Exploring the great indoors.
Bangkok Travel Blog› entry 85 of 251 › view all entries
May 30th, 2008 – by: cmgervais
Bangkokâ€™s new Sky Train is clean, efficient, and very easy to figure out. We hopped on near our hotel and hopped off two stops later at Siam Paragon Shopping Center. This is a very high-end mall with the usual suspects, such as Chanel, Versace, and Hermes. An interesting twist is the car dealerships on the third floor. Is your Maserati a little worn out? Pick up a new one at the mall! Hey, why not get a new Lamborghini while you are at it?!
The main draw for me was the enormous English language bookstore, Kinokuniya.
Since we are going to the Himalayas next, Steve felt he really must have a watch equipped with an altimeter (he will use any excuse for buying a new watch). He was like a kid in a candy store at the expansive and well-merchandised Paragon Department Store. When he found a watch with not only an altimeter, but also a compass, barometer, and thermometerâ€¦well, I thought his head was going to explode. It happened to be on sale, so he snapped it up in no time. I bought some nice sunglasses at the same store, then we thought we better get out of that place before we did any more damage.
Steve studied his watchâ€™s 500-page instruction manual while I got a much-needed haircut at Shiseido. A shampoo, haircut, then another shampoo, and a blow dry/style was just under $20. I am happy with it.
We then decided to leave the mall and head to a place I had really wanted to visit last time in Bangkok: Jim Thompsonâ€™s House. Jim Thompson was an American architect who moved to Thailand after WWII and is credited with resurrecting Thailand's silk industry. He created a beautiful home of seamlessly pieced-together traditional Thai homes (some of them very old, brought in from the north of Thailand), and filled them with valuable treasures, many of which are now considered priceless. In 1967, he disappeared on a trip to Malaysiaâ€¦ and was never seen again.
Steve was wilting at this point, but I wanted to press on. So he went back to the hotel to do laundry while I went back to the shopping mall to hit the aquarium there, Siam Ocean World. We seem to go to every aquarium we run across, so why stop now?
I think this aquarium may be the best Iâ€™ve seen on this tripâ€¦maybe even better than Osakaâ€™s! The exhibits were very creative and fun (they even turned a real car into an aquarium), with good signage and clear, educational explanations of everything.
I took a rather silly glass-bottom boat tour of the aquarium. Everyone in the boat exclaimed in excitement whenever we passed over something, as if surprised. I meanâ€¦ itâ€™s an AQUARIUM. Of course there are fish. It was kind fun though, and the children in the boat had a blast. This is a great place to bring kids.
I also watched the Sanyo â€ś4Dâ€ť movie, a very realistic animation of prehistoric sea life, complete with scary predators coming right out at the audience. We were wearing 3D glasses, plus the seats moved and blew mist and air -- lots of people were screaming (OK, me too), and a young girl actually left she was so scared! It was excellent.
Then it was time to go home, which wasnâ€™t much fun at all. I got off the Sky Train at the correct stop, and walked in the right direction, but then I started to second-guess myself and turned around. Then I turned around again and got all messed up and felt panicky and lost. It was really hot, and rush hour, so the narrow sidewalks were elbow to elbow with people. I saw some very disturbing things, such a man with no legs pulling himself along on his stomach. He was filthy and obviously hadnâ€™t had access to bathroom facilities, opting instead to go in his pants. It was one of the most extreme cases of human misery I have ever seen. I also saw a dog with its legs all bent backward in an unnatural position. His owner, one of the many beggars on the sidewalk, had taped him up with duct tape, and affixed some sort of homemade harness around his useless hindquarters.
I finally made it to the hotel, and my happiness from a day well spent had completely dissipated. I was hot, tired, and sick to my stomach. After a bit, Steve and I visited the Irish pub next door, where we enjoyed the privilege of Guinness and a delicious dinner (burger and fries for Steve, baked potatoes and vegetables for me).
Bangkok has me upside down and turned around. I like it, and then I hate it. Right now I am thinking that my first (bad) impression, so many years ago, was the correct one for me. And there is very little chance of me giving the city a third chance to change my mindâ€¦one more day here, then I think I am done with Bangkok for good.
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