Happy Happy Joy Joy

Happy Happy Joy Joy; I can remember crying with happiness three times in the past few years. It’s a very strange feeling crying tears of joy because sometimes they really do come out of nowhere, and at the strangest times.

I have already written about my time in Vietnam, but, when I stayed on Cat Ba Island, I went rock climbing for the first time.

The instructor, Onslo, and I still remember his name to this day. I was in awe of him; he could climb up rocks, without a rope, very nimbly. I took a shine to him instantly. Onslo explained how the equipment worked, and then I was ready to go.

Rock Climbing on Cat Ba Island

Slightly scared but ready to go

I started climbing up the rock. It was fairly easy to start with, although it’s quite a struggle trying to haul your whole body up vertically. As I got higher, I started to panic a little, froze, and could not move a muscle. I was stuck halfway up the rock. I started hyperventilating and was shaking all over; I thought I was going to fall to my death. The, very patient, Onslo told me to let go of the rock and hang in mid-air. I thought he was crazy, and whimpered that I couldn’t possibly do that. I, eventually let go, and once I realised I wasn’t going anywhere, because I was harnessed, I managed to climb the rest of the way.

Rock Climbing on Cat Ba Island

Halfway up

When I made it back down to the beach, my legs gave way under me and I literally collapsed onto the sand, and I started crying like a baby; tears of joy at having climbed the (not so very tall) mountain. It was such a sense of achievement; I’d tried something new and had been able to do it, eventually.

The second bout of joyful tears came when I passed my degree in 2013. I had started the degree, with the Open University, in 1993, and completed two courses with them, but then my life got in the way, and I didn’t continue it.

When I moved to Thailand, I restarted it. In 2011, I moved back to the UK to finish it, because it was cheaper for me to do so. I completed four courses in the space of three years. It was such hard work; at one point I was doing two courses at the same time, as well as having a full time job.

Each time I received an email to say my exam results were available, I didn’t want to look. I was afraid I hadn’t passed. But, I plucked up the courage and found I had passed every course. I cried tears of joy at the satisfaction of knowing that all the hard work I had put in had paid off.

Then when the time came for the degree ceremony, I wasn’t even going to go but my friend, Dipesh, said that I should go, and that I would be glad that I went.  On the day of the ceremony, my Mum and I arrived at the venue. I was really nervous about going up on stage to collect my degree certificate.

Degree Ceremony, Manchester

All Robed Up

I sat and listened to the director of the university telling us that we had made it, and that we should all feel proud after months and years of studying to achieve the degree. When my name was called, I went onstage to receive my award.

Degree Ceremony, Manchester

Receiving my Certificate

Afterwards, I was so glad that I had gone to acknowledge my achievement, I cried tears of joy once again because I felt so proud of myself.

When have you cried tears of joy?

The Art of Staring

When you think of what staring is, you imagine yourself looking at someone, or something, either through amazement or fear, or just pure interest. And it can also be taken as a sign of aggression, of intense concentration or boredom, and of affection.

When someone stares at you, and you catch their eye, you immediately wonder what they are looking at; have you got your slippers on instead of your shoes? Have you got your knickers tucked in your skirt? And at first you look away but you are immediately drawn back to that person to see if they are still looking at you, and they are!

If you stare at someone else-maybe you are people watching-you don’t want them to catch you ogling because they, most of the time, will have the same reaction as yourself. In Western society most people don’t like it, and it can be considered rude. Come on, you can hear yourself “What are they bloody looking at?”

The Art of Staring, Talkingthailand.co.uk

Not so in Thailand. If you travel around Thailand and stay in more rural areas, people WILL stare at you. It is quite disconcerting at first but they mean you no harm. It is simply because the locals are not used to seeing foreigners, especially in places which are not particularly on the tourist trail.

I lived in Surin, in northeast Thailand, for three years and I was stared at everywhere I went- I got used to it after a while but sometimes, just sometimes, I would ask myself quietly “What are you looking at now?” I went shopping at the local supermarket-they stared in my basket to see what I was buying; I went to work each day-they stared at me as I cycled passed; I went jogging in the park-they stared at me as I ran by; I went to the bar alone-they stared as I sat drinking my beer. Oh, they stared!

