Sunday, August 28, 2011

Thailand...a journey that I'd love to take again & again & again


My second and only documented trip to Thailand was a memorable one. Thailand has something for everyone; women and lady boys for the men and for the ladies, SHOPPING! Beaches, temples, food, night life, safaris, mountains ... et cetera et cetera are there to accommodate the varied interests of people. I was amazed, though, to see parents holidaying with their kids in Pattaya. I might want to think twice about taking my kids-to-be there because, Pattaya is not exactly "Disneyland" for children but for adults.


There is so much to explore that I think shopping should always be at the bottom of the travel itinerary. Otherwise, if you are a shopaholic like yours truly, there is a high chance that would shop your trip away. This is exactly what I did on my first trip which I did not regret anyway because I was alone and went there solely for shopping.  The first one got a little lonely from the 2nd night onwards because the TV in my hotel room did not even show an English Channel, I didn’t know anyone there and nobody really spoke English which eventually led to the preponement of my return ticket by a day. But I did get a lot of people speaking to me in Thai and one noodle hawker lady exclaiming, “Indiiiaaa? Phat vely whaiteee”, (probably meaning to say, "I don't believe that you are from India because you are so fair") when I told her that I was from India. If I could speak Thai I would have told her that there are a lot of fair people in India and that India is as obsessed with fairness as Thailand.

Sawmteii  and  I did the right thing by pushing shopping towards the end of the trip even though we outspent the number of days allocated to it. Another word of advice; 2 days are enough for shopping i.e. if you have the kind of energy that yours truly have. It's just that shopping gives me an adrenaline rush that numbs my body from fatigue, hunger, pain till the shops are closed or my purse is emptied. 


Long story short, I would like to pen down and express through pictures, my Thailand Experience as a way of kick-starting my blogging life after a long pause.


Day 1: We reached Bangkok in the early morning of 26th November 2010. Our hotel room was not yet ready, so we had to venture out without a bath and um mm a time to beautify. Hence, we did not click any face pic that day. We felt quite inferior to the pretty ladies in short skirts and perfectly made up faces as we scanned some of the malls at Siam Square in our travel clothes with last night's face. We were lucky to be chaperoned that day by Mithun, Sawmteii's colleague, who is a backpacker and knows every short cut, store timing, what to get where etc. We also went to Chatuchak weekend market which is pretty much like a combination of Sarojini Market in Delhi, Shivajinagar + Com Street in Bangalore and New market in Kolkata. You can get everything from pets to clothes to furniture. 



Breakfast Lady: Serves a perfect English Breakfast without the knowledge of English. Quite an elegant lady for her age
Zo-Artui: Fresh Farm Eggs




"Graffiti" on the way to Platinum Mall



A view from the "metro"- BKK
..and Mithun also decided not to click a face pic:) Chatuchak weekend market -  sunset & evening strollers  


Day 2: Visited Sawmteii's family friend, U Malsawmi Sen and her family. U Malsawmi took us for a day out where we visited The Emporium, a high end mall in BKK. We then went over to Holiday Inn for lunch and I jumped for joy when I saw Asahi Super Dry, "the subject of my fantasy ever since we had a case study on the Japanese Beer Industry", on the menu card. I ordered for it and clicked a picture immediately before opening the delightful silver can.  It tasted exactly the way I had imagined, light and refreshing!




Asahi Super Dry - I heart You


In the evening. we boarded the bus to Chiang Mai. (BTW I had to convince Sawmteii quite a bit to go to Chiang Mai and she ended up really loving it). I was impressed by the luxury coaches, which are priced at such an affordable rate - some 1200 Baht for BKK to Chiang Mai, an overnight journey. The bus was clean with comfortable seats and had an attached toilet. We were served food and water as soon as we boarded and it stopped somewhere for snacks at night for which I didn't wake up.






This kind of service would surely cost a bomb in India

Day 3: Reached Chiang Mai in the wee hours of the morning and decided to stop for  morning tea before leaving for our hotel. It was friggin cold!!




Quaint tea-shop at Chiang Mai Bus Station
 May I have a  cup of hearts please?:)


We booked our hotel in Chiang Mai based on the recommendation of Mithun and it was a charming, colorful and affordable place called Rux Thai costing us about 600 baht a night.




