Siam Niramit – a feast for the eyes

Siam Niramit – a feast for the eyes

Bangkok Post review described the cultural show Siam Niramit as a feast for the eyes. I totally agree. Siam Niramit is a fantastic cultural performance which has achieved international standard. It’s world class. We paid around 1800 baht per person for a buffet dinner and a standard seat, that’s just around 300 crowns, and it was worth it! The food may not be so fabulous, but it was good enough, and there was plenty enough to choose from. There was also a cultural heritage village, where we walked around, checking out the traditional houses representing different regions, checking out handicraft and tasting thai snacks. We rode an elephant, and paid around 100 baht person. We also fed the elephant – I couldn’t remember though for how much.   My five-year old kid’s  unforgettable memory about riding the elephant was when it refused to walk – because it had to poop! Oh big chunks of scat fell and it smelled, too. My kid loved it! We rode a boat in the man-made “village lake” for a fee of around 40 baht. Best to have cash when visiting here. We met Thais in special costumes. We even tried costumes ourselves! Once again, we had to pay a little sum of money. My five year-old kid loved the cultural village. The grand finale was the show inside the luxuriously huge theatre which could seat for 2000 people. There were 150 performers and the stage was big enough to have a pond where actors could paddle around. The hotel arranged for a van that could pick my family from the hotel to Siam Niramit and back....
Vimanmek Palace, entirely of teak

Vimanmek Palace, entirely of teak

Besides the popular Grand Palace, Bangkok has also Dusit Palace, which is also worth visiting. Dusit Palace is a complex with 13 royal residences, one of which is the primary residence of the king. Tourists are allowed to walk in some areas in this palace, but inappropriate clothes are forbidden. Sleeved shirts (even short sleeves) are ok. Trousers or pants for men are ok, but not for women. Women should have long skirts or dresses. I had pants that day, but a solution to the problem was a purchase of rainbow-colored (alternatively floral) sarong. There was a store selling sarong near the entry. No cameras and phones were allowed, so we left them in lockers. In this palace compound, my purpose was to see the 72-room Vimanmek Palace, built in 1900 and entirely of teak, oh beautiful teak (these trees are now endangered in the Philippines and Burma.) Thanks to Queen Sirikit, this palace is now a museum since 1982. It is is the world’s largest golden teakwood mansion. Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall is within the compound. It is a former reception hall, which is now a museum. Unfortunately, my companions were too tired and exhausted by the heat so we all decided to walk back to the hotel. I was pretty tired myself. It was so hot I had to cover my skin with the...
Glittering Grand Palace and the stench in a sacred temple

Glittering Grand Palace and the stench in a sacred temple

The Grand Palace in Bangkok is one of the most popular tourist attractions of the city. Knowing that people would flock it and we were towing our five-year old daughter, we went to the palace right before it opened – and even then the queue was long! But we got in after thirty minutes of waiting. We were prepared with water – thank goodness because it was so hot in Bangkok! The Grand Palace is a huge complex of buildings, we decided to follow the path leading us towards the glittering golden spires of the most sacred Buddhist temple in Thailand, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. It was not so easy to get in, since there were many people flocking it. So we decided to wait in the courtyard where there were traditional thai pavilions. We walked around, checking out the architecture. I remembered the musical “The King and I” with Yule Brynner because here was the location of the real-life Siam kingdom that was the setting of that film. The musical was based on a novel, which in turn was derived from a memoir of a governess to the children of the Siam king Mongkut. Oh I could imagine hearing the Siam king’s children learning English within the walls of the palace. When it seemed that people stopped gushing in the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, then we went for it. As in the other temples in Bangkok, we also had to remove our shoes. As we entered we saw the many praying shoeless men. I felt the stench of high concentration odor of smelly, sweaty feet. It gave me...
Jim Thompson house, an oasis

Jim Thompson house, an oasis

It’s hot in Bangkok! And a visit to the museum Jim Thompson house felt like a relief from the hustle and bustle and the heat of the city. It’s a nice old house that displays southeast asian artwork and thai silk. Jim Thompson was an american soldier turned businessman who revitalized the Thai silk industry. His thai silk fabrics were  used in the film The King and I with Yul Brynner. Jim Thompson mysteriously disappeared though. He was never found. But his company remains. Back to the house: it was worth touring it. The guide told us the story of Jim Thompson and how he decorated his home. Alas, cameras are not allowed inside the house. But my five-year old girl loved running around the garden. It’s very leafy and protected us from the sun. I bought a kid’s book about the place and an eyeglasses case. I saw a tight-fitting colored sweater that cost 5000 pesos, but I controled my buying impulse. Now months later, I feel like I should have bought it. Never have I seen the likes and quality of it at the same price. In Europe, such cost much more....
Climbing up Wat Arun