A few years ago, my mum and auntie came to visit, and, as they walked to meet me at work, a guy on a motor-bike stared at them, taking his eyes off the road. My mum, being the sociable character she is, smiled and waved, nearly causing a road traffic accident when the guy almost fell of his bike. He hadn’t expected her to wave at him.

I remember going to Tesco Lotus and, as I cycled out of the car park, a whole family, six in total, both adults and kids, who had parked themselves in the car park to have a picnic, stared as I cycled off. I had clocked them staring so I reluctantly gave them a huge (false) smile and waved at them (Come on, it’s a bit tedious all this staring.) But it was their reaction, from all six of them, enthusiastically grinning and waving back at me, that made me realise just how much I love this place. Needless to say, the false smile I was wearing became a massive, genuine, grin from ear to ear, and gave me such a feeling of happiness. It really made my day.

Now I am living in Bangkok, the stares don’t happen very often. There are far too many foreigners living here for anybody to take much notice of us. But, if you’re in Thailand, and someone stares at you, don’t worry or be angry about it, be happy that they are intrigued and interested in you, smile back at them and just see what happens. Enjoy the Land of Smiles.

Thai New Year 2016

As the Thai New Year approaches people all over the country are getting ready to celebrate with their family and friends. Otherwise known as Songkran, what started out as a traditional water blessing to bring good luck, it has evolved into a full-on, alcohol-fuelled water fight.  If you happen to be in Thailand during mid-April there is nothing for you to do but get involved.

Songkran is the Sanskrit word for movement or change, and in ancient times there would be celebrations when the Sun moved into the Aries constellation of the Zodiac. The holiday starts on 13th April and lasts for three or four days.  I have experienced this crazy festival three times during my time in Thailand, each time in a different location and each time with a different view.

Songkran on Khao San Road

The first time I enjoyed Songkran was in 2008, when I first travelled around Thailand. My friends had come to visit me, and on the first day of the festival I went to pick up my friend, Hayley, from the airport. Hayley arrived, we took a taxi back to the hotel, and slept for a while before entering the throng of party-goers.

Songkran, Khao San Road, Bangkok

Khao San Road is a small street, filled with bars and restaurants on either side and fairly busy. During Songkran there are stages set up all along the road, and there are thousands of people- all crammed into that little street. Suffice to say I got separated from Hayley within the first 30 minutes.

But, not to worry, after a few minutes Hayley appeared, being carried along by the waves of people. I grabbed her, she was fine, and we carried on partying into the night until we could party no more.

The next day was much the same but in the evening we decided to party elsewhere. So we got dressed up and hailed a tuk-tuk to Silom.  Bearing in mind that there is a massive water fight going on with people soaking you with guns and buckets filled with ice cold water. Even people in trucks hosing you down- there is no mercy for anyone. Why we decided to take a tuk-tuk, God only knows! By the time we arrived in Silom we were soaked to the skin.

By the third day it was getting ridiculous- there was no let up, so we went to Silom again, found an Irish bar and stayed put until 1am, when the water throwing stopped for the evening.

Although we had fun, it is just too crazy. Too many people, and not enough room to move, and to this day I have vowed I would never again celebrate Songkran on Khao San Road. Except, this year I have been persuaded to go again, so I will, reluctantly, be joining the party. Although, I say that. I know once I get there I will enjoy it as much as anyone else.

Songkran, Khao San Road, Bangkok

Songkran in Chiang Mai

The following year, I went to Chiang Mai to celebrate Songkran once more. As if I didn’t get enough water-filled fun the previous year. But, what a difference. I was pleasantly surprised.

In the central Tha Pae gate area of the city there were the resident trucks with ice cold water cannons, music blaring at ridiculous volume levels, and the obligatory alcohol from morning until night, but this time there was room to move, and loads of it.

Songkran, Chiang Mai

Source: http://andrewtaylor.photoshelter.com

Along the canal, the bars had set up tiny little stages so you could dance and watch everyone strutting their stuff to the music, and getting soaked at the same time. There were huge tanks of water where you could re-fill your weapon and get your own back on the barrage of water that was being fired from the trucks and from people passing by.

The atmosphere in Chiang Mai was amazing- everyone was in high spirits and having so much fun. And when the festival ended at 10pm, we all went on to a late bar to continue the party into the early hours.

