I travelled to Bangkok in mid-December for my best friend's big brother's wedding. (Mouthful, I know, #BestmansBestFriends) It also became an excellent excuse for our crew to have a mini reunion sans Mims, because #adulting meant she had the shortest possible holiday. I arrived a day early to give myself time to explore before the madness of the festivities took over. Denise, the ringleader for trips, booked us all at a serviced apartment. Bangkok being synonymous with traffic, I spent what felt like an eternity in the taxi. It took approximately 45 minutes to get to Anantara from the airport. The taxi van cost ฿550, including the airport 'fee'. While trying to check in, I realised I forgot to request for an early check-in, so the room wasn't ready. Letting "hangry-ness" take over I went straight for the easiest, “coolest” option. East 100° serves Asian and Western cuisine. Naturally, I was craving Khao Pad Gai (ข้าวผัด) aka fried rice with chicken. Nick ordered four mini burgers – consisting of pork, chicken, beef and fish. The dishes were decent portions and good value for money. I also ordered a classic Mojito which was quite tasty and refreshing. Two drinks and two mains amounted to ฿1200, roughly NZD$48. Not bad by our standards. In comparison to the prices of the street food we had later, ฿1200 was substantial.
We headed back to reception to pick up our room keys. The room was ready at 1 pm on the dot! After settling in, I decided to go and pamper myself. My good friend from BKK recommended Panipa salon to get my nails done. It was about a 10-minute walk from the hotel. It was slightly hard to find as Google Maps couldn’t pinpoint the location correctly. Once you get to the golden statue in front of a shiny brown building (I couldn’t see the name of the building), look up for a pink Panipa sign. Then walk down the street adjacent to the sign, you’ll see a set of stores. I liked that it was tucked away on a side street. It wasn’t too busy when I arrived. They accommodated me right away. I had a mani-pedi done with a 30-minute neck/shoulder massage. The staff can speak and understand enough English, no worries if you don’t speak Thai. It was approximately ฿600 for everything. Bargain!
I headed back to the hotel to get ready for dinner with Rameet, Laurenz, his Dad and Nick. Rameet (BKK local, awesome chica I met yonks ago when she came to HK to play football against us), took us to Mother May I. It is a beautiful, quaint restaurant that serves authentic Thai food. I didn’t feel like I was in the middle of Bangkok. Side note: I always attract mosquitos even with repellent on, so if you’re like me cover up or sit inside. Other than that, the food was homely and delicious. We even ordered the durian curry, which surprisingly, wasn’t overwhelming. We felt stuffed after our mains that we ended up missing out on the dessert. Whoops, must pop in for dessert next time.
After dinner, she took us to Octave Rooftop Bar at Bangkok Marriott Hotel Sukhumvit. 3-minute walk (in heels) from Mother May I. The views were fantastic! It wasn’t as crowded as other rooftop bars in BKK tend to be either. There was a small wait for tables despite the fact that it was a Tuesday night. Worth it though! For the view and ambience, the price of the drinks was on par. Would recommend! Hot tip: catch a sunset up there!
Here comes the story:
Nick and I decided to check out the Grand Palace before everyone else arrived. We took a taxi from the hotel which took about an hour because of traffic. (It’s only supposed to be approximately 20 minutes from the hotel.) This scam was so elaborate that it started the moment we got out of the taxi. A man (posing as a government worker hired to protect tourists, oh the irony) in the ‘tourist police’ uniform approached us. He claimed that 1) I was too scantily clad to enter the Grand Palace and 2) the Grand Palace was closed for a few hours due to the monks praying. Even though I was wearing a maxi dress and shawl, I thought maybe I was too exposed…I didn’t object to him. He then hands us a map with other places we can visit while the Grand Palace is closed. He points out a “government controlled/subsidised” Tuktuk that can take us around for ฿40. The driver would wait for us and lead us to all the destinations he encircled. Score! Bargain, we thought. Little did we know it was all part of an elaborate scheme to sell us subpar suits. The suits were not to the make, quality and material shown to us in the beginning. AVOID Dusitta Collection aka Armani Factory aka Thai Silk Factory at all costs! DO NOT even enter the premises. Long story short, don’t talk to strangers. Be vigilant. It certainly puts a damper on your holiday when something like this happens. I hate being made a fool. Looking back it was evident they were full of shit, hindsight is 20/20, right? This experience left a bad taste in my mouth. Even though I had visited Bangkok quite a lot I had never done anything touristy because all my friends were locals. Maybe I should've kept to that. I don’t think this has entirely put me off doing anything touristy in BKK but I sure as hell won't be going anywhere without my friends. At least we ended up seeing some beautiful wats! We took the river boat back in hopes of avoiding traffic but also to experience a different method of transport. It amazed me how many people were crammed onto the boat! The river was lined with beautiful buildings and wats. It was ฿14 for two. Definitely worth it and we avoided most of the traffic!
Denise & Co finally arrived! We decided to put what happened aside, get in touch with VISA when we got home (it cost $5 a minute to call) and try to enjoy the remainder of our holiday/the wedding. To try and relax, I went to get a massage with Denise and James. I can’t remember the name of the place, but it was about a 5-minute walk from the hotel. It is unfortunate that I can’t remember the name of the massage salon as it was quite good. Denise didn’t have a good experience with her masseuse. It was quite cheap as well from what I can remember. (Note to self, start writing things down?) We headed back to the hotel to chill by the pool before getting ready for day 1 of #PriyaRaviSayIDo, the river cruise.
It was a tame night as Indian weddings went. We ended up going to Cé La Vi for a little bit after we docked. The first Cé La Vi I visited was in Singapore (during the day). It was different vibes and clientele to the one in Bangkok. We didn’t stay for very long. Also, everyone was saving their energy for the night after, the Sangeet night. Before we left, I got roped into doing some kind of absinthe shot. It was yummy as far as absinthe shots go but I was ready to head off after that.
22 December - we all headed to a food market, 6 minutes’ walk from the hotel, for lunch. Now this is what I love about Bangkok, the street food. My stomach is usually quite sensitive. I often limit what I try, but I seemed to handle Bangkok street food relatively well. I always had tummy meds if anything did go wrong. Two meals (including soda) cost approximately NZ$3. We were blessed with an abundance of choices! They even had stalls with ‘buffet style’ servings. All the dishes we had were superb as well.
Tip: When ordering an Uber in Thailand, order it approximately 30 minutes before you need it. The traffic made the wait for an Uber that was "4 minutes away" much longer! Take the BTS if you can, it'll save you the headache of sitting in traffic!
For the Sangeet, Denise and I were both clad in traditional Indian outfits, lenghas. When we got to the Sangeet at the Royal Orchid Sheraton, Papa Sethi and rest of the family welcomed us to the celebrations. The decorations were lavish; the mixologist ensured the drinks were flowing (and delicious) and the food just kept coming. I’ve never had so much delicious Indian food. The festivities began when Bobby opened the show with a dance with his parents, Ravi joining halfway through. #FamilyGoals – After lots of food, dancing and drinks later we headed home. I felt blessed to have been in the presence of such love. Priya and Ravi, I wish you all the love and happiness in the world!
23 December – The Mehndi and Music day for Ravi which coincidentally was my last day in Bangkok. It was relaxing day full of grand traditions that I felt blessed to experience. I even got mehndi applied from my finger to my wrist.
The trip was short and sweet. One afternoon I could have done without… But hey you live and you learn right? As always, wonderful to see everyone.
Hope you all had a beautiful Christmas season with your loved ones!