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Gurdwara entrance sikhs Bangkok Thailand

Thailand 2010: Gurdwara Siri Guru Singh Sabha, Sampeng Market, JJ market (again)

Date:  28th November 2010

I began today with a taxi ride to Phahurat Raod.

House Lumpini building Silom Bangkok Thailand
Drove towards Silom first

Silom buildings Bangkok Thailand

Silom HSBC building Bangkok Thailand
A lot of financial firms have offices in Silom
DTAC telecom headquarters Bangkok Thailand
DTAC is Thailand’s second largest mobile service provider

Wat temple Silom Bangkok

China town daytime Bangkok Thailand
Drove through China Town again
Thanon Chakphet road Bangkok slums
Got down at Chakphet road

Chakphet street food stalls Bangkok

Fried fruit street hawker Bangkok Thailand
Batter-fried fruit

Phahurat market Chinese sweet shop Bangkok

Thanon Phahurat road Bangkok Thailand
Reached Pahurat road

Thanon Pahurat road shops Bangkok Thailand

Gurudwara Sikh point sign Pahurat road Bangkok
I could see a sign stating Gurudwara Sikh, but all it pointed to was a wall of shops on the side of the road I was on

Old Siam plaza Bangkok Thailand

Pahurat market shops Bangkok
I still waded through Pahurat market

Figuring the gurdwara was behind the shops, I found a gap and walked into an alley. There, an old Thai man saw me and just raised his arm to point to where I needed to go. I guessed I wasn’t the first Indian he may have come across in search of the elusive gurdwara.

Pahurat Bangkok alley way to gurdwara
Kept wondering how much more I had to walk to find it…
Bangkok gurdwara Indian temple Thailand
…but there it was (finally!)
Way to gurdwara Bangkok alley
The ‘desis’ were in sight 🙂

Shops near gurdwara Bangkok ThailandMarket near gurdwara Little India Bangkok

Gurdwara Sir Guru Singh Sabha Bangkok Thailand
Gurdwara Siri Guru Singh Sabha

You can read about the history of the gurdwara at their official site, but apparently Sikhs have been in Thailand since the early 1900s. Gurdwara entrance sikhs Bangkok ThailandAll non-Sikhs have to cover their heads with a scarf, which they provide by the stairs in the main hall.

Gurdwara scarfs Bangkok Thailand
Pick one

You also have to take off your shoes if you want to go upstairs. They have a big shoe rack in the main hall and you get a token.

Gurdwara main hall Sikhs blood donation Bangkok
The Sikhs were being their charitable self today with a blood donation camp
Gurdwara main hall fans Bangkok
The 6-storey gurdwara is one of the largest outside India
Gurdwara Langar hall Bangkok Thailand
The first floor is a Langar hall, where visitors and devotees had sat down for the free meals
Gurdwara wedding hall Bangkok sikhs
The floor above it looked like it was hall used for weddings and other events
Gurdwara prayer hall Bangkok Thailand
Above that was the main prayer hall

Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha prayer hall Bangkok

Gurdwara prayer hall Bangkok Sikh kid photobomb
This kid was waiting for his chance to ‘photobomb’ this shot
Gurdwara Sikh classrooms Bangkok Thailand
The fourth floor is a school
Gurdwara old Sikh lady Bangkok Thailand
The fifth floor was a hall with rooms…
Gurdwara Bahi Dharam Singh Bangkok Thailand
… with priests (I assume?)
Gurdwara Sikh guru rooms Bangkok Thailand
Not sure what this signifies or what they preach

Gurdwara window Bangkok ThailandChinaworld building Pahurat Bangkok

Gurdwara entry Pahurat road Bangkok
That looked like a more accessible entry
Gurdwara top floor Bangkok Thailand
I had reached the top
Gurdwara prayer hall carpet Bangkok Thailand
So naturally, I went back down

Gurdwara Guru Granth Sahib prayer Bangkok ThailandGurdwara Punjabis prayer hall Bangkok ThailandGurdwara Punjabi men praying Bangkok Thailand

Gurdwara Punjabi women praying Bangkok Thailand
The sexes are segregated in order to maintain ‘concentration’ it seems

Gurdwara Punjabis praying Guru Granth sahib Bangkok Thailand Gurdwara sikh women praying Bangkok ThailandGurdwara Sikh men praying Bangkok Thailand

Gurdwara prayer hall Bangkok Thailand
Assuming the prayers were over, I went down
Gurdwara Indian food hall Bangkok
Decided to eat

As much as I love Thai cuisine, after nearly two weeks, eating simple dal curry, sabzi (vegetables) and chapathis felt soooo good.

Feeling full, I went all the way back down, collected my shoes and left the gurdwara.

Pahurat market outside gurdwara Bangkok
Stepped out to a world where samosas and spring rolls are sold side-by-side
Pahurat textile market clothes Bangkok Thailand
Now to get back out…
Pahurat textile market prices Bangkok Thailand
I walked through the Pahurat textile market
Pahurat textile market Bangkok Thailand
I finally came out through here
Rajamangala University of Technology Rattanakosin Poh Chang campus
Rajamangala University of Technology was across the road

Here’s a map to give you a better idea:

Gurdwara Pahurat map Bangkok
(Image source: Google Maps)
Nightingale Olympic Company building Pahurat Bangkok
I moved on

Nightingale Olympic Company building Bangkok

Triphet road traffic crowds Bangkok
I was on the hunt for Sampeng Market next
Triphet road junction traffic Bangkok
The traffic scene here is *quite* different from the Sukhumvit side

After a bit of asking around, I was directed to Sampeng Market.

