曼谷 – 16th Nov ~ 20th Nov 2010

Day 1 – 16th Nov

We took our flight from Changi Airport at 0940hrs. The Singapore Airlines flight is uneventful but the service staff looks a bit stoned. There is little smile on their face and furthermore, it is a lead steward taking care of our area. She did her job professionally but acted like a robot. With all the SQ flights I have taken, their food usually taste average.

We landed in Bangkok airport at 1105hrs (Bangkok time). The queue at the immigration is long. However, a staff spotted us with 3 kids and quickly usher us to the priority lane. We clear the custom quickly. To my surprise, by the time we walk to the luggage conveyor, we can see that the baggage is already coming out. Very efficient indeed!

After retrieving our luggage, we proceed to purchase SIM cards for our phones at the AIS store. We purchase a SIM card with 20hrs of unlimited data plan at THB399 and a non-data plan at THB199. We actually wanted to take advantage of the promotional rate of THB15 for the City Line Airport train. However, TA users have advice against it as it will be too crowded and with all the luggage and kids in tow, it will be a bad choice.  We then get down one floor to find a taxi. There seems to be fewer taxis today compared to all my previous trips to BKK. The ride to the hotel is smooth and the traffic jam today is not that bad.

We have booked a two room apartment in Somerset Lake Point. The Soi is a bit weird and seems like the only way to enter is not by Sukhumvit Road but by Thanon Ratchadaphisek. Fortunately the hotel is not too hard to find. The staff is helpful. It was later that we found out that the hotel can also be access by entering from Soi 22.

The bell boy quickly help us with our luggage and we need about 10mins to check-in as we have arrived earlier.

The room is spacious, clean and neat. Bathroom is clean and decent in size. It comes with microwave oven, washer cum dryer, stove and a refrigerator. After we settled down, we make our way down to the lobby and wait for the free tuk tuk service. Contrary to my assumption, this tuk tuk service is not a loop service. It is a point to point service. It will bring you to either Asoke BTS, Carrefour, Queen’s Convention Center, Emporium, to name a few. For example, if you want to go to Emporium, they will drive you there and they will then go back to the hotel. If there are several destination, the driver will plan the route.

The hotel also gave us complimentary internet access. However, we have to use the computer at the Business Center. The speed is about 512Kb/s. Well, I could not ask for more.

The Soi itself is not difficult to walk. However, there are some stretch of the Soi that you have to walk on the road and not on the walkway. This is because it is partially obstructed by the street vendors. There are several massage shops and dry clean laundry opposite the hotel. There is also a 24hr supermarket, food court and pharmacy just down the Soi. So it is pretty convenient.

The air conditioning in the living room is very cold but the room is pretty warm. We found the trick to it is to adjust the temperature dial to very low then the air con will start to cool the room more effectively. Else you can turn on the living room air con and the room will also be cooled in this way.

I was assigned to the 28th floor and the highest level is the 29th floor. Despite this, the water pressure is still good!

Overall, our stay in the residence is nice and I will return if I am bringing my family again.

We took the tuk tuk to Asoke BTS. They will actually drop you off at the mouth of the Soi and you will have to walk to the BTS station. It will be awful if it rains because there is no shelter. Our main purpose is to visit V. Siam Optical located in Soi 23. This optical shop is recommended by one of the TA members so since it is near to the place we stay, we see no harm going there.

This optical shop is located near to the mouth of the Soi. So it is easy to locate it. The shop is small but nice. My wife is looking for a spectacle and due to her frame, it is difficult to find a suitable one in our home country. The ladies in the shop are very nice. She is pretty patient with my wife’s demands. They did a free eye examination for her and determine the degree. Finally my wife settled for a frame and 1.67 high index Hoya lens for THB5500. The staff is also kind enough to do a free eye examination for me. They diagnosed that I have Presbyopia. Well, this shows how much have I age. As the lens for Presbyopia is not cheap, I decide to defer my purchase. We are scheduled to collect it on the 18th Nov evening. (Big mistake. I have just found out that the lens that I need is almost 50% cheaper if made in BKK. Guess I have to make another trip down.)

We next took a cab to Erawan Shrine for our prayers. Things hasn’t been smooth for my wife so I prayed for her good luck and hope she can find a job soon.

