After months of anticipation and nearly 24 hours in transit, Mr. Chuckles and I have finally arrived in Bangkok to begin our two week journey through northern Thailand and Laos. I’ve finally decided to reveal this blog to some real life friends and family, so maybe I’ll have a few new readers following along with our travels. 👋
Up in the air
Our flight experience was surprisingly good! We flew with Cathay Pacific on a 15 hour direct flight to Hong Kong, followed by a 3 hour layover and then a 3 hour flight to Bangkok. I was really dreading the long flight to Hong Kong, but both Mr. Chuckles and I were each blessed by the airline gods with an entire row of seats to ourselves. I actually managed to get several hours of sleep and didn’t feel like death by the time we arrived at our destination. Hallelujah!
I’ve decided that Cathay Pacific is now my favourite airline. Even without the entire row of seats, this was the best economy leg room I’ve experienced, and they also serve bottomless cup noodles for snacks. 🤪
A strenuous trek for corn pie
We arrived in Bangkok to a forecast of 33 degrees Celsius, probably warmer with the humidity. Big change from the springtime snow we left in Toronto. I had booked us a private airport transfer so were met at arrivals by our driver, who took us on the 1 hour ride to our hotel. Traffic is crazy here. We were bumper to bumper for much of the trip along the highway, and it seems that traffic lights function more as suggestions rather than law.
We did finally arrive at Siam Champs Elyseesi Unique Hotel for our first night in Bangkok. I guess we have a thing for French styled hotels in Asian countries, as we had a similar accommodation in Tokyo.
After settling into our room, we ventured out into the sweltering heat to seek out some lunch. I was hoping to try some pad thai at a well reviewed place called Thipsamai, but it was closed by the time we got there. We moved on to browse around 7-Eleven (no fruit sandwiches, to the dismay of Mr. Chuckles) and ended up at the internationally renowned McDonald’s. You may be shaking your head in disapproval, but I had a surprisingly good meal of fried chicken, followed by corn pie for dessert.
Monasteries and monuments
Along our walk, we caught a glimpse of some stunning historical architecture that I’m sure we’ll see more of later in this trip.
We also passed by the Democracy Monument on Ratchadamnoen Avenue. This is a public monument in central Bangkok that was commissioned by Thailand’s military ruler in 1939 to commemorate the 1932 Siamese coup d’etat, which led to the establishment of a constitutional monarchy in what was then known as the Kingdom of Siam. The centrepiece of the monument represents the manuscript box holding the Thai Constitution of 1932, which is symbolically guarded by four wings each representing the branches of the Thai armed forces: the army, navy, air force, and police. Apparently, the commissioning and design of this monument was met with considerable controversy, and it is still viewed as military propaganda and a distorted representation of the Siamese revolution.
New friends and Khao San Road
Once we’d had enough of the heat, we took a break back at the hotel and met up with our tour group in the evening. We are on a small group guided tour with Intrepid Travel for this 13 day trip taking us from Bangkok, Thailand to Vientiane, Laos. Our travel mates are two solo travelers about our age, from Australia and Germany, and our guide is a local from Chiang Mai. Seems like we have a good group!
We spent our first evening exploring Khao San Road, a famous street long known as a hot spot for foreign backpackers. This is the hectic Bangkok as seen in the movies; a road lined with street vendors and people accosting you from all directions, hawking all types of goods and services, including some unsavoury activities. We were there fairly early in the evening on a weekday, so I’m sure we didn’t witness the area at its peak craziness.
The atmosphere is a little more subdued on the adjacent Ruputtri Street, where we had dinner at a place called The Macaroni Club. No mac and cheese on the menu, but I did have a decent pad thai and watermelon juice.
Overall, a smooth start to our trip. More of Bangkok tomorrow!