Sampeng market entry lane Bangkok
This wasn’t the main entrance or anything. Just one of many lanes in.
Sampeng Chinese market Bangkok Thailand
Sampeng market is known to be an integral part of China Town

Chinese idol worship Sampeng alley Bangkok

Sampeng Chinese market bags Bangkok
The lanes eventually all meet at one main straight path…
Sampeng market clothes CDs Bangkok Thailand
…which extends a long way

Sampeng market is a massive space with stores selling, well, just about everything: clothes, Chinese medicines, other Chinese specialties, toys, households items, pirated CDs and anything else China mass produces.

Sampeng market Sunday Thais Bangkok
Today being a Sunday, it was very crowded!
Sampeng textile market crowded Bangkok Thailand
Thus, very stuffy… and quite suffocating at times

Sampeng Chinese market accessories toys Bangkok

Sampeng market crowds traders Bangkok Thailand
It’s through one narrow lane visitors, traders and porters all the pass through

Sampeng isn’t for everyone. It’s quite congested inside (or I assume it’s like this every weekend) and it can get very hot. Also, I didn’t find much of the merchandise to my liking, so unless you want loads of stationary for your kids, cheap, then Sampeng is the place… if you feel it’s worth the effort. I only stopped to buy one of those inflatable travel pillows/neck rests (cost ฿50).

Sampeng market open road Bangkok Thailand
I finally got out and I had the option to move to the next section
Sampeng market Chinatown Bangkok Thailand
Instead, I wasn’t confident I’d find anything more worth buying and therefore, decided to end my Sampeng trek
Ratchawong road Bangkok Thailand
If you want to get a good starting point at Sampeng market, this is the road to get to first
Chinatown Bangkok morning Thailand
The main China Town area was just a few steps away

I still felt like ‘buying something,’ so decided to head back to my favourite ‘market’ in Thailand.

Silom way to Sathon Bangkok
Took a taxi to the nearest BTS station
Victory Monument from BTS Bangkok Thailand
Victory Monument, as seen from inside the train

Victory Monument Bangkok Thailand

Nichkhun Thai ad BTS skytrain commercial
“Thai Prince” Nichkhun was selling something (one of the many products he shills for in Thailand)
Chatuchak market roof Clock Tower Bangkok
Yup, back to Chatuchak market
Chatuchak market from above Bangkok Thailand
That’s what it looks like from up above
Chatuchak Park stage Bangkok
Walked past the park again
Chatuchak weekend market gate us Bangkok Thailand
I plunged in
Chatuchak market rock band t-shirts Bangkok Thailand
I was eying some more good t-shirts, among other things

Though most clothes shops sell more or less the same merchandise, there are a few (relatively speaking) independent studios selling something creative that sets them apart from the rest.

Paracetamol Studio t-shirts Chatuchak market Bangkok Thailand
This was one such shop

Called Paracetamol Studio, the guy in the photo above says he does all the drawings and art himself, and then prints them on t-shirts and bags. I really liked his art and ended up buying three t-shirts at ฿300 each. He wouldn’t allow for bargaining but if you bought more, the price per t-shirt comes down.

Ladies fashion boutique stores Jatujak market Bangkok Thailand
There are more such ’boutique’ stores
JJ market art studios paintings home furnishings Bangkok Thailand
You also have studios selling paintings and other works of art too

I just can’t recommend Jatujak market enough! There’s a reason why I like coming here. The variety of things you find is simply amazing. A lot of it is inexpensive and the rest, still rather affordable.

Jatujak Sunday market Bangkok Thailand
But do get here early in the morning if you plan to cover as much of this place as possible

Because despite coming here for a third time, I still can’t tell you how much of Chatuchak Weekend Market I have covered!

Chatuchak weekend market map Bangkok Thailand
If you asked me where Paracetamol Studio is located on this map, I couldn’t possibly tell you

So if you wish to return to a store you once shopped from, take my advice, note down the store number.

Chatuchak market Clock Tower Bangkok
This clock tower is one of the most important landmarks at Jatuchak. Important, because it stands high above the shops and can be used a point of reference in case you get lost (which will happen!)
Chatuchak market clock tower porters Bangkok Thailand
The clock tower is also where you can find porters in case you buy more than you can carry

Chatuchak weekend market cheap t-shirts clothes Bangkok Thailand

Jatujak weekend market shops Bangkok
It was lunch time and I reached the phase where one wonders if they are walking around in circles
Beeberry Mangosteen juice Chatuchak Bangkok
Tried this on the way out
Chatuchak market tattooed Thai famous crocodile skin Bangkok
This guy is a bit of a celebrity here at JJ market

Just as I was rushing out, I stopped by a store that sells genuine rock band t-shirts, many of which are seconds, but in very good condition and well washed. I finally managed to score a Def Leppard (my favourite band) Hysteria t-shirt and got it bargained down to ฿300 with the excuse it was my last night in Thailand. I was quite happy 🙂

Siam Paragon Krispy Kreme line doughnuts Bangkok
Back at Siam Paragon, there was still a big line for Krispy Kreme

I called up my friend Sawmteii as we had agreed to meet for lunch, but she was still busy with family.

Siam BTS interchange station Bangkok Thailand
Siam BTS interchange. One train plys the Siam line, the other, the Silom line

I therefore headed back to my room, freshened up and got my ticket printed for tonight’s Jay Park fan meet at Siam Paragon.

I have already written about the Jay Park fan meet in another post, which you can read here.

After the fan meet, I went to a supermarket to pick up snacks and other items to pack in now itself as I was leaving Thailand tomorrow.

2pm Nichkhun prawn crackers chips Thailand
Bought some prawn chips, and this one had Nichkhun and his fellow 2PM members on the packet

As I was packing and trashing unwanted covers, I ended up having a right laugh reading the instructions on the Chinese travel pillow I had bought from Sampeng earlier in the day.

