17th August 2005. There is a bomb explosion happened just outside Ratchaprasong intersection and the Erawan Shrine killing many people.
It is also 4 days before our departure. We are deliberating whether should we proceed with our trip to Bangkok.
In the end, we decided to go ahead after assuring our families that we will take all necessary precautions.
We also wanted to show some support to the Thai people that such acts will not deter tourist from visiting this vibrant city.
Since we have been to Bangkok so many times, I will not write this report in a chronological order. I also apologise for the picture quality due to my lousy camera and shaky hands.
The flight to Bangkok
We took Air Asia flight to Don Muang and the flight is only about 40% filled. This gives us a lot of space. I believe this is the result of some flight cancellation in the wake of the tragedy.
As usual, I pre-order Nasi Lemak for SGD$5 and was given a complimentary drink free. Not the cheapest in the flight but it is the best among the bad ones.
Air Asia do sell SIM card for your phone. However as there is a new regulation that require all SIM cards to be registered unlike before. So after you purchase it, you still have to activate the SIM card by bringing it down to the TrueMove Center near to Gate 6 after you clear the customs.
Therefore I suggest you buy the SIM card directly with the TrueMove Center and activate it on the spot. The price of the SIM card is the same; THB299 for 7 days with a 1.5GB data plan at 3G speed.
The flight is uneventful and we reach Bangkok on time. Immigration clearance is fast as there aren’t many passengers.
I do not see any increase in security in the arrival hall.
Since there are 5 of us, we decide to get a coupon transport. It cost THB1000 excluding toll of THB120. So the total fare will be THB1120.
A van came to bring us to our hotel. Since there are only 5 is us, it is very spacious. Despite being a Friday afternoon, the traffic is considered light and we reach the hotel in about 40mins.
The hotel – Somerset Lake Point
We book a 3 bedroom apartment.
A few days before arrival, Somerset sent us an email to do a web check-in and advice them of any special request that we may have and they will try to fulfill it.
So we ask for a key card for everyone and also late check out. I also wonder will they really take it seriously.
I have personally stayed in Somerset Lake Point several times. So far they have not disappoint me.
When we arrived, we felt welcome and the staff quickly unload our luggage.
Check-in is still fast but could be better. The check-in staff is often interrupted by other issues therefore slowing the process down.
True to what I have advice in the web check-in, they issue us a key card each and gave us a late checkout at 1330hrs.
Our luggage is brought up by the staff but the key card is not working. The staff then brought down to change the card but it still does not work. It is only the 2nd try that the card finally work. Small issue though. They key point is they resolved it fast.
Though I have stayed in Somerset Lake Point several times but I have never stayed in a 3 bedroom Premier Suite before and I am really impressed by it.
The living room is huge! It can easily accommodate 10 sleeping bags. There is a separate dining hall. The kitchen is small but sufficient. The washer and dryer is hidden in a small room. This is also to reduce the noise from it.
Each room has their own en suite toilet with shower. There is still a common toilet without shower.
The safe box is located in the master bedroom and so is the bathtub.
The water pressure is good also and the warm water is quite consistent. Just felt that they should use a better quality shower head.
We are very impressed by the size of the apartment.
They have also alter the breakfast area layout. The food is placed inside a room now instead of in the open. More seating place have also been created.
Somerset still provide Tuk tuk service to Asok BTS. However when I ask the staff do they go to Emporium and they replied no. I remembered that the manager did reply to my review in Tripadvisor that the tuk tuk service do go to Emporium. I once saw the Somerset tuk tuk travel from Soi Setthi Thawi Sep direction to Soi 16.
I am a little disappointed. Is this some form of discrimination?
We actually just shop at a few places only.
We walked from Chit Lom towards the Erawan Shrine using the sky bridge but we did not go to the street level. We just pray from the sky bridge though I would very much like to go down. However I understand my friend’s concern.
We then walk to Central World and just go to Naraya to buy some stuff for our missus. Happy wife, happy life.
We then walk to Platinum Mall to look for some stuff but unfortunately they are no where to be found.
Platinum Mall seems to be getting bigger every year. It is a woman’s heaven but a man’s nightmare.
We also visited Big C at Rama IV. This Big C is much better than Ratchaprasong due to the crowd. It is also more local.
