Arriving into Bangkok
Taking a red eye flight on planes with stiff seats is not a fun experience. We had blankets, but that only meant we slept in a groggy zombie like state for a couple of minutes in the entire flight!
The immigration queues were long at Bangkok airport. There was a Pakistani elderly couple that stood uncomfortably close and tried to have a conversation, because they didn’t know where to go and kept wondering and asking if they were in the right queue. They wanted help in filling out immigration forms, but their daughter had only given them her phone number, and neither of us had Thai SIM cards. We decided that the immigration officer should be able to sort something out and let them proceed with their own passport check.
After clearing the border, I needed to withdraw cash to get the train into Bangkok city. Unfortunately, at the airport, the only ATMs available charge 150 or 180 Baht. You’ll have to donate about £3.5/$5 to the banks.
Tip: Find the rare Citibank or Aeon ATMs for your next withdrawal.
Atrium hotel is about 15 minutes walk from the nearest train station and is hard with luggage. However, we got a good deal which made staying in it worthwhile. The staff are nice and look after you. We got complimentary drinks while they readied our room. As we used the complimentary internet (and my wife nodded off) in their cafe, hours went by (2.5), and by 11am we were given an upgrade to the Deluxe room at one of the highest floors – no need to visit State Tower to view Bangkok skyline!
Once we got our room, my wife just melted away into the bedsheets leaving me time to explore the city.
I got a Happy Tourist SIM card which had a 7 day 1 GB internet offer, and walked around a few shops in the area and took a motorcycle taxi back. Motorcycle taxi was great but you need strong arms as the handle you need to hold to avoid falling off is behind you.
We then took the complimentary hotel shuttle bus to Sukhumvit where the driver offered to take me to the “Gem Factory” and if I want to have “Tailoring” done. Both which I’ve read warnings about from travel guides. I declined by saying we have a busy schedule. He said maybe tomorrow to allow himself another opportunity.
Terminal 21 is a nice shopping mall aimed for tourists and the rich.
Behind that is the real market, fresh fruits, fake branded goods and other endless stalls. There were a lot of stalls selling Viagra, Valium, and a handful of other drugs I didn’t recognise. My wife was still walking in a daze, “I feel like we’re in an alien world. I can’t understand the traffic, the language, or the shops around us”. I smiled – that’s what we’re here for.
I notice the king is respected everywhere.
At the other end of Sukhumvit is the Arab area (Nana) with halal food shops. En-route, I bought sliced Mangos (yummy). I didn’t buy anything else to avoid filling up before lunch. We visited the Barber to have foot treatments (scrub for me whilst pedicure for the wife), ladies area was private with curtains up as it was in an Arab area and maybe aimed at mainly Muslim customers.
We got to the hotel, were bored, and went to have an hour long foot massage for 250 Baht each. We passed in front of a couple of massage places to see if it’s not a “massage” parlour and chose one which looked appropriate. I dozed off for a while and wanted to scream a couple of times but it was well worth it.