Self-Drive trip across Thailand (7 days, 2000 kms) : Part 7 – Bangkok

Thai version –

“Krung – Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Phiman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit”

Pali-Sanskrit version (its original form) –

Krung – dēvamahānagara amararatanakosindra mahindrāyudhyā mahātilakabhava navaratanarājadhānī purīramya uttamarājanivēsana mahāsthāna amaravimāna avatārasthitya shakrasdattiya vishnukarmaprasiddh    (source: wikitravel).

I attempt to produce it in Devnagri to get a closer perspective –

क्रंग – देवमहानगर: अमररत्नकोसिन्द्र: महिंद्रअयोध्धया महादिलोकभव: नवरत्नराजधानी पुरीरम्य: उत्तमराजनिवेसान महास्थान अमरविमान अवतारसथित्य शक्रसदत्तीय  विष्णुकर्मप्रसिध्ध: .  

 

Got that ? OK, this is the official name of Bangkok! Krung is the only Thai word meaning ‘capital’. The name supposedly features in Guinness Book for being the world’s longest name of a place.   Thais call their capital city not as Bangkok but Krung Thep (City of Angels / देव), which is the shorter version of the full name. The versions above also give an indication to how Sanskrit words have evolved in Thai. Dev becomes Thep, Nagar becomes Nakhon, Amar becomes Amon, and so on.

Now, this name of the place incident compels me to narrate the case of this bright little kid-

Teacher      :               Beta, where are you from?

Bright kid   :               Thiruvananthapuram.

Teacher      :               Wow, so nice!  Now tell us the spelling of this word.

Bright  kid :         Sorry Teacher, just remembered, I actually belong to Goa  :-)


So we are in Bangkok – one of the most cosmopolitan cities in Asia. It is vibrant, vehement, vivacious and vain. Bangkok comes in all shades of all colours (against only 50 and only grey, as some bigoted travellers would ascribe to it). Bangkok once had the sobriquet of ‘City of Canal’ and ‘Venice of the East’ thanks to its network of canals which also served as transportation links. Very few of the canals now remain in Bangkok (they having been filled up to make roads). After handing over the car at the rental office in Suvarnabhumi Airport, we head towards our hotel almost by midnight.

As our bright orange taxi laboriously meanders through the Bangkok traffic, we know it was a wise decision not to drive inside Bangkok. The traffic is chaotic even this late at night – giving an indication of what it would be like in daytime. Night skyline of Bangkok is pretty impressive, especially when seen from elevated roads.

The hotel, Baiyoke Sky Tower is the tallest building in Thailand with some 85 floors. It is also the tallest hotel in Southeast Asia and fourth tallest hotel building in the world. The hotel proper actually starts at 18th Floor, where they have the Reception. This is the first time ever we are going to set our feet on a floor whose number is prefixed by 7 or 8 on the lift’s push button, leave alone staying in one.

Bangkok is what a mighty touristy destination is all about – lots of shopping, sights and to-do things. And it starts right from the hotel street. Outside the entrance, there is a vibrant street market, which remains active till late night and almost all-night on weekends.

The city, which has two parts viz. old and new, is an interesting combination of Ancient and Modern. The old city is mainly located along the eastern bank of Chao-Phraya River, comprising of royal palace, temples, traditional architecture and sights, etc. Further east of the old part is the new city marked by ostentatious high-rises, elevated roads and chock-a-block traffic. Airport lies further east, in a south easterly direction from the city main.

Metro (MRT) and BTS Sky-trains between them provide reasonable coverage for commuting travellers. Sky trains, apart from faster transportation in a city laden with traffic woes, also offers scenic views of the city from an elevation. The colourful taxi-cabs are equally handy and a ride within city would generally not exceed 100-150B. You also have the option of ubiquitous Tuk-Tuks as well as motor-cycle taxi. Since there are many tourist points along the banks of the Chao Phraya river, some people also advise a full day ticket (hop-on-hop-off mode) in either the regular passenger ferries or, at a higher cost, the tourist ferries.

