This day was reserved for the malls of Bangkok. Though we had initially thought we would scout MBK in the morning, grab a quick lunch and then spend an hour at Pratunam and get back just in time to catch the last flight to Krabi, better sense prevailed and we decided to concentrate on MBK. The lady at the Tango reception was extremely helpful. We were allowed to keep our bags in the hotel (checkout was at noon), and she also gave us directions on where to catch the BTS Skytrain. We had initially thought of taking a tuk tuk to Siam, and catching the train to National Stadium. But as per the new directions, we were asked to set off for Chit Lom station. As soon as we got out of the hotel, a tuk tuk driver approached us and I asked him how much it would cost to get us to Siam. Only 20 baht he said, because he had a sponsor who would take care of his bills for the day, and then proceeded to explain the catch. We would have to visit his sponsor’s factory on the way. We skipped the deal and began what turned out to be a rather lengthy walk to Chit Lom.
The ticketing system is pretty user friendly, but we still managed a slight embarrassment. We had taken a ticket to Siam, from where, depending on the time taken, we planned to figure out whether to use a tuk tuk or cab to National Stadium. So we took tickets to Siam. At Siam, we got out and decided to board the train to National Stadium. We were about to take tickets when we were told that the same tickets would be enough. Nice, we thought, until we got out at National Stadium and the damn gates wouldn’t swing for us. So we paid the ticket charge and walked right into MBK Centre, the train practically leaves you inside the mall!
We began looking around in right earnest and realised we had reached a ‘branded’ floor. Though there were heavy discounts, we proceeded downstairs to where we hoped we would get more bang for our baht. It took a long while to drag D away from that floor which had apparel, footwear, food and so on, but I had a sneaking suspicion we were missing something on the floors above. We managed a quick tour of those floors before we went for lunch and realised we should have timed ourselves better.
Lunch for the day was at the Black Canyon Coffee, selected after we realised that in general, only the pizzas had survived the Japanese restaurant invasion. The dishes were reasonably good, though the quantities were typically cafe-size. We had just over an hour to complete our shopping and in a mad rush we shopped more in that hour than we had in the 3 hours preceding it, and across floors. Our behaviour then vaguely reminded me of Arunachalam’s plot. I wished I had spent more time in the electronics floor and found a cover for the mobile. There were some awesome ones there, including Angry Birds, but in the only shop I managed to check in, they had pretty boring options for my phone.
We took the train back to Chit Lom and an awesome driver landed us at the hotel just in time. The hotel security called a cab for us and it took us to the airport at 1/3 rd the price we had paid for the first journey. Despite the baggage being 7 kgs over the 20 kg we had paid for (shopping indicator right there) Air Asia didn’t make us pay. Yay! On to Krabi!
There was quite some turbulence as we neared Krabi and some after we landed too – the driver who had come to pick us up waved the placard with D’s name at a rather large African American lady, and I couldn’t help bugging her.
We reached Ao Nang in half an hour and in the last stretch, laughed at the grandiose names given to apartment like accommodations. Harvest House turned out to be in that lot!! But a helpful staff and a decent room was enough to dispel our crabbiness. The beach was just less than a km away and we dined at Eden, where an awesomely enthusiastic waiter ensured we had a good meal. Though the restaurant faced the sea, all we could see was a massive darkness. Our scouting revealed plenty of shopping options and we slept, all set for the sea trips on the days ahead.
Bangkok Notes and Budget
Currency: Baht. Do only a minimal conversion inside the airport. Rates seemed much better outside. eg. in the grand Palace complex.
Travel: Flight deals are many so you can probably check out the different ‘trip’ sites. Within the city, tuk tuks and whenever you can manage, BTS. There are detailed BTS maps on the web and it’s pretty easy to navigate. Also helps that they are faster and cheaper.
Food: Plenty of options, especially street food – you can fill your tummy for 200-300 baht. Restaurants would cost you (very generally) upwards of 350 baht.
Tour: We used Absolute Bangkok Tours who also gave us options of hotels to suit various budgets, and tour plans. They also made the booking for the river cruise. Our cost for the tour services came to 7300 baht (inclusive of hotel, driver, guide, entry fees, cruise) The service was reasonably good.
Shopping: There are malls and malls. We chose MBK basis our needs of the things we were shopping for and our budgets.
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