Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Asia
Reload this Page >

After all that planning and all that agonizing, Karen and Julie finally did it!

After all that planning and all that agonizing, Karen and Julie finally did it!

Old Mar 2nd, 2006, 10:44 AM
  #21  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 29,049
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
karen---the doormen knew you were a government official and were just giving you the usual curtesy greeting....hahaha....are you CIA or FBI???
rhkkmk is offline  
Old Mar 2nd, 2006, 04:00 PM
  #22  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 3,242
Received 33 Likes on 2 Posts
Bob - if I told you, I'd have to kill you... haha.
althom1122 is online now  
Old Mar 2nd, 2006, 04:57 PM
  #23  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 834
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks Karen. I've used Robinsons Bangrak a lot over the years but it took me ages to work out what those doormen were doing there!!!! Didn't know it was an hotel for ages. We have been lucky enough to stay over the river most years but this year we are staying a lot longer and just can't justify the cost so Centrepoint will be about 1/3 the cost - all the more for shopping.

Looking forward to the rest of your report.
MaryW is offline  
Old Mar 2nd, 2006, 05:22 PM
  #24  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 3,242
Received 33 Likes on 2 Posts
Day 2, First full day.

Awoke feeling remarkably refreshed. I had expected major jetlag, but it just didn’t happen to us. We had both taken two Tylenol PMs on the plane, and they really seemed to do the trick!

We were up around 9:30, had breakfast as already described, and headed out for the Jim Thompson house. No sooner had we stepped outside - in this strange city of millions and millions of Thais (all of whom seemed to spend most of their time within 3-4 blocks of our hotel) – than I heard someone say, “Karen?” Figure the odds. First, someone else with blonde hair! Second, someone who recognized ME! It was... Tamara (eurotraveller)! She knew we’d be there and had seen pictures of me in previous trip photos I’d posted, but it seemed such a wild coincidence. Anyway, it was great meeting her and Peter and chatting briefly. Then off to the Skytrain, a 5-minute walk from the hotel.

Bangkok’s Skytrain is one of the easiest mass transit systems I’ve seen – although you do have to climb those stairs in the heat (at least they're covered so you're out of the sun)! At the entrance to the station are ticket machines with maps showing each stop labeled with a number. Simply push the number where you’re going and, voila, the machine tells you how much. Don’t have change? No problem – just go over to the window and someone will give it to you. Easy as can be. We were going to National Stadium (the other end of the line from our station, meaning no switching to the other line). In 15 minutes, we were there. As you’re exiting, every station has a map of the immediate neighborhood and lists key spots in the area. And there are signs that point you to the right exit. If you’re a first-timer, don’t be hesitant to use the Skytrain - it's sooo easy. At the National Stadium stop, by the way, the regular Jim Thompson exit was closed because... they’re putting in an escalator!

The walk to JT was about 10-15 minutes – well marked and easy to find. We took the tour and found our guide quite adorable, with a quiet charm and a ready smile. Her whole FACE smiled. It didn’t take long for me to discover that a great smile is a common Thai characteristic! Beautiful smiles – and so freely given - everywhere.

I thought JT was a highlight. It’s not an absolute must-see. It doesn’t have the splendor of the Grand Palace or Angkor Wat, for example, but what a lovely oasis. The gardens are lush, and the house is beautiful – and very different from anything I’ve seen anywhere else – and the stories were fascinating. It's a nice, relaxing sight to see.

Lunch followed. I know Gloria told me to have pomelo salad at the Oriental, but I couldn’t wait! So I ordered it, and Julie had beef tenderloin in black pepper. We shared some sticky rice and ham/cheese spring rolls (I thought them just ok, but Julie really liked them). We both had fruit shakes – hers was watermelon and it was wonderful. Both main courses were good – hers better than mine. The check was 615 baht. We loved the ambience – so cool and elegant – but the service was a tad slow. Then we stopped at the JT shop – and picked up a couple of small items, but for some reason I couldn’t make up my mind if I really wanted anything else. (Maybe I WAS jetlagged!)

Next we headed over to MBK, since it’s right there next to the skytrain station – easy and efficient to combine JT and MBK in one day. And oh my. We’d come to the land of consumerism! It was lots of fun – bustling with shoppers. We especially enjoyed the sixth floor with the Thai stuff (as you all had recommended). I got a skirt and top, and Julie bought some fabulous genie-style pants.