There are a large number of sights in Bangkok and one would need to decide on do-ables depending on number of available days and one’s interests. An ideal way to cover maximum number of spots would be to book the day-tour packages. This could be followed by own explorations. And remember, Bangkok is city of malls and shopping is a big draw here. Out of three full days, we ended up spending (‘wasting’ would be more appropriate but less acceptable to my companions) one day doing just that. Of course, one of the first things we bought was a massive bag.

Grand Royal Palace    An important landmark, this is the royal palace and presently used by the royalty on ceremonial occasions. The compound also houses the famous ‘Emerald Budhdha’ temple. Grand palace and Emerald Budha is a must-do in Bangkok. Entrance fee is 300B for foreigners and free for Thais. Visitor should cater for at least one hour (usually more) to observe any of the major temple complexes in Bangkok.

Wat Pho  is famous for the largest reclining Budhdha (46 mtr long and 15 mtr high) and the compound also boasts of the largest number of Budhdha images in Thailand. The walls here are filled with paintings depicting stories from Ramakien (Thai version of Ramayan).

This is one of the oldest temples and supposed place of origin of Thai massage. It may be of interest to note that Thai massages has its origin in religion and dates back to time of Lord Budhdha. The massage is based on activation of 10 energy lines flowing through the body in order to energise the body and soul. Even today, many wats offer Thai message within the temple enclosures, which are more authentic as well as economical.

Wat Arun  Located on the western bank of River Chao Phraya, this entails a 10-15 min ferry ride from city side. Its majestic view looms as soon as one sets foot on the city side pier. Another must-do in Bangkok. The interiors have decoration of Chinese ceramic ware.

Siam Niramit   is a cultural show (akin, to some extent, to KoD, Gurgaon) which is a worthwhile visit. The show basically depicts the culture of Thailand across the ages in an appealing format. This is an elaborate affair, where the main show starts at 8 pm, which is held inside the main hall. The signpost there reads –

‘ The stage of Siam Niramit is certified by Guinness World Records as the highest in the world’.

However, in addition to the main show, there are various displays/ exhibits/interactive presentations, called Thai Village, which are on offer well before the show starts and they are equally charming. It is therefore advisable to arrive there with more than 1 hour in hand for the show. The pics below are of pre-show activities. Photography is not allowed in the main show. Entrance fee is 1500-1800B (depending on the season).

Siam Ocean World  is an underground aquarium housing varieties of sea creatures including sharks, penguins etc. Though this may not get full marks as far as similar ocean worlds across the globe are concerned, it is interesting and children would love it. It is located under the Siam Paragon Mall and the mall is one of the most chic spots of Bangkok. The peripherals including a 5-D movie show makes it quite enjoyable. The entry fee for foreigners here costs some 1200B.

A list of other sights/ activities, which is perhaps a fraction of all that is on offer in Bangkok –

  • River cruise (night or day, with or without dinner) & Rice Barge cruise
  • Floating Garden
  • Flower market
  • Rose Garden with Thai cultural show
  • Vimanmek Palace (the world’s largest golden teakwood mansion)
  • Jiim Thompson’s House
  • Crocodile Farm, Snake Farm, Siam Park City, Khao Yai national park, Safari world
  • China Town
  • Calypso show
  • National Museum, national gallery, royal barges national museum
  • Lumphini Park
  • Shopping options to be explored, apart from local shops in your neighbourhood (there would be many, irrespective of where you are), include string of malls, viz. MBK & Siam Paragon (alongside each other, on a major Skytrain junction) and many many such others. Similarly there are many markets including the famous Chatuchak weekend market (billed as world’s largest weekend market). There is, actually, more than enough to adequately whet any shopaholic’s appetite.

Beyond Bangkok, there are various one day trips on offer including Ayuthya visit, Temple Tiger, Pattaya/coral island, River Kwai tour (this is basically a visit to the legendary bridge made famous by ‘The bridge on the river Kwai’.

Story of Bangkok is about half done if the scams of Bangkok are not covered. As I had mentioned in Part II of this series, enough info is available on the net, including this site called bangkokscam.com (check out both ‘undercover work’ and ‘visitor’s report’ portions) and prospective visitors must go through them to avoid unpleasant surprises. My golden rule here would be ‘if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is – don’t fall for it’.

