“To travel is to take a journey into yourself.” I am no jetsetter (at least not yet) but I have proven this quote to be true. In all my little travels, not only do I get to meet people but also I encounter myself. That apart from bringing home trinkets and souvenirs and memories; I get to bring home a piece of myself. Here is another journey that has brought me closer to completing my puzzle.
ARRIVAL: Suvarnabhumi International Airport
As budget travelers, we take on promo flights and most of these flights are either late at night or very early in the morning. In our case our ETA to Bangkok was at 1150H. My sister has a friend working in Bangkok who was generous enough to offer to pick us up from the airport and let us stay at her flat for the next four days. After disembarking from the aircraft and collecting our luggage we immediately went out to the Arrivals area and was greeted by Ana (my sister’s friend). From there we took the airport taxi and directly head to her place which was about a 45-minute ride. Bangkok by night is majestic; the combination of well-lit high rise buildings and temples are a blinding sight to see. It was already past midnight when we arrived at her place and not to mention dead tired from the jet-lag but the level of our excitement was to the roof that we couldn’t sleep so instead we polished out itinerary for the next day. The dawn was already cracking when we decided to catch some snooze.
DAY 1: Chatuchak Weekend Market, Terminal21, Siam Paragon, SIam Center and MBK
Despite the lack of sleep, we were up early and felt energized already. Bangkok is waiting and we are more than ready to take what it has to offer. We were on our own in our first day because Ana still has to report for work. So with our maps, instincts and strong wits with us we explored the city. First stop was the Chatuchak Weekend Market. Lucky us that we get to experience one of the world’s largest weekend market with over 15,000 booths offering all sorts of trades from local Thai factories. We thought that shopping on the first day was not a practical idea but it did put things into the right gear. It was so much fun haggling with prices and we all went home happy with our purchases.
From the weekend market, we continued our journey to Terminal 21. Terminal 21 brings the dream of traveling the world to downtown Bangkok, with its cutting-edge concept that places several world-famous cities under one roof. We found ourselves wandering around a maze of shops in Tokyo City, sauntering down London’s Carnaby Street, bagging a bargain in an Istanbul zouk, lost in Champs-Élysées and shopping for something to fill our growling stomach at the Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. This mall is a haven! I had so much fun taking mirror selfies in the fancy comfort rooms.
Next stop is Siam Paragon. It is an immensely popular shopping mall housing a host of international high-end fashion brands, Southeast Asia’s largest aquarium, a 16-screen Cineplex, and a comprehensive selection of world cuisine. And since this mall provides mainly luxury items for well-heeled Thais and international visitors with cash to splurge, we were quite satisfied roaming around feasting our eyes over items which we can not afford. An just across Siam Paragon is the Siam Center, a fashion mall for the seriously cool. The interiors of the mall itself is the coolest I have ever seen. Too bad I missed snapping a photo of it.
And the last stop for the day was MBK; an eight-storey building packed with 2,000 shops that sell everything from clothing, fashion accessories, handbags, leather products and luggage to furniture, mobile phones, electric appliances, cameras, stationery and DVDs. We met with Ana here for dinner before we all head home with tummy’s filled, happy hearts, tired feet and bags full of cheap goods.
DAY 2: Ayutthaya, Thailand
If Day 1 was all about shopping, our second day was a more cultural and more religious. We went into this little town called Ayutthaya. I must say this was my favorite part of this trip and you are about to find out why. Ayutthaya is an hour away from Bangkok. There are a number of minivans who have regular schedules that will take you to this town. Compared to Bangkok, Ayutthaya is more laid-back, less busy and less polluted. It was a town with a well-preserved culture and religion. We rented a tuk-tuk that would tour us around town.
And our first pit is the Elephant Ride! This is the very reason why this has become my most favorite part of the trip, ELEPHANTS. How adorable these gentle beasts are. I can not contain my excitement when I saw them. I wanted to hug them, only if they did not smell so bad. To keep it short and simple, I had so much fun with them. Let the photos do the talking.
After the fun and bumpy elephant ride we continued to see more of the famous temples in the historic Ayutthaya. I won’t bore you with so much details about these temples so instead here are the highlights of our temple-hopping experience.
To sum it all up, Ayutthaya is simply gorgeously breath-taking. It’s picturesque landscapes and ruined temples are an absolute beauty. I love everything about this town; their rich culture and their people.
DAY 3: Grand Palace, Wat Pho and Vimanmek Mansion,
Still having a little bit of cultural hangover from Ayutthaya, we continued our cultural tour across Bangkok. Third day was spent visiting the Grand Palace, Temple of The Golden Reclining Buddha and Vimanmek Mansion.The Thais value their religion so much that in fact we need to remove our footwear before entering some of these temples and buildings because they are sacred. And cameras were mostly prohibited so here are the only pictures we managed to get.
DAY 4: Platinum, Central World and the Airport
How hilariously unexpected it is that on our very last day in Bangkok we managed to get lost (twice), literally. Our flight was scheduled at night so we still have the whole day to ourselves. We planned to spend it buying trinkets and souvenirs to bring home. From Ana’s place we have planned to go to the nearest BTS train station that would bring us to MBK where we will leave our luggage while we go shopping. We have to take two different taxis because it would be an inconvenience if we took the bus knowing that we have a lot of baggage to drag along. Most of the taxi drivers do not speak English so it was a bit of a dilemma for us. Ana gave the instructions to both the drivers to take us to Thalat Phlu which was the nearest BTS skytrain station. Ana, Ate Hazel and I were together in one taxi while my sister, aunt and another cousin is on the other taxi. We arrived safely to our destination but upon arriving there, our other companions has still not arrived. Thinking that they might have been stuck in traffic, we waited for a moment. But as the minutes pass, I can’t help but to be nervous. Our only means of communication is through Facebook so we tried to contact them with not much luck because the WiFi signal was not that strong. After a couple of minutes, we had reached them and only to know that the driver dropped them to the next station, instead. I was so relieved to hear that. We decided to board train and meet them in Pho Nimit station. However Ana couldn’t come with us because she has to go to work. Ate Hazel and I bid our thanks and goodbye to Ana. When the train stopped at Pho Nimit, they were already there waiting for us and from there we went directly to Siam which was the nearest station to MBK. After dropping off our luggage we went shopping. We were looking for Platinum Mall when we got lost, again. With not much help from the locals, at last after walking for what seems to be like forever we have located the mall. We were so busy shopping that we didn’t find the time to take pictures. From Platinum, we passed by Central World and then head back to MBK to collect our bags. From MBK we took the skytrain that would take us to the airport. We did not only managed to get lost but also we had made fool of ourselves at the airport when we panicked because we all thought that it was our flight who was announcing the final call for boarding. We ran full speed towards the gate only to find out that it was a flight to India. We all felt flushed with humiliation.
It was indeed an entirely fun and enriching trip. Thank you to Ana who has been so generous and accommodating. And thank you Thailand for bringing me a piece closer in completing my puzzle.