This is quite delayed, so I apologize!
After a fabulous month working in our Singapore office, I got on the plane to Bangkok- teary-eyed and 100% regretting my decision to leave Singapore (ever and for my week of vacation). Landed at BKK, super lengthy lines at immigration, but that meant bags were there once I got through. Easy enough to grab a cab and off to the city! It was then that I was really regretting my decision to leave, as a huge lightning storm rolled in (for those who haven't read my Burma lightning story- please do!) but it somehow passed by the time I pulled up to the Krungthep wing of the Shangri-La, and the sun was out.
Check-in was efficient and I was taken up to my room- the room was beautiful! And updated and spacious- the perfect place to sleep off a flu-like illness I'd been battling for 4 days at that point. I missed my Bangkok Eats tour that evening, but their call woke me and reminded me I needed to order room service.
I slept in the next morning, hemming & hawing over whether I should go to JJ (it was Sunday, so my last oppy) or stay in and rest. I decided around noon I would go for a 'couple hours'. The BTS is literally right night to the KW at the Shangri-La, so after 2 min walk, I had my top-up-able BTS card and off I went to Mo Chit. It's very easy to find your way to JJ from the BTS- follow the throng of people and you're there!
Of course, after getting to JJ I couldn't 'only' spend a couple hours there... I used the Nancy Chandler map (here and throughout my stay in Bangkok!) which was super helpful! I found lots of gifts, some cute tops (that fit me! and tall American!) and the most comfortable shoes! I bought 3 pairs... Even got a nice 30 minute foot massage 1/2 way through, and opted for some delicious fresh orange juice a few times. It was simple enough to hop right back on the BTS to my hotel, where I proceeded to pass out and order some more room service.
Got up early and headed to the Saphan Taksin ferry terminal (again, a 2 minute walk from KW). I bought a one-way tourist boat ride, and up the river to Wat Po. I wandered around the grounds for an hour, and then had my fortune read. It was interesting how accurate it was! Then back to the ferry terminal, but a local boat came by first, so I hopped on that- much quicker and cheaper!
After a quick shower (April in Bangkok warrants that!) I was off to the Blue Elephant cooking school- a quick stop or two up the BTS.
The building was lovely, and the classroom spacious, but I was really underwhelmed by the class. The instructor would show us how to make a dish, quick quickly, and then we'd shuffle to the kitchen and be left to our own devices-- and told not to bring our notes! This resulted in some less-than-stellar results, but what really got me was when we were to be making a red curry paste, from scratch, the instructor just walked by and put the paste- from the box!- in our woks and said 'don't worry, this is faster'... hmmm.
Anyway, the food was pretty good (as a note, they changed the menu between when I made the reservation and when I had the class- only a few weeks apart, but I didn't know til I arrived!) but not great. I did mean to return to eat in the restaurant, but my two 'sick days' limited my 'free time'!
Early morning for me, to another cooking class! This time- Cooking with Poo. I *highly* recommend this tour! We walked around the market with Poo, her explaining what everything was, and picking up ingredients for the next day's class! After an hour or so, we were shuttled to her home, where we cooked in groups of 6 ~ directions were simple, food was DELICIOUS, and Poo and her helpers were on top of everything. Dessert- which was about 12 different kinds of fruit, could not be beat either!
After class, we were dropped at our pick up location, the Emporium Suites, so I decided to stay in the area and headed to Siam Paragon and Siam Center. Siam Paragon is huge, but somehow feels 'empty'-- maybe that's because most of the stores were wayyy out of my price range? Haha. I went over to Siam Center to locate 'Petite Audrey's' as a coworker in Singapore insisted I try the Milo cake. So I explored a bit-- the mall is quite dark, but by design, the walls are black! and full of local designers, who had great clothes, but not many in 'western sizes'. So I went up to the 4th floor, walked through the large and delicious-smelling food court to find my slice of cake!
I then made my way to MBK. I walked in on the second floor, and made a loop-- lots of local leather bags, a few stores with what appeared to be 'fake' purses, and a few different pharmacies (Watson's!). I then went up to the 6th floor- what was to be souvenirs- but I was underwhelmed, lots of cheap/poorly made items, but there were branches of a few 'boutique' local brands which I explored After dropping my purchases off, I decided to head to the main wing of the SL and out their entrance... I found a nice spa outside (name is escaping me, I will update when I remember!) and a 2 hour thai massage was 500B, less than $20.
Today is April 6th, a public holiday in Thailand, however most places were open! I had pre-booked a tour guide for myself so it was off to Chinatown first thing! After exploring a bit, we went to the temple of the golden buddha- majorly impressive! Then off to little india, on our way to the flower market. As I'd read, and then saw in person, the flower market is being 'redistributed' and there are police/military on site to ensure no flowers end up on the sidewalk.
