Thursday, August 19, 2010

unexpected Bangkok stop-over

After the surprise change of itinerary on Wednesday morning, I needed to find somewhere to stay that was inexpensive and had wifi so I could get to work on fixing this problem. I have stayed at this lovely guest house three times already, but it is on the complete opposite side of the city from the airport where I was at the time. I ended up choosing a cheap and nasty airport hotel almost at random from the hotel booking desk at the airport. They had a car waiting for guests so I was able to check in by 6:30 AM.

The hotel had wireless internet and air conditioning but I felt badly about disturbing the occupant of the AC so I kept its use to a minimum:

nesting in the AC

Perhaps I would have been better off staying at my preferred guest house because when I had to go into the city to work on fixing my situation, I had to take a cab almost 25 km to On Nut, the nearest Skytrain station.

On Nut road by taxi
taxi ride

After the hour-long long cab ride and then a trip on the Skytrain, I transferred to the Metro where the ticket machine issued me an electronic plastic token. It's a good thing that I am already quite familiar with Bangkok because I wouldn't want to be navigating it for the first time when I had urgent matters to resolve.

Bangkok metro electronic plastic token

This was my destination: the Bangkok city Drukair office. It was tucked into a strange building which was mostly parking garage. The ladies at the office were sympathetic and helpful but the re-booking problem was not solved until the next day when I made a call to a manager.

Drukair Bangkok office

My business at this office was finished by 2 PM, which was when I realized that the only thing I'd consumed that day was the large block of Cadbury Dairy Milk I stress-ate early in the morning. So, I took the Skytrain from Sala Daeng to National Stadium and went straight to the MBK food court for a som tum salad and fresh juice. It made me feel a little better about unwillingly being in Bangkok.

MBK food court
som tum, spicy pork salad and fresh pineapple juice

I wandered around the shopping complexes for a couple of hours, nothing much to do and unable to buy anything due to the already overweight condition of my luggage. I got some bottled juices and sticky rice mango to take back to the hotel.

Siam Paragon refresh

Here's On Nut station, the end of the line, were I caught a cab back to the dingy hotel and slept all the way until 1 AM. Jet lag!

On Nut station

Yesterday morning, I was awake very early so I walked up the the main road to buy breakfast (a baggie of noodles from a street stall ) and provisions (bottled water and weird TimTams from 7-11).

TimTams choc vanilla variation

Later in the morning, once offices were open for business, I was able to resolve the issue of the re-booked ticket so I had a day to waste somehow. I took another slow cab in to On Nut station. My intention was to go see a movie in one of the fancy Thai movie theatres I've heard so much about.

shopfront scene

I got off the Skytrain at Chit Lom and I down to the street and was confronted with the sight of Central World, the shopping complex which was burned down in the riots in May. It was/is the third largest shopping centre in the world. It is truly shocking to see such a large building in the condition of being charred and gutted. Banners and facades conceal the enormous burnt-out interior but I got a look in when a gate opened to let construction vehicles out.

burned out facade of Central World
gutted Central World
Together We Can - Central World

I made my way to the IMAX theatre at Siam Paragon because I felt this was my last chance to see Inception on a big screen. But, the movie times I had checked were wrong. Only Toy Story 3 was playing on Thursday in 3D. So, I decided to see Salt because the opulent theatre's AC was so very tempting on this 35 C plus humidex day. Alas, only $45 VIP couples tickets were available for Salt and no other films appealed to me.

Siam Paragon cinema

A little wander through Siam Center. There's an entire store dedicated to Kimmidolls.

kimmidoll store

Back to the Skytrain, Siam station, as the jet lag was wearing on me now.

beneath Siam BTS station

Frangipani in bloom along Sukhumvit. Frangipanis were my mother's wedding flower.

frangipani

I caught a cab back to my hotel from On Nut. Or rather, I caught a cab and the driver couldn't read a map and refused to use his cell phone to call my hotel for directions so we drove around for so long, we ran out of fuel. Bangkok taxis run in propane which makes a funny whooshing sound as the car is filled up. Back to my hotel eventually after I bailed out on a street I recognized from the morning shopping trip and walked the rest of the way.

taxi refueling

Sleep, re-packing luggage, second attempt at departure tomorrow.

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