Apart from all other attractions that Bangkok is famous for, there is one particular thing that a lot of Indians swear by. And that’s shopping in this city. It is said that shopping in this city is very cheap and you get loads of amazing stuff. Well, my views differ slightly.
Shopping in Bangkok is relatively cheap (not “very” and the current exchange rate is not helping) for certain stuff such as T-shirts, bags, casual clothes, accessories, TVs etc but if you want to buy the branded stuff, then it is pretty much the same as in India. Though there are benefits – like shopping for brands that are not available in India or their local designers, etc. We shopped quite a bit here and I have listed below my recommendations on this topic –
- Platinum Mall – This is one of the best places to shop for bargain stuff in Bangkok. This is one huge mall with 3 zones and a couple of floors filled with clothes, shoes, bags, accessories, etc etc. This is more of a wholesale market and the way to shop is – there is a certain price for buying 1 item and there is a discount if you buy 3 items of the same kind.
- Good Things – Good stuff at good bargains. We bought shoes, accessories, clothes etc which were good quality and at a good bargain.
- Not So Good Things – This is a huge place and very crowded and chaotic. You have to hunt through a lot of stuff to get what you like.
- How to reach here – Take a BTS Skytrain to Chidlom station and then it is a 15 – 20 minute walk.
Platinum Mall. Photo courtesy -mithunonthe.net
Whenever I travel to any new place, I always like to do a few hidden / not as known things / or things that you normally don’t associate with that place. So in Bangkok, apart from all the shopping and temples, a trip to the Khao San road and other touristy stuff we went for a flying fox eco adventure atop the rainforest.
Now the story of how we found out about this place is also very interesting. A friend of ours had researched quite a bit for her trip to Bangkok but for some reason had not been able to make it. So she had forgotten a lot of details but asked us to do the walk in the trees in Bangkok. I hunted all over the internet but was just not able to find any reference to any walk on the trees. Then by sheer luck / chance I was chatting just with a colleague who had just returned from Bangkok and happened to mention this and he told me that it’s called the “Flight of the Gibbon” and its super fun.
The Flight of the Gibbon, Bangkok
Ice cream is my major weakness and I just can’t resist it whenever I travel. There is just some kind of an in built mechanism in me that just has to try coffee and ice creams in all new places that I travel to. So when we were going to Bangkok, my friend who had recently returned from there asked us to try the Swensen’s ice cream.
Swensen’s is actually an American ice cream chain that started in Thailand about 24 years ago and this has been a major success here.
Swensen Ice Cream Parlor. Photo courtesy -http://youdefineyou.blogspot.in/2012/10/hello-thailand-2-swensens-ice-cream.html
Travel has numerous advantages but a really big one is that it’s the most fun way to study and remember the history and culture of new places. The amount that I have learnt on this during my travels in the last 1 year is far more than what I have ever read till date. So in my endeavor to share these stories on different cultures and practices, this is one small piece on Spirit Houses in South East Asia.
During our trip to Thailand and Cambodia this year, we kept coming across numerous small / miniature houses or temples built in traditional Thai style and kept prominently outside all commercial and residential establishments i.e. houses, hotels, discs, offices, markets, shops – basically everywhere. At first we didn’t understand what they were and what was the purpose was it a temple for worship? a bird house? a piece of decoration? the possibilities were endless. But then in Cambodia we asked someone and they told us that these are Spirit Houses. Well, of all possible answers, this had never struck us.
Spirit Houses, Bangkok
Anyone who is following my blog since a while, will now know that I keep hunting for vegetarian / vegan food wherever and whenever I travel. So when we were planning to visit Bangkok, some friends recommended the May Kaidee’s place to us as a must visit.
Initially we were quite skeptical because vegetarian food in Thailand is quite tricky (in some places that we visited they said that fish and shrimp paste is also vegetarian) but for some reason we decided to go and give this a try. And I am so glad we did.
May Kaidee’s is an institution in itself where vegan Thai food is concerned in Thailand and May’s story is a complete Cinderella story. This place was set up 20 years ago by May (pronounced as Mai), an extremely poor young girl who loved food but couldn’t follow her dream due to the family circumstances. But after getting an opportunity to move to Bangkok to help her aunt cook in her vegetarian restaurant, May began to create her own tasty traditional Thai dishes that substituted meat with vegetables. And this was a huge success. Today the food at May Kaidee is some of the best vegetarian Thai food you’ll ever find in Bangkok.
For our trip to Cambodia, we had to transit through Bangkok, Hence we decided to include Bangkok in our travel itinerary and spend a few days exploring this bustling metropolis. While planning for this trip, I read and heard numerous contrasting stories about this city – people either really liked it or really hated it. It seemed like there were only extremes and no in-between views for anyone. So I was quite keen to experience this city for myself and draw my own conclusions.
Anyways, my take after the visit – I did not like Bangkok and for some reason this city just didn’t agree with me, or grow on me or give me any reason to change my views. We did have a nice time shopping, saw some good things, did some fun stuff, basically everything was good but it was because of the company that I had and not the city, which was a huge disappointment.
Bangkok taught me that any place (no matter how dull or bad) can be fun if you meet the right people and a visit to a good place can turn really bad of you meet all the wrong people. I guess that’s what went wrong for us in Bangkok.
Whenever you think that you seen a lot of a “particular” something and another one of those similar things cannot be any different from what you already have, then its time for you to pack your bags and “travel”. During my trip to Cambodia,I saw numerous Buddha temples – of all kinds, designs, sizes, patterns, carvings etc etc and thought that what more will there be to see in another Buddha temple in Bangkok. Well, I was in for a major surprise with Wat Pho. This temple couldn’t have been more different from all the other temples that I had seen earlier or for that matter, till date.
Wat Pho is the largest and the oldest Wat i.e. temple in Bangkok with the longest Reclining Buddha, many smaller temples with numerous Buddha idols and images, 152 bas-reliefs, a university and a Thai school for massage and medicine – all within a single complex. The ticket price to enter the complex is 100 THB and you should budget to spend about half a day here, since there is so much to see, photograph and to relax (with a massage).