|REPORT #1: September 25, 1999, Bangkok Thailand|
$1 = 41 Baht - best exchange rate in the last 13 months
We have arrived. Total travel time from the greyhound bus station in Portland to the Atlanta Hotel in Bangkok, 36 hours and 40 minutes including all layovers.
Want to say a good word for Korean Air for all you budgeteers looking for that cheap flight. I paid 850.00 US for round trip from Boston to Bangkok. Even less if you fly from the west coast. Our domestic carrier could take a lesson from this Airline. Great Service, remarkable food, free alcohol and more seating space than on American Airlines. They have a good web page at www.koreaair.com check it out.
Now some nuts and bolts,
Arriving in Bangkok and Don Muang airport you have several options for your trip into the city. The one option that you really want to avoid is the "airport taxi mafia" which is discussed in the lonely planet and appears to be quite alive and well. Not only will you pay and exorbitant price, you run the risk of not ending up at the appropriate place or worse getting taken advantage of, ie robbed. Don't want to sound paranoid but in a city of 8 million your bound to have a few thugs and they do target tourist at this location. The best option if you can find it, is the "metered taxi", make sure they turn the meter on, it should start at 35bhat. Second option is the "Airport Bus" which doesn't appear to be getting as much use as it could be. Additionally, there is the train you can take into town or the regular city bus service. The most expensive and safest option is the "airport taxi" This requires that you purchase your ticket, currently 650 bahts to downtown, from the counter on the left as you leave customs. While it is expensive, you are going to arrive where you want to go without any worries. After traveling 36 hours with very little sleep, we wanted to be taken directly to our hotel so we took the "airport taxi" If I were to come in again on a domestic flight I would take the Airport bus, get let off and walk to find my hotel.
ACCOMMODATION IN BANGKOK
There is certainly no shortage of guesthouse and motels in Bangkok and most budgeteers head for the Khao San Road area. There are literally hundreds of guesthouses several that I would consider to be a little better than average. My choice if I were to stay in the Khao San road area is
New Siam Guest House: 21 Soi Chanasongkram, Phar-Athit Road,
Chanasongkram, Bangkok 10200
Others to consider, though I don't have the address are the Villa Guesthouse and the Shanti Lodge. These are documented in the Lonely Planet.
However, for my money, nothing
beats the Atlanta Hotel located in the Sukhumvit road area. Sukhumvit
area has fewer western tourist and better restaurants. The Atlanta
is truly a classic and the a double room with aircon and private
bath is 600 bahts. Now I could easily find a place for less money
but considering what you get at the Atlanta, the value for the
money is unbelievable. Consider the following, two swimming pools,
59 rooms, a map room, a letter writing area. The attached restaurant
is a study in Thai cuisine. In fact the menu at the Atlanta is
the only menu I have ever seen that was an academic paper! I
am not joking, if you want to really understand Thai food and
how to order and eat it, you should go to the Atlanta and just
sit and read the menu and order. The food here is so good that
it has prevented us from do a lot of exploring for other good
places to eat. They have only 3 menus total which are guarded
from theft...you just
Atlanta Hotel: 78 Soi 2 Sukhmvit Road, Bangkok 10110,
We have been just good tourist for the first few days as Bangkok has many sites worth seeing but here a few recommendations for surviving in Bangkok. Start early, lay low in the pool during the heat of the day then back out for the evening. Transportation around Bangkok is probably best done by "metered taxi"although there are certainly less expensive options. The tuk-tuk are fun but you really have to bargain hard to get the value and most want to take you to see a jewelry store on take you on a tour etc. As one fellow I heard say "that tuk-tuk stuff is a fools game"... I don't quite feel that way but you really have to bargain hard and always with a smile. The samlor is a truck with seats in the back that ply regular routes. The unmetered taxi is again an exercise in bargaining skills. Obviously, the bus is the best option for hard core budgeteers and a map of the bus routes is available from any bookstore. Some buses are air conditioned and some are not...either way they are very cheap.Be extremely careful crossing the street in this city! The drivers here are worse than Boston drivers and a pedestrian never has the right of way. Seriously, many people are killed in this city every year from being hit by auto. I always find an elderly Thai and follow them cross with them and go at their pace, the traffic will go around you...make a running break for it can get you in big trouble as traffic seems to come from all directions.
BEER- Folks in this weather swill water would taste good. But today's review is the famous Singa Beer. A Thailand favorite brewed in Thailand. A lager that lightly hopped and taste more like the Canadian cream lagers you might find in say a Molson or a Labatts. A hint of sweet in the after taste...not bad...for a lager...will someone please go to the Stone Coast in Portland Maine and have a 420 IPA for my sake...
Well I coming to the end of this first email...I will leave the itinerary for margaret to expound upon. I want to try and get nuts and bolt information to would be travellers headed this way.
Suffice it to say, we love Thailand! Unbelievable friendly, land of smiles, great food, we are also developing an appreciation for air condition...
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