Chinese travel pillow Sampeng Bangkok
😀

My Thai Airways flight was at night, so I still had tomorrow morning to do something. Which means, there’s one more post before I conclude this trip! 🙂


Final post in this series:

Thailand 2010: Damnoen Saduak Floating Market tour, Cobra show… and leaving Bangkok

Previous posts in this series:

Thailand 2010: Back to Bangkok — Chinatown, Patpong, Platinum Mall and Chatuchak Market

Thailand 2010: Pattaya — Beach road, Viewpoint, Jomtien Beach, Walking Street

Thailand 2010: Golden Triangle in Mae Sai; Chiang Rai’s White Temple (Wat Rong Khun)

Thailand 2010: Heading to Chiang Rai by bus, Wat Jedyod and Golden Clock Tower

Thailand 2010: Last day of Loi Krathong; Sunday Grand Parade (Day 4, Part 2)

Thailand 2010: Chiang Mai Zoo (Day 4, Part 1)

Thailand 2010: Chiang Mai Loi Krathong celebrations; first Grand Parade

Thailand 2010: Chiang Mai cooking class; Loi Krathong celebrations in Mae Jo, Sansai

Thailand 2010: First day in Chiang Mai for Loi Krathong; driving up Doi Suthep

Thailand 2010: Arriving in Bangkok and preparing for Loi Krathong in Chiang Mai

Chinatown at night Bangkok Thailand

Thailand 2010: Back to Bangkok — Chinatown, Patpong, Platinum Mall and Chatuchak Market

Date:  26th November 2010

After a good night’s sleep, I went downstairs to have the buffet breakfast at the hotel. Then spent an hour browsing the internet on the guest computer at the lobby. After feeling quite relaxed, I checked out as the clock struck noon.

I took a moped taxi to the bus station (฿50) and bought a ticket for a bus heading to Ekamai bus terminal in Bangkok (ticket cost ฿113).

Pattaya to Bangkok highway house Thailand
Since it was dark when I left Bangkok to come to Pattaya, I sat by the window to see what I missed

In the bus, I also wondered where to stay in Bangkok. I wanted to stay on Khao San Road, Bangkok’s popular backpacker hub. I really wanted to check it out as it’s a preferred joint for backpackers, but unfortunately located on the other side of Bangkok (some even call it Old Bangkok) — which isn’t connected via the skytrain service (BTS). Trouble is, tomorrow I am to meet up with a friend arriving from Bangalore and the day after, I had a ticket for the Jay Park Fan meet in Siam Paragon Mall. Commuting back and forth by taxi, that too with Bangkok’s mid-day traffic was the last thing I wanted to do in the last 3 days left in Thailand.

Pattaya to Bangkok concrete highwaysContainer cargo Pattaya to BangkokPattaya to Bangkok hills ThailandPlus Mall Tesco Lotus Bangkok highway ThailandPattaya elevated expressway BangkokBangkok to Pattaya highway apartment buildingElevated expressway to Bangkok templePattaya to Bangkok highway buildingBangkok highway Thai village river

Yamaha factory outskirts Bangkok Thailand
Yamaha factory
Nissan factory Bangkok highway outskirts Thailand
Nissan’s factory
Metro Caterpillar factory Bangkok Thailand
Caterpillar’s factory
CPF factory Bangkok highway Thailand
Err…someone else’s factory

Bangkok Thailand highway expressway

Central City mall Bangkok Thailand
One and half hours later, we were in Bangkok city

Traffic slowed down (a lot) from here on. It took half-an-hour more for the bus to reach Ekamai bus terminal. The terminal is on Sukhumvit road and is easy to get to because the BTS station (also named Ekamai) is right in front of the bus terminal. So if you are staying in the Sukhumvit or Silom area, and want to head to Pattaya, don’t go to Mo Chit bus terminal, head to Ekamai instead.

In the end, I decided to stay on the Sukhumvit side itself, which meant Thai House Inn again. I paid for two nights in  advance and checked into the same room I stayed before. I probably should try and find another place to stay in since Thai House Inn isn’t the classiest of places, but at ฿700 a night, the proximity to Nana BTS station (a minute walk), for a single guy there’s no better deal like it anywhere else.

Absolut Iceberg lounge Siam mall Bangkok
Absolut had set up a ice bar at Siam Center

Siam Paragon mall interior Christmas tree decorations Bangkok

Siam Paragon mall levels lights
Decided to go for a movie to pass some time
Krungsri IMAX Siam Paragon Bangkok Thailand
Watched ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1’ in IMAX

Post-movie (which I thought was a bit of a drag), I decided to go to MBK.

Siam Paragon food court aquarium Bangkok
The Siam Ocean World aquarium is beneath the food court
Siam Paragon Christmas mall decorations
The mall was all decked up in preparation for Christmas
Siam Center Christmas decorations Thais Bangkok
Even though less than 1% of Thailand’s population are Christians

Siam Center mall fountains Bangkok

Ribbee Botique ukelele paradise shop Bangkok Thailand
There’s an exclusive ukelele store in Bangkok
Siam pedestrian skywalk Thais Bangkok
But as I tried to get to MBK via the pedestrian overbridge, none of us were allowed to… by the police
Sukhumvit road Siam MBK junction Bangkok Thailand
I looked down and I saw the roads all clear, which usually implies some VIP was passing through

I got back down to the street to see if I could cross the road but there were policemen there as well. I asked them who was passing by, and they said: “The King”.

Tidbit of valuable information when in Thailand. King Rama IX is the most ‘beloved’ man in Thailand. I put beloved in quotes because there is a law which makes it a criminal offense to say anything bad about him in public. So you have no choice but to praise him. His photos are everywhere in Thailand and his birthday is a national holiday. He is credited for developing Thailand, his influence has stopped many political coups and reportedly, he’s the richest royal in the world. (But my point is, if people truly love him, why have a rule criminalizing lèse majesté?)

