Bangkok Day 1 (18 Dec 09) – Hello City of Angels

To most of us, Bangkok isn’t really a road less traveled, in fact it is a road most traveled by any Singaporeans. Some come here for shopping, some come here for the massage, while there are others who visit this city for sanook. Most of us known Bangkok as the name “Bangkok”. To the Thais, Bangkok is known as “Grung Thep”. This is already the short form for the city that most Thais come to look for opportunities. The name “Grung Thep” simply means City of Angels. It is a name bestowed by King Rama I in 1782, when he shifted the capital of the country from Ayutthaya to the present Bangkok. The last time I came to Grung Thep is in 2003, a good 5 years. One of the distinctive change is the place of landing. The new Airport is impressive. It is very very big, despite its shear size, the immigration procedure remains a nightmare. Perhaps is the number of people that arrived here when my flight landed, plus the worldwide school holiday, there are tons and tons of people who came to Grung Thep in search for a cheaper yet modern holiday destination.The moment I hit the city itself, things became familiar. MBK is still where it is, still flowing with heaps of people day in and day out. The only thing that i vaguely remember is where i put up during my stay in Grung Thep.

Well upon touching down, my first destination is of course the place where i will be staying. (Gotta dump my barang-barangs somewhere before i walk around right?). At the check-in counter as i waited for my roomed to be processed, I had requested to be given a high floor room. I read from the net a mixed comment on this hotel. There are some who loved it, yet there are others who only love its location and not the actual room. The moment the room was assigned to me (15th floor), I thought to myself: “damn it, it is not as high as I would wanted”. But i guess I the hotel is rather full, so i accepted the room anyways. As I entered the lift on my way up to my room, I realise 15th floor is one of the higher floors! The hotel only have 18 Floors in total. So i thought to myself again: “Oh well, would be too bad anyways”. As I walked towards my room, I realised that it is a corner room! What surprised me most is the fact that the room came with a private sundeck, or a huge huge balcony! This hotel only has 8 of these rooms, and to be assigned to this room I must be damn lucky. I am also pleased to know that this room has free internet access, and the room is huge! It even have a couch inside the room and there are plentiful space to even cramp 5 adults in this room! (Well I dun think 5 adults in this room, we would feel cramp anyways. The most some of these people can sleep under the stars.) I practically got 2 rooms for the price of 1. The sundeck is so huge that it is about the size of another room! I was so excited about this room that I simply must tell my siblings about it! I called my sis immediately to tell them how wonderful this room is. I took the opportunity to photograph Siam Square from my sundeck. The view in my room was so good that one can see the whole of Siam Square, Siam BTS and partial Siam Centre. Talking about this room, the bathroom was decent, but it came with “test-tubes” of toiletries.

My corner room in Novotel Siam Square
Generous deck outside the room
View of Siam Square from the deck

Okay, enough of the room. Time for me to walk around the area. Since my next program wun start till 6pm, I went orientate myself around. First stop was Siam Square of course. The last time I came to Siam Square, I do not remember it being lively, with tons of young Thais coming to look for the latest and the hippest in Farang fashion. As i had time to walk around and explore this familiar, yet foreign place, I began to realise Siam Square and the nearby Siam shopping region bears similarity to our Orchard Road! Day-in-Day-out there are tons of people walking around in Siam Square. Perhaps this is attributed to it being the only interchange station for the BTS (something like our MRT, but it is built above ground). Siam Square is not exactly a Square that one would have imagined it. It is merely an area, where alot of young Thais hang out. Partially is the fact that it is just next to Chulalongkorn University, and partially it has a few big shopping malls that was built around this area. From MBK to Siam Centre, to Siam world to Siam Paragon. This area is rather lively especially this holiday season where the foreigners come for holiday, and the locals coming to this young and trendy place to find the latest in fashion, watch the latest movies, and to meet their friends for a dinner or to shop. The liveliness of this place is not much worst then our favourite Orchard Road. The Xmas lighting are as impressive if not more impressive then Orchard Road. I popped into Siam Paragon just to kill time before my next schedule was due. As i was trying to kill time (which i completely forgot that I told myself i needed to go Erawan Shire to pay respects to the 4-faced Buddha), i stomped across the aquarium beneath Siam Paragon. Well time needed to be killed so i thought to myself “Might as well see some fishes here”. I know it sounded kinda stupid and pointless, since all aquariums around the world are similar. “Oh the hell with it, just go!” This was what i thought. Upon entrance to the aquarium, well this aquarium is kinda different from those I have been to thus far. This Aquarium has glass bottom boat ride, Free popcorn and Pepsi (I know it sound kinda out of the place to give visitors popcorn), and this Dr fish thingy (where those skin eating fishes come and eat away your dead skin on your foot). Speaking of the Dr Fish, hhhmmmmm……. those fishes that I submerged my foot into seem kinda full. The are just swimming around and not eating. After around 5 mins, I thought “This is so stupid” and left the the Dr Fish. My time was up anyways for my next itinerary on the list.

Walking around Siam Square
Hard Rock Cafe Bangkok
Siam Aquarium in Siam Paragon
Siam Aquarium in Siam Paragon
Siam Aquarium in Siam Paragon
Siam Aquarium in Siam Paragon
Siam Aquarium in Siam Paragon
Siam Aquarium in Siam Paragon
Siam Aquarium in Siam Paragon

After leaving the aquarium, I left for the cultural performance at Siam Niramit. Well this performance is something. Highly recommended by anyone who has seen the show. The show also boasts a Guinness World Record, where the venue was dubbed as having the highest stage in the world. Before the show, a buffet dinner was included in the price of the tickets. Well speaking of the buffet, it is kinda disappointing. The buffet venue just looks like a canteen! Maybe is due to the massive influx of tourists, and business being business they are merely trying to achieve economies of scale in the feeding of the hungry audience affair. After the dinner, there was sometime before the show started. I walked around within the grounds of Siam Niramit. It showcase the different building structures in different regions in the kingdom of Thailand. It also showcase the native food and the skills these differing regions brings and contributed to the culture of Thailand as a whole. After 20 mins of walking, i decided to take a seat early for the show. The show was truly impressive, though some parts are really boring. The part i liked the most is where the performers floated in and out up and down on the stage . It was really amazing!

Outside Siam Niramit Theater
Thai culture display outside Siam Niramit Theater
Thai culture display outside Siam Niramit Theater
Thai culture display outside Siam Niramit Theater
Thai culture display outside Siam Niramit Theater
Thai culture display outside Siam Niramit Theater

After the show ended, I suddenly remembered I needed to head to Erawan Shrine to pay respects. I read somewhere that Thursdays is the most auspicious day to pay respects (dun ask me why, I also dunno). Headed there paid respects to the Buddha, I walked around the area appreciating the Xmas lighting and how the Thais used this holiday season to get-together with their friends, having a booze at the “Beer Garden”. Now this Beer Garden essentially is merely the open space in front of one of the shopping malls. What was truly impressive was there were 3 beer brewers that set up their business in the beer garden. One of them was actually our local brand Tiger beer. Each vendor has their own stage and performances, the mood around the area was truly joyous! Xmas is totally in the air! I looked at the time at this point, and realise it was rather late! Time to head back to my room and rest for the night. After all there are more to explore tomorrow…..

Christmas Lighting around Siam
Beer Garden in Siam
Beer garden in Siam
Huge Xmas tree
Traffic Jam in Bangkok

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