Rux Thai at Night






Door on the right is the bathroom and  to the left is the changing room


We visited a local mall and took a lot of pictures; went to the Museum which was unfortunately closed as it was a Sunday. Encountered the most horrible food experience barring the fried chicken bum experience we had in BKK. I call it food malfunction! 


It was love at first sight! This charming town transforms itself into something else at night






My first experience of green tea with milk


A special Tribute to Butter Croissant - A faithful breakfast companion throughout the trip


I owe it big time to Sawmteii for ruining this beautiful pic of hers! Story of how it happened later..


The Wine Lady: She has fantastic selling skills!


The Museum visit still proved useful because we bought a map..Oh! I miss my natural hair:(


Food Malfunction


At night, we checked out the Chiang Mai Night Bazar which was bustling with activity. Not a serious shopping place but definitely a great opportunity for cultural exposure! The products that were sold in the market, the traditional clothes etc. resembled that of Mizoram so much that I felt nostalgic and my curiosity to trace the poorly documented Mizo history got heightened.


It's so alive!!


Finally, a perfect meal - Roasted Duck with Sticky Rice


Ain't the Chai Wallah Cute?:)


Day 4: Booked a Northern Thailand Tour which covered a visit to Mae Kachan Natural Hot Springs, Wat Rong Khun (White Temple) in Chiang Rai, a visit to Golden Triangle and Laos-Thailand border, a lavish buffet lunch,a visit to the Thai-Myanmar border and ended with a trip to Mae Sai to see the long necked tribe.




A dip in the Hot Spring




Chai mal-function. It tasted Yuck!
White Temple




Entrance


Golden Toilet




Boat trip - Burmese Casino in view
Snake & "other"  whiskies




My complimentary shot...no it was not snake!


Kids in the Laos Border


Chanels at Dirt Cheap Prices:)




Crossing over from Laos to Thailand


Behind us is Burma






Entering the little village of Long Necked Tribes
Innocence & Purity




This lady looks like she belongs to the Bru Tribe in Mizoram




Quite similar to a Mizo Hut


Felt like I was home


Little girl soon to be transformed into a long-necked woman




Forget-Me-Not....


Day 5: Visited the Museum, Wat Phra Singh Temple, took a stroll around Chiang mai Wall and left for Pattaya at night. Visiting the museum is a must because this cultural capital has a lot of stories to tell.


Pad Thai - the Thai way







Doesn't  the monk  look real?






Love the colour combination & everything


Colourful lanterns everywhere


TUK-TUK.. wish we had one in India


It's attention to these small little details that makes the town so attractive


See..


The Wall








Day 6: Reached Pattaya in the morning and by this time I have successfully managed to accidentally delete all the pics from Sawmteii's camera. The worst part was that we used her camera mostly because I forgot to pack my charger... One of the top Argh moments in my life!


Checked into Flipper Hotel or something, close to the beach. We didn't like Pattaya after spending time at the beach which was filled with old people. Also, it was really filthy with a general air of kinkiness everywhere. Spent the rest of the day at Central Mall where we impulsively decided to colour our hair after being held in the clutches of a sweet talking Chinese man who really understood Consumer Behavior. He made me look like a Thai blondie but he was so nice that I just could not ask him to re-colour it nor take my money back even though he told us that he would give our  money back if we didn't like the color. This goes down straight to the list of the many catastrophes that I have inflicted upon my hair over the period of my life. Fringe and yellow blonde streaks combo is totally not working for me. 


After our beauty transformation, we headed off to watch the Alcazar Show which was quite a treat. I bet the loud applause when a Bollywood number was performed came from fellow Indians and I bet 50% of the crowd was us.




