We never thought Bangkok would be a rest and relaxation destination.
Our round the world, points based trip officially includes one main stop (Sydney) and two stopovers of our choice (we picked Brussels and Bangkok) and endless layovers and side trips. Considering that Bangkok is one of our official stopovers, it's about time we finally made it back to see the city! Our first stop here hardly counts, as we essentially did nothing more than transfer from one airport to another and spend the night in a hotel. Now that we're here for a few days, we're looking forward to seeing the city by foot, bike, and boat and (of course!) stuffing ourselves with pad Thai.
After flying in from Yangon, we're looking forward to a restful first night. On day one, we're doing a guided bike tour of the city to get our sense of direction, followed by a boat tour at night. On day two we're going to explore on our own until our late night flight to Singapore.
Bangkok is blessed with a huge selection of accommodations - from hostels to 5 star hotels. We waited and watched and waited and watched until we finally saw a huge sale on Orbitz that we could combine with a coupon code. Then we pounced! For the same price as a private hostel room we got a 4 star hotel. Since we weren't fussy about location, our patience paid off with a property we normally could never afford.
Leaving to Chance:
Since we have a couple of activities booked for day one, we're leaving day two open to do our own thing and take it one step at a time.
We're hoping being in one location for two nights will help us get a handle on our laundry, will be suffering after a string of one-night stays.
We paid about an extra $10 a day to include breakfast with our hotel stay. The combination of convenience and low price made it too tempting to pass up.
Splurges and Souvenirs:
None planned, although I suspect we may cave to room service on our first night after a late arrival from Yangon.
Sooo.... How Did It Go?
We were only a few days into our round-the-world trip when it became obvious that our time in Bangkok was going to be anything but ordinary. The city was blanketed with protesters and we were hearing conflicting reports from other travelers - one friend was basically marooned at an airport hotel!
By all accounts travelers were in no danger, other than the danger of inconvenience. We simply hoped for the best and reminded ourselves that this widespread protest action would be unthinkable in Myanmar. Chatting with our taxi driver on route to the hotel, we learned that traffic had been a nightmare, even by Bangkok standards, but otherwise it was business as usual. Our kind driver made for a great tour guide, pointing out several sites to as we zipped across town - no traffic problems to report at all!
We felt slightly out of place when we entered the elegant hotel lobby looking a bit travel worn, but apparently this didn't phase the staff who upgraded us to the top floor! (Confession: I later grabbed a sneak peak at the computer screen and saw it was because the hotel was overbooked. Oh well! I'll take an y upgrade for any reason!) We were happy to sink into our beautiful room - and toss our laundry in the sink. It was time to do some of my signature shower gel sock scrubs! (Second confession: Yep, we caved in to room service.)
We also received some bad news. Thanks to the protests and the chaos in the city, our cycling tour was cancelled for the next day. While we were disappointed, we certainly understood the circumstances and went to bed still looking forward to the next day.
After some serious sleep, we woke up to what we though was the sound of cheering from a high school sports stadium we could see out our window. After watching a soccer tournament for a while, it soon became apparent that this was no cheering but instead the steady chants from protesters. While we couldn't see them, they were clearly coming from the other side of our building. It didn't sound menacing so much as it did deafening!
For all intents and purposes, we were sequestered to the hotel for the day. We passed the time alternating between the beautiful swimming pool in the hotel, catching up on work in the room, and tending to our endless laundry pile. Happily, our evening boat tour was still on. It was a memorable night that has earned its own separate blog post - for now, I'll tempt you with these three words: Achy Breaky Heart.
Day two was much like day one. We woke up to protest and again spent the day alternating between work and relaxation - at least our laundry was done! Overall, we actually had two wonderful days. We felt relaxed and refreshed. A break - voluntary or otherwise - couldn't have come at a better time than halfway through our trip. We had been on the go for several weeks and it was nice to be lazy for a while.
We ultimately had a wonderful time in Bangkok but we never saw the real Bangkok at all. We could have easily been in LA or Perth or Rome. Only the phenomenal pad Thai gave a clue to our real whereabouts. It was the perfect combination of sweet, spicy, chewy, and crunchy and I couldn't get enough of it.
We need a Bangkok do-over; not because we didn't have a wonderful time but simply so we can get better acquainted with the city. But in the meantime, it's off to Singapore.
Previous stop: Day 12 & 13 Yangon
Next stop:Singapore Day 16
Related: From Bosphorus to Bangkok - Day 8 of Our Round The World Trip