Bangkok, Day 3: Shopping + Food Trip

When I entered MBK, I was overwhelmed by the size. Good thing this was my only shopping stop for that day. I was able to go to an area where there were numerous stalls that sells clothes that are ideal as pasalubong. I also bought a few more tops for myself, all for 300 baht or below.

After shopping for clothes, I went to MONT NOM SOD as recommended by a close friend. I ordered the classic toast with milk and another toast with chocolate. Both were sinfully good, but I prefer the milk one because I find the chocolate to be a bit too sweet.

MARCH 17, 2016

Breakfast for this day was soup with rice mixed in it. Glad that it was not spicy at all and despite the heat outside, the aircon in the sala was turned on so eating soup was not a problem.

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After breakfast, I went back to my room and stayed in the balcony for quite some time. My only plan that day was to shop at MBK so I asked my family what they wanted me to buy for them.

At around 9AM, I left the house and headed to MBK. I just hopped on a BTS train, got off at Siam station, and walked for about 7 minutes. While walking at the overpass going to MBK, a woman approached me and spoke in Thai. Mistaken again as a local?!

When I entered MBK, I was overwhelmed by the size. Good thing this was my only shopping stop for that day. I was able to go to an area where there were numerous stalls that sells clothes that are ideal as pasalubong. I also bought a few more tops for myself, all for 300 baht or below.

After shopping for clothes, I went to MONT NOM SOD as recommended by a close friend. I ordered the classic toast with milk and another toast with chocolate. Both were sinfully good, but I prefer the milk one because I find the chocolate to be a bit too sweet.

Sugar rush!

After finishing both toasts, I explored the rest of the floors of MBK — not only to see if I would buy more items but also to feel hungry again since I wanted to eat at the food court. I ended up eating late lunch. Good thing that my experience in Platinum Fashion Mall made me aware of the payment system in their food court.

Do not worry if you do not know the prices of the food. You can opt to load 300 baht, for example. If in the end, you were not able to consume all 300 baht, then go back to the station where you got the card and hand over your card. The ladies there will give you the cash equivalent of your card’s remaining balance.

I had no idea where to eat so I settled for C17 stall which sold crab meat noodle soup. They mix in real crab meat, not the fake crab sticks so getting a bowl of crab meat noodle soup for less than 100 baht was already a steal.

I went back to Mooncome Homestay afterwards to take a nap before going out again to meet Arm, a friend’s friend. I was excited because I would be able to talk to another local plus we would be going to a place which is not touristy.

I met with Arm at Phaya Thai BTS station and we walked for a few minutes before reaching a certain soi. It was an area popular with Thai locals, especially the Muslim community. The dishes served there consist of Thai dishes but of course, following the halal code. We went to a local restaurant and I ordered the tom yum. But since I learned my lesson about their “very mild” spiciness here, I told Arm that if it was possible to have the soup to be not spicy.

When the tom yum was served, I was quite doubtful if this request was done because the soup had a dark red shade. So I took a spoonful of soup and to my surprise, it was not spicy at all. The picture below made it seem that the serving is just small but in reality, it was really big. I did not get to finish everything, unfortunately.

Tom Yum (but no spiciness at all – Arm helped me with this special request)

After dinner, Arm introduced me to Lily, his good friend. They told me that we were going to a sidewalk store for dessert, and that this place is very popular with locals. When we got there, it was a full house but a table got freed up so we were seated right away. We were literally seated beside the main road but good thing there was not a lot of cars passing by that night.

Arm and Lily recommended the milk tea (forgot the local term for it) and they ordered a few more desserts. Apparently, they got the toast slices with condensed milk, same as the one served in Mont Nom Sod. Theirs was equally delicious. By the time the other food came (naan with egg?), I was already too full to eat.

