Three years ago, my uncles promised to take me on a trip to Bangkok for my sixteenth birthday. Bangkok's one of those places that I've always wanted to go to since I was thirteen - good food and shopping, what a dream. However, we never got there on our family holidays as my mom wasn't a fan of the place, so I had to wait all these years, until now.
It was to be a short weekend getaway that was later extended (!!) for us to be able to collect and bring my uncle's suit home. And more time to check out cafes and shop for me! We flew over on a Friday night. I didn't expect the flight to be so quick - it was only about two hours long? I didn't know that Bangkok was so close to Singapore, but then again, I didn't really know what to expect.
We stayed at the Ascott, located in Sathorn. It's like a service apartment, complete with fluffy beds and wonderfully large toilets. Sathorn is part of Bangkok's business district. There, you'll find quite a number of familiar firms, such as Standard Chartered and KPMG. The location was pretty good in that it was only a 5-10 minute walk (depending on your pace) from the BTS, which is one of the primary modes of transport in Bangkok. It is, however, relatively far from most of the places we went to such as the main shopping stretch, and the Sukhumvit stretch. (The more touristy stretch?) Which brings me to...
In Bangkok, you can get around by:
- Taxis. Taxis in Bangkok are relatively cheap (as compared to Singapore). A ride would cost you about THB 50-100 on average (SGD $2-4), but of course, this depends on the distance you're travelling. Our most expensive ride was about THB 200 (excluding the one to the airport), and that was because we got stuck in a horrendous jam. That ride was an hour long. Also, do remember to ask the driver to turn the meter on, to prevent the possibility of getting scammed.
- BTS. It's like the MRT, really. Efficient, but also very crowded. If you're lucky, your train will have very strong air-con (it has to be very strong, else you won't feel it) that makes everything just a little bit better.
- Tuk-tuks!! This is a very traditional way of getting around, and it's a lot of fun. You get the wind in your hair and a rush of adrenaline as the tuk-tuk speeds in and out of lanes. It really is quite an experience.
- River taxi! It's a rather traditional way of getting around as well. It's very loud, and you might get splashed, but you do get to see quite a bit of the city from a different perspective, which I quite liked. I wouldn't recommend this if you get seasick/motion sickness, though - it can be quite a bumpy ride.
- Buses, but I would not recommend this as a) I didn't try it, b) I hear that they're not very efficient, c) There's no air-con and therefore, d) You might as well take a cab as the bus won't save you that much and you're going to be stuck in traffic anyway, and since you will be stuck in traffic you might as well be comfortable. Wow, that was a long sentence.
One of the main components of our trip! Shopping in Bangkok is generally pretty affordable, with prices hovering around the 200 THB mark, stretching upward to about 500 for the (relatively) pricier items in the markets. Things do get more expensive in the malls, of course. But I'd say if you really really like something you see and you know you're going to wear it again, do go for it! Also, the statement that ~you should walk around and see if you can find (this) item at another stall at a lower price because many stalls offer the same thing~ doesn't necessarily hold true. I actually didn't chance upon many repeat items at stalls and if I did, they were few and far between! (Save for Platinum Mall, because repeats were aplenty on the lower floors but it wasn't that bad as well.)
Through this (shopping) trip I have discovered that I have pretty boring fashion sense. I tend to go for basics, and things that I know I will most probably wear in the long-term and I like black and grey. A lot. I'm also very picky. Kudos to my uncles for putting up with me as I walked around from stall to stall and debated over whether I should get this item in this colour or the other over and over again. Places I went to:
- Siam is pretty much the main shopping area in Bangkok! The nearest BTS station is Siam Station. From there, you can walk to Siam Paragon, Central World, Siam Square, etc. I quite like Siam Square for its affordable shopping and the selection isn't too bad. However, do note that most of the items there are free-sized and as a result, the items you buy will either look great on you, or they won't. Free-sized clothing always results in extremes, or is it just me? Siam Paragon is where you'll find higher-end brands and things that you can generally find in Singapore, but the food selection at the basement is pretty great.
- Platinum Fashion Mall - Platinum is where you'd find quite a lot of the stuff you see on blogshops at a much lower price. It has six stories full of shopping, and it's literally filled with rows and rows of shops. One has to be strategic (and somewhat good with navigation) to properly conquer the place. Here, you will encounter many shopping enthusiasts - people who literally roll luggages around to carry their numerous buys. Be careful of those pesky wheels that have a tendency to find their way onto your feet (especially those wearing slippers), it hurts. Not that you'd have much room to run, though.
- Chatuchak Weekend Market - another busy place, though not as bad as #2. I liked this market for its wide selection of items, although I only managed to cover a little bit of it. It has quite a number of independent designers, which I liked, as well as stalls selling factory overruns (I scored a pair of Zara shorts for SGD10!) which was great. It's definitely a place that I would return to, to check out the rest of its many offerings! (And to try the famous coconut ice cream, because I didn't get to this time. I know, I know.) Dress lightly, the market can get very stuffy at points.
- Union Mall - it felt more like a mishmash of stalls in an air-conditioned setting, but it was a welcome respite from the heat at Chatuchak. I only visited one floor here, and it reminded me of Junction 8.
So I realise that this is a pretty boring 'travel diary' (apologies for the lack of photos) but I promise the food one (coming up!) will be a lot more interesting...!!! Also because about 80% of our trip really revolved around food, because food is life. It'll take a while, though, as I'm going off on another adventure tomorrow! Life is so exciting.
p.s. NEW HEADER!! :-)