I went to Thailand over the weekend! Funny enough I was kind of using this post from the 2wenty_2wo community to plan my trip. I thought it would lead me to discover some exciting things and food, since the LJ users responding were all natives. XD Well, I didn't follow it exactly, but I did have quite the adventure!
The San Francisco themed level (Food court)
Day 1 - Chatuchak Market
After arriving at our hotel and asking for a map of Bangkok and transportation help from the front desk, we walked over to the BTS (Bangkok Mass Transit System) station and hopped on a train heading for Mo Chit. There, we visited the Chatuchak Market I had been so eager to see. It was huge, yes, but it was also INCREDIBLY hot out, making the visit tough for me to handle.. This is my first time visiting out of country, and the heat and humidity in these South-East Asian countries are killing me!! There were tons of food stalls out and everything looked so exotic and tasty.. My dad and I were so hungry we settled for the first outdoor standing restaurant whose menu looked appetizing. I ordered a pad mama and it was the most DELICIOUS dish I had EVER eaten. It was only 50 baht ($1) as well. I couldn't believe it!
I knew I HAD to get some street vendor Thai tea, and I got this delicious sweet concoction at one of the stands. As we moved along, we later found that Thai tea flair guy that we had seen on Youtube. My dad said it was as if he met a star! XD We bought a small box of squid eggs to eat too. My dad has had a craving for sea food ever since we arrived in this side of the world.
We walked around, looping around the same general area about twice. We did not see everything. I stopped by an old bookstand and sifted through two GIGANTIC STACKS of older Japanese magazines to find a Potato and Duet magazine from 2010-2011 that I was REALLY EXCITED TO HAVE!! One thing I learned about being here is to watch out!! I knew haggling was the general course of action here and to be wary of pickpockets, but forced tip and service was something I didn't expect at all. While I was checking through some idol magazines to see if I liked the content, the seller saw my target of interest and came over and started sorting through the stack one by one and shoved more my way. I wanted to tell him to stop since I wasn't planning on buying too much, but I thought not to. Well, when I went to pay, the guy insisted on 240 baht total for the two magazines I wanted (I was originally going to get 3, but changed my mind because I wanted the two the most), saying 40 baht was for the included service of "helping me find magazines." I was upset as heck because I didn't ask for him to do anything and I had found them on my own without his help. He just came and did his thing and charged me for it! Sure, it's no big deal, but I felt it was wrong. Now I am just extra wary about any seemingly "generous" behavior. Seriously, a language barrier is not a reason to keep quiet about an action until it's time to dish the cash!
Anyway, I'm really pleased with my haul since realistically, older issues aren't easy to come by anymore and the price I got them for is already a steal. I'm so pleased with it I keep telling myself to not go too crazy this trip and come back in one piece so I can look through them again. ^^;
Day 2 - Pattaya Beach
I went crazy. Sorry.
My dad suddenly wanted to go to the beach so I scrambled to find a means of transportation to Pattaya Beach, an area of Thailand I had read about thanks to the official Bangkok tourist website. Once I found out there was a bus that would take us straight there in 2 hours for 117 baht/person, we took the BTS to get there. We had difficulty communicating. I wrote down the name of the bus the internet had told me to take and presented it to the lady, tried to ask to make sure it was a 2 hour bus (vs 4 hours, both around the same price), asked how I would get back and the like. I thought the 130 baht price was just an increase that occurred to pander to visiting tourists. The lady wasn't able to answer any of my questions as she just repeatedly and angrily said, "No, Pattaya!!" when I showed her the bus service I was looking for. I saw another guy working there and thought to ask him to confirm if the bus ride to Pattaya would be 2 hours. Once he said yes and confirmed the other questions I asked, I bought two tickets and about 13 of us were crammed into a mini-bus. My dad was concerned if this was the right bus and talked to another tourist who understood English. It seems he was confused too since it was his first time to Pattaya. Feeling reassured to have comrades among us, we proceeded to take a very bumpy 2 hour ride to Pattaya. I get anxious riding in cars in this area of the world.. There are no seat belts or road rules so I get really scared. I was literally hoping I would get back safely somehow by the end of tonight. XD
The bus dropped us all off at the end of its course, leaving all of us very confused since there was no beach to be seen. Some people with large rolling luggages called a taxi. The guy we had talked to previously and his friend suggested we share a taxi, after we asked the bus guy repeatedly, "Where are we? Where is the beach? How do we get there? Could we walk there? How do we get back? When is the last bus? Where do we buy tickets?" We walked a little bit as a group, asking random passerbys where the beach was before we hopped on the back of a truck tuk tuk that took us to the beach. Once there, I was completely lost!! I didn't see the beautiful view I was expecting to see. A man in 7-11 told us to walk towards Walking Street. I hoped along the way I could stop by a hotel and get a map of the beach while I was at it, but as we walked along Walking Street looking for a hotel I was finding the scenery to become increasingly unpleasant so we backtracked and walked the other way. I had been using an image of Google maps I saved and was beginning to figure out where we were. Besides that, my dad and I were starving! We really wanted to eat somewhere and none of the restaurants were really catching our eye.. We took refuge in a mall with air conditioning. It was connected to a Marriott hotel, where I asked for a map of Pattaya and directions for a bus that would take us to Bangkok. The last bus leaves at 8:30 PM. What a relief, because we had heard earlier to come back at 5, which wouldn't have left us much exploring having just arrived at 1! As I was about to ask the lady behind the information desk in the mall her recommendations for good eats nearby, a flier for an eatery called the Foodwave caught my dad's eye. I asked the information lady where we could find the Foodwave, and she said it was on the 3rd floor of this very mall! We decided to check it out.
