Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Best Bangkok Tour - Part 1


My first time experience KLIA2 since it was opened and all I can say is that it's a huge airport. If you have a flight to catch in this airport then you really do need two hours before your departure time. Its a long walk from one end to the other.



Bangkok airport immigration was a breeze to walk thru despite warnings from friends who went there the year before who me of the horrendously long queue. Surprisingly there was no long queue at all.

The first thing i did after getting out from the departure lounge was to look for a taxi counter. The only mistake I did was not checking for the correct taxi counter. Not only that it is expensive at 700 baht per trip but I also had to fork out additional for the toll charges. It was not a normal metered taxi but a limousine service taxi which explains the expensive fare.

Grottino Residence is very conveniently located right behind Robinson mall and just around the corner is Terminal 21. For someone like me who does not like to walk much this is by far the best location to stay in.

The room is nicely decorated. It is facing a quiet street so I am happy with that too. However the lobby is hidden and it is only accessible thru the restaurant.

We were supposed to have a Thai dinner but end up at a Ramen restaurant due to the enticing picture on displayed.

Later we went to the famous Terminal 21 food court which was reported by other blogger as extremely crowded. We stood a long time time with our tray of coconut ice cream and sticky mango rice before there was one available. The food court here uses coupon payment method. They will refund the remaining balance if any.

After dinner, we decided to stroll over and have a look at the famous red light area Soi Cowboy which was just one street away from Terminal 21. Each pub has a number of women hanging around trying to solicit men to drink at their place. My hubby being the adventurous type made a quick peek into one of the pubs. he excitedly told me there were skimpy dressed women dancing on the bars. he also said he wanted to come back here with his male friends. Of course I told him over my dead body.

I felt really awkward and uneasy walking. It is not a long stretch of road. At the end of the street, we made a U-turn and walked back to our hotel for an early sleep. The next morning, we had to be ready early for our tour pick up at 7:00 am

There was no breakfast offered in the room package. We were prepared for this and had bought some buns and fruits from the supermarket below Robinson Mall the night before. The tour pick up came about 15 mins later than scheduled. I bought the package tour from asiawebdirect.com because it offered the cheapest package to Ayuthaya at 1050baht per person inclusive pick up from hotel and a buffet lunch. This was a joined group tour so there were many other tourist already waiting in the van when we got picked up. Apparently the van picks up guests from hotels in the same area then reassemble the group for their designated tour at another location. A group of us had to wait another 30 minutes because another van had difficulty locating the hotel for the pick up. When we finally left it was already 1 hour passed the scheduled departure time. I was worried that we might not get back in time for the Chao Phraya River Cruise which I booked at 7:30 pm

The journey to Ayuthuya took almost one hour. It was a harrowing drive with our driver speeding and cutting from left to right. Luckily I was not sitting on the front passenger seat.


Our first stop was the temple of Wat Phu Khao Thong, a huge white-grey landmark with an amazing Mon-style chedi on top of the monument. You can see panoramic views of surrounding rice fields from the top by I did climb. It was too high.


While our guide was giving up the group briefing, a truck drove by and somehow manage to run over a dog's paw. It was howling like mad but loudly than the hurting dog was this Russian lady who got into hysterical madness from witnessing it incident. She was cursing the driver like a crazy lady then burst into tears. She and her lady partner took a rest at the far end of the park to calm down. Another park warden carried the wounded dog away from our party and our tour guide continued with her briefing. 


Onward to Wat Lokaya Sutha, once a massive temple complex. Here, see the largest reclining Buddha in Ayutthaya at eight metres high and 42 metres long, lying in an open field.


Next was Wat Phra Mahthat, Ayutthaya. The famous Buddha head wrapped around banyan tree root. 





After a five course buffet lunch which was nothing to scream about but it was good enough to fill our stomach. The restaurant was just a simple open shop. It was hot and stuffy. Drinks were not provided. You have purchased that. Next we continued to Ayutthaya Historical Park and visit the famous Wat Phra Sri Sanphet, one of the most important historical sites of the Ayuthaya Period. It was a former royal temple, lying inside the Grand Palace compound. Walk to the nearby Viharn Phra Mongkolbopit, a beautifully decorated sanctuary that houses a large cast bronze Buddha image originally enshrined in the open area outside the Grand Palace and later built around in the reign of King Songtham.



Our Fourth stop is the famous Summer Palace of Bang Pa-In. The palace was originally used by the royal family as a summer retreat during Ayutthaya Period. It was destroyed during the downfall of Ayutthaya and was restored by the fourth king of the Rattanakosin Kingdom. Inside the palace there are many impressive buildings and gardens. It was a huge place. Almost two kilometre walk just to cover the whole property so we opt for a buggy tour inside. You have to pay 400 baht and it allows four people to ride for an hour. We shared this with another fellow Malaysian tourist and managed to cover the whole park without walking much. What a blessing! As you can guess, by now our feet was hurting.


With the tour ended, we split up with some of us heading to different direction of the city. The drive back was slower as it was already office hour and we actually got into one of Bangkok's notorious jams. We were relief to find got to Stadium National BTS. By now it was almost 6:30 pm and I was really worried that we would missed our Cruise tour. After asking for direction from the station to the boats, we finally found River City Shopping Mall and managed to register ourselves in time because the boat was schedule to dock only at 7:45 pm

It was interesting to watch the boats come in to port as each company makes effort to make a show of it with a blast of song and even staff dancing for the benefit of their passengers waiting at the jetty.


The buffet served was great and the show was great. In all I enjoyed this part of my Bangkok tour the most. If only we were not tired and sweaty from our Ayutthaya tour, this would have been better. We managed to find a place to seat on the upper deck and watched the night skyline of Bangkok. It was a beautiful end of our first day in Bangkok.





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