Bangkok, part2

Together with Hervé and Punkgy who never went there before, we visited Wat Arun on Saturday. The stairs to get up are impressively steep, like some part of the Great Wall I was hiking one week before! Once on the top, you get a very nice view over the river and the city.

On the way back, Hervé and I stopped in Panthip plaza: this shopping mall dedicated to computer hardware is a temple for geeks! We went across many shops to get a 1 TB external hard drive for less than 3500b (I later figured out that the US online price is even cheaper, $99). Hervé got a WD and I initially wanted this one as well but finally took a Seagate for the 3 year-worldwide warranty. As I shot most of my pictures in RAW, it takes many Gig and my previous HDD went full, so this new one give me some more months to go 😉

Just before taking the BTS back home, we went through the luxury shopping mall in Siam: as said, people love luxury!

In topic shopping mall, I tend to find them boring: always the same international brands having their super modern shops in super clean floor.  As I am not a customer of this kind of shop, I pay more attention on the architecture, and get some times very impressed: the MyZeil mall in Frankfurt is not bad in this category. But the Terminal21 in Sukhumvit, Bangkok introduces (for me) a new kind of mall, around a dedicated topic. This one is splendid: basically, each floor represent different cities, and you “fly” from one to the other while taking the escalators: Rome, Paris, London, Istanbul, San Francisco and Hollywoord are represented. Each shop fit very well with the famous style of the cities. In London, you get some shops in a fake red double deck bus, in SF, you get the golden bridge. Hollywood is obviously a cinema complex, splendid!

I visited Bangkok mostly on my own and met Ling and Anna only in the evening. As they have only one week holiday in Thailand, they also quickly booked a trip to Phuket, flying in the Sunday morning. I was glad to invite them together with Hervé and Pungky for a diner in a French crêperie on the Saturday evening (crepesnco.com). As a native from Brittany, I had however to high expectation for a crêperie: they made salty crêpes from wheat instead of the original galette with buckwheat flour and salty butter! After a nice but could-be-better (if in a galette) salty course, I enjoyed the sweet desert: the crêpe flambé au calvados was delicious!

I stayed home with Hervé and Pungky on Sunday. We just went out together to the market where we bought kg of fruits, count around 40b (1€) a kilo for most of them, mango are twice more expensive (70b). They sell also seafood, rice, etc!

One major attraction in Bangkok is the Grand Palace but you get latest get in at 3 pm since it closes at 4. I skipped this one in the first days since I left Sukhumvit too late in the morning and go for it on Monday. You start in Wat Phra Kaew with its many buildings and impressive model of Angkor Wat. Unfortunately, the main temple of the Emerald Buddha was already closed (at noon!), but there is enough to see anyway. You walk along the buildings of the Grand Palace, another former royal house, but cannot enter into the main buildings, just into some annex organized as museums. The temple museum is not stellar, but the exhibition dedicated to the Queen’s clothes is pretty interesting.

I continued my walk until the Mount of Gold I oversaw 2 days before: another crazy Buddhist temple, this time, in a top of a human-made mount. I walked back to the main train station through the market and Chinatown: many very narrow streets where you find everything, almost on the level of the big bazaar in Teheran or the black market in Ulan Bataar. As reminder of the rainy Beijing, the day ended in Chinatown under a rain (who last only a few minutes).

The ticket for the Grand Palace seems to be is quite expensive (400B), but it includes a lot of other palaces and museum in the Dusit area. So I spent pretty much my Tuesday between all these places. The Vimanmek mansion is the world’s largest golden teakwood house, and used to be the King’s main house between 1901 and 1906. I arrived there just on time for the English guided tour at 2pm: somehow a show of some royal furniture and belongings coming from all European countries.

I walked quickly through the small museums included in the ticket (about coin, photography, pottery, textiles, etc). All museums close at 4pm. The last one on the ticket, and for me the most impressive, is the “Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall” with its exhibition about Thai craftworks made in the years 2004 to 2007, celebrating 60 years of reigning: you see many very valuable gold objects, and also the beetle incandescence to make the objects even more “flashy”. Kitsch but so thin sculptures!

I made a stop in the last Wat built in marble. A nice sample of modern Thai architecture! On the way back home, I just missed the bus to the BTS, so I decided to walk the 2km instead of waiting for the next one. And indeed, the traffic jam was so dense that I arrived in the BTS before the bus!

Thailand is a paradise for the food: so many tastes and so cheap. You can get a plate on the street for 30 to 40b, i.e. ~1€. Even in the food court like in shopping mall (with air con, I tested the one in Terminal21) or train station, you get these cheap prices as well!

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