Monday, June 09, 2008

Bangkok: Shopaholiday in Thailand - Day 1

Last weekend, Fio and I visited Bangkok, Thailand, for a short weekend getaway. We had long wanted to visit Bangkok after hearing so many recommendations from friends who have been there. According to them, I have three different recommendations from three distinctively different type of people. First, my religious friends would recommend me to visit the Thai Buddhist temples (Wat). Next, my guy friends would recommend to visit the "exotic" shows, cabarets and massages. Lastly, ladies would recommend to go shopping. Of course, since this is my first time to Bangkok, I thought I would want to do all three. But only being there, I realized that it is quite hard to do that. I ended up taking up the latter recommendation; join the shopaholics in a 'shop-till-you-drop' trip!
When I was booking my air tickets and securing my accommodation, it was quite a last minute kind of thing, hence I ended up paying slightly more. I managed to secure my air tickets inclusive of return airport taxes and accommodation for 3 nights, before I embarked on my shopaholiday. When our travel agent asked about why we had visited Siem Reap, Cambodia, but not Bangkok, we had no idea. Siem Reap was supposed to be a more 'adventurous' tourist location than Bangkok.
In Bangkok, I wanted to go light and be more focused in my shopping, hence I did not bring my D200 but used a compact camera instead. In my Bangkok photo series, please do not expect beautiful scenic photographs. There are also less photographs compared to my Cambodia trip. These series will document how we spent our 'Shopaholiday' in Bangkok, Thailand, also known as 'The Land of Smiles'!

Bangkok: Shopaholiday in Thailand
Day 1 (30th May 2008)
From Singapore to Bangkok, a jump-start into shopping and the city.
We took a very early flight on Thai Airways. The flight from Singapore to Bangkok is about 2 hours. Though there was no in-flight entertainment, a proper breakfast meal is served during the short flight. The menu for that day was Seafood Noodles and Sausage with Omelette.

Bangkok time is an hour behind Singapore time, hence, by the time we reached out hotel at "Bangkok Palace Hotel", it was only 11a.m. The check-in time was 2p.m., hence we decided not to waste much time and hit the streets. Below is a huge map of Bangkok city showing most hotels, main tourists attractions and shopping malls.

WARNING! Large file size! Click on file to open or download in full size.

With the tallest building, Baiyoke Sky, as the landmark, we walk down a narrow street until we hit Ratchaprarop Road. Our first stop was The Platinum Fashion Mall. Note that The Platinum Fashion Mall is different from Pratunam and Pratunam Complex, but they all sell fashion clothings in retail and wholesale. Nevertheless, The Platinum Fashion Mall is an air-conditioned shopping mall with every floor having small countless stalls like our Far East Plaza basement, except less rowdy and much brighter. After spending an hour plus browsing and buying, we decided to break for lunch. The top level at The Platinum Fashion Mall is the food and beverage section, where there is a food court and fast-food restaurants. Interestingly, the food courts in Bangkok uses a coupon system, such that diners will have to buy coupons at a main counter afterwhich the remainder can be exchanged back for cash. We decided to not be too adventurous among the heavy lunch crowd and go for a familiar fast-food, KFC. I was tempted to try the KFC rice set, but decided to settle for regular set meal for two. I am certain that the fried chicken are much better than the ones we have in Singapore! I particularly love the sweet salad which actually has tuna in it. The special spicy drumlets that came with the set was very tasty as well. For KFC fans, you will love their fried chicken more than what we have back in Singapore. After lunch, it was on to more shopping!

We then skipped down to CentralWorld which is a much more modern shopping mall which is like our Ngee Ann City, but bigger. Before entering the mall, we decided to worship the Ganesh and Brahma shrines. Most of the malls in Bangkok have a shrine worshipping the four-faced Brahma, which symbolizes prosperity for the malls. Particularly at the Brahma shrine at CentralWorld, many devotees offer roses and pray for love. I just made simple prayers for peace to all earthly beings.
There will usually be events held at the atrium of the shopping mall, but particularly on Fridays, there will be a flea market where youngsters mainly students peddle handicrafts. We were utterly impressed by the artistic talents of these youngsters and showed our support by scoring some handicrafts. Quite a lot of the handicrafts are made on the spot, so even if they can be found cheaper at Chatuchak (Jatujak or JJ), it is worth showing these talented youngsters some support, after all they are all very cheap! There are so many things to see, from ladies fashion apparels, soft toys, customized key chains, cartoon clocks to portrait painting. We were so tempted to buy ourself a cartoon clock that is made on the spot. We realized that their fashion sense is very much influenced by Korean fashion.

In CentralWorld, there is an ISETAN. Fio had wanted to 'hoot' some ladies lingeries since they are at least half the price compared to Singapore. Ladies just seem to 'expend' their undergarments like tissue paper, hence I believe we made our biggest splurge in a single bill here. But of course, she was helping her friend 'hoot' as well! If you are expecting pictures of these 'hoots', sorry no way! ;-P
I must be really lucky, 'cos Bandai happened to hold their 1st Plamo Con in Bangkok. It was only day 1 and more entries were yet to be displayed. Nevertheless, Gunpla is the same retail price as Singapore. They even had a table reserved for fans to build their Gunpla. Wow! Trophies! I wonder if the local Gunpla competitions had that?

As I have mentioned earlier that we decided not to be too 'adventurous' with food on our first day, hence we visited Sushi Tei in CentralWorld. We found a lot of Japanese restaurants in Bangkok shopping malls and surprisingly little Thai restaurants. We had Sashimi, Sukiyaki and Unagi don. The Sushi Tei standard is not as good as the one we can find in Singapore and I was quite disappointed by the stale sashimi. Nevertheless, I was glad that it did not give me any tummy upset. After our dinner, we roamed around in CentralWorld and checked out multiplex. We were so tempted to catch the latest show especially when the price is so cheap!

After dinner, it was around 7p.m. and the sky already dark. Street hawkers were already set up along the walkways beside the roads with the diners mainly locals. These street hawkers peddle their food on very versatile push-carts where they can grill seafood and whip up a feast. I believe their prices are very economical for the lcoals. Sadly, I was not too adventurous to blend in with the locals and feast to our hearts delight.
We then visited Big C, which is like the Giant or Carrefour supermarkets, to buy our four days supply of drinking water and some unique-flavoured Lays potato chips. Big C is just located opposite CentralWorld and has a multiplex as well. We realised that we had not checked-in into our room and decided to head back to our hotel. After a day of shopping, we were really tired and wanted to get a taxi but could not get one that offers meter-charging. We were quite reluctant to hire a tuk-tuk as well, hence, we made our way back on foot. It is generally quite safe to walk at night.

This marks the end of Day 1 of our shopaholiday in Bangkok! Do stay tuned for the subsequent days and eventually the 'hoots'!



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