Bangkok Travel Blog› entry 1 of 18 › view all entries
Getting there is half the battle. I had a 24 hour period of travel before I got to Thailand. I worked a full day of work at home and went to the airport at 6 PM, flew to Seattle, waited there till 1 AM to fly to Taiwan on an EVA air flight, Flew to Taiwan for 14 hours and then flew to Bangkok on a China Airlines plane. All said and done it worked out pretty well. EVA air treats you pretty well on their flights and they have good food and has a Video On Demand system on the seatback in front of you that gives you descent entertainment. The flight was completely full and had a bit of a crowded feel. The plane was a new 777 and felt new and modern with a color scheme that was diferent from other planes that I had been on (which is refreshing).
I managed to battle jet lag quite well.
The China Airlines flight to Bangkok from Taipei is fairly short compared to the Seattle to Taipei flight. It was on a big 747 and the flight was only half filled.
Once in Bangkok, arriving at 1 PM, at the new Sawannapoom airport (incorrest spelling but that is how it is pronounced) you are greeted by a new airport that is a lot of rough concrete and silver chrome. I have heard a lot of complaints about this airport but I was OK with it. I made my way towards the customs line, stopping along the way to change some dollars into Baht at one of the many currency exchange booths (very easy to find, just don't forget to look for them). I managed to find the slowest customs line and had a couple of Russian guys cut ahead of us in line at the last minute. They had filled out their forms wrong and had no English or Thai to help them through their problems so they slowed down the line. English is pretty much the universal language and you hear all kinds of accents from Germans, Swedish as well as the standard British or Australian accents.
Once though customs I grabbed my bag off one of the many carousels and made my way to the Airport Express buses. I had done my research and found out that they are on the first floor of the terminal. I headed there and knew that I needed the A1 to Silom. I bought my ticket for 150 baht ($5). They said the bus is just leaving now so hurry so I ran out and jumped on with my bag and sat down. It is a 45 minute or so bus ride into Bangkok from the airport. Once you get closer to the city the bus hits the city streets and slows to a crawl (if it moves at all). Luckily the busdriver has a list of drop off points so you don't have to know where you are which after a 24 hour flight has scrambled your brain. I found a map in the seat back in front of me so I started following along and knew I was getting close so I told my bus driver I was OK to jump out across the street from my Hotel at the red light that we were stopped at. Once out of the bus I was into Bangkok traffic. With my heavy duffel bag on my back and my day pack over my shoulder I braved the traffic and ran across the frenetic traffic to my Hotel. As a first time visitor to Asia and in a big city like Bangkok I figured it would be helpful to stay in a nice 4 star hotel so I chose the Holiday Inn on Silom. Holiday Inn is a mediocre chain in the United States but in Asia they step it up a notch and are a solid 4 star accomodation. The lobby is nice and the service is good. The employees all give you a very polite Wai in greeting. The hotel is in the middle of a remodel and as luck would have it I got an old room which was not too bad but I could tell that the remodeled floors were brighter color schemes with a more Thai flair to them.
Anyway once checked in and armed wth a map I was ready to hit the streets. Even after my 24 hour flight. I ventured out to find the Sky Train station that was nearby. I found that and got the idea behind the train system and then headed for the river. Once there I found the Chao Phraya Express boat pier and found out where to go there. There is also a place under the bridge where you can relax a little in a small park. Especially nice sinse I was in Bangkok now with temperatures in the 90's and I had just left home where temperatures were their winter 30's (Fahrenheit). From their I wandered through the streets back toward the hotel finding street food vendors, busy city streets, a street market selling clothing and a food court.
Once back to the hotel the tiredness started to hit me so I decided I can just get by with a snack for dinner and a couple of bottles of water from a mini mart on Silom street near the hotel. I went to a local mini mart that was similar to American versions of that. Later I learned that 7-11's were the easiest to go to. They are everywhere and I mean everywhere. They all seem to have about the same selection, the prices are marked clearly and the registers have screens pointed towards the customer so all you have to do is read the screen for your total.
Back in my hotel I drank my water and ate my snack and settled in for the night. Tomorow I planned to check out the river boats and make my way towards the Grand Palace and check out a few Buddhist Wats.