Then we hustled back to the room for our Thai massage (arranged by the hotel, 550 baht each for an hour massage). It was my first (and only) Thai massage, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. Some of it I liked. Some of it... well, they pound on your legs and twist them and press on your feet and then pound on you some more. Julie loved it.

What *I* loved is that the two young women were shocked to learn that I was Julie’s MOM! At first they didn’t believe it and insisted that they had thought we were friends (well, we're that too). Then they looked at us closely, evidently became convinced, and taught me the Thai word for pretty. Maybe they were looking for a nice tip. And, well, it worked.

Actually, I never knew on the trip when/how much to tip. I gave the two women 100 baht each. At dinner the first night, when the bill was 320 baht, we debated how much to leave – 20 baht or 40 baht. Even though service was listed as being included, it just didn’t seem like it cost enough and so we should tip. Suddenly we realized we were agonizing over 50 cents. The money took some getting used to!

After our massages, we got ready to meet up with fellow Fodorite Susan (sorry, I’ve forgotten your screen name again!) and David. We thought we were going to be late, but in fact we were 23 hours early. Once again, I was mixed up about the time! But they were good sports and came down early and it worked out fine.

We decided to walk to the Sky Bar for a drink but were turned away – ostensibly because three of us were wearing sport sandals. (In fact, I think it was David’s green-toed socks showing through his sandals that they found unacceptable.) They did let us go to a bar on the other side, apparently their second-class bar for people who aren’t presentable. We had the same great view and same expensive drinks (320 baht each – as much as dinner for both of us the previous night) - and probably just as much fun.

Then we went to dinner at Tongue Tai. Gpanda, I hate to say it, but Bob was right. This place is fabulous! We were the only ones there – I can’t believe it hasn’t been “discovered” yet – and got great service. David, Susan, and I all had the chicken and cashews (LOVED the apple slices in it), and Julie had Cantonese rice noodles with chicken. She liked it better than our chicken and cashews (but I didn't!). We also had two beers and two waters – and the check was 653 baht. A good time was had by all.

Then back to the hotel for some shut-eye. Busy day tomorrow...
(oh, actually, they were ALL busy!)
althom1122 is online now  
Old Mar 2nd, 2006, 05:55 PM
  #25  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 3,242
Received 33 Likes on 2 Posts
To clarify, the check at Tongue Tai was just for me/Julie. It wasn't 653 baht for all four of us!
althom1122 is online now  
Old Mar 2nd, 2006, 06:41 PM
  #26  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 11,334
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I'm curious about the "other bar" at Sky Bar, for people who aren't dressed properly. Where exactly is this other place??? Are you sure you didn't go to "THE" Sky Bar that all of us enjoy so much? I didn't think there was room for another place up there. Can you please explain a little bit more about this?

Meeting fellow fodorites is a really fun experience, don't you think? I've met several during my travels, and always look forward to this.

Carol
simpsonc510 is offline  
Old Mar 2nd, 2006, 07:01 PM
  #27  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 328
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
My husband, David, and I just got home this afternoon from our orient trip (Singapore, Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Hong Kong). It will take a few days to get over jet lag.

We enjoyed meeting with Karen and Julie 23-hours early. Yes, we were asked to leave the Sky Bar, and I think it was the gold (not green) toed socks Dave was wearing. I didn't realize when he downsized things in Singapore, he left his regular shoes.

Anyway, the hostess relented and told us we could sit outside on the balcony. I noticed as more people arrived that others were wearing sandals and tennis shoes. We still had a wonderful view and stayed until dark.

Karen is doing a great job with her journal here. Tongue Thai was really great, and we wanted to go again but ran out of time.

Centre Point was a great price and location. I finally got the dryer to work! We will stay there again.

