Thursday, August 1, 2013

Thailand 2013 : One Night In Bangkok - Day 1

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One Night In Bangkok : 30th & 31st July 2013
You are at Page 1 of a 2 page blog, click here to go to Day 2.
Just like in the song "One Night In Bangkok", we popped over to the city for a quick 2-days 1-night trip.
But unlike the song, we did not go to the bars, the night-clubs, the massage parlors, etc. Instead we followed some friends who wanted to go there to pray; so our trip was on the other end of the spectrum.

DAY 1 - 30TH JULY 2013

We landed at the Don Mueang International Airport in the late morning and took a cab to downtown Bangkok.
Some advise to other travelers  if you book a taxi from inside the terminal, it will cost about 600-700 Bhats. Booking from just outside the arrival hall (at the corridors of the arrivals pick-up zone) will cost half that amount about 300-350 Bhats. For the more adventurous (or more budget conscious) travelers, cross over to the main road and hail a normal city taxi, this will cost 200+ Bhats; but to be careful when crossing the roads.

Leaving the airport, we soon joined in the infamous Bangkok traffic crawl. The taxi driver had a very Buddhist karma-ic attitude towards being stuck in the traffic - if there's nothing you can do about it, then there is no point getting worked up about it.
Okay, we will adopt the same calming attitude to, no point getting worked up and have it spoil our holiday.

But I trust that this traffic dilemma will be a thing of the past soon, as almost everywhere I noticed that much construction were going on for new elevated highways and new light rail transit lines. Keeping fingers cross till then.

Reaching downtown Bangkok, the taxi had to weave through the narrow side & back roads of the Pratunam district.

With his "skillful" driving and a lot of tooting of the car's horn, the driver managed to drop us off at the Ideal Hotel.
It's a small boutique hotel, very clean with reasonably sized rooms and very attentive staff. For just below 2000 Bhats per night, it is a steal of a hotel right in the middle of the active Bangkok street scene. It's also close to a down-to-earth market & several shopping malls - a paradise for the girls!

Still to early to check in (check in time is 2:00pm), we left our luggage at the hotel and decided to start our adventure; one night here does not leave us the luxury of taking our own sweet time.
But first, BRUNCH! - at this very nearby food stall, one that is pretty well know and has reason to be.

We had this wantan noodles soup; the noodles were bitey good and the wantans filled with a generous amount of flavorful minced pork. Following the locals style of eating, I added chili powder to the soup - hmmmm... that tasted different but okay ... Slurp! Slurp!
(... see more on Thai Wantan Noodles blog).

And this Pig Trotters & Tripe Stew is awesome! It was cooked very well until the meat were tender and pig's skin were so soft that one can just suck them in. The tripe were also very tender. Ooohhh... sinful but good. Slurp... slurp *sucking in the skin*
(... see more on Stewed Pig Trotters blog).

With lunch over & those tripe swirling in our stomachs, the girls wanted to go shopping (what else do girls do in Bangkok but shop!). Needing somethings myself I opted to join them for a short while.
We walked over to the Platinum Fashion Mall, it's a mall of sorts but one without any anchor tenants.

Instead there are multitudes of small shop lots, all of them selling fashion merchandise. On each floor is a maze of corridors lined with these shops. One can physically get lost in this maze; and be mentally lost in these little shops, there a just so many of them it boggles the mind.

Having done my share of quick shopping (just like most guys), I left the girls to continue with their shopping; and decided to follow up on my passion - Art!
I will be going to the Museum of Contemprary Art in Chatuchak.
From the nearby (15 minutes walk away) Ratchatewi staion, I took the BTS Skytrain to it's last stop at the Mochit Station (the train fare is 37 Bhats).

From Mochit, I had wanted to walk over to the museum but fortunately I had asked around - the museum is a fair distance away. Dreading to walk an hour or so, I hailed a taxi instead.
The taxi driver was a young chap in his early twenties - even then, this youngster had his Buddhist calm with him when stuck in the slow traffic; I guess this cute, pink statue of Ganesh does help in the calming process.

The Museum Of Contemporary Art (MOCA) has a large collection of artwork by Thai artists & some by foreign artists.

It is housed in a modern looking cuboid building, five stories high. Expecting a smaller place, I was really awed by the size of the building. In the end, the many art pieces on display took me four hours to view - four hours of continuous walking around with hardly any rest until my legs were almost cramping. So others who also enjoy art like me, do allow yourselves more time, a full day's visit would be better with breaks in between at the convenient deli at the ground floor.
No painful legs like me then... Ouch!

The artwork here are very well executed; like this painting of a melon, so realistic and luscious looking that I would have reached in and taken a piece.

And this oil-on-canvas piece titled 5:45 am, about life on the boats on the Chao Praya River.

Paintings by Thai National Artist Thawan Duchanee, who has his own simple, eye-capturing, and distinct style

"Riding Lady" - a painting closer to Thai traditional style.

Tradition in a modern style painting titled "Simila the Beauty". They are beautiful: both the painting and the lady.

Carvings and sculptures abound too; like this one of Lady Kwan Yin being carried on a palm.

Bronze statues of a horse family with fine floral embossing.

A combined art piece entitled "Misery, Lust, Hope... Wisdom" with three rings of children signifying misery, lust & hope. Wisdom is a painting on the wall in front of this statuettes.
(... see more at MOCA blog)

The museum closed at 6:00 pm and I quickly rushed back - by quickly that means per the pace of the Bangkok traffic. By the time I reached back to the hotel it was close to 7:30 pm; and Lynn was worried sick, fearing that I have gotten lost. I had told her that I would be back by 6:30; an oversight on my part in judging the traffic of Bangkok.

Well, it was close to dinner time and everyone was hungry. Forfeiting a much needed bath, I followed the rest to head for dinner. Along the way, the girls could not help but be distracted by the many road side stalls selling shoes, hand-bags, t-shirts - and dinner was conveniently put to the back of the minds for a short while.

BUT... before dinner an important task, the reason why we are in Bangkok in the first place - a stop-over for the girls to pray at the twin shrines in front of the Central World Mall.
It's interesting, here at the plaza in front of a modern mall were this two huge shrines, sitting there most naturally as if they were part of the mall. Shoppers and pedestrians walk by as if these were part of the city-scape, which indeed they are as one would find many similar shrines dotting the cities. Hard to find something like this in another part of the world.

Facing the mall, on the left is the shrine to the Four-faced Buddha.

On the right is the shrine for Ganesh, the Hindu Elephant God.

At a couple of road-side stalls nearby, devotees can buy two batches of offerings. One is a batch of yellow candles, red joss sticks and a yellow or red garland of flowers. The other is a batch of red candles, brown joss sticks and a bunch of nine roses.
The first batch is offered to Ganesh while saying prayers. The garlands are hung over the many elephant statues around the Ganesh Shrine.

The other batch is offered to the Four-faced Buddha, with the stems of the roses dipped into the pool surrounding the shrine.

Having said our prayers, it was time for repast - this at the Mos Burger outlet at the Central World Mall. Having missed their pork burgers, this was something I was looking forward to - the last time I had them was more than a year ago while in Nara, Japan (... see Japan blog).

A badly, badly needed thirst-quenching drink after a long day of walking...

... and a set of wonderful pork burger with cheese, pork cutlet burger and huge chunky fries!
A simple feast that would make a king's mouth water. (... see more)

The long day over, we went back to the hotel for a good night's sleep in preparation for a busy following day... an more walking!


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