Saturday, 8 January 2011

Traipsing around Thailand

In front of Ayuthayya, the ancient city

The Background
I was in Bangkok a few moths ago for a 4 days working trip. Then I'd extended another 3 days to traipse around Bangkok. I'd been to Bangkok in 2007, but only briefly as I had to go to Pattaya for work. Last time I was in Bangkok, I'd only spent a few hours where I saw the traffic jams and went shopping at MBK.

The Situation

Only on our last day in Bangkok, and on the way to the airport ,that we heard about the red shirt's demonstration in Victoria Monument. Other than that, it was business as usual in Bangkok.

The Plan
So when I was given the chance to go to Bangkok, I'd included some must see sights. The trip was quite interesting because I was joined by my mum and aunty, which I'd not had the chance to travel with both of them before. I like the company because I'm not the type of traveler who can wander on their own to unknown places, especially being a woman and concerned of my safety when travelling. So I'd happily settled into the role of travel planner, researching on places to visit.  Since we're not really interested to see the Buddhist temple or Wat, I'd narrowed down the choices to more historical places such as the Death Railway in Kancahanaburi, Ayutthaya, and for culture experience - the Siam Niramit show and floating market.

Budhha head in a tree at Ayuthayya
We'd decided to travel one whole day to cover the sites. I'd rented a driver & car (standard issue: Toyota Vios) for the day (8am-8pm) for Baht1700, and had to fill in full tank of petrol which was about Baht1130.

The Destination 
We headed down West of Bangkok to Kanchanaburi, which took about two and a half hours to reach. We visited the War Cemetery which was just by the side of the road. There were more than 6000 POW that perished during the Thailand-Burma Death Railway project.
Entrance to Kachanaburi War Memorial

"Happy memories, Ray Dear. Au revoir. Till we meet again. Mamma, Dad, Ken & Elsie"

In front of the Death Railway Museum & Research Centre, a good source of info for this history. Though I think they could've included more information on Malaya, as the train that carried the POW from Singapore to Thailand went thru Malaya. Even the number of civillians from Malaya who were taken as slaves (75,000 pax) and those who perished (42,000 pax) during the railway project was not mentioned extensively, which I think should be given more credit to it. Everybody suffered during the was and I'm sure that the Malaya people suffered as much as other nationalities. After we saw the memorial we went over to see the Bridge over River Kwae, more stories and pics by kerabu jantung .

The commercial floating market in Ayuthayya

Awesome temple of dragon, shown by our driver. Can't remember the exact location of the temple but this was from Kachanaburi going towards Ayuthayya 

The Conclusion
The day ended with us watching the Siam Niramit show. The show is a must see for first timers in Bangkok. The staging and storytelling is engaging.

Highlight of the trip 
1. eating noodle soup at a Muslim stall in Kachanaburi. Made me feel like I was part of the community , enjoying a typical Thailand street cuisine. 
2. Went for massage which cost 400 baht for two hours in a dingy back alley of Bangkok. Heavenly! In  KL a one hour Thai massage would cost about RM40 (Arokaya House at The Mall).
3. Experiencing the BTS system. More extensive than our LRT system and conveniently located throughout the city. I stayed at Asia Hotel Bangkok and the BTS was connected to the hotel. Talk about convenient!

4. Going to Chatuchak market, though it was very hot. Advisable to go at night as they open to wee hours of the morning.

5. Discovering the Arab street in Bangkok and arguably the best briyani and lamb chop in Bangkok.  
6. Watching the Siam Niramit show.

I wish I had...
1. Visit the original floating market Damnoen Saduak, situated in Ratchaburi, on the way to Kachanaburi. We  only managed to see a commercialised floating market for tourists in Ayuthayya. Oh well...I was influenced by second hand info about the actual floating market was not really that much to look at, plus it is smelly. Next time I must see it for myself and not just depend on second hand info. Seeing is believing as people say.
2. Purchasing the cute charm bracelet with dangling, multi-coloured semi precious stones in silver setting that was sold at the gold market in Kachanaburi. It turns out that the price was much cheaper than Bangkok, and they have a wide variety of precious and semi precious stones set in silver or gold. 

The End

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