Thai tea (forgot what this was called T.T)

 

 

We left the place at around 10PM but all the tables were still occupied and there was even a long line of people waiting to be seated. I really had a good time with Arm and Lily, and it was such a great feeling to finally be able to talk to someone for hours. ❤ Something that I missed while on this solo trip. Time flew by quickly when I was with these two so that is a good sign of having fun, yeah? 🙂

Now contemplating to go for CouchSurfing when traveling?

 

LINKS TO OTHER BANGKOK 2016 POSTS:

Bangkok, Day 1: Preps, Lay Lao, Platinum Fashion Mall, The Best of the Boat Noodle, Puritan

Bangkok, Day 2: Grand Palace, 5 Wats, Thip Samai

Bangkok, Day 4-5: Terminal 21, Vertigo Grill & Moon Bar, Rot Fai Market, Mooncome Homestay

Bangkok, Day 2: Temple Run

Upon getting off at Saphan Taksin (Exit No. 2), looking for CHAO PRAYA EXPRESS was easy since there were signs on how to get there. I bought a ticket to Maharaj Pier (No. 9) so that I could reach Grand Palace. Ticket price is 150 baht.

I was lucky enough to score a seat that was away from the shade of the sun but still had a good view of the sights we would see during the ride.

MARCH 16, 2016

I was supposed to start my temple run day at 8AM but the bed was just too comfortable that I ended up having breakfast at 9:30AM. My first breakfast at Mooncome Homestay was spicy fried rice with pork bits and cucumber slices at the side. It was really delicious and quite spicy but still tolerable for me.

Before leaving, I made sure I was wearing appropriate clothes for visiting the temples i.e., no shorts or skimpy skirts, no sleeveless tops. If you forget about this rule, do not fret since there are a lot of stores and vendors near Grand Palace that sells scarves and cover-ups.

Delicious Thai breakfast at Mooncome Homestay

I left the house a few minutes before 10AM and I knew that I would end up regretting not going to the palace at the start of its opening hours. I consulted Google Maps to check how to reach Grand Palace but all suggested directions had a bus involved. Good thing I decided to search and found in the official BTS website that I should get off at Saphan Taksin (change lines from Siam Station).

Upon getting off at Saphan Taksin (Exit No. 2), looking for CHAO PRAYA EXPRESS was easy since there were signs on how to get there. I bought a ticket to Maharaj Pier (No. 9) so that I could reach Grand Palace. Ticket price is 150 baht.

I was lucky enough to score a seat that was away from the shade of the sun but still had a good view of the sights we would see during the ride.

Inside Chao Praya Express boat

When we reached Pier No. 9, I walked quickly since I saw the tourists ahead of me being approached by different locals who were selling tour services. After a few minutes of walking, I already saw the walls surrounding the Grand Palace. I went to the side and after some more walking, I figured out that I was at the wrong side and entrances are usually at the center part.

True enough it was at the center part… and yes, I regretted coming there “late” because the crowd was insanely huge. So having lots of people there plus the unbearable heat of the sun (almost 40C) was a bad start to my day.

Grand Palace
Tourists everywhere inside the Grand Palace grounds

I paid 500 baht for the entrance fee, which also includes access to WAT PHRA KAEW, The Royal Thai Decorations & Coins Pavilion, and Queen Sirikit Museum of Textile. I had no map and no tour guide so I do not know if I visited all of these. I was only sure with Wat Phra Kaew.

Despite the number of people inside GRAND PALACE (wouldn’t be surprised if it was more than 1,000), the structures and intricate details, wall paintings, statues, and worshipping areas were breathtaking and jaw-dropping. Similar to what I did in Angkor Park temples, if an English tour guide was nearby, I would stop and listen to what s/he was telling the tourists to check if I would pick up any interesting historical details.

It took me around 2 hours to check out both Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew. I was forced to buy cold coffee milk to quench my thirst since the stalls I passed by were not selling bottled water anymore (sold out!!!). Towards the end of my visit, there was a cafeteria-like place that had plenty of bottled water so I rushed there to buy one.