Afterwards, we hopped in a cab in search of Baan Bat, the 'village' (alley) where those who make monks bowls from scratch still live and work. There aren't many shops still producing hand made monks bowls, but the two families that are live here. It's not easy to find, but Ms. Pat found it eventually! One of the 'masters' took us around, and insisted he be in the picture after I purchased on of his bowls- perfect! I got a normal alms bowl as well as a mini one for 2000B.
Then it was off to Khao San Rd- definitely a different vibe from the SL! Lots and lots and LOTS of cheap clothing/jewelry for sale on the street. Stopped for a delicious pad thai lunch, which was only ruined by the fact that a roach ran across my plate when I was done eating At this point, it was brutally hot, so I asked Ms. Pat to drop me at my hotel early for a nap.
I finally made my way down to the nice & quiet KW pool, with great views of the river, before heading to the Silom Cooking School, my final cooking class for this trip.
I google-mapped the cooking school before I booked, which showed a quick 8 minute walk from my hotel-- but no! This is incorrect! It was 2 BTS stops and a 10+ minute walk~ alas, I watched their SUPER helpful youtube video of how to get from the BTS to the school as it's well off the beaten path. And this class was just GREAT! All thanks to Mr. Jay who should 100% have his own TV cooking show~ fabulous personality, outgoing, wicked funny and could answer any and every food/cooking related question we had! And was very vigilant in watching us cook, to be sure our dinners would be delicious! It's a toss up between Silom CS and Cooking with Poo as to which I'd recommend if you only had time for one... both are fabulous!
Finally- off to the Grand Palace. Many different people told me 'get there at 8:30 when it opens, because the tour buses get there at 9am'~ well, those people were wrong. It was INSANELY crowded at 8:15, but thankfully the line to get tickets was very short, and the line to get an audio guide was non-existant. I won't go into too much detail on the Emerald Buddha and the GP, as the guide books can do it much better! The one thing I will say-- there are no pics in the temple of the Emerald Buddha, but of course, people still insist on taking pictures- thinking they're being sly... Fear not, the guards are on top of their game and take everyone's cameras, delete the pictures, hand them back the cameras and then escort you out- A+ for the guards!! Oh and I saw the changing of the guards- always very interesting!
Back on the public boat, to the SL, for a shower & change (I was melting) before taking the BTS to Jim Thomspon's house for lunch and a tour. Lunch- outstanding. House & tour- amazing. Really spectacular, I wish you could have taken pics in there!!
Then I hop back on the BTS to the Jim Thompson outlet- which is wayyy out. I was on a mission to get some fabric for draperies in our almost-ready house. I got 20+ meters of lovely fabric for under $400 USD. They packed it nicely into a box, but unlike what I'd read on Trip Advisor, they could not ship it for me. However, they called me a cab and off I went!
I settled on Salathip for dinner at the SL- really delicious dinner! And right on the river, great views of all the dinner cruises and sunset! Made my way back to the affordable spa (the name will come to me!!) for a final massage (A+) before some massive packing!
My last day in Bangkok!
I realized the night before I would *not* be able to fit everything, so off to purchase a suitcase after a buffet breakfast at Next2Cafe at SL. There was everything imaginable available for breakfast- so I had beef in green curry along side a lovely croissant!
More packing, before spending some much needed time by the pool. I got a late checkout of 4pm in my rate, so I left my bags in the lobby and once again hoped on the BTS - first back to Siam Paragon (I was dressed in what I was going to wear on the plane- jeans, t-shirt, sweater- so I wanted to be in the A/C!) There was some sort of 'pop-up' market in the lobby, so I meandered around there, and found some more affordable shops - got some great presents and some lovely skin products at Thann as well.
Then back on the BTS to Asok to Cabbages & Condoms-- yummy food, really nice atmosphere. On my way back to the train station I came across a small massage place and couldn't resist one final foot massage. Back to the SL by 10pm, and then off to BKK to fly home.
Claiming my receipts was easy enough, on both sides of immigration.
I upgraded to biz on Qatar on my way back, and I have to say I was underwhelmed with the Royal Silk lounge at BKK-- granted it was 1am, but options for food were 'cup of noodles' and a packet of chex mix/nuts...However, the food on board was A+
I really, really enjoyed my time in Bangkok and am eager to return! The same with Singapore~ however, I'm more keen to move there than to just visit! I'll have a recap on my non-work time there soon.
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This is quite delayed, so I apologize!