08 Feb - 06 Mar 2012 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
Aiya Residence & Sport Club +6628621611 info@aiyaresidence.com
Economic double-room studio (no. 508) with kitchenette and air-con for THB 9,000.- or US$ 293.- per month (plus THB 6.85/kWh and THB 21.4/cbm for utilities), including free access to a large, 30m-long swimming pool (big enough to do laps) and a heated out-door Jacuzzi.
Friendly, helpful and very professional staff.
Wifi for THB 550.- or US$ 17.90 per month.

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

Rehearsing and practising our proven Five Rules for Not Becoming a Statistic in Bangkok: (i) leave your passport in the hotel safe, (ii) leave your cash reserve in the hotel safe, (iii) leave your credit card in the hotel safe (Bangkok has a reputation for credit card fraud and ATM skimming: avoid ATMs at stand-alone locations or non-bank-related ATMs that you find in shops or petrol stations), (iv) carry only the amount of money that you are going to spend for the day or that you are willing to loose, (v) keep your money for the day in your front pocket (forget the nonsense about money belts, as soon as the right professional has seen your money belt you can bet you won’t have it long).

Doing nothing much to blog‘n brag about for four weeks - just catching up on admin work (answering emails, editing photos, planning our upcoming travels to Sumatra), doing laps in the swimming pool twice a day and enjoying the small pleasures of life in Bangkok: (i) pigging into genuine Thai street food in "our" non-touristy suburb Khlong San, (ii) watching genuine Thai kick-boxing in front of the MBK Mall (on Wednesdays from 18:00 to 20:30, free entrance) and (iii) relaxing with the help of genuine Thai foot and body massages in the ubiquitous little massage shops in our neighbourhood (one hour foot massage for THB 119.- and one hour body massage for THB 300.-, extras always extra).

Learning that AEON Bank in Bangkok is the last bank which does not hit you with a whopping THB 150.- surcharge at their ATMs (since all the other Thai banks rip you off with an absurd THB 150.- or US$ 5.- per international cash withdrawal, the equivalent of five portions of the yummiest Thai seafood salad) and pinpointing exactly these coveted AEON Bank ATMs at (i) MBK Mall +6626209000, second floor, (ii) Siam Centre +6626851100, second floor, and (iii) C.P. Tower +6627117744, fourth floor.

Reading in the Bangkok Post’s lifestyle supplement about the winners of the “Toilets of the Year 2012” awards which were announced by the Deputy Bangkok Governor at City Hall: (i) best toilet at a religious place: Wat Makutkasatriyaram Ratchaworawihan, (ii) best toilet in a restaurant: Maneeya Restaurant, (iii) best toilet in a shopping centre: Central World, (iv) best toilet at a tourist spot: Safari World, (v) best toilet in a public park: Rama IX Park; holy shit!

Listening to entertaining world music at the Bangkok World Musiq & World Bar-B-Q at Central World Plaza (free entrance, expensive Singha beer for THB 100.- per pint), right in front of Bangkok’s elegant mega malls and ultra-modern high-rise buildings as an impressive stage setting.

Konni: Entertaining my brother Ekki who came from Berlin to Bangkok for a weeklong visit in order to indulge in his favourite pastime, taking an in-depth look at the confined soul of a lonely German civil servant and touring together the famous tourist sites of the city: (i) the Grand Palace with the Royal Monastery of the Emerald Buddha (entrance for foreigners: a stiff THB 400.- per person), (ii) the Temple of Dawn, Wat Arun (entrance for foreigners: THB 50.- per person), whose tall spires are decorated with millions of bits of smashed white porcelain painted with patterns, and (iii) the maze of tempting fashion boutiques inside Central World.
"The film of tomorrow will not be directed by civil servants of the camera, but by artists for whom shooting a film constitutes a wonderful and thrilling adventure."

Buying two Indonesian 60-day temporary residence visas for our upcoming trip to Sumatra (requirements: one copy of the return air ticket and of the passport, two photos each and US$ 45.- in cash per person) from the Indonesian Embassy +6622523135 in Bangkok which issued the visas within two working days - friendly, fast and painless. 

Leaving the proud Kingdom of Thailand, officially touted as the Land of Smiles (however, 50 years of Western mass tourism have obviously done more damage to the once famous Thai smile than 50 years of evil military dictatorship have done to the still genuine and warm Burmese smile in Myanmar) and flying with Air Asia Indonesia (“Now Everyone Can Fly”) in an Airbus A 320 from Bangkok’s jazzy Suvarnabhumi International Airport to Medan’s stuffy Polonia International Airport for US$ 81.- per person, one way, all inclusive, without changing our watches from Indochina Time (GMT/UTC + 7:00 hours) to Western Indonesian Time (GMT/UTC + 7:00 hours), and thereafter sharing a clapped-out midnight taxi (IDR 10,000.- or US$ 1.10 per person) with fellow traveller Markus from Finland for the ride from the airport to our hotel, just off Masjid Raya aka Grand Mosque: “Selamat malam, Indonesia.”

"What not to say to a transgender person:
‘You look so real, I never would've known!’
‘What do you do with your wife?’
‘When did you have the surgery?’
'I thought you were going to be scary, but you are so polite and normal.'
'I don't care; you'll always be a girl to me.'"
(at least according to T. Cooper, Special to CNN)

Click below for more blog posts about our visits to vibrant Bangkok

Click below for a summary of this year's travels
2012 Map Konni & Matt

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