Thailand Day 1: Arrival in Bangkok

Bangkok is a wonderful city, full of vibrancy, and has a rich past. Jeremy took a solo trip to Thailand a year ago and enjoyed it so much that he decided to bring the entire family for our Christmas vacation! If you are dreaming of a white Christmas, Thailand is not the place to be. However, if you are ready for 90°+ F weather, it is great!

We left home in the late evening on the December 22nd, had a layover in Seoul, South Korea, and arrived into Bangkok around 1:30pm on Christmas Eve. There was plenty of time to spend the rest of the day getting a feel for a city.

Layover in Seoul, South Korea

Our time in Asia did not actually start in Bangkok, but with a 3 hour layover in Seoul.

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James happily informed us that one of his airplane blog sources claimed that this is the 3rd best airport in the world and he was ready to explore it during our 3.5 hour layover. Fortunately, it lived up to his expectations.

He also decided that even though we had airplane Bibimbap, we really needed to try the real deal. So, at 7:00 in the morning, we found a nice looking restaurant and tried it out. Delicious!

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Getting back on the plane, we told the boys that even though they had a fairly nice nap on our first flight they would do best in Bangkok if they slept a bit more. After watching a movie, they readily fell asleep. Too bad I had a bit more difficulty with this.

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Getting to Our Hotel

After arrival at the Bangkok airport, we quickly made it through passport control, picked up our bags, and exited customs. We usually use an ATM to get local currency, though in Thailand you have to be careful because the local banks all charge foreign cards a $7 fee per withdrawal. We briefly considered exchanging cash (there’s one rumored-on-forums booth in the basement with good rates) but just used an ATM to get some Thai Baht. We also got a local SIM card for one of our phones at a kiosk – 2 weeks for about $14.

There is a decent airport train to the city center, and we would have considered it during peak traffic times when the freeways get backed up. But with 4 of us, we opted to take a taxi, which ended up costing us about $15 for the 45 minute ride, including tolls. It is interesting to note that the trunks are quite small in Thailand. Only one of our suitcases would fit in the trunk, so we had to put the other on our laps. There was a line for a “larger taxi” (which we normally don’t need), so if it is important to not have anything in your lap, get in that line.

After checking into our family suite at the Center Point hotel in Silom, we got settled and freshened up a bit. The family suite was quite nice, large, and had several rooms. Jeremy and I always enjoy having a door between us and the kids when possible. This is particularly helpful when everyone is getting over jet lag at slightly different rates.

The River Ferry

After briefly freshening up at the hotel, we then decided to take the local river ferry to Chinatown. There are also tourist ferries, but given that the local (“orange flag”) ferry only costs about 50 cents per person, we opted for that. The views of the city were quite nice. If you want an even better overview of the city, you can take the ferry further, but we were happy with what we saw.

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Chinatown

On arrival in Chinatown, we wandered by many interesting shops and booths (also trying to stay awake due to jet lag). In one of the food booths we decided to try some squid. Originally, we thought it would come on a skewer, but they chopped it up, put it in a bowl, and gave us a skewer to use as a fork. Quite tasty, but trash cans are severely lacking in Chinatown. Eventually, we found a trash bag tied to a lamp post and disposed of the cup there.

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James saw some fried insects and later decided that we might need to try some during our time in Thailand. Usually I am fairly adventurous, but these looked like what they were, and I was unsure whether I would be able to bring myself to put it in my mouth. See our post about Phuket to see what ended up happening.

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We continued our wanderings, saw some cool buildings, and enjoyed the beauty of the sunset.

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Lumpini Park

As the sun was setting, we decided to take a taxi to Lumpini Park, hoping to finish the sunset there. But the traffic was quite bad, so we asked the driver to drop us off at the metro (MRT) instead.

On arrival, we were a bit surprised by the number of runners, but I guess it makes the most sense to run after sunset, and the park is set up a bit like a track, so it would be a great place for the locals to get some exercise.

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Patpong Night Market

We then walked to the nearby Patpong night market, but along the way, ended up on some streets that were not well designed for pedestrians. Luckily, our boys are pre-teens, not in a stroller, and were able to be reasonably safe as we darted into the street to get around lamp posts in the middle of the sidewalk. We looked at the exhibits at the night market, though we found better night markets during the rest of our stay in Thailand.

Dinner and Hotel

For dinner, we decided to get something close to our hotel. Knowing that we were going to be eating a lot of Thai food on the trip,  and feeling that any meal this evening would be lost on us, we decided to take the kids to the Thai McDonald’s near our hotel – we alway try to try one out in each country we visit. Not feeling hungry, I got the McBubbleTea, which could have been much better than it was.

We returned to the hotel around 8:00pm, and were pretty tired, but John wanted to take a swim in the rooftop pool. Unfortunately, the it had just closed, so we settled for a shower instead. By 9:00pm, the boys were in bed, and by 9:30pm, Jeremy and I followed suit. We were well on our way to beating jet lag! Here’s the view from our hotel balcony:

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What a nice, if a bit unusual, Christmas Eve.

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