Before we realise and make further plans to see many things which still remain unseen , it is over for us, as far as our Thailand trip is concerned. We find ourselves awaiting the cab to take us to Airport, ready with our baggage which includes that newly acquired and unseemly bag, all bursting at their seams. During the last few days here, we have befriended Mr Kitrat, a cab-driver who took care of most of our transportation here. He has made us promise to take his cab for our transit to airport. He has also offered a discount for the same. Mr Kitrat, though short on English, is very generous on smiles and kindness and has immensely contributed towards making our stay here a memorable one.

Here, in Delhi, as I write this epilogue to our dream like sojourn to this great country of smiling people, Sharmi reminds me of the plant we brought from there. The plant is growing well, having apparently liked us and the Delhi climate. We are thankful, since its tiny leaves would serve as wings to our memories’ flight to a world whose part we have been for some 12 days.

And yes, Thailand experience has been too good to be  consigned to the realm of memory. It deserves to be re-lived, re-enacted in flesh and blood. Hope to be there again,

Good bye….. Thailand.

Next and last part will be a recap of issues on expenses, to-do’s, precautions, etc.

Thanks,

Auro.

34 Comments

  • Surinder Sharma says:

    ??????? ?? ???? ????? ????? ???? ??, ???? ?? ????? ???. ???? ?? ????? ???? ????? ?? ???. ?????? ????? ?? ???????? ???? ????? ?? ????? ????. ????? ?????? ???? ???? ?? ???? ???? ???????

    • AUROJIT says:

      ??????????,

      ??????????? ??? ???? ???????? ?? ???.

      ???? ??? ??? (?? ?? ???? ?? ????? ? ???? ??????? ?? ???? ??? ???? ) ?????? ????? ?? ???? ???? ?? ????? ?????? (??? ???? ??? ?? ?? ???? ??? ?? ?? ?? ).

      ????????,
      Auro.

  • Bidisha says:

    Liked it immensely Aurojit. For the ones those who already been to Thailand and Bangkok like me, it was a marvelous reliving the memories. And for the still-to-go travelers, this would be a wonderful informative post. I also remember one show that is I feel worth mentioning; it was the Cabaret Show at Hotel Asia and the awesome dinner that was included in the evening package and also the imitation Elvis Presley performing gorgeously and singing his heart out at the hotel hall and entertaining the guests for hours. :)

    Regards
    Bidisha

    • AUROJIT says:

      Hi Bidisha,

      Sure, one is bound to return with nice memories from Thailand, which would be worth living many times over.

      We missed on Hotel Asia show but I distinctly remember coming across it. Can well imagine Elvis Presley look-cum-sing alike performing to audience’s hearts’ content. Tourism orientation of the populace is what makes the tourist’s time worthwhile there, I suppose.

      Thanks,

      Auro.

  • rastogi says:

    hi auro
    ???? ?? ????? ??? ?? ???? ??????? ?? ??? ??? ??. ?????? ?? ???? ??? ?? ???? ??? ? ??? ??. ????? ?? ?????????? ????????? ???? ??? ??. ?? ?? ??????? ?? ?? ??? ?? ???? ??? ???? ?? ?? ?????? ??? ?? ???? ?? ???? , ??? ??? ?????? ??. ???????: ?? ?? ????? ??????? ??.

    • AUROJIT says:

      ?????????,

      ??????? ??? ????? ???? ??????? ???? ?? ???? ????? ???? ???????? ??. ???? ??? ??????, ???? ???? ???-? ?? (????? ?? ???? ???? ?? ???????? ?? ???????? ???, ????? ?? ???? ????? serving monarch ?? ???) ??? ???? ?? ???? ?? ???? ?? ????? ?? ?? ???? ???????? ????? ??.

      ?? ???? ?? ????? ?? ????? ?? ?????? ??? ??????, ??? ???? ?? ?? ???????? ??????? ?? ????? ?? ???? ???. ??????? ????????? ?? ??? ?????????? ?? (??????? ??? ???? ??? ???????? ???? ??? ???????? ???? ???? ??).