It is almost dinner time and we decide to go to Yaowarat. We are lucky that we can get a taxi driver willing to bring us there. In all my trips to BKK, most taxi drivers will shun Yaowarat like a ghost. The taxi driver like kids and while I am trying to control my kids noise in the taxi, the driver always says “Never mind. Kids noisy good. If quiet, then no good.” We have a small chat with the driver and the ride is pleasant. In Thailand political scene, there is Red and Yellow shirt. In Yaowarat, there are Green and Red Shirt. These two restaurant are just side by side to each other and Green Shirt restaurant is actually beside the street. However, the Red shirt restaurant is at the opposite of the road. So if you order food from them, they will inform the kitchen which is located at the opposite side of the road to cook it. They will cross the road to deliver the food to you!

We drop off near the restaurant. We ordered our favourite Tom Yam and some dishes from the Green Shirt. The taste is great and the Tom Yam from Thailand really beats any other Tom Yam that is made outside Thailand. After dinner, we decide to indulge in our favourite pastime; that is shopping at supermarket.

We proceed to Tesco Lotus Palam Neung. This place is actually near to National Stadium BTS. Only now then we notice that there is a play area (in BKK, they called it play port) in the building. It cost about THB45 for a 40mins play. This is really cheap! I stayed back and monitor the kids while my wife do her shopping. The kids really have a great time there. The staff was friendly too! Despite not conversant in English, they will still try to understand what we wants. We bought all the stuff we need like instant noodles, water, clothes etc.

With this, we end our day as we know tomorrow will be a long day.

Day 2- 17th Nov

Dreamworld is about 40km away from Bangkok. It is pretty far off from the main city. We took a cab from the hotel to Dreamworld. Including all the toll charges, it is about THB400 to THB500. The taxi drivers in the hotel wanted to charge me THB1200 for a return trip. I said no. One thing good about this hotel is that I always see the same few taxi drivers waiting outside the lobby. If the guest needs a taxi, they will be the first to be called for. However, they will all run by the meter. No hard selling from them. Also, the bell boy in the hotel does a fantastic job in letting them know our destination.

It took about 45mins to reach the destination. The theme park is not state of the art. However, it will provide some entertainment for the kids for the whole day. The park has two queue systems. One is for locals and the other for foreigners. I do not know is there any price difference. The ticket price is THB550 and with Snow Town single admission thrown in, it will be THB700. This ticket will allow you fir unlimited rides with the exception of Go-Kart and those individual game stores, kiddy rides or arcade games.

The park itself is easy to walk. It is still very quiet when the park is open for the day. We started off with the garden just after the entrance. It is a really small garden and soon we saw the first ride. After some rides for the kids, we took a cable car that will bring you to almost the end of the theme park. We alight at the station (note that this cable station only allow exit and do not allow boarding of the cable car) and walk towards the end. The ride is pretty nice for the kids and again, there is a small play port and my kids love it. It is free as long as you have the all-in-one ticket.

They even have a Hollywood style of performance where they show stunts and some fighting. Though not very sophisticated but for it is alright for entertainment sake. As a matter of fact, it is quite comical.

The snow town is really crappy actually. If you are from a country that has snow, forget about this. If you are from the tropics, you can forget it also as it is only a huge air-conditioned room. The coldness experience in winter is definitely different from this Snow Town. However, the slide is indeed fun though.

They have a 4D cinema but I do not recommend for those faint hearted. The show they are screening is about killer insects. Not very family oriented and many kids are afraid. They could have shown some animation or cartoons instead. The next change will be Aliens. I can’t imagine….

We initially thought of leaving the park at 3pm. However, the kids is playing repetitively for some rides and we only manage to leave at about 5pm, just one hour before closing time! My kids really enjoyed it.

We then took a cab to Emporium in Phrom Phong. We just do some shopping and I can see the kids are really worn out. My wife does her shopping and I just bring the kids to the toys department. Well, that’s the job for the men when their woman do the shopping.

We finished off in less than an hour and we took a cab back to our hotel.

End of the day and we are dead tired.

Day 3 – 18th Nov

I did not mention about the breakfast provided by the hotel. The hotel breakfast is decent though not fantastic like the ones I have in Landmark hotel. They change a few dishes everyday. The staff is polite but not efficient. They do not clear the plates promptly but they do serve you coffee and tea quick enough. If I will to stay just for one more day in the hotel, I will be really bored with the breakfast. This applies to all hotels, not only to Somerset Lake Point.

We took a cab to Saphan Thaksin. Well, we encounter heavy traffic jam. By the time we reach the pier, it is already 10am. We actually wanted to take the normal orange flag boat but I just cannot find the ticket booth. We only saw the tourist ticket booth and each ticket sells for THB25. Since it is a tourist boat, it only stop at selected stops. During the journey, there is a commentator that keeps talking about the sights along the river. We reach Pier no. 5 in about 15mins.

