Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: Round The World 2006-07

Re-discovering Bangkok

After an excellent night's sleep, I rose at about 0745, had a refreshing shower and made my way up to the Club Lounge for breakfast. Having received a message from US-based FlyerTalker gleff, I had no trouble at all spotting Mr & Mrs gleff in the lounge and was delighted to be able to join them for breakfast. The Club Lounge does a great job of breakfast, with an attractive buffet and an à la carte menu as well. We had a very enjoyable chat about the things that are dear to any FTer's heart : status, upgrades, great deals and all the rest

By the time I then got myself organised for going out, it was fast approaching 1100. I got the concierge to organise a metered taxi to take me to the Grand Palace. It was incredibly good value - a half-hour ride for THB100, i.e. about GBP1.50! When I stepped outside, the hassle factor was really quite bad, with lots of people wanting to be my guide, take me elsewhere, etc. I managed to shake them off and bought a ticket for the Wat Phra Kaew / Grand Palace complex - excellent value again, I thought, for THB250. I had almost forgotten how absolutely stunning traditional Thai architecture can be, especially in strong sunshine. I had taken around 50 photographs within the first 15 minutes or so of my visit! I explored at my leisure - much better, in my opinion, than being dragged around by a guide - and had a little snack from the shop / cafe before leaving.

Once outside the complex, I found it difficult to get orientated, even with the benefit of two maps, and ended up taking an unnecessarily circuitous route to the nearby Wat Pho temple. Again, there was mild hassle factor and I could easily have got annoyed when one person assured me that the temple was closed (so that I would be more likely to adopt his suggestion, no doubt!) when I knew full well that it was nothing of the kind. Anyway, I was inside soon enough and being enthralled once more by the intricacy and sheer colour of the buildings and monuments.

I felt at this stage that I'd probably had enough of the hot and sticky conditions for one day and made my way to the river, with the intention of getting a ferry to Central Pier and then the Skytrain back to the hotel. However when I got to the river there was a little ferry waiting to take people directly across to Wat Arun - another impressive temple - so, on impulse, I decided to do that instead. You do actually get more accustomed to the conditions as time passes! I had a look around this latest temple, which is not for the faint-hearted, inasmuch as it features some alarmingly steep steps that I'm sure would fail all sorts of safety regulations at home. Then it was back across to the other side of the river to resume the original plan. The river trip gave me another opportunity to see the extent of Bangkok's development over the last 20 years, the skyline featuring many, many new skyscrapers.

Back at the InterContinental, my first priority was to have a refreshing shower after spending some 4 or 5 hours in the sticky heat. I made my way back up to the lounge for the start of Happy Hour at 1730 and, unexpectedly, I was able to enjoy the company of Mr & Mrs gleff again for a little while, before they went out to dinner, prior to heading for home. Then it was back to my room, with sorting out photos, writing up my diary, a room service dinner and a DVD all on the agenda.

Wat Phra Kaew

Grand Palace

Wat Pho

Wat Arun

River / Skytrain Trip

Monday 24 Apr

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