Songkran, Chiang Mai

When I was there in 2009 the festival lasted for two days. And it was so much more relaxed than Bangkok. I think mainly because there is a lot more room to move and it can be easily escaped. In fact, I had so much fun the first day I didn’t make it out for the second, preferring to rest my weary bones in the hotel room.

Songkran on Koh Tao

In 2010, I visited Koh Tao with my friends, Doyle and Melody, and we happened to be there for Songkran.  Having experienced it the previous two years I eagerly told them what fun we were going to have. A day or so before we went out and purchased our weapons of choice, ready for the water war.

Songkran, Koh Tao

On the morning of the celebrations we went out for breakfast to line our stomachs in preparation for the large amounts of alcohol that would be consumed during the day.

Melody and I, being the little devils that we are, left before everyone else as we were eager to start partying. The others arrived to find us swinging from a large swing on the beach, slightly, well OK, very inebriated. We didn’t last until the end of the day; we were all in bed by 10.30pm! It was just too much excitement, or was it the alcohol?!

Songkran, Koh Tao

In the morning we were up for more excitement but were disappointed to learn that Songkran only lasted one day, due to the island having a water shortage. Quite rightly so.

And while I couldn’t stomach a third day in Bangkok, one day wasn’t enough. I am never happy!

Since then I have managed to avoid any Songkran festivities for one reason or another but this year I will, more than likely, be out and about, somewhere in Bangkok, enjoying the celebrations along with everyone else. Reluctantly of course.

 

1600 Pandas+ in Bangkok

Last I heard pandas were indigenous to China so why are 1,600 of them making their way around Bangkok?

Shockingly, 1,600 is the number of pandas left in the wild, and these cute little papier-mache figures are touring the city to raise awareness for panda conservation.

The title, 1600 Pandas+ refers to the increase in the population of wild giant pandas, of 17%, since the inception of this project, and to the increased public awareness of panda conservation.

I went to visit the pandas at Sanam Luang-the first leg of their journey through the city.

You can catch the main exhibition at Central Embassy from 24th March-10th April, 10.00am-10.00pm.

Central Embassy, 1031 Ploenchit road, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330

Nearest BTS is Ploenchit station.

Bukruk Urban Arts Festival, Bangkok

Bukruk Urban Arts Festival was a 10-day exhibition, which ran from 23rd January to 31st January 2016, here in Bangkok. It featured public wall paintings, art exhibitions, artist talks, an animation night, and a music festival.

The festival this year was the second of its kind, and it focused on established and new artists from Asia and Europe.

What piqued my interest the most was the wall art that was to be created around the streets of Bangrak. So, on my day off, I went off to discover these exhibits for myself.

Day 1

With google maps duly printed off, details of all 13 artists, and my camera ready to shoot, I set off for the day. I came across the first exhibit on Decho Road; a huge red, black, and white mural, which the artist seemed to have just finished because the scaffolding was still up. I took a few pictures and continued in my search for the next exhibit on my list.

I went to the second and third locations, in Yannawa, and could I find them? I searched everywhere. The maps showed the locations clear enough but they were nowhere to be found. A little disappointed, I continued onwards along Charoen Krung Road.

I managed to find a few more exhibits, a couple with the artists still at work.

But I didn’t find all 13. In fact, I found 5 out of the 13 I had planned to see. I felt defeated to say the least.

Defeated, because I thought that my exploration skills were up to scratch, what with the amount of walking I do around the city. But as someone who likes to see the positive in everything, there was a silver lining to my cloud. I love to explore Bangkok and my search for these exhibits had taken me down some little lanes and alleys that were all new to me, so from that point of view I still enjoyed my day out.

Upon my return home, I saw that the Bukruk organisers had posted an updated map on their Facebook page, so I realised that I had been looking in the wrong locations all along.

Day 2

The following week, with the updated map in hand, and my camera at the ready again, I went out in search of the wall art that I had missed.

This time I took a boat to Rachawong pier, and found Songwat Road, where I knew some of the wall art was located.

Songwat Road is full of old buildings and industrial shops, selling car parts and such like. It’s a hive of activity, and popular with tourists, a few cycling through the streets. It’s a pleasant walk from Rachawong pier down to River City shopping mall. There are so many alleyways to explore, and loads of interesting things to see;  a 200 year old house, Kalawar Church, and Chinese temples.

I found more exhibits, my favourite one was two huge elephants touching rear to rear, who appeared to be tumbling through the air.