The walk to Yaowarat is pretty easy. Once you alight the boat, just walk straight and the market is just on your right with a small and narrow alley leading to it. Yaowarat is a place where you can find toys, stationery, dried seafood and many other stuff. We always buy lots of balloons, stationery and toys. The toys are not Fisher Price or Hasbro type. Many are China made and if you are thinking of buying for your army of  nieces, nephews and friend’s kids, this will be the place. They are actually wholesale and they sell in bulk usually, like 3 pieces of the same item will cost less if you buy only one item. If you buy one item individually, it will cost more compared if you buy in 3s.

The lanes of the market is usually small and narrow and once you add in the mobile food vendors, you can imagine how much space you have left for walking. The delivery man also deliver their goods using this narrow lane. So one must be alert always to avoid them.

With several bags in our hand and 3 kids, we got tired just after walking two streets. We then walk to one of the shop to have a drink while my wife shop for toys at the opposite street. When all is done, we have our lunch at the very same shop. We have chicken rice and the taste is very different from our country. It doesn’t taste that good but it doesn’t taste bad either.

After the meal, we took a cab to Let’s Relax spa. I have book a 3hr spa treatment for my wife. It cost about THB2000. It looks classy on the website but the downside is the place is hard to find. It is after some effort that we manage to locate this place.

After leaving my wife there, the kids and I went back to the hotel for some rest. I brought them to the play room to have some fun and also the pool. The pool is small and a small area is cordoned off for kids. The depth of the kids area is about 64cm. It is small so it cannot accommodate many kids. However, the place is empty when we were there so we have the whole pool by ourselves.

After almost 3 hrs, I took the kids to fetch my wife. The taxi driver lost his way to the spa. We keep turning circles and after one hour, we finally reach the place. I pick up my wife and she feedback that the spa treatment is pretty good.  We then went to the optical shop to collect the new spectacles. The staff again were nice and even recommended us to Ho ‘s Kitchen at Rama III. We actually wanted to go to Khinlom Chomsaphan for dinner but we have wasted so much time looking for the spa. We decided to call off this idea but we really have no idea about this Ho’s Kitchen. In the end, we went to Thonglor Soi 18 for some Japanese food. It is recommended by my friend and the restaurant is called Ashibi. The food is pretty nice there. It cost us about THB1800 and this is the most expensive meal that we have ever eaten in BKK.

After the meal, we cross the road to McDonald’s; this is the saviour for my kids.

After McDonald’s, we went to Sukhumvit Soi 38 for some mango and glutinous rice. This store is famous for this dish and I can see many people ordering it. The mango look so nice and tasty. We bought 3 mango back to our hotel to eat. This street is also actually quite well-known for some other food like porridge.

After all these, we call it a day.

We went back to the hotel and we start packing our stuff. We usually start packing early and do not wait till the last night as it will be too much for us. It was then my wife discovered that one pack of toys is missing! After some tracing, my wife concluded that the toys are left outside the chicken rice stall. My wife was thinking is there any way we can retrieve it. I coldly told my wife that this is not Japan. If you are in Japan, you still have 90% chance to retrieve it. In Bangkok, I really doubt so. Even though the contents is not valuable, but with so many people in Yaowarat, the chances of claiming it back is very slim.

Day 4 – 19th Nov

The first stop is to visit Funarium. This is the largest indoor playground in BKK. The admission for weekday is THB300 for child and THB90 for adults. The child ticket is for single admission only while the adult tickets allow you multiple entries. There is a cafeteria inside the playground so parents can enjoy their coffee while watching over your kids. There is a Carrefour and Tesco Lotus near to the playground where Carrefour is just next door. One parent must always be in the playground to stay with the kids.

We actually wanted to take a taxi to the place. The bell boy told us that the tuk tuk service to bring us to Carrefour so we can save some money. Since they only stop at Carrefour, I expect we have to walk a bit to the playground. To my surprise, the tuk tuk drive us all the way to Funarium entrance. This is so nice of them and I really appreciate it.

Again, the kids have a great time there. They can cycle, roller blade (additional THB100 and only available at certain hours) jump and climb around the playground. My wife went to Carrefour for some shopping. Well, my job is again to look after the kids.

I have tried to surf the Internet using my mobile phone for the past 3 days but it is not working. I actually felt cheated since I have paid the money for Internet access. However, while in Funarium, the Internet actually started working. I finally understand how it works.

