Thank You Bangkok !!!

Sep 16th, 2007, 01:39 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 414
Thank You Bangkok !!!

...........and thank you dear Fodor's Members for patiently responding to my countless queries while preparing for our bookend trips to BKK -July 30-Aug 2nd & Sept 2nd-5th.

How much grace period to we get before we get penalized for a late review- again?

It's been over a week since we returned & I am still struggling to get my feet back to Tokyo-living after being gone for 5 weeks. Thankfully we were able to miss the peak of the hot & humid stretch of summer here in Tokyo this time around. As much as I love what we do here in TKY, I kept on dreaming about July 30th & it finally came & went.

January '07 turned out to be too late to book 5 United Business seats for a July trip with our FF Miles so Economy it was. DH's & I had been to BKK for business trip so purposefully waited to do all the real fun stuff to include our 3 children- aged 15, 13 & 9. We were told about all the wonderful places & things to do like the Floating Market, Temples, cruises down the river, MBK shopping etc so with that in mind, I pored through innumerable entries in Fodor's & other places for this family trip.

July 30- Arrived BKK from NRT just before midnight & for BHT1000, was met by one of Tong's associates- it took at least another 30 min between the time he met us at the gate till he was got the van while we sat by the all night fast food restaurants at the airport. Turns out this would be the first & last time we would be met like this. Accdg to Tong, the airport police have been on a crack down with small private pick up services in favor of the airport taxis & hotel limo services.

Got to Lebua where we booked 2 rooms for the 5 of us at a giveaway price of 99++ per room from agoda.com. We contacted the hotel directly to confirm this 3rd party reservation & request for adjoining rooms & extra sheets & pillows for my son who was going to sleep in the couch. We got a very expedient, accomodating reply so got started with a great impression of this property.

I am not sure if it was the lateness of the hour since arrived past 2 AM but the guards were too busy chatting & did not direct us to the real entrance of the hotel. Instead, like a number of other newbies before us, we wandered through the State Tower entrance where we walked through a poorly lit area where there was a closed Starbucks, a couple foot & Thai massage shops, travel agencies etc. Check in was relatively quick & we were given our keys to the room, shown the elevator & found our way to our adjoining rooms with no problems. Review noted as follows: http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserR...r-Bangkok.html
Hotel made chocolates box & fresh fruit tray were awaiting us in each room.

Rooms in the 52nd, where Breeze the seafood restaurant is located, were the best we have ever enjoyed with a door connecting both suites- one with a King & the other with twin beds. We had to use our key card to go through a special door seperating the rooms from the restaurant accessible areas. Pretty cool !!! They were clean, well kept & had gorgeous city views. BR with seperate shower & bath tub was nicely done in white/gray marble with the famed Bulgari White products readily available. The couch in the living room was not long enough to accoomodate my son so he set up his futon on the floor. He is used to sleeping on the floor except that this "futon" was the softest & most comfortable one he has ever slept in- 330 count sheets - pure luxury !!!

Needless to say, after quick showers, we lay our weary heads & slept like babies by 4AM in preparation for our first real day in Bangkok.

Oyasuminasai !!! ( Good night !)



bmttokyo is offline  
Sep 16th, 2007, 02:59 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 6,664
Thanks for beginning the report. Our collective experience using FF miles is that it's best to make reservations as close to the 330th day before your flight as possible.

By my calculations, you've begun this report less than two weeks after returning to Tokyo. This is close enough for us. No penalty. I do note that any significant lapse in continuing could result in a new type of penalty.
Gpanda is offline  
Sep 16th, 2007, 06:32 AM
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 414
Gpanda,

Thanks for the 330 tip- certainly is news to me !!! In the past I was able to get Biz on United to Singapore about 8 months before departure. Must have lucked out then. Does the 330 rule work for upgrades as well?
bmttokyo is offline  
Sep 16th, 2007, 07:47 AM
  #4  
jgg
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 2,683
bmttokyo -Looking forward to more, particularly what your kids enjoyed. We are headed to BKK, Golden Triangle, and Siem Reap in March with our kids ages 15 and 12.
jgg is offline  
Sep 16th, 2007, 07:51 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 32,895
Yes, the 330 rule works for upgrades as well.

Looking forward to the rest of your report.
Kathie is offline  
Sep 16th, 2007, 12:43 PM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 414
July 31st- Rise & shine bright & early- quite pleasantly surprised to see so much shine since I have been keeping an eye on the not too bright weeklong forecast of rain the entire week. Cafe Mozu by 10 AM to enjoy the vast array of their delicious breakfast spread- from fresh squeezed juices, to delicous fruit, made to order eggs, breads of all kinds hot off the over- there was something for everyone including my children's favorite Japanese somen noodles !!!

