16.03.2007 35 °C
We got up this morning to hot and humid weather, with a fabulous view across Bangkok and the Chao Phraya River from our Balcony.
After breakfast on the Hotel River Veranda we took the Hotel Ferry across the river to the Oriental Pier where picked up a tuk tuk - one of the famous Bangkok motorbike/car taxi things - to take us on a hour's tour around the city for the princely price of 60 Baht - just under a pound at the current exchange rate. We went through China Town, around the Hualumpong Central Railway Station, Past Wat Trimit with the Golden Buddha statue, and then past the National Stadium and then all the way down Sukhumvit Road - the equivalent of Princes St in Edinburgh or Oxford St in London. Admittedly the tuk-tuk driver did try and get us to go shopping at his 'favourite' tailor and gem shop along the way, but we must have disappointed him as we didn't buy anything.
We then went to an old favourite resturant of ours, Lemongrass, on Sukhumvit Soi 24 for lunch. Both of us had been here before on previous visits and it didn't disappoint this time. They still had Ian's favourite dish on the menu - one he has been trying to get hold of the recipe for since his first visit to Bangkok - Yam Moo Pan - a dish of very thinly fried pork with lemongrass, ginger, oyster sauce and salad. Luckily this time the chef wrote down the recipe so I guess that Angela will be trying to cook it once we move into our new house.
After lunch we staggered rather full up Soi 24 for around 100 meters before collapsing into the nearest massage parlour. There seem to be massage places everywhere in Bangkok, and it certainly isn't expensive. We had a reiki foot massage, back and shoulder massage, a pedicure and manicure and a facial - which came to a total of £15 for 2 1/2 hours for both of us. It nicely set us up to get on with the rest of the afternoon.
We then walked along pretty much the full length of Sukhumvit Road visiting all the shops along the way, which range from small, local shops to massive glass malls with every western brand you can think of. In a very restrained manner we decided against any purchases - mainly because of the difficulties in squeezing anything more into our luggage allowance - what with BA and their new rules forbidding you to take anything more than a single small suitcase (down to 23kg from the 32kg per bag it used to be) before you get hit with a massive excess baggage fee even in Club Class.
We then headed back to the Hotel to get ready for dinner - and got the full Bangkok Taxi experience. Bangkok taxi drivers are the worst in the world, without exception in our experience. Firstly they don't like using the meter - always try and quote a price around 4x the going rate. Then they don't take you where you want to go. On our way to dinner we went through 5 taxi drivers. One tried to charge 300 baht for a 60 baht journey, one said he didn't know where it was, even though we had it on a map, and directions were written by the hotel conceirge in Thai, one took us, but then claimed the roads were too busy and we should go to a different resturant. When we said we didn't want to go to a different resturant, he took us to his friend's resturant anyway and then refused to go any further - we didn't pay him the full fare. We then got anothe taxi driver who refused to go to the right place as the traffic was too busy and he didn't want to go there.
Eventually we walked for around 20mins in the heat towards the resturant and then got another taxi who would take us...but we only had a few mins further to go. All in all we were an hour late for dinner, despite having left half an hour early, although all the taxi fares in total didn't get over £5. Angela did get a little testy however.
We then had dinner at Baan Khanitha, which has a reputation as the best Thai resturant in Thailand. It was very nice but was obviously a westerner hangout as virtually all the patrons were not local.
After that we went for drinks at Vertigo Bar - at the top of the Banyan Tree Hotel - on the 60th Floor. Unlike Vertigo in London which is completely enclosed, this one is not enclosed at all, with only narrow rails around the edges, and a 60 storey drop. Fabulous views, and great cocktails perked us up again and reminded us why we enjoy travelling.