We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant then walked to Surasak BTS station to take the Sky Train to the National Stadium from where it was only a short walk to Jim Thompson House – our first place to visit. Jim Thompson was an American entrepreneur and soldier who founded the world renowned Thai silk company, his house consists of 6 traditional teak Thai houses which were constructed in 1959. Jim disappeared whilst on a holiday in 1969 and little has changed in his house which is now a museum. We took a 30 minute guided tour of the house and gardens, (150 Baht admission), tours taking place in several languages.
There were only 8 people on our tour and our guide, dressed in local costume was very informative introducing us to the fine silks, ceramics and furnishings of this beautiful home. Photography is not allowed inside the house so I’m unable to show you how exquisite it is. At the end of the tour we were able to wander around the garden as we pleased and we enjoyed drinks on the terrace of the idyllic garden restaurant.
Moving on, we returned to the BTS station taking the sky train one stop to Siam. Siam Center Mall is integrated within the station so we glanced around the shops there before crossing the road to visit the upscale Paragon Mall which is glitzy and full of designer stores. On the lower ground floor there is a large food hall with deli counters and cafes. We ate some cinnamon buns from Cinnabon which tasted delicious (almost as good as the ones we buy in Finland) and watched as they were being freshly made. A little more window shopping then it was time for our first ride on Bangkok’s MRT to Hua Lamphong, a short distance from Chinatown. Crossing Bangkok’s busy roads is a nightmare, there are very few electronic pedestrian crossings and if you step on a crossing don’t expect traffic to stop as the motorists completely disregard the crossings leaving us with cars passing in front and behind – somehow we survived the experience but do take care if you plan to visit Bangkok as it can be a bit scary!
The ornamental ceremonial gate at the entrance to Chinatown is similar to those found in cities across the world but this one is strangely positioned in the middle of a traffic island.
One of the places we wanted to see in Chinatown was Wat Traimit, home of the largest gold Buddha. The temple’s exterior is gilded and very ornate, it’s free to visit the Buddha here and an entrance payment is only required for the museum.
We continued through Chinatown which was bustling with activity with street hawkers selling their wares, shops spilling out onto the pavement, traffic jams and an intoxicating aroma of spices, cooking and petrol fumes rolled into one. Leading off Yaowarat Road is Sampeng Lane, a long narrow street housing a myriad of stalls under brightly coloured sunshades selling anything and everything, cluttered together with barely enough room to pass.
We visited Wat Mangkon Kamalawat temple nestled in the heart of Chinatown. This Buddhist temple contains Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian shrines and it was interesting to observe worshippers waving their incense sticks. We then headed back to the Chao Phraya river at the Ratchawong Pier to catch a ferry boat back to Oriental.
Returning to the hotel, our calf muscles ached after walking more than ten miles in the blistering heat, we passed many massage parlours offering inexpensive foot massages, the thought of which was appealing but we didn’t have too much time. After a short rest in our hotel room and a bite to eat from room service, we relaxed around the pool for a couple of hours. This was blissful, the pool being surrounded by high rise buildings providing plenty of shade so it was very pleasant to relax our aching muscles on the comfortable sun beds.
Our evening excursion was to the Patpong Night Market which was bustling with activity when we arrived at 7.30 pm. After wandering the stalls we decided to eat indoors as it was cooler. We ordered Thai green curry and were asked if we wanted it spicy or non spicy. We opted for the latter which was a good plan as it definitely was spicy and we couldn’t have managed it any stronger! Returning to the hotel we gathered our belongings together in readiness for our departure the next day after a fun filled stop over in Bangkok.
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