Susan33 is offline  
Old Mar 2nd, 2006, 08:02 PM
  #28  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 29,049
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
so where is my chicken and cashews....bet the panda ate it....

great report....

your meeting was much like the meeting we had with kurosake (sp) in emporiumm..in a city of millions, how ever can you meet up with people by chance??
rhkkmk is offline  
Old Mar 2nd, 2006, 08:12 PM
  #29  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 834
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Particularly for Bob but everyone else too. I recently asked a member of another forum to do a review on both Tongue Thai and Face. He is an exec chef and has done a number of very good reviews about other Thailand restaurants (takes in cleanliness, service, food, value etc)

He hadn't been to either before - Tongue Thai has now become one of his top 10 with very good reviews. Face however scored really badly - although the food was good the service was so appalling that he won't go back!

Can't wait to try Tongue Thai myself - have yet to hear a bad report. So thanks to Bob (or was it Gpanda) for the initial recommendations.
MaryW is offline  
Old Mar 2nd, 2006, 11:59 PM
  #30  
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 1,183
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Karen, I'm loving your report and can't wait to hear the rest. It's getting me really excited for my upcoming trip!

Oh, and by the way, don't stress the t.v. incident. It happens to the best of us! My hubby accidentally knocked over an unopen bottle of wine on a glass desk top in a hotel room in Moorea, while we were packing to leave. The glass top broke, but the wine survived. So, that $13 bottle of wine turned into an additional $200 at check out! Talk about a depressing way to leave paradise!
LA_FadeAway is offline  
Old Mar 3rd, 2006, 05:54 AM
  #31  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 6,664
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Keep it coming. The thought of David's socks in the Sky Bar is not pretty. Glad you liked Tongue Thai. In truth, I recommended it to Bob and then he has spread the word far and wide. Our problem is that we always stay at the ROS and TT, Harmonique and Gallery Cafe are so close that we are reluctant to set out for new destinations and skip these favorites.
Gpanda is offline  
Old Mar 3rd, 2006, 08:52 AM
  #32  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 29,049
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
sad to say but yes gpanda was the orginal poster about tongue thai and gallery cafe....TT is superior in our opinion, although GC is good..

he still raves about the sheraton, one of the most overrated hotels in bkk...he tries to cover it up by saying it is free....you should in fact be paid to stay there....sorry kathie...just an on-going not so funny joke
rhkkmk is offline  
Old Mar 3rd, 2006, 03:12 PM
  #33  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 3,242
Received 33 Likes on 2 Posts
Day 3, More Bangkok

Headed out around 8 (was it already Wednesday? it's so easy to lose track of the days!) to catch the ferry to Wat Phra Kaeo and the Grand Palace. The pier was just a five-minute walk from the hotel, and already the area had begun to seem like "our" neighborhood. We weren’t sure where to go at the ferry pier (there’s more than one dock), but there was an information booth to direct us.

In about 10 minutes, our boat arrived. The ride up the river was wonderful – cool breeze, lots to see, great photo ops – and very cheap (I forget how much, but less than a dollar). Commuters packed the boat, and the back row seat “reserved for monks” was filled, but not by a monk.

By the time we got to our stop and walked to the entrance (very easy to find – just walk off the boat and basically go straight for about 5 minutes to the entrance on your right), it was 8:45 and we’d missed the opening. Still, I thought, we’re only 15 minutes late – how crowded can it be? Well, remember those millions of people I mentioned who had been hanging out within 3-4 blocks of our hotel? Somehow they had all managed to get there ahead of us! The place was packed with tourists (mostly Thai and Japanese), such that it was impossible to get photos without hordes of people in them. Although Wat Phra Keau was probably the most spectacular site we saw on the entire vacation (except the Angkor temples) and is certainly a must-see, the crowds detracted somewhat from the experience. (I wondered if late afternoon, just before closing, might be better.)

Still, this place is everything it’s cracked up to be in terms of the wow-factor: bejeweled buildings, a huge gold stupa, the Emerald Buddha, incredibly colorful tiles/inlays covering the walls of buildings, fabulous statues. It was... better than Epcot (tongue in cheek). Actually, it did have a rather Disney-esque feel to it. It’s so perfect – pristine and incredibly beautiful and somewhat surreal, like Disney – with mobs of wide-eyed tourists milling about snapping pictures every few feet, like Disney!

Within 10 minutes, I wished I’d taken up the offer at the entrance for a guided tour, but once inside there didn’t seem any way to make such an arrangement. Consequently, while the whole thing was a visual delight – total eye candy – we missed a lot of the history we’d have gotten from a guide. (Recommend a guide! Otherwise, it’s a bit overwhelming.) And did I mention the heat? It was hot. How hot was it? HOT and HUMID.