For the past 3 days, once I turn on the cellular data, I immediately try to connect to the Internet. However, it does not work because the mobile phone has not established the connection with the telco! In Funarium, I leave the connection on and the mobile phone finally get connected to the telco after a few minutes. Do note that seems like AIS do not have a 3G network. They uses Edge. So this may explain the slowness.

By the time we leave Funarium, it is almost 2pm. We went to Carrefour and have a quick-lunch at KFC. The chicken taste so much better than Singapore. After a quick meal and last dash to Carrefour, we head back to the hotel to unload our stuff.

My wife wanted to try to go back to Yaowarat and see whether can she find the lost bag. I reluctantly agree as I have told her the chances of retrieving it is very slim. When we found the chicken rice store, they are actually closing. My wife saw a staff and signal her to ask her did she see any bag that is left outside the store. She smile and quickly went to the back of the store. She emerged with a bag with all the toys inside! We were so happy and I was pleasantly astounded. Never in my wildest dream that we are able to retrieve the bag.

We then walk to the Red shirt restaurant to have our dinner. We went to the restaurant itself which is opposite the Green shirt restaurant. The food taste pretty well and I would say both the Green and Red shirt food are both tasty.

After dinner, we intend to go to MBK, the mother of all malls in BKK. Many taxi do not want to take as there citing the traffic jam. Finally one taxi finally signal us to board and when we tell them our destination, he also do not want to travel to MBK. He finally agree but on a THB150 fare. I rejected his offer and insists on meter fare. After much haggling and looking at my 3 tired kids, I relented and bargain to THB130. The taxi driver is pretty skilful and he travel through the grounds of Chulalongkorn University and emerge at Thanon Phaya Thani. However, there is no traffic jam. I told him “You see, no jam. Why THB130?” He just covered his eyes and shake his head. When he reach the destination, I honoured my agreement and still pay him THB130.

We did not shop for long in MBK. We just do window shopping but my wife got a Samsung Galaxy S cover for just THB100. I will have to fork out 4 times the price in Singapore!  We then proceed to Siam Paragon. There is a Jamboree Cyber Park in Siam Paragon. It is actually a small arcade area with a play port. I cannot remember the admission price of the play port but I know it will only last you 30mins per entry.

After the kids have their 30mins of fun, we decided to head back. Here we meet another obstacle. There is a long queue at the taxi stand and there isn’t a single taxi in the queue. This means trouble for us. We decided to opt for the more expensive way; take the BTS to Asoke and then get a  cab to the hotel. This will cost us more but we can return to the hotel faster.

Yes, we finally reach the hotel in 20mins. ^__^

Day 5 – 20th Nov

Our last day in BKK.

Our one and only stop for the day is Seacon Square. Our main objective is to visit the Yoyoland there. Seacon Square is about 12km away from our hotel but the road to it is quite long. The taxi driver that the bell boy got for us is quite good. He knows where are the jam and he took the small roads to skirt around it. We reach there in about 30mins. However, the mall is still close and we have to wait till 10am then they open the doors.

I was told that Seacon Square is huge, but I never expect it to be so huge. According to Google Earth, I measure the length of the mall is about 500m. The atrium is quite impressive; spacious and enormous. Yoyoland open at 11am so we have one hour to shop around. The mall so so huge that stores like McDonald’s, KFC, Watsons, Boots etc can open several store within the mall. Seacon Square also has dedicated some floor space to some small shops like those in MBK.

The green arrow shows the end of Seacon Square. Top is left side of the building and below shows the right side of the building.

I have search the Internet but there are very little info about Yoyoland. Well, my curiosity got answered. Yoyoland is actually an indoor theme park. All rides are individually priced. I think the lowest price for a ride is THB30. So if your kid will to try all the rides, it will cost a bomb, not to mentioned I have 3 kids!

After the visit to Seacon Square, we end our trip and head back to the hotel. I do not know how on earth the taxi driver manage to chalk up almost THB300 for the return trip.

Our hotel accommodation package includes an airport transfer. It is a 10 seater van so with 10 bags, it is good for us. The van seems to take a different route to the airport. It passes by 3 toll gantries before reaching the airport. Strange.

Overall, the trip is a nice one. I have calculated the total cost of this trip is about SGD4300. A huge sum to me but as long as the kids is happy, I am fine with it. However, I did not manage to dine in Khinlom Chomsaphan and fail to visit Central World and the Grand Palace, which is I feel a bit disappointed.

As a matter of fact, I have started to miss Bangkok already.

For more pictures and description, please visit here.

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