It was already past 12PM by the time I made it outside Grand Palace. Hooray for lesser people! I passed by a fish ball noodle store while checking out where to eat. I did not go inside at first since I thought there were other more interesting stores along the area but I was mistaken.

The weather probably made me insane enough to order soup in the middle of the sweltering heat (and apparently it was not even summer!!!). But I did not regret it since it was really delicious and filling enough for just 40 baht.

By the time I finished my lunch, the heat was already a killer outside. I checked how much the tuktuk was offering for a ride to Wat Pho — 100 baht which was very unreasonable because the place was just 10 minutes away if I decided to walk. Since I thought that taxi would be cheaper, I rode one. The driver did not leave the place right away and instead talked to me about road rules. I was already annoyed at that point so I asked him to just drive and turn on the meter. He told me he would charge flat rate of 200 baht instead. I could not hide my annoyance anymore so I left the cab right away and heard him bringing down the price to 150 baht.

In the end, I walked for about 10 minutes and finally saw WAT PHO. It was like seeing an oasis in the middle of the desert. LOL. When I entered, it was a relief to see very few people in Wat Pho. I guess everyone was still having lunch and taking a break from the heat. Entrance fee is 100 baht.

The highlight of this place was the reclining Buddha in gold color. Upon entering the area with the reclining Buddha, there were less than 10 people inside so I was able to peacefully go around and fully admire it.

The place had a lot more to offer aside from the reclining Buddha. I liked looking up every time I enter a building because I could see more details and art even on their ceilings. In fact, all parts of the building had a lot of intricate details carved or painted.

There was also an area where there were a lot of golden Buddha statues which, according to a tour guide, were dedicated to donors and monks who died.

After going around Wat Pho, I walked to Tha Thien pier to ride a boat that would take me to the other side where Wat Arun was. The boat ride was just less than 10 baht.

Prior to my flight to Bangkok, I read in TripAdvisor that WAT ARUN was under restoration so climbing to the topmost area was prohibited. This was supposed to be my last stop for sunset viewing but because of this information, I decided to just go there after Wat Pho. The only downside of visiting here at early afternoon was that I felt the full strength of the sun, especially since there was no any form of shade present there.

I did not let the ongoing restoration stop me from visiting… which turned out to be a good decision because one could still admire the structures, details, and other works of art here. I only saw less than 5 tourists during my visit. Everyone was probably avoiding the heat of the sun since it was around 2PM. Entrance fee is just 50 baht.

Because of the intense heat, I left the place after around 30 minutes to grab some snacks and cold refreshment. I rode the same boat to take me back to Tha Thien pier. Near the pier, there were a lot of street food stores and vendors. I went to the vendors I passed by when I was just about to go to Wat Arun.

They were selling all sorts of street food that can be placed on a stick. I was tempted to buy squid but I was not sure of the freshness so I bought chicken balls and shrimp (which was actually fake — think crab stick) then went to the nearby park to eat.

I checked out how far WAT SUTHAT was from the park and it was about a 20-30 minute walk. I decided to get a cab and the two drivers I met were charging me 200 baht (parang sa Manila lang). The third taxi I hailed charged me 100 baht and at that point, I already agreed since I would not walk that long under the unbearable heat.

A few hundred meters away from the temple, I already saw the GIANT SWING so I knew that the driver was taking me to the correct place. The area was much quieter than the one with Grand Palace and Wat Pho.

Entrance fee to the temple is 20 baht only. There were only 2 tourists and inside the worshipping area were purely locals. I stayed there for almost an hour to pass the time since I had one temple left before going to Thip Samai (opens at 5PM).

My last temple stop was WAT RATCHANATDARAM, which houses LOHA PRASAT. Google Maps was not functioning well around the Wat Suthat area so I had this feeling that I was already lost. I saw Mont Nom Sod in the map, which was recommended to me by a close friend. My original plan was to eat in the MBK branch but since I was nearby, I decided to look for it… which I did not find.