In fact, I was impressed by all the paintings I found and, even though I still failed to find all of them, I was glad I had gone out again in search of them. By the second week the artists had all finished their creations so there was no scaffolding in front of them, and what was left was their work decorating the walls of Bangrak.

And there it will remain, hopefully for months to come, not only decorating Bangrak’s walls, but also providing a link between the art, the historical buildings, and the art galleries in the area; a goal that the organisers wish to achieve. I, for one, took great pleasure in wandering around this area and seeing some of the fantastic work that has been created by these very talented artists.

Koh Samet

If you want an island get-away that isn’t far from Bangkok, has pure white sand, and is a place to relax or have fun, Koh Samet is for you.

Located just 140 miles from the capital, Koh Samet, sits in the Gulf of Thailand, just off the coast of Rayong province and is part of the Khao Laem Ya-Mu Ko Samet National Park.

Koh Samet, Thailand

Koh Samet, Thailand

I have been there a few times and have always stayed at Hat Sai Kaew resort, the liveliest of the resorts. I took my friend there when she visited Thailand in 2015. Not much has changed. It’s still a stunning island.

There are 14 white sand beaches, and activities such as swimming, snorkeling and diving. There are lots of restaurants along the beach which have a good choice of both Thai and Western food, including breakfasts.

Since I was there last, there are a couple of larger hotels on the beach front but, because they are set back from the beach a little, they didn’t seem that imposing. Enough for the resort to retain some of its charm at least.

What surprised me more was the lack of people there, especially at night. I have been there when it has been absolutely packed out, but there weren’t even many foreigners in sight, save us two and a couple of others that we saw.

Still we had fun at the nightly fire show where the fire-dancers show off their skills to music that pumps out of the speakers. I might add, the same music was playing the first time I went, in 2008. Well, if it’s not broken don’t fix it as they say.

In the middle of writing this I found out that since 1st January 2016 all bars and restaurants must close by midnight and all music stop by 11.00pm. An order which the military have enforced. An act that may well stop tourists and, indeed, Thais from visiting the island. A sad fact indeed when you think of the people who live and work on the island, whose lives depend on the number of visitors. Apparently, this is not a new regulation. It is in line with national park rules that say businesses and visitors must not disturb the peace.

Koh Samet has been a popular destination for many years and long may it be so. Don’t let this curfew put you off visiting. It really is a beautiful place and one that can be enjoyed way before the curfew kicks in.

Getting there:
Bangkok to Ban Phe: Buses leave from Ekkamai Bus Station every hour between 5.00am to 7.00pm. The journey takes just under 4 hours.

At Ban Phe head to Tarua Phe Pier, across the road from the bus station, and buy a ticket for the ferry (around 100 baht). Please note you will also have to pay the national park entrance fee of 200 baht per person.

The ferry takes around 40 minutes to Nadan Pier and once on the island you will be able to take a songthaew to your resort. The last time I went there was a 20 baht charge on arrival at the pier, apparently for the upkeep of the island.

Going Home for Christmas

As you may have gathered, I love my life in Thailand. I consider it my home. I have a job I love, and friends to hang out with now and again, but it’s always great to go back to my hometown of Northampton, in England, to catch up with my beloved family and friends.

And being Christmas makes it extra special. It’s not the same in Thailand, yeah they put up huge Christmas trees and decorations in the mall but it doesn’t have the same feel to it as Christmas at home. For a start, at home, you’ve got the run up to Christmas day when you get to exchange secret Santa presents and drink wine with your girl-friends, and shopping with your mum or dad. Decorating the tree and wrapping presents and not forgetting the obligatory Christmas Eve drinks. It’s all part of the Christmassy spirit. So, even though I like to make out that I am a bit of a humbug, really, I love this time of year, so I was very happy to be going home.

So a few days before Christmas I found myself sitting in a taxi, my bags packed, on the way to the airport with that tell-tale smile on my face that means I am excited to be spending time with my loved ones.

I arrived a few days before Christmas and got into the spirit quick quickly, catching up with friends and chilling with my family. I was just happy to be back surrounded by people who know me the best once more. To make it extra special this year we have three new babies in the family. My beautiful niece, Amayah, and two bouncing nephews, James and Sebastian.

