08/02 – 10/02
After the very relaxing stay in Ko Phayam I was back in Bangkok – unfortunately I must admit. For the simple reason that it was my last stop before flying back home.
After extending my stay on the island I was only left with two nights and one full day in Bangkok. This was fourth short stay in the city – over the last three years it was always arrival and departure point. So this time the plan was to enjoy a bit of the nightlife and doing some last minute shopping.
Thankfully the plane arrived on time, and after getting my bag and a taxi via the taxi desk I finally arrived at my hotel (with some help of my phone as the driver was a bit lost…) As I did the last three times I stayed in the Sukhumvit area, and booked a rather nice hotel this time: Le Fenix Sukhumvit. Located off the main road Thanon Sukhumvit, I was still in the middle of the area full of pubs and food places. Check in was fast, and the room was nice, with a massive bed and clean bathroom. Though in comparison to Grande Majestic, where I stayed last year for the same price, it was not as good.
I managed to freshen up a bit, and off I was into the Bangkok nightlife. Avoiding all the restaurants I headed to one of the bigger food stalls along the busy street. The street food is one thing I absolute love about Bangkok. It is always fresh and tastes just wonderful. The curry was no different, though it was surprisingly spicy (I ordered it only a bit spicier than Farang version). Price for the food was 150 Baht, which was for a food stall a little bit more than usual. The beer was a bit too expensive, so I quickly dropped into the shop next to the tables and getting s nice cold beer for my dinner there. I was off to a gold start.
I walked a bit along Thanon Sukhumvit to check out the stalls along the street, before heading to one of the pubs to have one or two beer. Being in Bangkok on your own means that you won’t sit alone at the bar for too long. So I wasn’t surprised when a Thai woman was sitting next to me and started to talk. Well, it seems the ladies of the night had to start working at some point. The good thing is, if you make it clear from the start that you are not interested, you can still have a nice chat with them (if there are no other potential customers around). She also recommended one of the nightclubs nearby as I was considering heading to the one I visited a year before. But it is good to try something different. So off I was to Insomnia. I had to ask twice for direction, but finally managed to get there.
The place was not bad, though unlike the one I visited more popular with tourists. Still the DJ was good and the drinks were not too overpriced. Insomnia is a good place for a night out.
At 02:30 I thought it was too early to go to the hotel, so I went to one of the little bars that have replaced the souvenir stalls along Thanon Sukhumvit after midnight. They were little carts with chairs and tables in front of them, and they a serving beer and other alcoholic drinks. Having a drink next to the street, watching the amount of people staggering home, having a chat with the fellow guests was actually a nice and entertaining experience, and a nice way to finish the night.
After the very long night I stayed a bit longer in bed, missing the free breakfast at the hotel. Around lunch time I managed to get up and out of the hotel to go back to Terminal 21, probably the most interesting mall I have ever been to.
The hotel stated that they offer a free shuttle to the mal, but apparently this offer excludes the hours between 12:00 and 14:00. So I had to start walking. Seeing some interesting food stall I didn’t make it very far from the hotel before I stopped at a stall next to a construction side for a lovely soup and smoothie. I just love the variety of food here.
Heading along Sukhumvit Soi 11I saw the courtesy buggy of the hotel next to a shop, and the driver just got out. Surprisingly he remembered me from the previous evening when I arrived, so he quickly drove me to the mall. Saved me walking 10 minutes in the heat.
Now to Terminal 21. It is a shopping mall with 7 floors (including basement), and the special part is that each floor had a theme – a specific location. So from the Caribbean in the basement you get to Florence, Paris, Tokyo, Istanbul, London and arrive in San Francisco and Hollywood on the top floor. The shops on each floor were quite fitting for each location – jewellery in Istanbul, high end cloth in Paris, toys and gadgets in Tokyo, the food court at the wharf in SF and the entertainment section including cinema was obviously in Hollywood. The set up for each floor didn’t even stop at the toilets, even they were all different (I always wanted to pee in the London underground…). So you could argue that there was a kind of toilet tourism going on!!! Though, I was a bit worried that a manual was provided for the usage of toilets – who knew there was more to know then flushing it…
I spent quite a bit of time there, buying new cloth, restocking sea weed sweets and getting a suitcase to fit everything I bought (thanks to KLM I was allowed to check-in two bags).
I went for a wee snack in San Francisco and had some nice dim sum and duck tongue at the Chinese restaurant. Just a warning though, the food is more expensive in the mall than outside.
That was my last day. I took advantage of the street food once more (40 Baht for a green curry and rice!!!!) and a few last beers. It felt a bit strange to know that my long holiday was finally over.
After a nice breakfast in the hotel (nice buffet with Western and Thai breakfast items) I was off to the airport (hotel was able to get a metred taxi – so there was no worries about being scammed). And suddenly I was on the plane, and I got a last glance over Bangkok and it was all over. I was on my way back home.
So that was it. My amazing three month trip through part of SEA was over. I think I found the perfect mix for me, being able to revisit places I really liked (or even loved) like Chiang Mai and Luang Prabang; doing things I missed during a previous trip (two day trip on the Mekong), going to places I was previously considered (Kanchanaburi) and finding new places I absolute fell in love with (the whole of Vietnam). I was able to visit historical sites (ancient and modern), beautiful scenery (Halong Bay, central Vietnam); I met great people – both tourists and locals, and making new friends. I had some very emotional moments (Vin Moc tunnels) and some firsts (Christmas abroad). But considering the title of the blog, the journey was not just about the places and people, but also to experience more of the food offered in these countries. And boy, was that a great experience. I will never understand people coming to SEA and only eating Western food. For me SEA offers some of, if not THE best food in the world – and maybe it was fitting to finish the trip with the great street food on offer in Bangkok. Visiting the country without trying the local specialities would be a big miss.
In the end I got so many great memories that will hopefully last for a lifetime, and I felt very lucky and privileged to be able doing such a trip. So I am sure more visits to SEA will follow!
Le Fenix Sukhumvit is a good mid-range hotel, centrally located, close to a few bars, restaurant and even shops. The floor looks a bit wore-down, but the room is spacious, bed is comfortable and it was clean. Breakfast was very good, and included in the price. The hotel offers a free shuttle service to the BTS station and Terminal 21 – though it is not available during lunch.
The hotel is a good choice, and if there is a good offer I would stay there again. But Bangkok has so many good hotels, I wouldn’t stay there for any price.
Bangkok has so much to offer, and as it has become my usual last stop of my SEA travels I use it mainly for some shopping, enjoying the great street food, and enjoying the nightlife. It also offers some very interesting historic sites, so spending a few days there to explore the city both during the day and night is not the worst idea