Bangkok is one of those large crazy cities you either pass through in a day or two or stay for a week or more to acclimate and see as much as you can. We chose the former.
We arrived by overnight train at 6:30 in the morning.I had already looked up what subway/elevated train stops we needed in order to get to our hotel, so it wasn’t so difficult. After a quick breakfast on the street, we got to the hotel around 9:30am, dropped our bags off, then headed back to the central train station to start exploring Chinatown towards the river for a water taxi up to the grand palace.
One thing we quickly realized was that 5 days on the beach in Kho Tao made us soft! We no longer knew how to trek through a big city. There was no straight line from the hut, across the sand to the water. When we got out of the station, there were 6 directions to choose from. I chose wrong. Very wrong. 180 degrees wrong.
We wandered for a while (OK, like an hour or so) through interesting streets and past interesting temples until we asked someone which way to go. Set not quite back on course, we continued to wander. Then we became victim to a scam… “Oh no… the river is way over that way… too far to walk. But you should eat first. There is a fish market right over that way (in the opposite direction). Here, I get you a tuk-tuk… 20 baht only”. Hungry, thirsty, lost, and tired, we fell for it. After a 15 minute ride to who knows where, we ended up at an overpriced fish restaurant with no customers. The driver was very insistent that we stay and eat. Yeh right. We backtracked to the last main street we remembered being on and found a good chinese/thai restaurant down an alley that had very good and cheap food. So all was not lost. We then found a tuk-tuk to take us to the river (not for 20baht I tell you!), caught the river taxi up to the grand palace and rested for a bit. When we did finally make it to the palace… it had just closed for the day. :((( Water taxi and subway back home to the hotel for us… and dinner outside on the street (again, very good and cheap).
We thought we would save some money with a hotel outside of the city center, and indeed it was about 50% to 75% cheaper, however with all the subway and water taxi rides, we’re not sure if we ended up saving that much in the end.
The second we day took the subway straight to the river for a taxi ride up to the Grand Palace. This time we definitely made it in time. After lunch we went inside to discover that it costs $20US per person (including the kids!!!) to get in to any of the buildings!!! We didn’t think $100 was worth it so we just walked around a bit then hung around the main lawn inside the gates for a bit. We ended up on the water taxi and subway back towards our hotel stopping off at a mall Tuyet read about that had a basement food court called “At Eathai you eat like a Thai” where there was also arts and crafts for the kids that day. Perfect. After sampling some different foods and drinks, we headed back to the hotel and ate outside again.
We got up at 4:30am the next morning to catch a 6am train to the Thailand / Cambodian border. It was 7 1/2 hours without A/C… windows open and ceiling fans. That was a long one. Then lunch, then a tuk-tuk to the actual border, cross the border, get Cambodian cash, take a taxi to Siem Reap, check into our hotel at 6:30pm. See you from Cambodia.