On Christmas Day it was just, me, Mum, Dad, my sister, Denise and my new little niece, Amayah. In the morning we opened presents. And then watched Amayah open hers, with a helping hand from her mum and grandma of course. We had salmon, scrambled eggs and prosecco, which is the norm for Christmas lunch in our house. And, a few hours later, we demolished turkey and all the trimmings for dinner. It was delicious, like all of my mother’s food is. For the rest of the day we all sat watching TV, eating chocolates and drinking wine. It was very special.

Amayah loves her new teddy

Amayah loves her new teddy

The next day, I went for the one and only run of the holiday. It was nice to run in the cold for a change. Normally, I have to contend with 20 degrees plus temperatures, so running in the cold made a pleasant change, and it blew away a few cobwebs. (a.k.a.drinking too much wine!) In the afternoon the rest of my family arrived for the annual Boxing Day party. It was fun, although a bit different what with the new babies. There were no drinking games, or drinking of the dirty pint but there was a delicious buffet, wine (of course) and a lot of laughter. It was time well spent with my family.

New Year’s Eve saw me on the train heading to Newark to spend time with my good friends, Doyle and Mel and their two boys. Doyle picked me up from the station and we had coffee, before arriving at their home to start (and finish) two bottles of wine. Later, we went to their friend’s house for food, games, and, you guessed it, more wine. This time accompanied by a glass of water in between. Shock, horror! First time for everything! It was a great night, and when we got back we sat and chatted for a few more hours before heading to bed. A rather tame night, not like the ones we have had in the past, but I was happy that I got to spend time with them and I didn’t want to be anywhere else for those couple of days.

My best friends, Doyle, Mel, Ellis and Harley

My best friends, Doyle, Mel, Ellis and Harley

Whenever I go home the first few days go slowly as I get used to my surroundings again. And I think to myself “I have ages here.” But once those surroundings become familiar again, and I’ve had a few nights out with my friends, I’m almost on my way home again. The time goes so quickly.

It’s always bittersweet when I see people for the last time. Sweet because I’m spending time with the people that I love but bitter because I’m leaving them once more. But however much I love everyone at home, and I miss them a lot, it’s always nice to come back to the life I’ve made for myself. To get back into the routine of working life and to feel healthy again.

All in all I had a fantastic two weeks. I drank my body weight in wine, ate a lot of delicious food, put on a few pounds, but most of all I spent time with my wonderful family and gorgeous friends. In fact, words cannot describe just how much I loved it. It’s like I have never been away from them. They welcome me back with open arms and we pick up where we left off, just like I saw them yesterday.

So until the next time….

Elephant Parade Bangkok 2015

Organised by Anantara Hotels, Resorts and Spas, the Bangkok Elephant Parade is in town. The elephants have all been hand painted, decorated and donated by artists and celebrities in aid of elephant conservation projects. The art work is both interesting and colorful. Go and check it out if you are in the area. The parade is at Siam Paragon until the 18th December.

Top 10 Alternative Things to do in Bangkok

Since I moved to Bangkok I have taken it upon myself to become acquainted with the city. And it is my mission to explore and find new places. Here are my top 10 alternative things to do in Bangkok.

1. Take a trip on the Chao Phraya River– this has to be my favourite way to travel in Bangkok. Not only will you get a different viewpoint of the city, you will see many sights that exemplify just how diverse Bangkok is. It is also the cheapest and quickest way to get to most destinations.

Click here for more information on things to do near each pier.
How to get there: The best way to get to the river is to take the BTS to Saphan Taksin pier, or if you are staying near Khao San Road the closet pier is Phra Arthit.
Open: Daily 6.00am-7.30pm

The Diversity of Bangkok, as seen from the Chao Phraya Rive

The Diversity of Bangkok, as seen from the Chao Phraya River

2. Bangkok Art and Cultural Centre– For anyone who needs a little culture fix whilst in Bangkok, visit the BACC. It is a huge place full of cafes and coffee shops, book shops and stalls selling crafts and homemade jewellery. There are 9 floors, all exhibiting art in different genres from paintings and drawings to film and theatre. You could easily spend the whole day there if you wanted to. A real must for art lovers.
Click here for what’s on at the BACC.
How to get there: National Stadium BTS, exit 3.
Address: 939 Rama I Road, Wangmai, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330
Open: Tuesday to Sunday 10.00am to 9.00pm