It turns out the Foodwave was actually on the fourth floor (How could she get that wrong?!) but on the third floor we walked through Ripley's Believe it or Not attractions. We saw wax figures, which always freaked me out.. and a crane game for 10 baht a pop!! The prize was an Anpanman plush! I tried four times and was kind of close.. I wanted to keep going but my dad stopped me. How I wish I could have won it.. I really would have liked an Anpanman thing!! Anyway..
The Foodwave was pretty good! They give you a card holding 1000 baht and you use that card to make all your food purchases. It gets tallied in the end for the final price. But the real talking topic about the Foodwave is the fantastic panoramic view of Pattaya beach as you dine!
Finally things started to feel good as we could finally see the beach as advertised. The next thing on my hit list was to do parasailing! Ohhh boy, I was totally unsure about this.. I mean I made that scary road trip but parasailing in Thailand.. Is that okay?! I was told offers for a boat to go parasailing would spring up like taxi drivers trying to hook tourists. Sure enough, walking on the right side of the beach a man comes up to me and asks if I want to do some parasailing. He says his brother will take us to the large boat out on the ocean where they do the parasailing and back for 200 baht. Parasailing itself costs 800. I'm unsure still but my dad says yes. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity he says.
Well, I did it and I lived. I look so happy to land. XD
It had already hit 5 PM and we thought to head back. We hopped on a tuk tuk that took us to the end of a street and we walked the rest of the way to the bus station. I had the map and asked directions, but not seeing what you're expecting after a bit of a trek is so unnerving! We did find it after asking several people to make sure but.. The bus station looked completely different! This time the buses were the traveling buses we had previously expected from our first trip and the price was as advertised on the internet. Furthermore, across the sign of the bus station terminal was the "Roong Reuang" I had expected to see when we first left for Pattaya. Strange indeed.. Why didn't we get this bus in the first place? Were we jipped? My dad says if it were a scam they would have never taken us here. Still, I was worried the bus would take 4 hours instead of 2 so I asked around how long it would take us to get back to Bangkok and if there were any stops along the way. The general consensus told me 2 - 2 1/2 hours. Fine, we'll take it. As long as we get back!!
The bus ride back was a lot more comfortable and felt a lot safer. I told my dad even if we have only 1 hour before it closes, that we should stop by Terminal 21, a large shopping mall I had read interesting reviews about, on the way back. It was one station away from where our hotel was. And so we did. It's a very interesting mall. Its running theme is airports around the world or something of the like. Each level has a famous city theme such as San Francisco with a gold gate bridge spanning across the level, Tokyo with its Harajuku-like boutiques, Rome, Istanbul, Paris.. You can imagine! My dad and I were starving and Pepper Lunch's salmon skillet looked very appetizing, so that's what we ate before we started exploring the mall.
The San Francisco themed level (Food court)
Yep. We got a bit lost when we got off at our station.. Numerous night stands sprung up all across the streets selling seedy products so that we couldn't recognize our streets. I was becoming terrified and my dad tends to walk really fast and not look back. The sidewalks aren't very wide and have loose footing. We had the alternative to just call a taxi if we were really lost, but we pressed on through it and got back to our room, exhausted.
All in all, a very crazy day that happened thanks to some crazy decisions that required some crazy courage.. I'm not the type to go out and live life like this but I did it! -laugh-
Day 3 - Siam Paragon
Having seen Terminal 21, I wanted to visit the other mall Bangkok's tourism seems to attract. I don't think it was as interesting or exciting as Terminal 21, probably because the stores here were all geared towards high end shoppers willing to spend big bucks (I was too scared to waltz into the fancy looking Jimmy Choo store just to see if I could find any star patterned wear) whereas Terminal 21 was very unique in that all the stores there sold original designs/patterns and authentic imports. There was a pretty busy food gourmet market, which my dad and I visited to sample all sorts of foreign food after we ate a bit at a seafood restaurant. My dad and I tried takoyaki for the first time and grabbed some Thai pancakes and sweet rolls and onigiri.. I got this grass jelly green milk tea that had such a profound and strong green tea taste. It was sooo good.
I don't think I have ever done so much in three days while on vacation, let alone in another country.. I think it went OK and I had a lot of fun! I just wish I was a more reliable tourist. I'm not all about risks so having to ask around on how to get around without any GPS or internet is so scary!! But it was a fulfilling trip and here I continue on hoping that I make it back home safe and sound!
Things that I wanted to do and got to do:
- Chatuchak Market
- Terminal 21
- Eat pad thai!
- Drink thai tea!
Things that I didn't get to do:
- Floating markets (My dad wasn't too interested)
- Visiting temples! (My dad said no)
- Pattaya Viewpoint - A beautiful view of Pattaya beach can be seen from here. I'd say the view I got from the Foodwave substituted this for me
- Example shop - a la 2wenty_2wo ! It turns out the area around Siam Paragon has even MORE shopping districts. My dad and I barely dented it. He got blisters on his feet so we couldn't explore anymore. I think if we had the time, knowledge and energy we would have definitely been able to check it out.
- 7-11 Thai bento box, red - there was just too much food to eat!
Current Mood: accomplished