After a couple of hours, we were flagging and Julie was feeling a strong need to get out of the sun. (By the way, sunscreen is a must – it became part of my morning routine: brush teeth [with bottled water], shower, apply sunscreen, dress, and hit the road!)

One interesting incident just before we left. We spotted a group of teenagers (Thai), presumably on a field trip. They were posing under a roof for their guide/teacher to take their picture. Julie scurried over to see if she, too, could take their picture. They giggled and seemed thrilled and motioned for HER to come and get in their picture. So off she went, and they wanted her to sit front and center – and I got a picture of the whole group. It’s those kinds of incidents that are so memorable. We love interacting with people, and it was especially fun on this trip because everyone we came across was so quick to respond.

Next stop, Wat Po. I didn’t have a very good map, and when we exited the Grand Palace complex (same place you come in), I was confused about which way to go. (Tip – as you come out, it’s actually BEHIND you – behind the Grand Palace complex.) We turned right (left probably would have been better), and began asking people to point us in the right direction. EVERY SINGLE PERSON said, “It’s closed until 1 (or 3).” But I knew better than to believe them. It was eerie, though, that these were not people who approached us, but rather people we asked at random. Anyway, we pressed on, and sure enough, Wat Po was open.

The Reclining Buddha is an incredibly large golden boy – and what a GREAT expression on his face – pure satisfaction. And why not – he’s supposedly passing on to Nirvana! Anyway, we loved it. And on the far side (rounding the huge feet), we bought “wishing” coins to drop in each of the kettles lining the base of the statue – I forget how many there are, but it was fun making a wish and hearing the coins ker-chink in each of the bowls. By this time, we’d had enough Buddhas for one day and headed back to the boat – admiring some interesting shops/stands (especially the fish stands as we neared the river) on the way.

We decided to get off at the Oriental stop for lunch (we were pretty much famished by this time!). Ate at the Verandah and loved the ambience – so elegant and restful after being out all morning. We shared: a Greek salad, a salad with hummus, and a cheddar/ham sandwich, plus drinks, for 1270B – our most expensive meal yet. It was very good, service was wonderful, and the atmosphere terrific, but I still thought it a bit high-priced. Enjoyed it, though, and it was a much-needed respite!

Then we headed to Cotton House, where Reed took care of us. It was fun picking fabric and getting measured and all that, but I must say, in the end, I was somewhat disappointed with the results. I think it was because I didn’t have a good idea of what I wanted – so I wasn’t able give good guidance. I got two blouses, a pair of black pants and a skirt (made of a very pretty print fabric). And none of them fit quite the way I’d like. The cost was 8,000B, which was a bit more than I'd expected.

Julie fared a little better in terms of satisfaction – she got a blazer and two pairs of wide-legged pants, all corduroy, also 8,000B (also expensive, I thought), but she was very happy with the results.

Next time I’ll decide in advance exactly what I want and take something for her to copy. Plus, I’ll have a better idea what to tell her during the fittings to get closer to what I want. All that said, Reed was wonderful to work with and I’d use Cotton House again – but I’d learn from my experience the first time!

By now, it was mid-afternoon and we headed back to the hotel for a short rest (see, I did give Julie SOME relaxation time). Refreshed, we took the BTS to the Jim Thompson main store. I knew we wouldn’t have time for the outlet, and I realized I definitely wanted some pillowcases I’d seen earlier at the JT house. We both bought a couple of pillowcases and I got a blouse as well (which I like better than the tailor-made ones!).

For dinner, we went to Cabbages and Condoms – and I had a breakthrough in figuring out how the street names worked! For fellow newbies, the side streets are numbered and named after the main street. For example, “10 Sukhumvit Soi 12” means 12th Street (Soi is street) off Sukhumvit Road (the street address is 10). If you have a good map, which we finally got at our hotel, this little tidbit of knowledge makes it easy to find a place. So we took the Skytrain to the Asok station and walked right to the restaurant!

