Well back into the capital for our last few days in Thailand. We hopped a tuk tuk to the train station in Ayutthaya, then hopped the fast train to Bangkok. This took a little over an hour and was relatively seamless, comfortable and hassle free.
Having arrived in the main train station (long distance) in Bangkok we were met with the usual throng of taxis and tuk tuks trying to get our business. We went through the usual dance and were offered a price of 450 baht to get to our hotel. Out came the phone and the Grab App that told us that we could have a driver collect and deliver us for about 250 baht. Using this as a barter point, I was willing to pay up to 300 for the convenience of leaving straight away. They came down to 400 and we ordered our car from the App.
When he arrived we loaded our bags and off we went, to the glares of the taxi drivers. Having hopped in the car the final price came down to 210 baht (the price is variable based on demand). We sat through hellish Friday afternoon Bangkok traffic to get to our hotel that was navigated expertly. We ended up tipping the driver an extra hundred baht because the traffic was so bad. Even after this we still saved almost 100 on the fare being offered by the taxis.
Once we arrived and settled into our hotel, we went for our usual acclimatisation walk around town. And we reminded ourselves that we are not fans of Bangkok. Within about a hundred meters of our hotel, we were back in the tourist sleaziness that has typified all of our previous Thailand visits. Girly bars and old blokes chasing and taking advantage of the locals.
This extended to the breakfast buffet at the hotel in the morning as well. The ladies that ‘found a friend’ for the night before were in the hotels enjoying a buffet breakfast in the same outfit that was perhaps a little more suitable at midnight than 9am.
Having been out in the regions I cannot stress enough as to how expensive Bangkok is. The prices were astronomical, for everything, and Jill’s beloved rotis had skyrocketed to 100 baht each (1000% markup from Sukhotthai. Beers had gone from 90 to 170 baht a stubbie ($8.50), and a simple biriyani was going for $27.50 Australian (I got one biriyani in a market int Chiang Rai for 75c that included 2 chicken legs). The prices here were well over what you would pay even back home.
If you look hard
If you really try you can find some things that are not obscenely over the top in pricing. We had our first meal that night in a little street food stall on the side of the road (the usual plastic stools and dodgy carts). Now this meal everywhere else we had been would have come in at around 500 baht but here it was 760 (only a 50% markup). This was pretty good for here so that was dinner.
Heat and smog
This will be no surprise to anyone but Bangkok is hot and humid, seriously hot. Add to this the smog from millions of vehicles spewing exhaust fumes and it is pretty uncomfortable. My first foray to Bangkok was way back in 1996, and to be fair, this was my experience way back then too.
While the traffic is chaotic, Bangkok does have a very good, cheap and efficient MRT (Metropolitan Rapid Transit) and BTS (Bangkok Mass Transit System) in operation. These are basically a Skytrain and an underground system that services most of the city. The tickets are cheap and easily purchased and there are even day passes for the sightseeing multi stop days.
The Grand Palace
The Grand Palace is the most obvious attraction to see here in Bangkok. It is free for locals and 500 baht ($25) for tourists. The ticket includes access to Wat Phra Kaew, The Royal Thai Decorations & Coins Pavilion
and Queen Sirikit Museum of Textile, which are all located within the compound of the Grand Palace.
It was established in 1782 and it contains the royal and throne halls, several government offices and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. To say this is a popular tourist attraction is an understatement. The sheer volume of people around make photographs virtually impossible without masses of people in your way. So I cheated and got the below photos from the official website.