Sadly for the Thai people, the King hasn’t been in the best of health lately and isn’t seen much in public because of that.

Thai king cavalcade Siam junction Bangkok Thailand
The King’s cavalcade zipped past us and in a matter of minutes, we were allowed to move again

I obviously didn’t get a glimpse of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, but then again, nobody would have. Nobody could identify in which car the King was. Maybe it was a security measure.

Bangkok buildings air condition vents

Anyway, I was hungry by this point and decided to go back to Siam Paragon because their food court has better options for fast food.

Mosburger rice burger Bangkok Thailand
Tried MOSBurger’s rice burger (yes, that’s rice pressed together to make the ‘buns’) 🙂

In the evening, I decided to check out Bangkok’s Chinatown.

Getting to Chinatown Bangkok by taxi
Took a taxi, cost ฿60 from Siam Center
Chinatown at night Bangkok Thailand
Took around half and hour to get here

Bangkok Chinatown at nightBangkok Chinatown alley street foodChinatown Bangkok street lightsChinatown Bangkok fruit vendors night

Roasted Chicken Chinatown Bangkok Thailand
As with any Chinatown, plenty of food to go around

Chinese shops Chinatown Bangkok ThailandChinese store food items Bangkok ThailandChinatown fruit vendors eateries Bangkok Thailand

Chinatown spring rolls Bangkok Thailand
Yum
Chinatown signs Bangkok Thailand
From all I could tell, there wasn’t much else to see besides the well-lit shop signs
Chinatown shop signs neon Bangkok Thailand
I kept walking down

China Town sign Bangkok Thailand Chinatown lights Bangkok ThailandChinatown main road BangkokWhen I was doing my research, I read there is even a small community where Indians reside. You could call it Bangkok’s ‘Little India’ as Singapore’s popular community is called, but don’t try asking for it here. I tried it with some Thai locals, and they looked at me with a smile… which implied they had no clue what I was talking about. I wanted to find the area mostly because there is a large gurdwara here in Bangkok (since the Indian community here are predominantly Punjabis). I knew asking for a ‘gurudwara’ would get me more puzzled stares but I did ask if anybody knew where the ‘Indian temple’ was. No luck with that either.

Chinatown alley night Bangkok
I kept walking in search of ‘Little India’ but no signs of anything remotely Indian

But just as I was about to give up and walk back, I saw a woman who looked kinda Indian (I’m guessing she was a second generation Indian resident of Thailand) and asked her where the gurudwara was. She told me I needed to get to Pahurat Road, which wasn’t very far from here. I thanked her and noted down the name of the road.

Chinatown building Bangkok Thailand Figuring the gurudwara would be closed to the general public at this time, I decided to come back the day after. I hailed a taxi and headed to Patpong.

Patpong is famous for two things: one, it has a night market; two, it also houses Bangkok’s red light district.

Patpong night market entrance Bangkok Thailand
The Night Market

There wasn’t anything seedy about the place (at first)

Patpong night market sign Bangkok Thailand

Patpong night market stores Bangkok
The usual offerings sold here, nothing special

But as I went to the side street to get a glimpse of what the other stalls were selling…

Patpong night market Kiss bar Bangkok
…you could see the other side of Patpong
Patpong night market tourists
Which made me wonder if the ‘night market’ was just a cover up 🙂
Patpong night market live bar Bangkok
There are a few good bars with live music though

Patpong night market tattoo studio BangkokLike on Pattaya’s Walking Street, here too you will find a few touts soliciting tourists (quite aggressively) to come watch a peep show. Most them say it’s free but having read people’s experiences on Tripadvisor, I knew these are just tactics to pull you in and then slap you with a huge bill as you leave.

One of the touts, even held my hand and dragged me into one such place. Figuring I wouldn’t be coming back to an area like this again, I followed him. He was rather in a hurry saying the ‘ping pong show‘ would start soon. He led me upstairs into a bar where the girls and the mamasan welcomed me in. There weren’t many others in and the setting wasn’t what I was expecting. While I was expecting a more quiet, dark and sensual setting, this joint was just another typical low end bar with dim red lights, and where every song plays at 2x speeds blurts out from the sound system.

As soon as I was seated, I was surrounded by 3 or 4 smiling girls all of whom tried to chat me up, and when it came to ordering drinks, there was no menu. I ordered a vodka drink and insisted on knowing much it cost. The waitress said ฿100. Fair enough. I also made it very clear I was told this show was free and that I wouldn’t have to pay anything to see it. The mamasan assured me with a “yeah yeah”.

When the performance did begin, it was the amusing act of seeing the two girls shoot objects like bananas, darts (at a balloon), and ping pong balls (of course) — all using her nether region. And that’s exactly what it was, amusing… it was the least bit erotic, surely not in the setting I was in 🙂 The most amusing act was when one of the performers pulled a series of blades on a string out — and she cut a paper using the very same razor blades to prove they weren’t blunt. Now, only women know the true potential of their inner workings, but I’m sure even women in far more respectable professions would squeal if they saw this. As a guy, my face looked more like this:  😕 None the less, I had to praise these performers for their, erm, talents.

After 15 minutes and my drink nearly done, I had seen enough and wanted to leave. I could see the other patrons arguing with the mamasan over their bills and I knew what was coming my was as well. Besides the ฿100 for my drink, I wanted to tip a ฿100 each for the two performing women, so that was a total of ฿300. The bill they handed over?

฿3000.