C&C was a fun place. We ate inside where it was cool (but if I go again, I'll eat outside amidst all the twinkling white lights that adorn the trees in the courtyard). The tabletop consisted of several hundred rolled condoms (different colors) under glass. What a hoot. Service was good, the atmosphere pleasant, the food excellent. We had pan-grilled chicken of lemongrass, stir-fried asparagus with shrimp, a Coke, beer, (and banana smoothie) for 800B. (I found the vegetables to be universally delicious, by the way - not a bad experience the entire trip. I could have easily gone vegetarian! Also, had no fish allergy problems. Must not be allergic to whatever kind of fish they use in fish sauce - anchovies, I think.)

Anyway, it was nearly 10 when we got back to the hotel, and we were ready for a good night’s sleep in preparation for the floating market the next morning.
althom1122 is online now  
Old Mar 3rd, 2006, 03:41 PM
  #34  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 3,242
Received 33 Likes on 2 Posts
Just say uncle if it gets to be too much! We haven't even left Bangkok yet!
althom1122 is online now  
Old Mar 3rd, 2006, 03:45 PM
  #35  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,063
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
NO!! It's never too much. Keep it coming, I feel like I'm on this trip with you.
laurieco is online now  
Old Mar 3rd, 2006, 05:13 PM
  #36  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 29,049
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
on street numbering....in the case of sukhumvit the odd soi numbers are on one side and the even on the other side, but the numbers are not consecutive, but they are assending....so it goes sois 2, 4 6, 10 or maybe right to 12, 16....etc..

karen can you tell us a little more about what you do not like about your clothing from cotton house....i get the feel that it is well made but you do not like the style or fabric or fit?? its important because your comments could be read as a negetive against cotton house and i don't think you mean it that way....i did note that you said you would go there again however....thanks B
rhkkmk is offline  
Old Mar 3rd, 2006, 05:20 PM
  #37  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 33,234
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Karen I love the amount of detail in your report. For those of us who have been to Bangkok many times, your descriptions take us right back to Bangkok!
Kathie is offline  
Old Mar 3rd, 2006, 05:30 PM
  #38  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 3,242
Received 33 Likes on 2 Posts
Bob - you're right - my comments are in no way a negative on Cotton House. I think their workmanship is great and I was happy with the service. It was that I went in with no clear idea what I wanted - and not really a clear understanding how I wanted things to fit. So for instance, she made a skirt and the only thing I told her was slightly below waist and just below knee-length. It didn't occur to me that I needed to explain the SHAPE. So it was very rounded - as in, if you look at it from the front, it is small at the waist, flairs out at the hips, and narrows at the waist. It makes me look too hippy (not hippie!). I told her I wanted it to come down more straight or even slightly flared - but she didn't have enough material to make it wide at the bottom as I wanted, so it still has that tapered look. One of the blouses I got is a scoop neck, sleeveless - and the neck isn't shaped quite the way I wanted - but I wasn't sure how to tell her what I meant. And the pants seem too long in the inseam. She had taken them up once, but they needed more. I didn't realize quite what was wrong while in the shop the day before leaving, but now that I'm home, I see exactly what the problem is. So... my advice is to go with a good idea of what you want and to be very specific. And when you're getting your fittings, pay attention to every little detail. She'll do what you want and give good service - but it's up to you to explain it to her. Getting clothes tailor-made takes two - the tailor and the wearer. And I was inexperienced on how to guide her. Next time I'll know how to do better. And I'm confident the results will be much better. I also wish I'd gotten back pockets on the pants - but again, didn't think of it while there. Hope this clarifies. What I learned: how much you like the clothes depends on not just who makes them but on how well you guide them!
althom1122 is online now  
Old Mar 3rd, 2006, 05:31 PM
  #39  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 3,242
Received 33 Likes on 2 Posts
Oh, and Bob, thanks for the additional clarification on even/odd street numbers being on opposite sides. I meant to mention that - I loved it. Made it so easy to know which way to turn - there's only one choice, since Soi 10, for instance, only goes one way off the main street!
althom1122 is online now  
Old Mar 3rd, 2006, 06:43 PM
  #40  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 11,334
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
My tailor has made a number of things for me, but the best ones are "copies" of something I bring along. I'll do that again, rather than starting from pictures in a book and saying "I want that one..."

Loving your report. I agree, it's like being back in BKK.

Carol
simpsonc510 is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 02:41 PM.