Bangkok Art and Cultural Centre

Bangkok Art and Cultural Centre

3. Visit Wat Po at night-Fed up with hoards of people? Then visit Wat Po at night. There is no-one there, save the odd security guard or monk. The main temple with the reclining Buddha is not open but you are free to wander around the grounds in the shadows of the illuminated temples and statues. It’s something that most people don’t do when they visit Bangkok but they definitely should. It’s a very calming experience.
How to get there: The simplest option is to take a taxi but that can work out expensive due to its location and the traffic. Another option is to take the ferry. The pier for Wat Po is Tha Tien (N8). Once off the ferry it is a 10 minute walk from the pier, or 2 minutes in a tuk-tuk or taxi.
Address: 2 Sanamchai Road, Grand Palace Subdistrict, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200

Wat po at night

Wat Po at night

4. Go to Koh Kret– Koh Kret is a small island in the Chao Phraya River and located in Nonthaburi. It is a bit of a trek to get there but well worth the visit. The best way to see Koh Kret is on foot. There is a pathway that goes all the way round the island and a leisurely walk, through local villages, will take you around 1 ½ to 2 hours. There is also a market to browse and buy local Mon pottery, or countless restaurants to sit and have lunch while you gaze out over the river.

Click here for more information on Koh Kret.
How to get there: Take the once-weekly Chao Phraya Express, which leaves Saphan Taksin every Sunday at 09:00 and visits a number of attractions before returning at 15:30. The cost of the cruise and guided tour is 300 baht (no lunch).
Public bus 166 from Victory Monument, which travels all the way to the market in Pak Kret. From there, you have to walk about 500 metres, or take a taxi, to the ferry pier, located behind Wat Sanam Neua.
The Chao Phraya “green flag” express boat offers a direct service from BTS Saphan Taksin to Pak Kret (pier N33), from 06.15am to 08.00am. Return journey from 3.30pm to 6.00pm with no service on Sundays. The trip costs 20 baht and takes just over an hour.

Koh Kret, Bangkok

Koh Kret, Bangkok

5. Go to Talad Rot Fai Market– Translated as train market, this little gem in Srinakarin will give you more of a local experience than the more touristy places such as MBK and Khao San Road. Jam packed with stalls, selling everything you could think of, bars, actual bars to cocktail cars, and plenty of restaurants and places to eat. It’s also known as a vintage market, so if you want to find anything retro then this is the place. It will provide you with a lively and fun-filled evening.
How to get there: The best way to get there is by taxi but the traffic can get very busy so you should consider getting the BTS to On Nut and then get a taxi from there
Address: Srinakarin Road Soi 51, Nong Bon, Prawet, Bangkok, 10250
Open: Thursday to Sunday 4.00pm-1.00am

Talad Rod Fai, Train Market, Bangkok

Talad Rod Fai, Srinakarin, Bangkok

6. Have dinner and drinks at Hemingway’s– You like Thai food right? But sometimes it’s just nice to eat some food that reminds you of home, right? Hemingway’s is the place to go. A little oasis in the heart of Sukhumvit, the bar is a beautiful old colonial style building with a tree filled garden area and water fountain. They do a delicious range of Western food and an all-day happy hour on certain drinks. It feels like you are a million miles away from the busy Sukhumvit Road.

Click here for their menu.
How to get there: 1 minute from Asok BTS and Sukhumvit MRT
Address: 1 Sukhumvit Soi 14, Sukhumvit Road, Khlong Toei, Bangkok 10110
Open: Monday to Sunday 11.30am-1.00am

Hemingway's, Bangkok

Hemingway’s, Bangkok

7. Take a stroll through Little India– Locally known as Phahurat this is the place to go if you are looking for a bargain. The myriad of stalls and shops sell everything from jewellery to fabrics and costumes. There are tons of places to eat and I particularly recommend The Royal India restaurant, on Chakphet Road. The restaurant has won many awards for their delicious and cheap food. It’s a really nice way to spend an afternoon, wander around the little alleys and see an alternative part of Bangkok.
How to get there: From Hua Lamphong train station take a tuk-tuk or taxi to Chakphet Road. Alternatively, the nearest pier is Yodpiman Pier (N6)

