Days two and three in Thailand – 2015

I’ve now been In Thailand for a week and I have learnt a lot since I arrived and seen some great places. I realise I have got a bit behind with the blog so I will have to catch up quickly. Here is a brief rundown of days two and three, which were in Bangkok.

Day two – Sat – 6th June:

In the morning we started off walking with the plan to go to the Grand Palace. A local approached us, appearing to be very helpful? and showed us a to a tuktuk driver who took us to a river boat for 20 baht. Then the driver offered us a river boat trip for 800 baht (run by his friend) which we decided not to take it (he wasn’t very happy as he is on commission hence the low taxi price). We walked away to the Rama VIII Bridge and on the way we found a random temple, ‘Samphraya Voraviharn Temple’ which had a nice gold Buddha inside.

We got in a tuktuk Taxi under the bridge and were again told 20 baht. This time a different guy took us to his friends tailor shop (where he gets a commission if you buy clothes). We refused to go in and in the end he dropped us of at the Golden Mount and drove of in a huff and we didn’t have to pay anything.
It took a while but we basically learnt that you have to say ‘no stop’, ‘no shop’, when getting your tuktuk. You can take taxis but I think the tuktuks are more fun.

We got a tuktuk to the Wat Phra Kaew and the Grand Palace. It was beautiful but very hot and we are quite exhausted by this time. There were causal looking guards around and if you forget to take you shoes off or took photos with a flash they would wack you with a ‘no shoes/no photo’ sign. Ah and also Maren had to hire some clothes as it was long trousers only for both men and women.

In the evening we went to the Anantara Sathorn Hotel and and had drinks at the ‘Zoom Sky Bar‘, where a cocktail costs what the average Thai lives on in Bangkok for a day! We went prepared with long trousers (and a long shirt for me, for men but not women) but had to hire closed toe shoes when we got there. There was a Thai lady doing a roaring trade in shoe hire for 100 baht with a 100 returnable deposit.

Day three – Sun – 7th June:

On my final day in Bangkok (before my Geckos trip north) we went to the Hua Lamphong Railway station in the morning to book Maren’s (my German friend) train ticket on the sleeper train to Chiang Mai (880 baht) and left her bag at the left luggage (for 70 baht).

We then took a tuktuk to the MBK centre which was like a shopping mall inside. There were a wide range of international brands, including Adidas, Boots pharmacy, and more. We had lunch in food court where you were given a prepaid card which held 1,000 baht and then paid at the end at the exit gate.

Then we moved on (using a tuktuk) to the temple of Wat Traimit, to see the world’s largest solid gold Buddha image. I quote ‘made of about 83% pure gold and weighing in at five and a half tons, 15-foot tall seated image’ very impressive.

We then walked to the river past ‘China Gate’, and got the express river boat for only 15 baht to the Reclining Buddha which is HUGE and only just fits in the temple built for it. It’s looks like a giant Buddha just crawled in there and lay down for a rest.

Here are a few pictures.

Grand Palace, Wat Traimit, Golden Mount and Zoom Skybar

Grand Palace, Reclining Buddha and China Gate

I saw Maren off on a tuktuk to the train station and I went back to the hotel. My first time alone in a tuktuk. They are very quick and handy if you know what to say and I’m glad I met someone to navigate Bangkok with for the first few days.

At 6pm I met my Geckos tour group and we went out for dinner in a ‘locals’ place I never would have gone into myself, this is the benefit of having a native guide. I will talk more about the Geckos group in my next post.

Next up: days four and five.

Previously: first impressions of Bangkok.


First impressions of Bangkok -2015

Not the best start to my trip…

Now I did actually have a really good journey, with everything connecting smoothly and due to walking or getting the internal trains to the departure gates, I didn’t have to wait more than 50 mins in any one lounge or seating area.

What was annoying was that I left my new (secondhand) Barbour hat in the overhead locker on the first flight (Gatwick to Dubai). So annoyed! I realised just as I was boarding the second flight. I am kicking myself.

Anyway I text Mum and she emailed Emirates but they couldn’t find it. Now I am doubting my memory and wondering if I left it on a seat in Dubai airport but they will let me know if nothing is handed in. Really annoyed.

Whew, anyhow, good things about the flight. I took my own water bottle (Water to go) which has a filter and filled it up in the bathroom, so I kept hydrated during the flight, so no headache. Normally I would be like ‘yay’ but I am still annoyed about my hat so it is just murh.

Some things my Dad would like; there was a great entertainment system and two cameras which allowed you to see underneath the plane and ahead during the whole flight which was interesting.

I watched three & 1/2 movies; Chappie, which I wanted to see in the cinema, Spare Parts, which was probably the best of the lot and based on a true story and Project Almanac, which was about time travel! The fourth was called Robot Overlords which was not that great so I didn’t finish it.

I met a British man on the second flight who said he is married to a Thai girl and spends six weeks in North Thailand and four in England. He told me some useful things. One of which (I will double check of course) that in order to extend your visa (mine is currently sixty days) it is best to cross the border and then come back in which will give you another thirty days. He mentioned the friendship bridge to Laos which I am going to look up.