      ?? ????? ???? ? ?? ?? ?????? ???? ?? ??? ??????? ???????

      Auro.

      • Nandan Jha says:

        ??? , ???? ????? ?? ?? “???????” ???? ????? ??? |

        • AUROJIT says:

          Hi Nandan,

          ???? ????????.

          ???????? ?? ??????? ? ???? ??????? ?? ???? ???? ???????? ???????? (?? ?? ???????? ???? ?? ?????? ??????? ?? ????? ?? ?? ??? ??). ???? ?????? ?? ????? ?? ??? ???? ???? ?? ??? ?????.

          And must say that I am impressed by promptness and propriety of your response . Recently I responded on Manu Tyagi’s post viz. –

          ?????? ?? ???? ????????? ???? ?? ?? ???? ???? ??????? ?? ?????? ??? ?? ???? ?? :-).

          I stand vindicated, our collective….???? ???????…..is not misplaced.

          Great job, great efforts.

          Thanks

          Auro.

  • D.L.Narayan says:

    All good things must come to an end; I guess that this is the end of this great series, too. You have provided us with plenty of wholesome infotainment with this travelogue and I am sure that you have inspired many ghumakkars to follow in your footsteps…sorry, car tracks and plan on exploring foreign countries in self-driven cars.

    I totally agree with you that going on a shopping spree is a total waste of quality time. Shopping paradises do not offer anything special; they offer the same made-in-China products in identically cloned malls, doesn’t matter in which city/continent you happen to be. The only difference is in the price due to differences in taxation and overhead expenses. They just seduce you into buying stuff which you don’t need and might probably never use in your lifetime.

    Your travelogue has also driven home the point that India has much more to offer tourists but has a long way to go before we come anywhere close to Thailand in terms of volume of tourism unless we invest heavily in infrastructure and training. Tourism will generate millions of jobs for the underpriviliged sections of society and it is surprising that inspite of having a huge tourism bureaucracy, precious little is being done and the only thing they seem to be doing is going on junkets abroad at taxpayers’ expense on so-called study tours.

    Hoping that you will thrill us once again soon with yet another delightful travelogue written in your inimitable style.

    PS: Looking at your “Thai acquisitions,” I wonder how much extra you had to shell out for excess baggage and customs ;-)

    • AUROJIT says:

      Hi DL,

      Sincere thanks for your comments. Surely, my desire is that some Ghumakkar takes up similar trip again.

      About the vaunted need to buy/splurge – you hit the nail on its head. We are witnessing a paradoxical syndrome where greed is eulogized. I mean, this market-driven culture telling us that it is ok to be greedy, ok to buy even if you don’t have the means; it is driving home a message that ‘mask’ is more important than the ‘self’. And the saddest part is that we as a society are falling for it.

      Study tours is an interesting topic now-a-days thanks to acts of this sect which insist on calling itself leaders. Potential v/s actualization – there is a big hiatus and an overwhelming force not intent on filling it.

      Thai acquisition – I read very recently that Indigo has overtaken others to make it to no 1 spot. The reason I think lies here. They allowed somewhat excess check-in baggage and oversize cabin baggage with smiling nods at nil cost. I mean, they were almost at connivance with passengers returning from Bangkok with some extra weight. That was indeed a pleasant epilogue to the entire story.

      Thanks,

      Auro.

  • SilentSoul says:

    Beautifully concluded. we enjoyed the series auro tks

  • Dear Aurojit,

    First of all thanks for bringing such a discrete series of travelogues here in ghumakkar.com.
    Thoroughly enjoyed it.

    Coming to the post , Now I will say this one was the best. No doubt about it. The pictures here incomparable and colors of monuments , temples ,statues are mesmerizing . I just want to see them again and again.

    Waiting for concluding part and your next series.

