Bangkok Vacation – Day 1

I’m just back from a trip in Bangkok, Thailand. My vacation was from 6 Dec till 8 Dec. It’s a short trip, and it’s actually because my brother asked me to go along than me planning to go. Here’s how it went on the first day…

The Killer taxi

There’s been some talk of unrest and stuff, but my brother assured me we’d be fine. We’re staying at the Metropolitan, a very nice hotel with a hefty price to match. The hotel’s located on a street filled with embassies, so I guess we’ll be alright.

Anyway, after landing in the airport, we went searching for taxis to bring us into the city. Apparently, there weren’t any more taxis. When we approached an airport exit, a Thai came up to us asking if we needed a taxi. My brother was confused because last time he came, he took one of those brightly coloured taxis. He went looking for a taxi stand. There wasn’t any, or at least none that were in use.

So we came back to this Thai, and he kept slicing his throat with his hand, repeating the words “Killer, killer”. From what we understood, people get killed in taxis? Or taxi drivers kill passengers? Tired, we agreed to take up the Thai’s offer, and another fellow rose up and gestured us to follow him.

He led us all the way into a carpark nearby. Meanwhile, I kept thinking the man’s going to lead us into some dark and dingy place and rob us or something. Very dodgy. Inside the carpark, he told us to wait near a pillar, ran to a car nearby and drove to us. It was a normal car. Really, I think for some (security?) reason, taxis really really aren’t allowed in airports anymore.

We climbed into his car and then left the airport. Along the way, I kept my senses up, ready for any misfortune. It was an uncomfortable ride. What a way to arrive in Thailand…

When we reached the hotel, my brother told me we were charged 900 baht. That’s like SGD 45, or about USD 29. That’s some taxi ride. On hindsight, we should have taken the limousine service available inside the airport itself. Costs about the same.

Siam Paragon, a dining disaster and fireworks

We checked in and rested up a little, shaken from the taxi trip. Then we set off to Siam Paragon, what my brother termed “the largest place I’ve ever seen”. The hotel concierge helped us hail a taxi and we’re off.

By the way, if there’s a safety belt in the taxi, use it. The traffic’s terrible and hectic, even at night. I guess I’m used to a more well-behaved street traffic in Singapore…

Siam Paragon was okay. It’s just a humongous shopping centre. Since I’m not into shopping, there’s nothing really to see.

It was dinner time, and I wanted to try some Thai food, against my better judgement since I don’t take spicy stuff. I decided on this restaurant offering northeastern Thai cuisine. My brother and I seriously didn’t understand any of the menu items. The only thing my brother wanted was pineapple rice, and they didn’t have it. So we just chose based on the menu title and the little we could make out of the pictures.

It was terrible. The dishes were either decidedly sour, or spectacularly spicy (even though we distinctly said non spicy), or superbly sweet. The only sane dish was the “kai lan” vegetables, and even that had a chilli aftertaste. It starts a little sweet and a few seconds later, BAM, the chilli hits you and you’re left scrambling for water.

We finished what we could, and called for the bill. The waitress gave us complimentary desserts, two small glasses of greenish stuff. I only caught “mint” from her explanation. The glasses looked like those used for containing whiskey shots. I took a sniff, then sipped a little bit. It tasted sweet, and refreshing, … and a little like cough mixture syrup.

We left the restaurant, and with not much else to do, we went back by taxi. Oh yes, taxi fare starts at 35 baht. That’s like less than SGD 2. And the fare increases pretty slowly.

Where were we? Oh yes, the journey back. There were a lot of bangs and other loud noises out on the road. It wasn’t until the taxi driver pointed to the sky that we realised what was going on. Fireworks. People were lined up on the side, even clustered in the middle of the road, just to view the fireworks exploding in the sky. The occasion? The day before, 5 Dec, was their king’s birthday.

So with a nerve-racking arrival, a fiery dinner, and night-brightening fireworks, my first day in Bangkok ended.

P.S. We were staying at Metropolitan because my companion who shares half my DNA got a special staff rate (his final ultimate big boss owns the hotel). Lucky me.