I told the mamasan I wasn’t going to pay it and ฿300 is all she will get. She raised her voice (she had to, they wouldn’t turn down the crappy music) and threatened to call some men to rough me up if I wouldn’t pay. I replied: “Call them”. When she did, I knew things were only getting easy for me. She spoke in English to her Thai “baddie” saying there is an Indian who refuses to pay and that he better come. Now if there is one thing I’ve learned about Thais is that, you’ll never see one Thai speaking to another Thai in English. Very few in Thailand know how to speak English, that too fluently. So I knew this was just an act.

After she hung up, she said they’re coming. I replied: “Okay, I’ll wait”. I could see some of the working girls try and hide their smiles, so I knew I was going to win this one. After waiting around 2 minutes, the mamasan finally said: “Okay, give 1000!”. I said: “No, 300”. More standing still ensued. Finally she gave up and said: “Ok give!”. I handed her the ฿300 and told her ฿100 each were for the two performers. She didn’t say anything and I walked out.

And that was it 🙂

In hindsight, it made me wonder if I should have gone for all this in Pattaya’s Walking Street as the Tourist Police was right there and by now, I’m sure they heard countless such experiences from other visitors. But even if this happens to you, follow the same advice: just keep your foot down and refuse to pay. What’s the worst they’re going to do? Stab a tourist?

Walking out, I noticed there wasn’t even a name for this bar, so it surely was one of those clearly intended to scam people and only remain operational by paying off the right authorities.

Thaniya plaza Japanese clubs bars Patpong Bangkok
This alley looked like it mostly catered to Japanese

What I just experienced didn’t change my opinion of this wonderful country. If your sole purpose of visiting Thailand is just to hang out at such venues, you will most likely leave with many such stories. Even if you don’t, as with any other country in the world, shit happens — you just have to be on your guard.

The so-called ping pong show is one of those “When-in-RomeThailand” things-to-do. Many tourists, men and women alike, are eager to see it. In fact it was a girl friend of mine who told me “not to miss it,” with a laugh. Now I know why — it’s more a laugh than sensual 🙂 Trouble is, many use that eagerness tourists have to run scams like this.

Sala Daeng BTS station Patpong Bangkok
Sala Daeng is the name of the BTS station if you want to get to Patpong

Patpong doesn’t seem as big a seedy place, not based on some people’s descriptions calling it Bangkok’s largest red light district. Maybe there’s more to it, who knows, I wasn’t bothered to explore anymore of it now.

Thaniya Plaza clubs bars Patpong Bangkok If you plan to come to Patpong just for the night market, don’t. There’s nothing here you can’t find anywhere else in Bangkok for the same price (or maybe even cheaper).

I took the BTS back to Siam.

Siam Absolut ice bar concert Bangkok Thailand
Absolut’s open-air concert event at Siam Center

Once back in my area, I decided to grab dinner first and then go back to my room.

Nana arab restaurants Bangkok Thailand
Nana has a lot of Middle Eastern restaurants, which was great for me (given how much I miss this cuisine)
Foreign exchange shops Gulliver's Nana Bangkok
You get really good foreign exchange rates here, far better than the rates the banks in the malls give. I exchanged a few dollars.
Sky Inn Nana Sukhumvit Bangkok Thailand
Picked up a few shawarmas and a drink from 7-11 and called it a night

Date:  27th November 2010

Today, I met up with my friend Sawmteii and her friend, who had just arrived in Thailand. We met up at the Siam BTS and since it was their first time in Bangkok (and came with very clear intentions of shopping – a lot!), I showed them around the malls.

Krispy Kreme Siam Paragon Bangkok Thailand
I couldn’t fathom the locals’ desperation to bag Krispy Kreme donuts. There were huge lines everyday at the Siam Paragon outlet.
Krispy Kreme doughnuts sold Bangkok streets
So much was the demand, there were street hawkers who sell them in ‘black’ outside after doing the tough job of waiting in line just to bag these boxes of doughnuts.

After Siam Discovery and Siam Paragon, we walked towards Petchburi Road.

Sukhumvit road Bangkok city traffic skywalk

Pedestrian overbridge Bangkok city ThailandBangkok city river boat ThailandOn Petchburi road, the girls wanted to check out Platinum Mall, which claims to be Thailand’s largest fashion mall.

Platinum Mall shoppers Bangkok Thailand
Boy, was it crowded inside

Eight floors of fashion goodness… well, mostly for women anyway. Hardly anything for men in here.

Platinum mall shops Bangkok ThailandDespite advising the girls to keep all their shopping towards the end of their journey when they return to Bangkok, they couldn’t help but feel like kids let loose in a candy store 🙂

Who can blame them? Even as a guy, I could appreciate the stuff being sold here. Really good looking dresses and accessories at prices anybody can afford. Dresses which would easily cost upwards of Rs. 1000 in India could be had for Rs. 500 or less. You could buy one, two, three, ten or more — and prices vary accordingly.

Platinum mall women fashion clothes Bangkok Thailand
A lot of bulk buyers too

We spent quite some time in here. And when I saw ‘we,’ I mean Sawmteii and her friend Mimi. I loitered around wondering if there was anything for guys. It wasn’t until we got up to the 4th floor that I found a store selling some pretty nifty t-shirts.

After walking past pretty much every floor, the girls decided to dedicate their last few days in Thailand in here and we went up to the 6th floor to have lunch at the food court.

Post-lunch, I took the girls to Chatuchak (disembark at Mo Chit BTS).

Chatuchak park way to market Bangkok Thailand
We sat at the park for a bit before embarking on more walking through hundreds of shops

Sorry, make that thousands of shops!

Jatujak weekend market is the largest flea market in Thailand and sees most shops open on Saturday and Sunday (It is open on weekdays too, just not every shop).

Chatuchak market entrance 6 Bangkok Thailand
Took a deep breath and went in

Chatuchak market crowd Bangkok I have already written a lot about JJ market in my first visit.