With brunch out of the way.......decided to enjoy the hotel- so off to the pool the kids went while DH & I headed for the Fitness Center for some much needed workout in preparation for our next activity. We checked on the kids through the large windows connecting the FC to the pool area. Real nice set up. The showers had both dry & wet sauna so that was much appreciated as well.

We had earlier booked the Loy Nova cruise with a discounted online price of 1100 baht- children 5- 15 get 50% off- we only paid for 3 & 1/2 pax - sweet deal !!! Shuttle to & from the barge included. As the 5:30 pick up time approached, from our 52nd floor perch, dark clouds were looming & quickly advancing towards our direction. Uh-oh !!! By the time we got inside the nice airconditioned van, it started raining cats & dogs. So through our 10 minute ride to the pier area, a serious down pour ensued. Thankfully, there were plenty of umbrellas & staff members who met us as we walked though the narrow steet leading to the boat. My kids were enjoying all this & were laughing throughout all this- remember they are the same children who were thoroughly entertained by the mean Lights & Sounds show that the heavens displayed while on a bumboat trip in Singapore !!!

By the time we got settled into the boat & given our scented towels & fresh garland- the rain stopped. We sailed out on time but soon returned to shore to pick up a party of 10 who missed the boat- all in all there were about 21 of us - 3 couples- one of them newly weds who rode in with us in the van- another couple looked like they could be on their second honeymoon ! It was a delightful cruise with unobstructed sights since all the tables are on the side of the boat. I am totally clueless about sharing the real nice pix I got of the beautifully lit Grand Palace , Wat Pho , Arun & all the other Wats on the riverside. There was plenty of music to go around as a cast of 3 danced & played the night away. I could not take as much photos as I wished since they were right in front of me so as a courtesy, I dutifully enjoyed their talents. I could enjoy the sights when I return to the riverside at night next time. Oh ! the food was great- we ordered both Seafood & Traditional menus & there were plenty of prawns, mussels, satay, chicken, Tom Yam Goong to keep all of us happy - in fact, it was too much food. There was fresh fruit & traditional Thai desserts to enjoy at the end of our meal. Drinks were not included in the package but were reasonably priced. I'll be planning another evening down the river just to take in the sights & get my pictures. The kids loved being on the boat & seeing all they did. This was their first cruise ever & it was something they totally enjoyed.

Taken back to the hotel by 8 PM. Had planned on going to Suan Lum which I did on my last trip but changed my mind. We took the kids & got them settled into the room watching TV. Looked into listening to live Jazz in Sirocco but my date took a power nap that he did not get up from till the next day.

Oh well, all well's that ends well. It was a very fine day indeed- a feast for the eyes & the palate !!!

bmttokyo is offline  
Sep 16th, 2007, 12:57 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 1,880
Great report so far. Looking forward to more and your thoughts on BKK.
laartista is offline  
Sep 17th, 2007, 12:39 AM
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 414
Aug 1st- As I was completing installment 2 of TY BKK !!! , I kept on asking myself- Why did we (night owls that we are) try to get the kids to bed so early & why did I not rouse DH from his deep slumber to listen to some fine Jazz on Lebua's 63rd? Finally clicked- It had everything to do with our next day's activity. OUR DAY WITH TONG !!!

We had exchanged numerous email & set out our day's itinerary. My thanks to the profusion of wonderful reviews about one of Thailand's hidden treasures - we hit the jackpot that day.

She informed us of a 6:30 pick up so we hurriedly dragged the kids for a very very early AM brekkie. There was hardly anyone in the cafe. I don't remember eating since I went down to check if Tong was already in the lobby. I saw a petite lady with a hat on & asked if she were Tong. She looked at me quite puzzled since she saw me carrying 3 bags- one full of water & snacks, the other with extra clothes for the kids & the other one my handbag. Although we had sent her a photo of her family earlier, she did not recognize me with my hair up & with all my bags thought I was a guest who was CHECKING OUT of the hotel. I must have looked more like a refugee than a tourist -that's why the confusion. That was the start of our many laughs that day.

She was gracious. enthusiatic & genuinely cheerful at such an ungodly hour. We laughed as she said she has never seen a client bring so much food during a tour with her. I have 3 kids & always make sure they have food to munch on while taking long trips. She must have been overwhelmed with all I brought that we never got to try the goodies she had brought in for us. Next time, I know better.

