Bangkok - Part two

Trip Start Dec 27, 2008
Trip End Jun 27, 2009

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

We turned on the TV today and saw the protests outside the Grand Palace, it got quite ugly apparently. We knew it was cracking off and had heard the chanting and drums from our hotel, it was very strange to think that it was happening five minutes away (glad we went the other day).

On our third day in BKK we headed out to the greater city, the new Bangkok. As if we hadn't been annoyed enough by taxi drivers all week, the guy who took us there really took the biscuit. After reminding him to turn the meter on (I was on to him in a flash) he took us on numerous detours that ended with him pulling up outside a travel agent or jewellery shop; he'd be saying things like, "Ooh yes, much cheaper to book tickets in Bangkok, much cheaper" as he (as if by chance) drove by a travel agent that his brother owned. Keep drivin'. Once he'd dropped us off in completely the wrong place we had to take action, we were nowhere near where we needed to be. So, we jumped on the sky-train. I love it when this happens, there's nothing like being thrown into a situation and paying about 50p to get out of it (and brush shoulders with locals not trying to sell you something too). It all ran pretty smoothly from there on in.

We had a stroll through the biggest shopping centre ever (unconfirmed), I was kept busy holding Charlotte back from diving into every store. It had about seven floors, an oceanarium, three foodcourts, a lagoon and a canal. Not only that, it wasn't filled with chavs spitting on each other and the like, amazing!

The budget though remains tight and I dragged a kicking and screaming Charlotte out the doors. We headed for Baiyoke Sky Hotel which is listed in Lonely Planet under the section "Quirky Bangkok", in reality it was anything but, it's over-the-top stylish and enormous, massively expensive but totally mainstream. It rises 88 storeys above downtown Bangkok and we took the lift (obviously) to the top. There's an observation deck and binoc's etc but most bypass all that and head for the revolving, open air platform on the 89th floor. The view stretched for miles and was mind-blowing.

On the way back down something caught my eye, something that I simply couldn't ignore. It was the word "GOLF"! That's right, for 40 baht, you can whack 40 balls (into a net, not onto the poor folk below) out towards the massive cityscape. It's an open-air driving range, cut out of the hotel on the 19th floor. It was the highlight of the day, sad as that is. This really shouldn't be in an after-thought, subtext section of Lonely Planet; everyone who visits Bangkok should visit this hotel, it makes a great half-day.

After spending quite a bit on our transport for the coming weeks we needed a cheap meal on our last night. Tired of eating noodles at the roadside we opted for the only thing cheaper ...... grasshoppers! Even Charlotte had one! Admittedly they were coated in soy sauce and some seasoning but we were proud of our frugality, although we were still very hungry, so we had a curry. Up next, Chang Mai ......

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