  • ??? ,
    ???? ?? ??????? ??????? ?? ??????? ?? ???? ??? ?? ???? ??? ????? ?? ?? ???? ?? ? ??? ???? ??? ????? ?? ?? 82 ?? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ?????? ???? ??? ? ?? ??????? ???? ?? ????? ????? ?????? ????? ?? ?? ??? ?? ?????? ????
    ???? ????? ??? ?????? ?? ??????? ?? ??????

    • AUROJIT says:

      hI mANU,

      ???? ??????? ?? ??? ??????? ???????.

      ?? ????? ???? ????? ???? ?? ?????? ??.

      ???? ????? ???, ?????? ??? ???? ????? ??? ??????? ???? ?? ?? ???? ???? -? ?????? ??.

      ????????,
      Auro

  • Stone says:

    Brilliant series Auro.

    And I’ve same question as DL, how much extra you shelled out for excess baggage? :-)

    • AUROJIT says:

      Hi Stone,

      It was thanks to the carriers and the fact that we were less on total weight when leaving India, we did not have to shell out any excesses.

      Thanks for your nice words.

      Auro.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    I think just like you, I also didn’t realize when it was over. At least in this post :-)

    The color pics with no grey, have expressed so much that I guess we didn’t miss much of Bangkok.

    Thank you Auro for this brilliant series on Thailand , a unique one at Ghumakkar and for bringing so many nuggets of small gems that one can cherish for ever. Thank you.

  • Mahesh Semwal says:

    Enjoyed your entire series on Thailand.

  • Ritesh Gupta says:

    Hi Auro…

    Very Nice Post with supporting beautiful Pictures.

    Thanks

  • Hi, Auro

    You started the series with “What is it that a traveller feels after a wonderful trip?….
    We returned loaded with special memories from our trip to Thailand; memories of a country, of a people and of our amazing experience being with them in close quarters.”

    …so are we; at the end of this wonderful series, we also felt like travelling along with you in this amazing country ‘Thailand’ and will definitely miss this series…though one more to go. The more I heard about ‘Thailand’ from my friends and through your series, my desire to go & feel the experience on my own just…I look forward to that day…

    Once again thank you for this virtual tour and those stunning pictures…and the picture of ‘Thai food’…my today’s evening hours might have already been fixed…

    Take care…look forward to read more from you,

    Regards,

    • AUROJIT says:

      Hi Amitav,

      Thanks for your nice words. I sincerely wish that you dreams of visiting Thailand come true.

      Thai food pic affect – did you enjoy the evening hours :-)

      Thanks again,
      Auro

  • Sahil Sethi says:

    Hi Aurojit Da,

    Wishing you a very Happy B’day :)

    Cheers !!!!
    Sahil

  • AUROJIT says:

    Hi Sahil,

    Long time…….too much rest to your Maruti may not be good for it.

    Thanks for your wishes,

    Auro.

  • End of series with such a beautiful city tour of Bangkok.

    In the rooftop view too many taxis are of pink color :)

  • AUROJIT says:

    Hi Deependra,

    Taxis are coloured in pink/orange/yellow and a colour or to more. I think colour scheme is linked to the company ownership.

    Thanks for nice comments.

    Auro.

  • pamela100 says:

    Very nice post & the pictures. Now my interest growing to read all your post. :)

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Hello Auro – Trust you are doing great. We republished it so I read it again. And I now realise that I never updated here that I did finally was able to do a road-trip. Did BKK-ChiangMai-Kanchanbori-Chumphoon-Phuket :-). Yeah from North to South. And this series was an inspiration.

    Or may be I wrote this comment already. But, ir-respective, your post is what inspired me to take the plunge.

  • Auro M says:

    Hi Nandan,

    Great hearing from you. Sorry to miss responding to your gracious comments.

    Wow……!!!!!…..if you were really inspired by the posts. And it calls for a new series on self drive trip across Thailand by the original (i.e. originator of…) Ghumakkar aka NJ.

    We are also working out a Re-trip to that beautiful country (with Siem Reap as an add-on; based on what I would term as reciprocal inspiration :-)) this summer. Its going to be a big family group ex-CCU and therefore no self-drives. Will surely attempt to narrate the experience out here ….

    Thanks…….

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