At the airport I met a German girl called Maren who is traveling for four weeks in Thailand backpacking. We shared a taxi to the Khao San Road and found her a hostel and I then I walked to mine.

The taxi cost 665 baht which was metered and includes standing fee of 75 baht and we split it. It worked out good value if you convert it to GBP but I’m not sure if we paid too much in Thailand terms but it got us there.

We met up later and walked around the general street stalls etc and I bought a hat and flip flops. We popped into a 7eleven and I can confidently say that if you are planing a trip here you don’t need to pack any toiletries (I had to clear bag mine through the airport) or clothes. Just take one set and buy when you get there. I don’t mind too much but I can’t buy any clothes because I have no room for any more and I don’t want to leave behind what I have brought with me.

We got a tuktuk round to two temples (he wanted to take us further but we were very hot by that time and went back to our hotels) the Wat Intharawihan and the Hall of the Lucky Buddha and the Temple Library.  The temples were lovely, lots of gold and mirror tiles, but I’m not sure what to make of Bangkok as a place yet. It is a very strange mixture of old and new, rundown and well kept. One moment you could be in an air conditioned pharmacy just like a Boots in the UK and the next minute looking at people sitting on the street on cardboard with a metal pot, or in a shop made of cardboard and tape covered with graffiti. It is nothing like Africa (the only only other eastern country I have to compare with, sorry geography buffs I know they are completely differently places). In Tanzania everything was in the same state of repair with the exception of a couple of huge buildings owned by Coke Cola or the like.

Luang Pho To Buddha at Wat Intharawihan

So the tuktuk ride only cost us 20 baht, the deal being that he takes you to some tourist centre in the hope you will book something. We took a card and said we would ‘call and book later’ but it was a bit awkward. Apparently the tourist centre pays for gasoline for the tuktuk drivers, so they do tours and hope you will tip them well and then that’s 100% profit as they have no petrol costs. We were mean and only payed the 20 baht originally requested. Apparently this is a well know ‘scam’ but I would not use the word scam as it is a bit harsh, he didn’t force us to buy anything only that we go into this tourist centre and we were not pressured to buy anything. I have looked it up online and they are apparently very inflated tourist prices. Worked out cheap for us though and we got to try a tuktuk ride and see two temples that we would have died if we had tried to walk there in the heat.

It seems everyone is working for this tourism place? But they can’t all be on commission? Random Thai people recommended it to us constantly? Strange.

Anyway here are a few of my close up pics that I liked. There were some lovey detailed statues.

My room is very posh, I think five star Thai equivalent for £30 GBP a night, expensive by Thai standards, I hope to stay in much cheaper hostels for the rest of my stay here.  I am really staying at the Nova City hotel for convenience as my Geckos tour goes from here on Sunday. Tomorrow we are off to see the Temple of the Emerald Budda which we couldn’t do today beause we were in shorts and its long trousers only there.

Ah I have just found an appropriate quote online: ‘As the political, economic, cultural, culinary, and spiritual capital of Thailand, Bangkok features both old-world charm and modern convenience, at times served up in an apparently chaotic manner, but always with a gracious smile.’

Oh and all the toilets have this hose pipe thing attached? Do any seasoned Thailand travelers want to enlighten me as what this is for?

Next up: days two and three in Thailand

Previously: packing light for Thailand

Salavaging yarn from old jumpers

Today I bought a jumper for a pound in a Princess Alice charity shop closing down sale. They are moving across the street to a cheaper premises, we think, preempting the change in business rates and how they relate to charity shops that will possibly be changing from April. It will be interesting to see if this is true or not?

This morning. I read a couple of great blog posts on salvaging yarn from old jumpers.  One here by Roued and one by Dawn. So I decided to grab the next old jumper I found to try it out.

Dawn talks about bad seams, which I have discovered is when the manufacturer knits in sheets and then cuts the pattern out of those sheets. This means when you unravel the jumper you end up with lots of little strips….

Which is the kind of jumper I happened to pick… Oops… on the plus side the jumper had some funky buttons.

Awesome buttons for upcycling

I think I will unravel this jumper anyway and use it for My Little Pony re-hairing and keep an eye out for jumpers with ‘good’ seams (knitted in traditionally), see Dawn’s post for how to spot these.

The reason I want the yarn is so I can knit upcycled socks with my new sock loom! I thought I would never have the patience to knit socks with the whole four little needles thing, but this loom is amazing. Here is the company’s website, you can also buy it on Amazon. I bought mine at the Alpaca farm on the Isle of Wight, in case you wondered and maybe your local yarn shop might have something similar, there are lots of different brands. This post by All Fiber Arts is a great intro to sock loom knitting on the Prym loom.

Even better you can make your own loom with wood and nails! You need about 28 ‘pegs’ or nails for a small sock (and then 32, 38 and so on depending on the foot size), and an even number of pegs helps with sock making for turning the heel and dividing stitches for the toe end.  Here is a good tutorial for a loom from using rescued materials.

Here is my loom with about eight rows of sock and my most recent loomed socks!

Prym sock loom and finished socks