Climbing up Wat Arun

We had to take a boat and cross Chao Phraya River to get to the buddhist temple Wat Arun, or temple of dawn. It is the best known landmark of the city. I was in Bangkok for the first time in 1992 and saw this then. So now 22 years later, it was nice to see it again. This time though, I didn’t climb all the way up the temple. The oldest among us, 64-year old grandpa, was the one who managed it with no problem at all! In the surrounding areas and boat stations, there were many shops selling bags, fans, traditional clothes and other handicraft. The shops by Wat Arun were cheaper than the ones near the boat...
Wat Pho, the birthplace of Thai massage

Wat Pho, the birthplace of Thai massage

“Wat Pho is closed because it is the king’s birthday”, said “tour guides” standing in the street. They offered an alternative destination. I am glad hubby said no. It turned out they were duping us into taking alternative destinations – a visit to handicraft shops. But Wat Pho was actually open! Nasty. Anyway, we walked all the way to Wat Pho, to avoid conniving “tour guides”. It was a warm day, not so easy for my five-year old! We carried her now and then on our backs. Carro, 64-year old and might grandpa and hubby took turns. I was too exhausted to help. But we forgot our tiredness when we finally saw the buddhist temple Wat Pho, the birthplace of traditional thai massage, the house of the giant reclining buddha and thousand other buddhas showing yoga...
Shopping and eating in Bangkok

Shopping and eating in Bangkok

Bangkok is one of the world’s top tourist destination citites. Here are the places where we dined and shopped: Siam Center in Bangkok is huge, with restaurants, shopping and Siam Ocean World, which is one of the largest aquariums in Southeast asia.Siam Center is one of the first shopping malls in Bangkok, built in 1973. It underwent renovation through the years, ergo the modern look. We were here for almost a day, starting with breakfast and checking some shops and then the ocean park which took almost the whole afternoon. Streetfood! But we remembered to buy food that was being grilled or cooked on the spot. And the fruits were cheap and good. MBK Center. Prices here were even cheaper. And I had never seen so many fake Michael Kors bags in all my life! They looked very authentic, too! I didn’t buy though. I don’t like buying fake. Blue Elephant Restaurant: our hotel Mode Sathorn Hotel happened to be located right across Blue Elephant Restaurant, so we dropped by. It was worth it! The thai cuisine was authentic, delicious, the atmosphere is nice and yes, the experience was expensive. I should’ve been nicely dressed when I was here. Not that it was required, but since the place was nice and the other guests were nicely-dressed, I should’ve been more fashionable when I was here – just for the kick of fitting in. Terminal 21: I love this shopping mall! Every level has a theme and even the toilets in every level are worth seeing! Jim Thompson House for quality thai silk. Read this...
Chic Mode Sathorn Hotel

Chic Mode Sathorn Hotel

I loved Mode Sathorn Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand. Modern, good service, chic. Worthy of me! I liked the atmosphere already as we entered. We didn’t have thai baht when we came, so when we got into the room I told the bellboy: “Sorry, we don’t have cash yet so we can’t tip you yet.” And he said it was no problem. The look on his face was genuine. Then he showed us around, where things are in our room, etcetera. Not that it was difficult to find our way in the room, but there were several lights, and dimmed ones, too. He problably just wanted to show us the tricks on which switch could turn which lamp. Even the bathroom has dimmers. Our room was colorfully nice with a view of the city’s skysrapers. The bathroom was huge with a modern bathtub by the huge window. There were different restaurants, luxurious with good food and great service. I especially loved the swimming area – where I was offered a yellow watermelon! It was the first time I’ve ever seen that, I see mostly green. There weren’t so many customers, though. The bar was empty when we came and left. I would’ve liked a livelier mood in the bar. The hotel is near Blue Elephant Restaurant, which offers royal thai cuisine. The hotel is located in a business district....
Warm and helpful people

Warm and helpful people

Today I remember the Thais, Vietnamese and Cambodians. Let me tell you the good things I’ve experienced with them: 1. Thais are very loving towards kids. Whenever we took the train, somebody would always offer their seat for my five-year old daughter. At restaurants and boutiques, they were always playful with my daughter. The hotel staff hardly expected tip, although of course we gave them some, as appreciation of their hospitality. 2. In Vietnam I appreciate the taxi drivers. I think they are the most honest taxi drivers in the world. They never tried to jack up the price, but always used the taxi meter. Our hotel staff was also very helpful, doing their best to assist us. 3. In Cambodia, I would always remember the hotel manager who helped us when my daughter fell ill, and offered us free juice drinks, although we already checked out several hours earlier. Then the whole staff bid us warmly goodbye. Thoughts of kind people make me feel...