So after travelling around Kanchanaburi we returned to Bangkok, in fact we returned to Bangkok after numerous trips, as it really is a great place to centre yourself and return to.Finding new stuff to do in a city you’ve already visited, can always be a challenge, but that’s the fun of it right?! So even though we ended up in the city more than once, it didn’t ever get boring.
I really loved Bangkok, as I’m sure you picked up upon in my previous post. So finding more stuff to do there was always quite easy really. As a metropolitan city, there’s always loads going on. And because of that you can always rely on Time Out to tell you what’s hot and what’s not. But getting the best ideas of where to go and what to do, is best left to you really. Just wander around and see what you fancy doing.
We decided to hit the cinema (for the first time in forever) upon our return to Bangkok. It felt like such a treat! We checked out Dark Shadows (awesome!), The Flowers Of War (harrowing story, really heartbreaking but beautifully done, not for the faint-hearted though), MIB 3 (for me, that purely was about perving on Josh Brolin in a suit). We went to see so many mainly because of how cheap it was. And it’s good to make the most of that air conditioning! Phew! The Scala cinema & Apex Siam theatre (related cinemas in 2 separate buildings) only set you back 100B (£4) per visit.
The Scala is pretty cool as it’s a vintage cinema that has that lovely Art Deco thing going on. It only has 1 screen, so just shows 1 film at a time, whereas the other theatre (located within a small run-down shopping centre down the road from Scala) has 3 screens. I really think it’s worth trying to go to the Scala though, the staff are dressed in smart yellow suit jackets, guide you to your seat in front of a huge screen covered by glitzy gold curtains. It’s very old-Hollywood so I loved it.
If you like big commercial, highly-polished cinemas you can go to the fancy Paragon multiplex in the mall. But it will set you back a lot more Baht, so yeah I’d recommend the small, independent ones!
But regardless of where you go, going to a cinema in Thailand is an experience alright! Before the movie starts you have to stand to pay your respects to the king. Yup this country REALLY loves it’s royals.
I found it quite fun because it was just so different but it is quite interesting to see the power the king has over his people. There is not a place in Thailand that does not celebrate his existence, it seems. There are pictures of him emblazoned over buildings, on walls, inside buses, in hotel lobbys…he is everywhere. So, on a side note: don’t let anyone hear you say a bad word about the king (not a sausage), its extremely offensive. In fact, I heard a story about an editor at a newspaper who got fired for such a thing. A member of the public had made a negative comment about the king on the newspaper’s website, she didn’t delete it quickly enough and so, you guessed it, she got fired. So yes, the business of the worshipping the king, is taken very seriously. So remember to stand up, watch the bad photo montage sequence of the him, on the screen, and then sit back, relax and enjoy the movie.
But oh boy! You will learn the hard way that Bangkok is extremely hot! It’s like its very own Thai hotpot. Especially in May, the humidity levels are insane. So you will learn to love nipping into the freezing 7/11 stores, running onto the Skytrain & going to the cinema. But then why not take it one step further and get your butt in a refreshing rooftop pool. Yeaaaa.
I really recommend staying in Sathorn Saint View Serviced Apartments, which has just that. It has a small pool with a few loungers, a nice sundeck area and a cool bar. The apartments are really nice too, if your looking for luxury on a budget – this place really is the ticket! We opted for a room (with no windows) for a few days & it cost next to nothing. The only thing I will say about it, is it’s location is a bit iffy. It’s very easy to get lost trying to find it, so just make sure you have your smartphone or a decent map handy. It’s really hidden in amongst a residential area, full of narrow roads where you have to negotiate getting through them, alongside tuk-tuks and taxis. But once you’ve done it a few times, it’s fine & relatively close to the Skytrain.
Another rooftop pool I recommend is at the Rambuttri Village Inn & Plaza. Another cheap but luxurious hotel. Nice big pool, lots of sun-loungers, great location (very close to backpacking party hub Khao San Road & the river boat). So put your feet up and be the king/queen that you deserve to be :). I mean, you may be backpacking, but you can still treat yourself to some holiday luxuries, especially when they are this cheap!
Go to slutty Sukhumvit! Haha! Well, it’s another area in Bangkok that’s known for it’s naughtier side and once again…it’s good fun.