I looked again at the map and decided to make a guess on my route. When I saw a 7/11 store, I decided to go there to buy a cold bottle of water. And before I entered, I was surprised to see a sign that points where Wat Ratchanatdaram was and the distance left. I was happy to know that my guessed route was correct.

Lo and behold, I finally reached Wat Ratchanatdaram after some minutes of walking (also passed by Thip Samai so I had an idea where to go after). Entrance fee here is free. Before entering Loha Prasat, I saw a tourist approaching me with a map and I thought to myself that he probably thinks I am a local. So, I told him that I was a tourist but he probably did not hear that because he asked if the place was Wat Pho. I replied no and pointed in his map where he was. He was surprised that I spoke fluent English, and asked how to get there. Uhm, I am not a local… but I still showed him the route and told him to just take a cab since the temple would be closing for the day soon.

At the ground floor of Loha Prasat, there was an exhibit that shows the history of the place. After going around, there is a staircase near the exit which I decided to climb. Each floor actually represents a state of Nirvana, and has instructions on how to meditate or walk around the floor. It was difficult to get in the zone though since the place was under construction.

I did not know what was at the topmost floor so I was surprised that it led to the rooftop. I was seeing face-to-face with the spires of Loha Prasat. I also had a good view of the city and it was just breathtaking. There were only 2 locals around so it was quiet at the rooftop. At one side, there is a small flight of stairs that leads to a Buddha relic which has a prayer, written in both Thai and English language.

While it does not attract a huge number of visitors, Wat Ratchanatdaram + Loha Prasat are now part of my favorite temples because of the serene atmosphere. I bet the different floors would look even better once the construction/restoration is done.

After Wat Ratchanatdaram, I walked to THIP SAMAI and saw a crowd outside. I was puzzled with this because it was just 5PM and supposedly people would start coming at 6PM onwards. It turned out that the place was just about to open so when I reached the entrance, the staff motioned to us that we could already enter.

Thip Samai is dubbed as the restaurant that offers the best pad thai in Bangkok… Not sure if this is true though since some locals I talked to told me the pad thai tastes good but not necessarily the best out there.

I ordered Superb Pad Thai since this one has pieces of shrimp. My only worry was that the serving was big but I was able to finish everything. Probably famished from all the walking I did after lunch. My verdict? The pad thai was really delicious but I am not sure if this was the best since I had no other point of comparison in BKK anyway.

After eating, I took a cab outside the restaurant so that I could go to a BTS station. It was a relief that the driver did not charge me flat rate!

BTS station
Aree neighborhood, walking back home after leaving Sanam Pao station
Free snacks in Mooncome Homestay

When I got back home, I grabbed some free snacks and took these to my room just in case I would get hungry. Called it off a night quite early so that I could have a looooong sleep.

 

 

 

LINKS TO OTHER BANGKOK 2016 POSTS:

Bangkok, Day 1: Preps, Lay Lao, Platinum Fashion Mall, The Best of the Boat Noodle, Puritan

Bangkok, Day 3: MBK, Mont Nom Sod, Food Trip

Bangkok, Day 4-5: Terminal 21, Vertigo Grill & Moon Bar, Rot Fai Market, Mooncome Homestay

Bangkok, Day 1: Arrival + Exploring the City

I took a rest for about an hour before heading to one of the famous restaurants in Aree neighborhood — LAY LAO.

I decided to order slices of roast beef and som tam (green papaya salad) instead. I asked the staff to make the spiciness of som tam to be very mild… but it was still too spicy for me to handle!

MARCH 15, 2016

I booked my flight to Bangkok through Cebu Pacific (seat sale yay) and I was very happy that I did not experience any delay. In fact, we arrived 20-30 minutes earlier than ETA! This was my first solo trip so I was really excited to see what this trip had in store for me.

Before I left the airport, I looked for the DTAC station to get the tourist prepaid SIM card I paid for online (https://www.dtac.co.th/en/prepaid/products/tourist-packages.html). You may opt to buy it in the airport if you do not want to pay online. For just 229 baht, I already have a SIM with free data volume for one week. Very convenient for my Google Maps and Facebook Messenger access.

