is supposed to be a vacation, away from stress and distraction, so why not enjoy it internet-free?
What compensated the lack of free internet access though were the nice and comfy beds, clean facilities, courteous and smiling Thais, and the gym, of course, which is the very first facility I always ask whenever I check-in in a hotel.
Somehow, going to the gym while on vacation takes the guilt out of me from too much food indulging.
So what did we do in Bangkok for three days?
Eat first and eat some more. We had our first meal at Black Canyon Coffee located at the ground floor of the hotel. Yes, I know. We should’ve tried try street foods or what you call “real” Thai food, but we’re really hungry and we haven’t toured around the city yet so we didn’t know which place serves those authentic Thai dishes.
I know eating authentic dishes and street foods are part of the travel experience. Some tourists are brave enough to experiment on food, but I need to be extra careful because it could ruin my trip if I suffer an upset stomach or diarrhea along the way.
For our next stop, Ronald, my former classmate from the Philippine Military Academy and a Filipino nurse based in Bangkok, treated us for a sumptuous dinner at what he calls the Hot Pot.
Located at Petbhuri road a few kilometres away from our hotel, Hot Pot is like the famous Dampa restaurant in the Philippines.
Only in Hot Pot, you have to grill the fresh meat or fish by yourself at the center of the table while drinking beer or chitchatting with your friends. I tell you after that experience, I was really full and would have wanted to walk back to the hotel instead of taking a taxi, only it was already late and I didn’t know the way back.
Thai massage. Of course, one of the highlights of our trip was the Thai massage for only 100 to 200 Baht. This is a must-try when you’re in Bangkok. It’ll really relax you after a grueling trip or day of strolling. Our massage clinic is located also at the ground floor level of the hotel.
Massage clinics are everywhere in the city. They even offer free Wi-Fi. So just take your pick and get your best massage and your hot and delicious tea like we did.
Temple visits. Buddhism is the primary religion in Thailand. More than 90 percent of the population are Buddhist so Bangkok trip won’t be complete without visiting those temples such as the Wat Traimit temple where the Golden Statue is located.
The Golden Statue, officially titled Phra Phuttha Maha Suwan Patimakon is the world’s largest solid gold statue. The statue is 3 metres (9.8 ft) tall and weighs 5.5 tonnes (5.4 long tons; 6.1 short tons).
Wat Traimit temple and other city temples serve as Thai’s main places of worships. Thai people visit the temples for meditation, sessions of chanting, paying respects to the Buddha, and receiving the blessings of the monks.
Our tour guide told us that if we wanted to pray for a love life, good health, or prosperity, we have to pray in front of a certain statue and offer a candle for it to be granted.
Shop and stroll. Our third and last day was spent strolling and shopping. But because our trip coincided with Her Majesty The Queen’s Birthday (Mother’s Day), which is being observed every year on August 12, the atmosphere is in festive mood as this is considered a national holiday in Thailand. There were dancing, ceremonies, and display of flowers all over the streets in honor of the Queen.
So we went shopping at the Night Market, which Bangkok is most famous for. Most malls and department stores stay open until at least 9 p.m. and as late as 10 p.m. They offer incredibly low prices, especially those items displayed along the streets or outside the malls so we literally had a shopping spree.
While out shopping, we chanced upon these lovely dancers, performing outside The Palladium mall. After their dance, we requested them for a photo opportunity, which they gladly obliged.
So there! I know three days are not enough to discover the whole of Bangkok, but it’s time to go back home. We almost didn’t make it to Manila due to a raging storm in Thailand. Our flight back to Manila was delayed for an hour, but, thank God we made it and we made it back safely.
Looking forward to more travel adventures! Von Voyage!
Originally published in Travel Plus magazine November to January 2014 with minor edits