Exploring the great indoors.

Bangkok Travel Blog

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"Honey, can you pick up some eggs and a Lamborghini while you're at the store?"
Steve let it be known today that he wouldn’t be too disappointed if he never saw another temple again. Since I visited Bangkok’s ancient sights and temples on a previous visit, I had no problem staying in our neighborhood to tackle the “newer” sights of Bangkok. Shopping malls and aquariums, for example.

Bangkok’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.
Steve at the watch counter, Paragon Department Store.
They had an extensive travel book collection, and not just Lonely Planet, either. They had many publishers, such as Fodor’s (my fave), Rough Guides, and Insight. I picked up a guidebook for the Middle East.

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 thermometer…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.
Haircut at Shiseido.


Steve studied his watch’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 Thompson’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 Malaysia… and was never seen again.
In Jim Thompson's Garden.
Now the house is run by his foundation, and the proceeds go to Thai charities. I thought the house might seem dated, but not so at all -- it’s really beautiful. The gardens were also lovely, and everything was nicely maintained and well managed. Steve and I both really liked this visit. (No photos were allowed inside which is why I have none.).

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 I’ve seen on this trip…maybe even better than Osaka’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.
Inquisitive but shy garden eels. Siam Ocean World.
There were unusual fish species I have never seen in an aquarium before, such as garden eels, elephant nosed fish, and a bunch of others I can’t remember now. Everything was super clean and nice, and everyone seemed well fed. Nice place.

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 mean… it’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 “4D” 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.
Part of the aquarium's "Weird but Wonderful" exhibit, a nautilus.
I am really sorry Steve missed such a fun time.

Then it was time to go home, which wasn’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 hadn’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.
Street musician near our hotel. He was playing the same song when I returned about 9 hours later.
The dog was screeching the first time I passed, and I averted my eyes the second time. Forget what I said yesterday about Bangkok reminding me of New York -- these are things you would never see there.

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 mind…one more day here, then I think I am done with Bangkok for good.   

newtampo says:
Understand how you feel. But glad that at least it's impressing you even just one day :) Sometimes for some reasons I'd like to escape from here too :D By the way, the 4D movie is fun! :)
Posted on: Jun 05, 2008
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Honey, can you pick up some eggs …
"Honey, can you pick up some eggs…
Steve at the watch counter, Parago…
Steve at the watch counter, Parag…
Haircut at Shiseido.
Haircut at Shiseido.
In Jim Thompsons Garden.
In Jim Thompson's Garden.
Inquisitive but shy garden eels. S…
Inquisitive but shy garden eels. …
Part of the aquariums Weird but …
Part of the aquarium's "Weird but…
Street musician near our hotel. He…
Street musician near our hotel. H…
Breakfast at the Swiss Lodge Hotel.
Breakfast at the Swiss Lodge Hotel.
Street vendor near our hotel.
Street vendor near our hotel.
Street vendor cooking up fried egg…
Street vendor cooking up fried eg…
Steve on the Sky Train.
Steve on the Sky Train.
Thought Id try one of their coffe…
Thought I'd try one of their coff…
Waiting for the mall to open.
Waiting for the mall to open.
My new do.
My new 'do.
Great salad for lunch.
Great salad for lunch.
Steves fish and chips for lunch.
Steve's fish and chips for lunch.
Maserati dealership at the Siam Pa…
Maserati dealership at the Siam P…
Lotus dealership at the Siam Parag…
Lotus dealership at the Siam Para…
Nice grocery store at the mall.
Nice grocery store at the mall.
Colorful traffic.
Colorful traffic.
Entrance to the Jim Thompson house.
Entrance to the Jim Thompson house.
Our guide at Jim Thompson.
Our guide at Jim Thompson.
One of the smaller garden houses a…
One of the smaller garden houses …
Artwork at Jim Thompsons.
Artwork at Jim Thompson's.
Jim Thompson silk shop.
Jim Thompson silk shop.
Steve tries out his new compass.
Steve tries out his new compass.
photo op at Siam Ocean World.
photo op at Siam Ocean World.
Spotted eels at Siam Ocean World.
Spotted eels at Siam Ocean World.
Info sign on the nautilus.
Info sign on the nautilus.
Big lobster. 
Siam Ocean World.
Big lobster. Siam Ocean World.
Really, really big lobster. Siam O…
Really, really big lobster. Siam …
Don your lifejackets, time for the…
Don your lifejackets, time for th…
Me in the glass bottom boat. Siam …
Me in the glass bottom boat. Siam…
Water rats enjoying a snack.
Water rats enjoying a snack.
This otter looks so dejected. Buck…
This otter looks so dejected. Buc…
A hands on starfish exhibit.
A hand's on starfish exhibit.
Refrigerator aquarium. Very funny.
Refrigerator aquarium. Very funny.
Diver at Siam Ocean World.
Diver at Siam Ocean World.
There was an exhibit of pickled …
There was an exhibit of "pickled"…
Car aquarium.
Car aquarium.
Hmmm, I think I feel a headache co…
Hmmm, I think I feel a headache c…
Bangkok
photo by: Deats