A sanpiau like snack served at the mid-night stop




Telling you, I was mesmerized too


Hotel Roof Top




View of Sea from Hotel


A Ga-Ga impersonator at the Alcazar








Day 7: Pattaya was planned so badly because we actually intended to go to Phuket for the beaches. Plan was dropped at the last minute as we were afraid to lose too much shopping time. Headed off to Koh-Larn island on our second day in Pattaya and I swear, we should have stayed there the previous night instead of Pattaya. White sandy clean  beaches, beautiful people, great food; quite a contrast to  our Pattaya experience. It was sad that we did not have enough time there as we had to leave for BKK in the evening. Otherwise, it would have been awesome to hang around for sometime, get into a mild adventure like paragliding and laze around without a care in the world.
Hhooly..Pattaya City


Bridge leading to the boat that would take us to Koh-Lan Island


My beautiful drink


The crowd was so much better than Pattaya




<3 Umbrellas
Sunset!
Day 8, 9 and 10: Back to BKK and it was all about shopping. I honestly think that going to  high end malls is a waste in Thailand as street shopping is the USP of BKK. Hence, much of our visits to high-end malls were merely restricted to window shopping and eating.


Shopping Tips: Start from Siam Square which is right at the BTS Station and you will reach Siam Centre which houses mid-range products but I didn't buy anything there. From there, you can walk across to Siam Paragon, a luxury mall which houses luxury and high end brands. Siam Discovery is the next mall and this houses the recently launched Madam Tussauds. From Siam Discovery, you can visit MBK through an overbridge on the 3rd/4th Floor. MBK is a good place for gold jewelleries and there are a few good shoe shops. There is a nice small shop that sells awesome boots on the third floor ( a lot of patience is required to find the right shoe store ). From MBK, you can use the skywalk toThe Central, the largest mall in Thailand which houses a lot of mid range and high end brands. Platinum Mall is about 20 minutes walk from there (another option is to go directly from Siam Station to Ratachewi and it is about 10 mins walk from there). To me, Platinum Mall is retail heaven because they have fashion forward products at 180-250 Baht and the best way to buy cheap is to buy at the wholesale price for which the minimum piece requirement is usually 3. Never leave a store thinking you will go back the next day.If you want something, get it right there and then is the advice I would like to give you because the rate of change is too rapid there. Some stores allow you to mix the designs and most stores don't allow trial. However, many of them can be convinced by being extra sweet. Love the food court there as well because there are plenty of options and the portions are small. One thing that I have noticed in Thailand is that there is food everywhere but the portions are quite small. I guess this explains why Thai women are so slender. 


Apart from these options, Chatuchak Weekend Market and Sampeng in Old Bangkok are must visits to understand the fashion trade in BKK. Pratunam Mall is also a smaller non air-conditioned version of Platinum Mall and you can get good bargains there as well.


Our Hotel: We instantly fell in love with Padi Madi when saw its picture on the website. We were really glad that the real one did not disappoint us. It's located in Sukhumvit, a prime area within  2 minutes walking distance from Thong-Lo BTS station. The owners were friendly and they had locker facility, optional room service and super cute rooms. There are a lot of Japanese restaurants in its vicinity as it is a predominantly a Japanese area.


Sticky rice, chicken clear soup & steamed chicken...from the street


Our Super Cute Room


The Space between Siam Paragon & Siam Center is a great entertainment spot over the weekends 


Vietnamese Restaurant at Central..I think


Vietnamese Food






Christmas Decor at Siam Paragon


It's so Christmassy!!




Aww! I love this cute little place




And this is how it ended


Left for Suvarnabhumi airport on the 6th of December 2010 around 3:30 PM BKK time and the biggest bonus was that we did not have excess luggage since we were allotted 10 kgs extra on our return journey. This is how the Thai govt. encourages everyone to shop in Thailand and I love them so much for it! Word of advice: "Don't buy those cheap Thai Whiskies in the airport even if you are cash strapped". 


Made it to Bangalore around mid-night with empty bank account(s) but gained an experience of a lifetime along with suitcases full of clothes. 

8 comments:

  1. Mimz - It's high time we plan our next holiday! :) i wanna go backpacking somewhere really far.

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  2. How far? I need to save up for some time :((

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  3. looks and sounds like so much fun. and the white temple looks so beautiful

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  4. yes it was really fun!!.. The White Temple was looked so ethereal

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  5. Replies
    1. @The Chhamanator, I can take you there as long as you sponsor the trip :)

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