My sister shared with me how she went to her lodging using the airport taxi so I already had some idea how to book one. The signs inside the airport were easy to follow so upon seeing the taxi bay, proceed first at the machine where it will give you a small paper with the number of the taxi you should proceed to.

My Airbnb host provided her home address in Thai language so I just showed it to the taxi driver. Lucky that the driver was knowledgeable since he did not have any difficulty in finding the house (which is located at the end of a narrow alleyway).

I already experienced heavy traffic jam while on the way to the Airbnb listing. It was also quite disorienting for me because vehicles in BKK are for right-hand driving — caused me confusion when crossing streets because I would instinctively look to one side when in fact, it should be the opposite.

Upon reaching the house, I was greeted by Katy & Benz — they are the hosts for the listing I booked for my BKK stay (they are also a couple *-*). Even from outside, the house already looked amazing! I was excited to see “my” room since the pictures of the room in Airbnb (https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/4771693) looked really clean, beautiful, and maaliwalas… and when I finally saw the room, it did not disappoint!

Why should you stay with Katy & Benz if you are in Bangkok?

  • I absolutely love the bedroom — the soft and comfortable bed, the balcony with beautiful plants, the smooth wooden floor, and the room having cool temperature even if it was insanely hot outside. While the bathroom is a shared one, it is very clean and you can use any of the toiletries inside (shampoo, conditioner, body wash, toothpaste, facial wash, etc.).
  • BTS station is nearby. I prefer to go to Sanam Pao station since this is nearer than Aree. If I remember correctly, when going home, take Exit 3 to go back to Mooncome Homestay.
  • The area is indeed quiet especially at night so you are assured of a good night’s sleep.
  • They serve free breakfast! No need to stress yourself where to get your breakfast. You get to taste local dishes + the food they serve is delicious.
  • Their neighborhood, Aree, is dubbed as a hipster place. You can find coffee shops, dessert places, hole-in-the wall restos, food trucks, and street food stalls thay serve delicious food & drinks.

Google Maps will not provide an accurate location if you rely on the specific address in their Airbnb page. Just type in “MOONCOME HOMESTAY” and you will be able to easily navigate yourself back home.

Back to my first day — I took a rest for about an hour before heading to one of the famous restaurants in Aree neighborhood — LAY LAO. Google Maps saved me the hassle of getting lost since it was accurate in providing the location.

I was supposed to get their grilled squid but the serving size is too much for me. I decided to order slices of roast beef and som tam (green papaya salad) instead. I asked the staff to make the spiciness of som tam to be very mild… Apparently, very mild is still too spicy for me to handle! Total bill was 180 baht.

Roast beef slices (Lay Lao)
Som tam (Lay Lao)

After having lunch in Lay Lao, I searched for a money changer in Bangkok and a lot of tourists recommended Super Rich (http://www.superrichthailand.com/). There are two Super Rich money changers in BKK, and look for the one with green theme because they have better rates. After changing my USD to baht, I headed to Platinum Fashion Mall which was just a few blocks away.

Dubbed as the largest wholesale and retail shopping destination, PLATINUM FASHION MALL is really tiring to roam around. There are three whole floors dedicated to just women’s clothes! Other floors are for men’s clothes, kids’ clothes, accessories, etc. Shopping heaven for the shopaholics indeed!

It took me about 2 hours to just finish going around 3 floors (including window shopping and actual buying). Whew! But I was happy with my purchases since all the clothes I bought were about 200-300 baht each only. Yay! I had no interest in the other floors so I went straight to the topmost floor to eat in their food court. I read that hoy tod (fried oyster cake) is one of the must-try dishes there. I forgot the stall number/name where I bought it but I found it in some blog entries so maybe it would be easy to search online?