DHL courier shop Chatuchak market Bangkok
In case you buy more than you can carry… there’s always DHL
Palm fap chatuchak market Bangkok Thailand
Palm… fap?
Doner kabab Turkish ice cream Chatuchak weekend market Bangkok
Plenty of food to energize you for all the walking you’ll be doing at Jatujak
Bags shop owner Chatuchak weekend market Bangkok
The famous bags salesman calling every foreigner “Michael” was still at it in 2010 🙂
Chatuchak weekend market home furnishings Bangkok
The reason I like JJ market a lot is because they sell *everything* that can be placed inside a house
Chatuchak weekend market lights store Bangkok Thailand
Bought three kinds of lamp shades

After much walking around and being clueless as to where exactly we were (it will happen), eventually it was time for the puppies to come out. (Real puppies). You’ll only see them being sold once the sun sets — which means they’re probably doing it illegally.

Sawmteii puppy Chatuchak weekend market Bangkok
Sawmteii couldn’t help but pick one up

And at the prices the puppies were being sold for (around ฿3000-฿5000 depending on the breed), she didn’t feel like putting them down either. We were seriously talking about how to bring dogs via airplanes.

Eventually we decided to call it a day.

Choconana vendor Chatuchak market Bangkok
Had one of this: cold banana on a stick dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with nuts
Mo Chit BTS station at night Bangkok Thailand
Mo Chit BTS station

We got down at Nana so that the girls could check out my area (they were staying a few BTS stations further down). Got some currency exchanged and had dinner at an Arabian restaurant before wishing each other goodnight and parting ways.

Tomorrow was going to be my last full day in Bangkok.


Next posts in this series:

Thailand 2010: Gurdwara Siri Guru Singh Sabha, Sampeng Market, JJ market (again)

Thailand 2010: Damnoen Saduak Floating Market tour, Cobra show… and leaving Bangkok

Previous posts in this series:

Thailand 2010: Pattaya — Beach road, Viewpoint, Jomtien Beach, Walking Street

Thailand 2010: Golden Triangle in Mae Sai; Chiang Rai’s White Temple (Wat Rong Khun)

Thailand 2010: Heading to Chiang Rai by bus, Wat Jedyod and Golden Clock Tower

Thailand 2010: Last day of Loi Krathong; Sunday Grand Parade (Day 4, Part 2)

Thailand 2010: Chiang Mai Zoo (Day 4, Part 1)

Thailand 2010: Chiang Mai Loi Krathong celebrations; first Grand Parade

Thailand 2010: Chiang Mai cooking class; Loi Krathong celebrations in Mae Jo, Sansai

Thailand 2010: First day in Chiang Mai for Loi Krathong; driving up Doi Suthep

Thailand 2010: Arriving in Bangkok and preparing for Loi Krathong in Chiang Mai

Sukhumvit road Bangkok traffic BTS Skytrain tracks

Thailand 2010: Arriving in Bangkok and preparing for Loi Krathong in Chiang Mai

Last November, I decided just a few weeks earlier to go back to Thailand. The main purpose of this trip was to witness the Loi Krathong (or Loy Krathong) festival, one of Thailand’s most beautiful festivals and one that I always wanted to cover. Although it’s a national festival, Thailand still doesn’t get a public holiday for it.

Usually falling in November, I first booked my flights in October via Cleartrip.com which had a really good offer:  a return ticket from Thai Airways (direct flight) + Indian Rupee ₹2,000 hotel voucher + Indian Rupee ₹1,000 worth of credit for a Uniconnect Thailand SIM card + an entry to DreamWorld theme park… all for Indian Rupee ₹16,742 ($375/€262). Awesome deal if you ask me!

But, one week prior departure, I won the chance to go see Linkin Park in Abu Dhabi! So I delayed my departure by a few days, and then again after I read Jay Park was going to be performing in Bangkok. I left for Dubai on a Friday early morning and returned to Bangalore late Sunday night. I then went to office on the following Monday and then left for the airport in the evening for my early morning flight on Tuesday!

Inside Thai Airways flight TG325
The flight wasn’t full, so I had an entire row to myself
Thai Airways flight TG325 inflight chicken meal
The Thai chicken curry meal was yum

Unlike my first visit to Thailand, in which I tried to cover the entire country in 9 days (I did it, but I didn’t quite enjoy the experience), this time around I was only going to focus on North Thailand. Most of my time would be spent in Chiang Mai covering the Yi Ping Festival (as Loi Krathong is called in Chiang Mai), after which I planned to go to Chiang Rai & then a day in Pattaya before heading back to Bangkok.

Arriving Bangkok at dawn
Arrived in Bangkok at dawn
Inside Suvarnabhumi airport Thailand
Hello Suvarnabhumi!
Suvarnabhumi airport Thailand travelator
Sigh, the many travelators you have to cross…
Suvarnabhumi airport Thailand moving walkway
… to finally get to the visa-on-arrival section

Once I did get to the Visa-on-arrival counter, I submitted my form, showed them how much currency I was carrying and got my visa-on-arrival without having to pay the usual ฿1000. After that was customs and then collecting my bags. Last year, I took a taxi from the airport into Bangkok city which cost ฿320 but this time, I decided to take a shuttle bus.

Suvarnabhumi shuttle bus to Bangkok
The private bus going to Sukhumvit cost ฿150 (Rs. 222/$5/€3.5)

Thai Airways office near Suvarnabhumi airport

Suvarnabhumi airport from afar
That’s Suvarnabhumi airport
Sukhumvit from afar Bangkok Thailand
Getting near Sukhumvit took only 20 minutes

But then, Bangkok’s infamous traffic soon began. And my god did it last long! It took the bus nearly an hour just to get into Sukhumvit road.