I had originally requested the Floating Market, Tiger Temple & the Kanchanaburi Elephant Camp & what we got was more that I could ever imagine. She brought us to so many places I would never have thougth of going to- a lot not included in my initial request.ng. All these spots were special on their own even taking into consideration the nicer places to stop for the "Happy Rooms" . First stop was a very small but ornate temple followed by the Local porcelain shop ( Happy Room stop), the floating market for an early lunch- we had most every food item that was being sold from those longtail boats- a delicious hot soup, Thai noodles, a chix with rice dish, sweet bananas with coconuts,fruits as dessert. Once or twice I mentioned wanting to buy something & before I knew it, Tong had purchased it for me. We went to through the quiet canals where the locals lived as well as the interesting canal "residents. There was much to see by the canal- many goods for sale- a feast for the eyes once again. You heard it more than once not to purchase anything there since it was much cheaper in BKK. Tong bought a lot of fruits for the gatekeeper, staff & monks at the TIger Temple. I remember someone mentioned Tong had executive parking . Yes she does. Right in front of the shops a few stalls away from where we alighted her favorite boat man. Even the dog by the canals knew her. They rushed for food when we went pass him. We took a lot of pictures. Someone help me !!! How do I post those photos ? HELP !!!!

Off to the TIger Temple since Tong was timing our arrival to the tiger cubs playtime. Tong gave out fruit to the above mentioned people as she walked into the Temple. She must have a lot of connections because she always managed to very discreetly get us in the front of the line without seeming too overbearing. The kids loved playing with a couple of big footed cubs then we were again ahead of the 70 or so people who had our photos taken while walking alongside the tigers as it walked to the canyon. LOTS more photos followed in the canyon - our kids seemed enthralled at being so close to these magnificent animals. We hurried on to visit Tong' s other baby as she called her= Bambam the black bear in her cage. Armed with lots of fruit she had purchased earlier & Bambam;s favorite milk tablets, we fed the happy bear till we ran out of food to give to her. We were all there so close to the bear - feeding it & stroking it. Quite unbelievable. Walked a bit more to feed more animals- horses, the wild boars before we went to the simplest looking temple I have yet seen.

We drove quite a bit to find a whole pack drove? colony? community? of wild monkeys being gawked at by some other tourists who had no food to offer them- Tong had several more bags of bananas in the back of her SUV so for the next 15 minutes or so all 6of us wre giving these monkeys their treats. Got back in the car, drove a bit again & saw the Death Rail bridge. More photos taken & a little bit more history lesson from Tong. We then proceeded to the Bridge Over The River Kwai & saw many tourists & locals in the area. We had already done a lot but were still looking forward to our time with the Elephants. We met up with 2 mahouts & their majestic beasts - Oldest Daughter (OD) rode with Center Son (CS) & Mr. Mahout, Youngest Daughter ( YD) with her own elephant & Mahout partner. They went down the river & played & bathed & scrubbed the elephants as the 2 older ones tried to stay on their elephant since they got a serious tease who loved to get into the water & shook them off on cue by the Mahout- the 9 year old stayed on most of the time even as she watched her older sibs struggle to get back on their elephant. I was busy taking photos & videos & we all had a ball !!!

We spent a wonderful day with Tong & my kids just loved her sense of humor. She was knowledgeable, caring & has a true passion for her calling. 12 hours later, as she drove us back to Lebua, we noticed we did not have enough baht to pay her & include her tip so asked if it was OK to give her US dollars to which she agreed with no problem at all. Had asked in another forum about tipping her & I was more than happy to do so. She was worth every dollar & more. We offered to take her out to dinner with our family but declined saying she needed to get back home to Pear. Well OK.

Upon Tong's recommendation, walked to Harmonique after playing Russian Roulette with Thai drivers. As I attempted to cross the street a number of them would not even stop when the light turned red !!! Had a wonderful dinner by myself. Place was a charming old courtyard, food was delicious, was assisted by 2 of the 3 sisters who run the restaurant. Had a bite or 2 of their spring rolls, pad thai, pork satay, sizzling prawn platter & took the rest home to my tired but very happy family members.