Little India, Bangkok

Little India, Bangkok

8. Hang out on Samsen Road and Phra Arthit Road– There is much to be discovered near to the infamous Khao San Road. Both Samsen Road and Phra Arthit Road are full of cafes, bars and restaurants that are definitely overlooked by their more well-known neighbour. Get an art, movie, and drinks fix at Chomp and Cinema Winehouse on Samsen Road. Or get a more authentic experience on Phra Arthit Road where you can sample some delicious curries with roti bread at Roti Mataba. Drink premium beer at Good Story or rest a while in the shade of a tree while enjoying the river views at Santichaiprakan Park.
How to get there: Take the ferry to Phra Arthit Pier. (N13) Leave the pier and turn left onto Phra Arthit Road. However, if you are staying on Khao San Road, Samsen Road is located at the police station end. Turn right. For Phra Arthit Road walk through Soi Rambuttri until you reach an alleyway which will lead you there.

Chomp, Samsen 1 Alley, 63-65 Samsen Road, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200
Open: Daily 9.00am-11.00pm
Cinema Winehouse, 61 Samsen Road, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200
Open: Wednesday to Monday 5.00pm-12.30am
Roti Mataba, 136 Phra Arthit Road, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200
Open: Tuesday to Sunday 09.00am to 10.00pm
Good Story, 72 Phra Arthit Road, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200
Open: Monday to Sunday 11.00am to 1.00am
Santichaiprakan Park-Phra Arthit Road, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200
Open: Daily 5.00am-10.00pm

Santichaiprakan Park, Phra Arthit Road, Bangkok

Santichaiprakan Park, Phra Arthit Road, Bangkok

9. Have Thai food on the street– As much as I love eating in restaurants and drinking in bars, you can’t quite beat sitting on the pavement, amidst all that chaos that comes from living in a busy city, eating freshly prepared Thai food. It is, by far, the cheapest way to eat and the best way to experience Thai food. The food stalls are everywhere, just look for the places where the locals hang out. If it is busy, be warned that some places sell out very early on in the day, but you can be sure that the food is very popular and very delicious.
How to get there: These places are everywhere but I have a couple of favourites.
Soi Convent for Khao Man Gai (Chicken and rice) 40 baht. Off Silom Road, nr. Sala Daeng BTS
Udomsuk Soi 103 for Somtam (Papaya salad) 35 baht. Sois 18 and/or 19, nr. Udomsuk BTS
On the corner of Atsadang Road and Trok Sake for Pad Krapow Moo (Stir Fry Pork with Holy Basil and rice) 50 baht. Round the corner from The Royal Hotel, Ratchadamnoen Klang Road (Nr. Khao San Road)

Street Food, Bangkok

Street Food, Bangkok

10. Go to Dasa Books– For all those book worms in need of a place to just chill the hell out, Dasa Books on Sukhumvit Road is the perfect place to relax with a coffee or two. They have a wide range of books in store, some of which are on sale for under 50 baht. I dare you not to buy anything.

Click here for their website
How to get there: Take the BTS to Phrom Phong and from there it is a few minutes walk. It is located in between sois 24 and 26.
Address: 4 Sukhumvit Road, Khlong Toei, Bangkok, 10110
Open- Daily 10.00am-8.00pm

 

Dasa Books, Bangkok

Dasa Books, Bangkok

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Sampheng Lane Market

Sampheng Lane, or to be more exact Soi Wanit, is a little alleyway that runs parallel to Yaowarat Road in the heart of Chinatown in Bangkok.

On either side of this narrow lane there are shop fronts and stalls selling all manner of things from fruit and sweets to fabrics and handicraft supplies. It’s the place to go if you are into making things because you can buy products like beads, feathers, buttons and bows at a very cheap price.

There are so many fabrics to choose from as well. A variety of fabulous colours and textures, the displays adding to the vibrant feel of the place. The fabrics are also very cheap, some starting at 70 baht per metre.


There are a few jewellery shops as well- the best one is Coco House. Everything is 100 baht. Not the best quality but some really nice and cheap bracelets and necklaces. If you’re anything like me, you won’t be able to resist a peak insist. The walls are covered top-to-bottom in gold and silver jewellery.

Sampheng Lane is full of people and not for those who get claustrophobic. But if you aren’t in a rush to go anywhere, and you don’t mind squeezing your way along you will find a very colourful, very local and very cheap place to explore.

How to get there:

Soi Wanit is a 15 minute walk from Hua Lamphong Train Station. If you don’t fancy walking, get a tuk-tuk or motorbike from the station.

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