I finally got dropped at Nana BTS station. I chose to stay at Thai House Inn, a place where I spent two nights at last year — because it’s 30 seconds walk from the metro station (literally) and its not far from all the malls. I needed to stay here because first on the list of things-to-do was to buy some camera equipment, so I had to have quick access to the shopping centers, especially MBK. Those whole followed my Singapore & Malaysia series must have read that I couldn’t pick up a good camera tripod while I was there. So this time, I just couldn’t go to Chiang Mai without it!

But first, I had to get some sleep! After a whirlwind trip to Dubai and then hopping on to another flight to get to Thailand,  my body needed some proper rest.

I got up at lunch time, took the BTS SkyTrain and headed straight to MBK Center, one of my favourite malls in Bangkok.

MBK Center Mahboonkrong mall Bangkok
From Nana, the Siam station is only 3 stops away; costs ฿25

(Here is the map of the BTS service in Bangkok)

MBK houses Fotofile, the store from where I bought my Canon 7D and other accessories last year. Fotofile also manages the official Canon store and two other stores in MBK! List of things to buy included a 70-200 f2.8 lens, another 16GB card, an interval remote, and a good tripod. I went to all of Fotofile’s stores, a BIG Camera branch and jotted down the prices for all that I wanted.

MBK Bangkok food court
I had lunch from the food court which offers a lot of variety (though mostly Asian cuisine & fast food)

I left MBK and thought I’d check out some other stores.

Sukhumvit road Bangkok traffic BTS Skytrain tracks
I never walked on that pedestrian bridge below the Skytrain tracks
Sukhumvit road Bangkok traffic
The traffic is like this from 8am to 8pm
Ratchaprasong skywalk Sukhumvit BTS bridge
The skywalk bridge connects to a lot of the malls along the Ratchaprasong area
Centralworld mall Bangkok Thailand
I didn’t even step into Centralworld last time

Ratchaprasong BTS skytrain Sukhumvit Bangkok

Ratchaprasong BTS skywalk Sukhumvit pedestrian bridgeRatchaprasong walkway Sukhumvit pedestrian bridgeSukhumvit Bangkok Renaissance Hotel Thailand

Ratchaprasong pavement Bangkok
I got down from the skywalk

I decided to head to the parallel Petchburi Road where Pantip Plaza is located.

Centralworld Bangkok mall
The side section of Centralworld Mall

Ratchadamri road bridge Bangkok ThailandBangkok river boatride SukhumvitPetchburi road steps to overbridgeRatchadamri road Bangkok ThailandBangkok Petchburi road shopsBangkok city bridge wayBangkok Petchburi road traffic Thailand

Amari Watergate Hotel Bangkok Petchburi road Thailand
Amari Watergate Hotel is located on Petchburi Road
Platinum Fashion Mall shopping Petchburi road Bangkok
Right across Amari Watergate is Platinum Fashion Mall
Platinum Fashion mall Petchburi road Bangkok
Petchburi road is also famous for the Pratunam market area

Pantip Plaza is essentially Bangkok’s equivalent to Singapore’s Sim Lim Square and Kuala Lumpur’s Low Yat Plaza.

Pantip Plaza ground floor shop
Bangkok’s most famous IT mall

Pantip Plaza inside floor storesI came to Pantip Plaza because none of the camera stores in MBK (and the Siam malls) sold tripods from the brand Vanguard. I had a particular model in mind but even after stepping into pretty much every Pantip Plaza shop that sold camera equipment, none stocked products from Vanguard.

Pantip Plaza ground floor stores
I left Pantip Plaza disappointed

I wanted to try and buy everything I wanted from one store, so that I didn’t have to swipe my card three or four times and incur additional charges for each transactions.

Ratchathewi station empty land Bangkok
I decided to head back to Sukhumvit road
Ratchathewi station graffiti walls Petchburi Bangkok
It was nearing sunset and my body was telling me 4 hours of sleep wasn’t enough
Ratchathewi station platform BTS Bangkok
Ratchathewi station is at the far end of Petchburi road
Sukhumvit traditional Thai dance night
By the time I stepped out of the train, it was already dark. The sun sets rather quickly out here.
Sukhumvit Ratchaprasong skywalk lights Bangkok
I decided to check one last mall before heading back

Centralworld Mall entrance Bangkok Thailand

Centralworld mall interior decor Bangkok Thailand
Centralworld is actually one of the biggest malls in Thailand

Centralworld mall Aunt Annie's Bangkok ThailandUnfortunately, Centralworld was quite badly damaged during last year’s ‘Red t-shirts’ protests and an entire section of the building was off limits because they were renovating it.

I looked up the store directory and saw that BIG Camera had a bigger branch here but unfortunately, it was in the part of the building which was under renovation.

Centralworld mall Christmas tree BangkokAfter checking which ever stores were open, I left CentralWorld.

Siam Paragon IMAX Novotel BTS Bangkok

Bangkok Sukhumvit skywalk christmas lights decorationSukhumvit road at night BangkokPresident Tower Holiday Inn hotel BangkokThe one good thing I liked about the area I was in is that it’s actually full of Arab visitors, and therefore plenty of businesses exist catering to tourists from the Middle East and Africa.

Bangkok Nana Sukhumvit Arab area

Bangkok Nana Sukhumvit Arab restaurants
Which meant, plenty of Middle Eastern cuisine for me to eat!
Nana Sukhumvit Dubai center Bangkok Thailand
Yeah, it’s *that* Gulf-y!

I picked up a beef shawarma (฿50) and a drink from a 7-11 and made my way back to my room. I had kept the air conditioner on for a while to ventilate the room and rid it of the Bangkok ‘stench,’ which takes a little getting used to. (The ‘smell’ of Bangkok city is essentially the smell of fish sauce emanating in the air.)