What a wonderful, busy day it was with Tong !!!
bmttokyo is offline  
Sep 17th, 2007, 01:23 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 6,664
So glad you had a wonderful day with Tong. She is truly a delight. It is amazing to see a real professional guide going about her function. We've had many guides that just go through the motions by rote. These are OK, but you feel none of the personal connection you do with Tong.
Gpanda is offline  
Sep 17th, 2007, 04:05 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 460
Love your report. Glad you had a great time with Tong. She truly is a gem.
sharon1306 is offline  
Sep 17th, 2007, 05:50 AM
  #11  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 414
Gpanda & Sharon,

Thanks so much for the feedback.

Funny you both would respond so quickly about Tong. She speaks most fondly of you both. She has told me about the many friends she has made & I told her about "meeting" you all as well through this forum.

Sra. Artista ( laartista)

You are a trip & a quarter !!!- your tuktuk tales give me a belly ache. I loved the story about your Japanese first "shopping" trip ! My Center Son (CS)was also sporting the leaf head dress when he came back to the pitstop. Pretty impressive how they make those so quickly.

More on Tong next time.
bmttokyo is offline  
Sep 17th, 2007, 06:14 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 6,664
Poor Tong has a second go with us scheduled in November. No more Mr. Nice Panda.
Gpanda is offline  
Sep 17th, 2007, 06:26 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 1,880
Thanks B, LOL " more like a refugee" Funny. I'm thinking I should have booked a day with Tong. Great report, it's fun to read anothers tales and impressions being in BKK the same time. Carry on.
laartista is offline  
Sep 17th, 2007, 07:39 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 28,942
loving all these tales....tong is special there is no question about that...
rhkkmk is offline  
Sep 17th, 2007, 03:53 PM
  #15  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 414
Hello Bob !

Thanks for chiming in-I have more endearing Tong tales to share later. Right now I have to hit TKY with some visitors who would like to see the sights. I'll check in again later.
bmttokyo is offline  
Sep 17th, 2007, 05:00 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 1,793
Thanks for posting! We are spending two days with Tong in March-- can't wait.
Tim_and_Liz is offline  
Sep 18th, 2007, 07:28 AM
  #17  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 414
Tim & Liz,
When will you be in BKK? We have a business trip to Chang Mai scheduled in March but are working in a 2 day stop over in BKK & hanging out with Tong. This time we hope to be able to see the Wats me missed & some.
bmttokyo is offline  
Sep 18th, 2007, 08:15 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 1,793
We will be there for three full days, March 14-16. My parents are meeting up with us for our two days with Tong. What about you?
Tim_and_Liz is offline  
Sep 18th, 2007, 05:49 PM
  #19  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 414
March 7-9 for us. We plan to leave our conference a day earlier (pls don't tell our colleagues!) so we can meet up with Tong. I'm sure you'll all have a ball !!!
bmttokyo is offline  
Sep 18th, 2007, 07:56 PM
  #20  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 414

Aug 2nd- We've heard a lot about NOK the Travel Assistant & booked to be with her today hoping to visit the Wats & other river side sights in the daytime via the riverboats. Unfortunately, weeks before our arrival stopped hearing from her. Again emailed both Tong & Nok upon our BKK arrival - heard from Tong but no Nok. While doing our Tong tour, mentioned that we were missing Nok so she kindly offered to phone Nok for me. Nok informed her that she already made other arrangements since she did not hear from me. Tong offered to have me speak to her but she refused. Too bad !!! i later emailed her to say I was sorry we missed her & that I had brought a gift for her & left it with Tong for future pick up. She apologized saying my emails must have landed in her JUNK MAILBOX. With that I immediately asked Tong if she were available when we returned from the Phil for a Sept 4th date to see the Wats & the Fisherman's Village. Thankfully she just got a cancellation so that took care of our cultural fix scheduling.

I was in a generous mood when I instructed my kids to prepare 10 summer outfits for our 5 weeks away as I am always having our laundry sent out after 2-3 days. Lately, I have been giving the 2 older ones more responsibility which included packing their own suitcases after i inspected what they were bringing. Unbeknownst to me, all 3 of them snuck in MANY MANY MANY books, a thick photo album to show Papa & their cousins, several pairs of rubber shoes @ ( they newer wore anything other than flip flops through our whole time away !) , hair drying implements & other heavy items after my inspection. OD, my 15 y.o. ( did I call her ED for Eldest Daughter or OD, wait let me check, OD, OD it is then) has of late unseated me as the family Fashion Consultant so she decided my DH was in need of a Fashion Make Over. He was only allowed to bring a few sets of summer clothes, board shorts, T-shirts ,intimate wear, (wait, you don't call it that for men right), don't get me wrong here you wisecracks ! OK underwear etc with hopes of building up his wardrobe during our travels. The 5 of us arrived in BKK with only a kilo or 2 short of our 20 kg max limit ( DH packs & weighs all of our suitcases & carry ons so no surprises at the check in counter !) plus 5 backpacks/carry ons heavier than we already could safely bring without sustaining severe rotator cuff tears as we each hauled them through the security x ray checks. One of these 20 kg bags contained gifts, Japanese food stuff, pasalubongs, omiyage or whatever you call it for our friends & fam in the Phil. DH issued an edict that there would be NO shopping this leg of the trip after all we were going to end up in Manila where we could really shop till we dropped.