There are also many food choices in Big C Rama IV, There are MK, Swensen, Mcdonalds, KFC, Oishi Japanese Restaurant etc. There are also many restaurants in surrounding area. If Big C is still not enough for you, there is a Lotus Tesco across the road.
We also shop at Chinatown which is my personal favourite. This is a wholesale market where you can get almost anything like T-shirts, ornaments, beads, stationery, toys etc.
To travel to Chinatown, I suggest you take public transport. One way during daylight is by ferry.
Take the BTS to Saphan Taksin and walk down to Sathorn Pier. Then take the ferry to Pier 5; Ratchawong.
After exiting from the pier, just walk straight and you will see the market on the right along a small alley.
I wonder what type of friends have I made. They are all foodie and they eat anywhere and everywhere.
We went to Chinatown twice. The first time is during daylight.
We found a hole in the wall wanton noodle stall. Thailand wanton noodle is quite bland when serve. I think you need to add in seasoning by yourself. However the taste is still nice and it is a good change after some heavy eating.
You should also see them how fast they can prepare one bowl of noodle. It is in astonishing speed!
We also tried Somboon Seafood in Ratchada. Honestly, it is really over hype.
The taste is really not up to par.
The chili crab is tasteless and the grilled squid is cold.
The chrysanthemum drink is actually sugar water. It is undrinkable. I will get diabetes if I will to drink this for a few days.
It is not cheap either. It cost us THB737 per person (I am comparing with other usual seafood restaurants in Bangkok).
We also tried the food court in Terminal 21. The food is nice and affordable.
We even tried the pig blood and internal organs in Huay Khwang. Pig blood is already outlawed in our country due to hygiene issues. So we can only have it outside of our country.
I do not eat those internal organs (I call it spare parts) but my friends thoroughly enjoyed it.
I think some of the best food we ate is in Chinatown. We went to the usual T&K Seafood. We usually refer it to the green shirt seafood because the uniform of the staff are green.
We ordered an array of food and generally the food is good though I feel that the standard has drop a bit. Still it is delicious compared to Somboon. The bill comes up to THB450 per person.
We also discovered another Chinese dessert that is authentic. We called it Cheng Teng here in our country.
The hot version is cooked with ginger. It has lotus, water chestnut, longan, and other ingredients that is usually used in Chinese soup or desserts.
The ginger version is very spicy and the role of the ginger is to expel wind from your body. So drink it with caution!
If you cannot take the hot version, there is a cold version that they put ice on it. It is equally nice and easy with your throat.
We also eaten Zui Gue. This food is also available in our country but different version. This reminds me of a phrase “Same same but different“.
In Bangkok, the serving size is smaller and the cai po is harder. Still delicious though.
If you want to visit Chinatown in the evening, I suggest you take the MRT to Hua Lomphong station and walk there. Not many taxi drivers want to go there due to the traffic. Getting out can be difficult as many wanted fixed rate.
On our last day, we also lunch at MK. My impression MK is bad as I have tried their food many years ago. After so many years, I decided to give it another try.
I would say it taste quite good especially the roast duck and char siew.
We have tried two massage shops across the hotel.
One of them is Just Jenny and the other is Yen Sbai where the staff wear pink colour polo shirt.
Both are equally good but I prefer Just Jenny. The foot massage price is pretty standard across the three; THB300 for 1 hour foot massage. I must say the massage is good. They (both shops) even reduced my Plantar Fasciitis pain that I have suffered for months!
There is also a newly open massage shop within Somerset compound and the cost seems to be the same.
Sounds weird and maybe creepy isn’t it?
There is this donation programme going on in some of the temples in Bangkok. I only know of two. One is in Sam Yan and the other is in Chinatown.
The aim of this donation is to donate a coffin for those who died but too poor to buy a coffin or those bodies that are not claim by anybody. Despite the economic progress that Thailand has made throughout the decades, there are still poor people who cannot afford 3 meals a day let alone a coffin when they die.
The donation will cost you THB650 which includes a coffin and a white sheet of cloth. You will be issued a receipt and you must burn the receipt within the temple before you leave. You can even give the donation using credit card!
While walking to the temple, we also saw some traditional trade that has vanished in our country.
Overall we enjoyed out short stay in Bangkok. Though the security has increased in tourist spots but it did not dampen our mood.
We also did not see any increased in security in the departure hall of Don Muang Airport.
Despite the tragedy, Thailand seems to be resilient to it and life is back to normalcy.
We’ll be back for sure.