I was not aware though that I had to get a card and pay for it to put load or credit, then use it to pay for anything that I will buy in the food court. Good thing there was a customer in the same stall  who knows how to speak in English so she was able to instruct me properly. Life saver!

The hoy tod was really delicious but the serving was good for two so I was not able to finish it. There was a generous amount of oysters, and I had the option to calibrate the sauce and other condiments I would put in it. I think this was just about 70-80 baht only.

Hoy tod

After eating, I was supposed to take the BTS to go to Victory Monument but I was not sure on the exact location of the area with boat noodles stores. I took a cab instead and the fare was less than 100 baht so it was not a bad decision after all. Also, locals do not call the place “Victory Monument” so I showed the driver the name of the place written in Thai.

I had no idea which store serves good-tasting boat noodles so I searched for recommendations online. FoodieFC recommended “THE BEST OF BOAT NOODLE” since there were more customers eating there when he visited.

The serving of boat noodles is really small, probably not even enough for a kid so people usually order at least 5 bowls to feel a bit full. But since I was still full from the hoy tod, I ordered just 2 bowls of “Noodles Thicken Soup with Beef“. It tasted good but I eventually found a better-tasting boat noodles in Rot Fai.

I was quite annoyed with the staff though because they served a plate of crispy pork crackling (similar to chicharon) which I initially thought to be free of charge. Apparently, it costs 10 baht so this was charged to me when I asked for my bill.

Noodles Thicken Soup with Beef
Added the crispy pork crackling without knowing that it was not for free 😦

After paying for my bill, I strolled around the area and there were lots of vendors selling all sorts of food. I ended up buying a cup of strawberries as a palate cleanser but I was not able to eat most of it since the vendor scooped a mixture of sugar and salt on it.

More street food stalls in Victory Monument area

Stall with plentiful of strawberries

While looking for a trash can to dispose my cup of weird-tasting strawberries, two young locals who were wearing Greenpeace shirts approached me and they started speaking in Thai. I smiled at them and told them that I do not understand Thai language. We bid goodbye to each other and I went home around 5PM to rest and think about where to eat for dinner.

Worst decision ever to had that white substance sprinkled all over the strawberries — turns out to be mix of salt and sugar 😦
Victory Monument

Victory Monument BTS station

Upon reaching home, I still felt really full so I decided not to eat heavy dinner and just have dessert in PURITAN. From Mooncome Homestay, I walked for about 20 minutes to reach the place.

When I arrived, there was no customer around so the place was very quiet. All of the cakes looked visually appetizing, to the point that you would not want to eat the cake because it will ruin the look. In the end, I chose the cake with different kinds of berries.

I walked to the dining area and when I was about to sit down, an employee approached me and asked if I did not read the sign outside. I looked puzzled and she pointed to my shoes. Apparently, I had to take them off outside the shop so I hurriedly removed them. When I saw the sign, I was not surprised that I did not know about this rule because there was no English translation. LOL.

Cake with different kinds of berries, yay!

After finishing my dessert, I decided to take a tuktuk if one would pass by so that I could go home faster. Indeed, a tuktuk passed by when I just started walking. I showed the address in Thai and at first, we were heading at the right direction when the driver made a different turn. I was confused because we were getting further away from the house. I was right that he brought me to the wrong location (yay for having sense of direction) so I called Katy so that she could give the right directions. When we finally arrived, I paid the driver 50 baht but he told me it should be 80 baht. Wow, talk about expensive. That would already equate to taxi fare but since I was not in the mood to quarrel, I just gave it to him and vowed not to ride tuktuk there again.

I had no problem in sleeping since I was dead tired already plus the next day would be visiting a lot of temples.

 

LINKS TO OTHER BANGKOK 2016 POSTS:

Bangkok, Day 2: Grand Palace, 5 Wats, Thip Samai

Bangkok, Day 3: MBK, Mont Nom Sod, Food Trip

Bangkok, Day 4-5: Terminal 21, Vertigo Grill & Moon Bar, Rot Fai Market, Mooncome Homestay