01 Mar - 01 May 2010 Bangkok

Kingdom of Thailand aka The Land of Conditional Smiles
Bangkok aka Krung Thep Maha Nakhon aka The Big Mango
Khlong San
58 Soi 1, Sarapee 3, Krungthonburi Road
Double-room studio with kitchenette (no. 407) and air-con for THB 9,000.- or US$ 275.- per month (plus THB 8.-/kWh and THB 20.-/cbm for utilities), including a large, 30m-long swimming pool (big enough to do laps) and a heated out-door Jacuzzi.
Friendly, helpful and very professional staff.
Wifi available for THB 550.- or US$ 16.75 per month.

Click below for an interactive road map of the Aiya Residence & Sport Club in Bangkok, which we would highly recommend, and for directions:

Learning that our host-city’s name is neither Bangkok nor Bangcock but Krungthep Mahanakhon Amonratanakosin Mahintara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Popnopparat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amonpiman Avatansathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukmaprasit (short: Krung Thep), the City of Angels aka the Big Mango, and plunging daily into the bustling street life of our new blue-collar neighbourhood in Khlong San, swarmed by low-slung shophouses and residential sois, whole-sale suppliers for the many sweatshops in the backyards, a maze of crowded roads and markets with a chaotic but orchestrated universe of speeding bodies and vehicles, umpteen cheap eateries (our favourite pescetarian/vegetarian staple food: Thai curry aka khao kaeng, white rice with one ladleful of spicy seafood/mussels/clams, fish curry or veggie curry on top, from the nearby Charoenrat fresh-produce market) and a myriad of friendly pushcart food vendors (our favourite pescetarian/vegetarian hawker-fare: blanched mixed seafood salad aka yam talay for THB 25.- per helping and the ubiquitous green papaya salad aka som tam for THB 20.- per helping), who work very hard and would fail to make sense of any of the Western nanny states’ seductive but laughable and unsustainable pipe dreams like “paid leave”, “pension entitlement” or “unemployment benefit”.

“I hold it to be the inalienable right of anybody to go to hell in his own way.”

Exploring the touristy wonders of greater Bangkok and roaming around by varying means of transport: (i) on the efficient but rather pricey BTS Skytrain, an elevated rail network which sails at an altitude of 10 m over the city’s notorious traffic jams, (ii) onboard the rugged, orange-flagged river-express boats, one of Bangkok’s (the “Venice of the East”) most scenic and affordable transport options, (iii) inside the spotless lightnings of the MRT Subway, (iv) with the colourful fleet of brand-new “Taxi-Meter” Toyota Corolla taxis whose fares are almost always lower than those of any of their non-metered flat-rate competitors, (v) by the plethora of túk-túk and motosai (motorcycle) taxis, with the latter the closest approximation to an extreme sport as one can get in Bangkok’s everyday life, (vi) with the labyrinthine network of cheap public buses both with air-con and without window panes (our favourites: bus no. 7 to Yaowarat and Phahurat [Bangkok's Chinatown and Little India] and on to the Hua Lamphong Main Railway Station; bus no. 57 to Khlong San Night Market, to Wat Arun and on to the Thonburi Railway Station) and, last but not least, (vii) in our field-tested and worn out plastic flip-flops.

Attending to our duty and touring both the famous sights of Bangkok such as (i) the commercialised Emerald Buddha Temple aka Wat Phrakaew and the Grand Palace with their hordes of sweating tourists both from the West and from the East, (ii) the artistic Wat Pho (entrance: THB 50.- per person) with its 46m-long reclining Buddha and its square-bell shaped, beautifully tiled stupas, and (iii) the striking Wat Arun (entrance: THB 50.- per person) with its 82m-high prang (Khmer-style tower) which is covered with ornate floral mosaics made from broken, multihued Chinese porcelain, a common temple ornamentation in the early Ratanakosin period, when Chinese junks, calling at the port of Bangkok, used tons of old china as ballast; and those which are still ignored by the planet-spoiling Lonely Planet, such as (i) the tourist-free temples in our Thonburi/Khlongsan neighbourhood (Wat PhichaiyatWat Anongkharam and Wat Prayun Wongsawat), (ii) the car-free island Ko Kret in the middle of Mae Nam Chao Phraya, c. 20 km north of Bangkok, and (iii) the 1825 CE founded Wat Kalayanamit with Thailand’s largest bronze bell and Thailand’s largest indoor sitting Buddha.

Facing the rejuvenating (hair-raising and [up-]lifting) treatments from Bangkok’s hair and face/body stylists (Matt for THB 60.- at his favourite barber's shop and Konni for kTHB 60.- at Dr. Thep's excellent Pratunam Polyclinic +6622552280 ppsurgery@yahoo.com) and thus having our ducks in one row for Bangkok’s upcoming exciting spring season.