I needed more sleep and I had to wake up early the next day. I assessed all the camera products and all the prices I made a note of. I had to pick up everything tomorrow itself and then leave early enough to get to Mo Chit bus terminal.

Next day

After waking up and breakfast at Au Bon Pain in MBK, I waited for the Fotofile stores to open.

MBK mall bags clothes small stores section Bangkok
Walked around the ‘street market’ stores on the 6th floor to pass time
Fotofile camera equipment store MBK Bangkok Thailand
I picked up an additional 16GB card, the interval remote and an extra battery for the Canon 7D from the Foto Thailand store on the 3rd floor
Fotofile MBK used lenses store Bangkok
Lots of second hand lenses for sale

The telephoto lens I was keen on picking up was the Canon 70-200 f2.8 IS Mark 1. Unfortunately, that model was recently replaced by the newer Mark 2, which was obscenely expensive and thus made finding the Mark 1 a challenge.

MBK mall escalators advertising BangkokSo I ended up picking up a brand new Canon 70-200 f2.8 non-IS lens and using the substantial savings to purchase a good tripod instead. I needed one anyway.

Official Canon store MBK collection display Bangkok
I picked up the lens from the official Canon store managed by Fotofile
Canon camera store MBK collection display Bangkok
None of these are for sale, just on display

The Canon store had a few Manfrotto tripods on sale and I considered the Manfrotto 055x Pro B but it was too pricey. I went down to the BIG Camera store and picked up a Sirui tripod for around 7k baht. The model was very good value for money and complimented my newly acquired 70-200 lens well.

With all my shopping done, I went to one of the two main food courts in MBK.

Fifth Food Avenue food court MBK mall Bangkok
Fifth Food Avenue is the name of this food court
Nasi Goreng MBK mall food court Bangkok
I was still on my Malaysia high, so I had Nasi Goreng (although they went overboard with the soy sauce) ฿160

After lunch, I still had some time to kill, so I went to Siam Paragon to find out where the Jay Park concert was going to be held.

Siam Discovery mall interior decor Bangkok
Siam Discovery, which is the older and slightly more wallet friendly mall
Strip Ministry of Waxing Siam Discovery mall Bangkok
Clever ad 🙂
Siam Paragon mall open area Bangkok
Siam Paragon mall is the more posh offering
Krungsri IMAX theatre Siam Paragon Bangkok Thailand
The Royal Paragon Hall was on the top most floor, near the cinemas
Cool gel attack Thai film cinema poster
Hmm, interesting

After finding out where Royal Paragon Hall was, I made my way out.

Siam Paragon conference hall BangkokSiam Paragon mall open lobby Bangkok

Audi showroom Siam Paragon Bangkok Thailand
Walked past the luxury car showrooms on the second floor
Lamborghini showroom Siam Paragon Bangkok Thailand
Last year, they had a ‘No Photographs’ sign on the glass

So this time, I went in and got up close to the Lamborghinis. You don’t realize just how big these sexy machines are until you stand next to them. I spoke to the sales girl and I asked her how much the import duties for these cars are and she told me it’s over 100-150%, including the many taxes on these luxuries… making them super-expensive in Thailand. She wouldn’t disclose how many they sell a year but at such prices, I’m guessing not many. I hardly ever saw one on the road in the two trips I’ve made to Thailand.

Porsche showroom Siam Paragon Bangkok ThailandOnce back in my room, I re-packed my bags and checked out. The lady who runs Thai House Inn asked me why I was leaving so early and assured me there would be plenty of buses, but I didn’t want to risk not getting a seat. Going to Chiang Mai early is what I essentially came for.

I took the BTS all the way to till last stop, Mo Chit station, and from there I took a moped taxi (to Mo Chit bus terminal, which caters to North Thailand).

But when I got to the terminal, a lot of the buses to Chiang Mai leaving that night were already full! Especially the luxury buses, and I had to go from one transport company to another to find available seats. Fortunately, I got a ticket in a regular push-back seat bus — it was their last for the night!

Last year I got a seat in a luxury bus which cost me ฿700, for which I just showed up at the station and got my ticket. Of course, the sold-out seats today were due to the Loi Krathong weekend rush. So word of advice, if you want the luxury buses during Loy Krathong weekend, buy the tickets in advance.

Not that the bus I got was  bad or anything, it was just one of those regular buses used on overnight long distance journeys, in my case an 8-hour journey.

Bangkok to Chiang Mai bus night journey
A seat costs ฿403 (Rs. 597/$13/€9)

The bus made a rest stop for toilet break and for picking up dinner/snacks. In a few hours, I would arrive at Thailand’s second biggest city, and my second trip to Thailand officially begins!


Next few posts in this series:

Thailand 2010: First day in Chiang Mai for Loi Krathong; driving up Doi Suthep

Thailand 2010: Chiang Mai cooking class; Loi Krathong celebrations in Mae Jo, Sansai

Thailand 2010: Chiang Mai Loi Krathong celebrations; first Grand Parade

Thailand 2010: Chiang Mai Zoo (Day 4, Part 1)

Thailand 2010: Last day of Loi Krathong; Sunday Grand Parade (Day 4, Part 2)

Thailand 2010: Heading to Chiang Rai by bus, Wat Jedyod and Golden Clock Tower

Thailand 2010: Golden Triangle in Mae Sai; Chiang Rai’s White Temple (Wat Rong Khun)

Thailand 2010: Pattaya — Beach road, Viewpoint, Jomtien Beach, Walking Street

Thailand 2010: Back to Bangkok — Chinatown, Patpong, Platinum Mall and Chatuchak Market

Thailand 2010: Gurdwara Siri Guru Singh Sabha, Sampeng Market, JJ market (again)

Thailand 2010: Damnoen Saduak Floating Market tour, Cobra show… and leaving Bangkok

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