We found a Irish pub sitting smack bang in the middle of the neon-signed craziness. Finding a little people-watching spot like this is perfect for a first-time visit, as you really get a vibe of the area and the madness that goes on there.
There is bar after bar offering strippers, exotic dancers and all the rest (!). What is more amusing, is watching all the foreign men squirming and licking their lips in delight. It’s pretty cringeworthy and slightly horrific to watch but amusing nonetheless. I’m still flabbergasted at how these beautiful Thai women can subject themselves to dealing with these pig-like men just for money?! My time in Thailand was full of double-take moments seeing these supermodel girls with ugly men twice their age- I mean you know it goes on, Thailand is famous for their brides after all – but it’s still shocking to see!
So yeah, take a walk down Sukhumvit and be shocked, have a giggle and take in the tacky bright lights. It’s pretty fun. We went into a regular strip club (which ended up being pretty boring actually) and to another ladyboy club (which again was quite boring, there was no cabaret element like in the last place, just very bored ‘girls’ in bikinis). But you know, for the purpose of research, it has to be done haha!
Another bar I will recommend, regardless of the price of beer (100B for a small bottle), is the Old Other Office Bar on Patpong 2, in Sala Daeng, central Bangkok. It’s amongst all the strip clubs but is very cool if you want to get away from all that. It’s quiet, decorated in loads of fun American and random fun paraphernalia and has a couple of pool tables. It’s very different from any other bar, I’ve been in – it just had a very cool, relaxed vibe to it and kinda reminded me of bars at home.
Another task to be taken on for further research purposes was, of course, more shopping. Yay! I had to buy some more paintings, you know, just to add to my ever increasing collection! So yeah I now have 7 in total…I think I may take over my new flat with this lot…despite my flatmates protests hehe. And after hanging out on Khao San Road, I couldn’t resist getting some bargains of the ‘Same Same’ vest variety.
Go to the Science Museum and Planetarium near Ekkamai BTS station. It’s worth a look but there isn’t much information in English I’m afraid. Sitting in the Planetarium was nice, it’s always fun to be surrounded by the night stars but there’s only so long you can sit to listen to starry facts in Thai. The museum is a bit run down, and there are only certain sections in English so that can be a bit of a let down. But it’s still worth a look if you’re running out of things to do. There are lots of activities to play with though, which is always fun – at any age!
But after all the hectic chaos of shopping, neon lit nights and busy streets, you will be thinking about finding a nice little sanctuary away from it all. Well, why not head into a temple and have a bit of contemplative quiet time?!
I went into Wat Chanasongkhram Ratchaworamahawiharn (long right?) near Khao San Road and sat at the back. I watched people coming in, one by one, to pray and bring offerings to Buddha. I thought it was fascinating and I kind of envied their passionate commitment to it all. Everyone comes in and looks so serene and happy to come in and complete their daily duties of prayer. It’s so nice to see.
Thai temples are always very pleasing to the eye, thanks to the Thai preference for all things lavish and beautiful. Gold and Emerald Buddhas sit proudly on elevated thrones, fresh flowers adorn the altar, filling the air with a beautiful aroma, orange-robed monks walk around offering enlightenment. It really is a very wonderful, inspiring place to sit.
I was having a particularly tough day (it happens, even in paradise) upon my visit to the temple, and I went in there to just sit alone with my thoughts. It pretty much made my day to be honest. I was feeling a bit emotional, and close to tears, a family randomly approached me and handed me their baby. It was like they knew I needed to be cheered up. I’m not a maternal person in the slightest but there is something about a giggling babe that can’t help but make you smile. I felt it was an incredibly beautiful moment which lifted my spirits just when I needed it most. So maybe there is something in Buddhism after all?!
I sat in that temple with the biggest grin on my face after that I felt it was a sign, telling me to snap out of my sadness and to just enjoy my time in this unique country. And so I did.
There will always be tough times along the way, but you do just have to remind yourself where you are and what you’re doing and how amazing that really is! To travel is an amazing thing. We are all very privileged to be able to do it – so when those blue days hit, just try and think about that. Or failing that, get your butt in a temple and hope someone hands a baby your way! Haha!
Love and gold Buddhas Em xoxo