Listening together with German solo traveller Claus to excellent jazz music (our stars: Jazz For Kicks from the Philippines) at the Bangkok Jazz Festival on Central World Plaza (free entrance, Singha beer for THB 100.- per pint), right in front of Bangkok’s elegant mega malls and ultra-modern high-rise building as an impressive stage setting.

Applauding to the high kicks to the neck, elbow thrusts to the face, knee hooks to the ribs, low crescent kicks to the calves and the traditional punches and blows of (both male and female) Thai kick-boxing fighters in the down-town Mahboonkrong muay thai ring, located right in-front of MBK Center.

Watching the political street parades and carnivalesque rallies of colour-coded players contributing in full swing to the Thais’ fun-seeking and sometimes a bissel boisterous sanuk lifestyle: (i) the anti-government circus of the red-shirt protesters, (ii) the anti-anti-government circus of the yellow-shirt protesters, (iii) the anti-anti-anti-government circus of the motley-shirt protesters, plus a diversity of very photogenic police/military uniforms who seem to come from a fancy-dress ball.

Purchasing 30-day extensions for our tourist visas (for THB 1,900.- or US 58.- per person in cash, no fuss and on the spot) from the uniformed worker bees in the megalomaniacal new "immigration palace" at Lak Si (BTS Skytrain to Mo Chit Station for THB 40.- per person, taxi from Mo Chit to the "immigration palace" for THB 100.-) and people-spotting quite a few asiaphile Western sexpats in the queue: fifty-plus, bald, beer belly, stained shirt, love struck expression and a hairy arm wrapped around a Thai girl too young to be his daughter (…and learning that the native German speakers amongst them love to pet-name their female companions Amiga, an acronym for Aber Meine Ist Ganz Anders”).
“My girlfriend bought me a collared shirt for my birthday, mainly so I don’t get too far ahead of her when she takes me for a walk.”

Celebrating Ancestors Day aka Qingming Festival together with a few well-to-do Thai Chinese families at Wat Hiranruchi Worawihan, one of our neighbourhood temples, and releasing a large amount of carbon dioxide, one of the main gases held responsible for global climate change, whilst burning (i) a pretty sum of Chinese joss paper money, (ii) a pair of fashionable Italian joss paper shoes and (iii) a German luxury car of the Mercedes brand (only made from joss paper, of course) in order to honour their and our ancestors and to ensure they all are very comfortable in their after-life.

Rendezvousing once more with our wonderful Sabahan/Chinese friends Christina & Liau from Kuala Lumpur: (i) taking the train on the bumpy Mahachai shortline from Wong Wian Yai Station through marshes filled with banana, giant elephant ears and canna lilies to Samut Sakhon (fare: THB 10.- per person in 3rd class) and on to the gulf-side town of Samut Songkhram (another THB 10.- per person) and there exploring the lively markets with their incredible diversity of sea shells (e.g. clams, cockles, conches, mussels, oysters), tentacled seafood, crabs of all sizes, edible echinoderms and the ever present prawns and shrimps; (ii) checking out the food stalls of the Taling Chan floating market at the Chak Phra Canal on the Thonburi side of Bangkok and cruising the surrounding canals and rural temples by means of a hired reua hang yao (long-tail boat) for THB 99.- per person for the 3-hour long tour thus touching the real Thai traditional life-style on the river; (iii) taking a local train from Thonburi Railway Station to Nakhon Pathom (fare: THB 10.- per person in 3rd class), visiting the 127-m high Phra Pathom Chedi, the tallest Buddhist monument in the world, and snacking on the famous local khâo lăam (sticky rice, black beans and sweet coconut milk steamed in a length of bamboo).

Getting soaked to the skin and celebrating Songkran, the traditional, water-throwing Thai New Year Festival (one big national wet T-shirt contest), when the fun-loving Bangkokians roam the streets with containers of water and water guns (sometimes mixed with mentholated talc or chalk) and post themselves at the side of roads with a garden hose and drench each other and innocent passersby like us.

Laundering our dirty linen a few times at the convenient open-air, do-it-youself launderette across the road and paying only THB 20.- per 6-kg load.

Purchasing two single-entry 30-day tourist visas for the Kingdom of Cambodia (requirements: one photo from each of us and one copy of each passport) from the Royal Embassy of Cambodia in Bangkok and getting them issued on spot for the express fee of US$ 25.- each.

Leaving lovely Bangkok and taking the train (3rd class for THB 14.- or US$ 0.45 per person) from Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong Main Railway Station to Ayuthaya, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the former capital of Siam, located about 90 km north of the Big Mango.

Click below for more blog posts about our visits to Bangkok
01 Oct - 29 Oct 2014 Bangkok
13 Mar - 18 Apr 2013 Bangkok

Click below for a summary of this year's travels
Recommended books - click below for your Amazon order from Germany:

For Amazon bargains from the United States, please click here
For Amazon bargains from Canada, please click here
For Amazon bargains from the United Kingdom, please click here