Day 24 (8 Jan 2010): Pitstop @BKK [Bangkok]

For your convenience, please refer to The Journey for the itinerary and the latest updates.

Weather: Fine

Distance covered today: 624km
Distance traveled from Guangzhou: 3,256km
Distance remaining to Singapore: 1,848km

Fact of the day: King Rama IX of Thailand is currently the longest-serving head of state in the world (since 9 June 1946).

The night on the train wasn’t the best; as usual there were snorers to disrupt the other passengers’ sleep. Nevertheless I could still get some decent sleep in my berth.

Having a lower berth meant that I could see the scenery changing through the window. As I was waking up, the setting outside was changing from suburban to urbane and the roads were starting to be filled with morning traffic into Bangkok. After Don Muang Airport’s train station, the attendant came to unmake the bed and it would be almost another hour before reaching Bangkok’s main station, Hualamphong.

This would be my fourth time in Bangkok (KM 3256) and the second time arriving by land. The other time coming by land was from Siem Reap (where Angkor Wat is located) back in July 2007 when the road on the Cambodian side wasn’t sealed yet. I would be reunited with Ho Teck and Kok Wai, my travel companions from that trip. Completing the trio was Feijie, my buddy during the Langkawi trip.

The beast which pulled me from Nong Khai to Bangkok

Early morning's Hualamphong

I think this is Chulalongkorn (Grandfather of the current King)

Arriving in Bangkok at 7.00am wasn’t the most ideal timing as it meant that I had to wake up those guys in order to get the directions to their hotel. They weren’t too pleased being distrubed by me considering they returned to their room only at 3am.

The route between Hualamphong Station to Palazzo Hotel.

The metro ride cost a cool 36 THB, rather expensive for Thailand in my opinion. While vague, I could somehow understand Kok Wai’s instructions and reached the hotel before 8am. The hotel was easily the poshest place that I had stayed for the whole trip although that wasn’t saying much. The guys weren’t too glad about waking up so early but I definitely needed my shower after my last almost 24 hours ago.

Apparently the trio had a good time in Bangkok before I arrived. To be honest I was impressed with Ho Teck’s ability to organize the trip at such a short notice. Another friend Qinyao was staying at the same hotel with his group of friends from university and I would bunk in his room for my Bangkok pit stop.

This was the first time that I was staying in this part of Bangkok and it was kinda outta way from either the tourist attractions (Grand Palace, Khao San Rd, etc) or the shopping areas (Siam Paragon, MBK). We were stuck in Bangkok’s legendary traffic jam on a cab to CentralWorld. The barely 10km journey would take us nearly an hour.

As all of us were running out of Thai bahts, finding a moneychanger became a priority. The one in CentralWorld was located in some obscure location which took us some effort to find. I also bought the book Outliers at Kinokuniya. Book prices in Bangkok are slightly cheaper than Singapore’s (I only paid 270 THB) and it would keep me company for the long train ride south.

We window-shopped a little at CentralWorld before venturing out.

The famous Erawan Shrine

And of course what’s a trip to Bangkok without high tea at Erawan Tea Room?

High Tea @ 220 THB nett

My tea pot

Feijie showing off his kungfu

We went back to the hotel by public transport after high tea. We had to take skytrain followed by metro and the total fare ended up to be more expensive than the cab ride there. It was kinda ironic that taking trains in central Bangkok is more expensive and faster than taxis while the reverse is generally true for Singapore.

I decided to rest at their hotel room while the trio ventured out in the neighborhood. I didn’t sleep but watched the satisfying repeat telecast of the FA Cup match between Manchester United and Leeds instead. Dinner was at a seafood restaurant on the opposite side of the main road when they returned.

Our feast

The BKK gang

We had a good time chatting together during the dinner.

The next stationary bed that I would sleep on after Palazzo’s would be my own in two nights’ time. I could sense that the end was near for this epic journey. Any suggestions for my next one?

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