We had a 0135 AM flight to catch & were graciously given a 2 PM extended check out with permission to use the FC for shower before the airport ride. After a nice brunch, another quick swim for the kids ,a FC visit for DH, a quiet email catch up & post card writing session for me, we packed, checked out , entrusted our suitcases to concierge for safekeeping & were off to our non shopping afternoon at the Mall. Walked out of the Lebua's back door toward the Sky Train & went past the side walks where my nose & eyes were assaulted by wonderful smells & sights & crazy drivers to boot !!! Made it a point to cross the street alongside the locals who were experts at stopping traffic or weaving through stalled vehicles. It was a cheap, comfortable 5 (?) stop BTS ride to Siam Paragon. Noted the Thais were lots more animated conversations in the train than the Japanese. Got to Siam Paragon & leisurely walked together through a few of its 6 floors. Soon after, OD & I excused ourselves when DH, CS & YD wanted to pay Kinokuniya a vist. We found out that ZARA had a sale going on. She wanted to get a few items but I only allowed her to buy herself one sweater ( It was so hot outside!) she said it was for the winter in TKY, OK then. It was a real cute sweater & we would have to pay double to get it in TKY if we even found it. I thought since she was paying for it herself she must really want it . She knows if she gets my OK, which she usually does, it'll be fine with her Dad. There goes Edict Violation #1................

They all decided to watch HAIRSPRAY in the really nice affordable cinema ( TKY movie houses charges 1800 yen for adult tix, YD gets a discount at 1000 yen) but eating more popcorn & downing more drink was a thought I could not handle at the time so decided to power walk my 2 hours away. Good decision !!! SP was a real nice mall with much to see- the Oriental cafe in the basement, the food, fruits at the Gourmet Market, the variety of food at the Food Hall- there was even an on going Osaka Food fest complete with Takoyaki, okonomiyaki, kakigori & more food stuff I just left behind in Japan ! I scouted out what 2-3 dollar meal I was going to have for dinner & found soy duck with rice. We carry walkie talkies when we go around so finally got a call that they were done with the movie. They really enjoyed it & were singing a number of songs as we walked toward the Food Center. Had our cheap but delicious dinner. Everyone enjoyed their noodles, great stuff over rice & such. The Gourmet Market was too enticing to pass up so ended up buying more food stuff to give as gifts, chocolates & loads of fruit for my snack during the plane ride : heavy mangosteen, lanzones ( I think it's called something else in Thai, wanted to buy jackfruit but was afraid I was going to be ejected by the air marshall if I ever opened the package on board, gave up on buying durian since i am the only one who dares eat it. Once had to eat durian in the Singapore YMCA balcony, alone in the dark, feeling like a crack addict or someone doing something illicit, since my friend who slipped it into our hotel room forgot about US having to eat it together. It's no fun eating durian alone ! Edict Violation #2 !!! DH has given up on stopping me from buying fruit since I normally eat mostly fruit on board if I have the choice & just reminds me to buy only what I can consume.

Returned to Lebua & took our quick showers, kids may have taked a quick dip ( again!). Picked up by our Tong arranged driver & sped off to the airport without incident. Got to the airport with plenty of time to walk around, DH & kids hung out at the bookstore while I did more walking around. Of course I had to have DH keep an eye on my fruit laden hand carry which by this time, even I would agree I looked like a refugee. By midnight, kids were hungry again so got a quick snack by the terminal as I enjoyed some of the fruit that I purchased. You should have seen the looks of the other passengers. They should be thankful there was no durian or jack fruit in my stash. I realized I had walked so much that day that when DH offered to take me to the foot massage place, I had no second thoughts about it. That was nice, really relaxing & very timely since we finished just in time to board our Cebu Pacific plane to Manila. Goodbye Bangkok until we meet again in a month.........Can't wait to be back !!!!


bmttokyo is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 07:29 PM.