May 30 – June 2, 2013
I finally had a chance to go out of the country for a holiday. Initially, the plan was to go to Cambodia. But my sister already booked for her trip to BKK more than 6 months ago and she was looking for someone to accompany her. So my friends and I decided on Bangkok instead. I arrived 2 days earlier than them so I can be with my sister and we just met during one of the days for a city tour. Since this is our (me and my sister) second time to go here, we decided to ditch the usual tours and go to places we haven’t been to before.
I reached Bangkok around 12MN BKK time and took a taxi to my hotel. I showed the driver the printout address of Takeanap although he was acting confused and telling me (in Thai language) that he didn’t know the area. Thankfully, he had a mobile phone that I used to call my hotel and give the instructions to the driver. It is important to note that Thailand is not really an English speaking country, so it was really hard to communicate with the locals.
This would be our (me and my sister) second time to stay in this cute hostel located near Patpong. Yes, it is located near the red light district of Bangkok. The first time we stayed there was back in 2010 with my other sister and a friend. We liked their service, plus the rates are cheap and there’s free breakfast and WiFi. We liked it so much that we recommended it to our friends, including Babe who also stayed there when she went to visit BKK. 🙂 And it was also convenient as it was near the railway stations: Sala Daeng Station (BTS Skytrain) and SamYan Station (MRTA Subway).
Day 1 – Pattaya and Coral Island Day Tour
We booked a day tour from Sun Leisure which included transportation to and from the hotel to Pattaya for 1250 baht per person (approx. 51 SGD). They picked us up around 6:30 am and after picking one more person we were off to Pattaya. Pattaya, a 2-hour drive away from Bangkok, is a city in Thailand, a beach resort popular with tourists and expatriates. It is located on the east coast of the Gulf of Thailand, about 130 km southeast of Bangkok within but not part of Amphoe Bang Lamung (Banglamung) in the province of Chonburi. Apparently, Walking Street, a famous red light district, can be found in this city. Upon arrival, we were given a brief summary of the itinerary for the day and asked to meet at the Dolphin Fountain/Statue (because there was no water really) after 1.5 hours for our speedboat ride to Coral Island.
While walking along the shoreline of the beach to pass time, what we noticed was the ridiculous amount of beach umbrellas for rent. They took up most of the space in the shore where you can go for a walk. After taking enough photos and resting for a while, we were gathered for the speedboat ride that first took us to the parasailing platforms in the middle of the sea then to Coral Island.
Parasailing was optional, and for 500baht you can get to enjoy being airborne via a parachute pulled by a motorboat for approximately 5 minutes (or less). The motorboat just basically went one round around the platform. You can choose dip or no-dip, dip being that they will stop the boat for a while so you can go down and dip your body (without submerging your face) in the water. We chose the no-dip one. Should’ve chosen the other one instead. After everyone in the group finished with their turn in parasailing, we went back to our speedboat for another 20-minute ride to Coral Island. I have to say, I’ve always wondered how it feels to ride a speedboat, but I therefore conclude that I hate it! It made me a bit seasick with all the bumps we had to endure.
Coral Island (Koh Larn) is an interesting island famous among tourists. This Koh Larn is not far from Pattaya City, only approximately 7.5 Kilometers, as visitors can see the island from Pattaya Beach. There are several famous beaches in Koh Larn, where the most popular one is Tawaen Beach. This is where most visitors go for a day tour, as it is very accessible via speedboat. We were kinda hoping that this beach would be better than Pattaya Beach, but it turned out that most tourists thought of the same thing. It was highly overrated in my opinion. Aside from a lot of people, the shoreline was crowded by, yup, beach umbrellas! We had our lunch in one of the restaurants there (lunch was part of the day tour package), and had free time the rest of the afternoon. Also part of the itinerary was coral viewing via a glass bottom boat. After all that, we were off to Pattaya where the van took us to Gems Gallery for a mini tour of gems history plus passing through a large shop of all jewelry where the sales person would follow you to try to sell their products. After the gallery was the looong drive back to Bangkok. One thing I wouldn’t like to experience ever again in BKK, the traffic. We were stuck for 2 hours just navigating through Bangkok to reach our hotel.
Day 2 – Amphawa Floating Market (DIY)
Second day was our first floating market experience in Thailand. We left late since morning was a bit of free time and we did a bit of shopping at Platinum Mall. After that short shopping spree we made our way to the Victory Monument BTS station to take the minibus going to Amphawa. Once in Victory Monument BTS Stn, we took exit 4 and went to the direction of Fashion Mall. Take note that the terminal is just before the Fashion mall where you can see uncles outside with colorful signages.
You can purchase tickets at the counter with the destination posted below the windows. One-way ticket to Amphawa costs 80 baht per person. It is advised that once you reached Amphawa, you must purchase the ticket going back to Bangkok. After the van was filled we were off!
Amphawa is the second most popular floating market near Bangkok, not as large as Damnoen Saduak but more authentic, with visitors almost exclusively Thai. Located 50 km from Bangkok, this once small village was apparently already present in the mid-Seventeenth Century. It has become such a magnet for Thai weekenders that food stalls have grown from the riverbanks and stretched far into the surrounding streets.
The main draw is of course eating seafood grilled precariously on wooden boats moored around the famous central bridge, serving an appetizing array of huge prawns, shellfish and squid. From noon until late in the evening, the smell is simply irresistible and customers flock to each side of the river all day long.
Amphawa Floating Market is surrounded by souvenir shops, specialty stores and also a variety of food stalls selling authentic Thai dishes and delicacies. Apart from the stores, you can also ride the boat and roam around the place. They also offer Firefly Lights show for 60 baht, which includes visiting nearby temples (the names of which I don’t know) and also take you to an area where there’s lots of fireflies at night. It was quite amusing, though we waited for a long time since the area didn’t turn dark until past 7 when the fireflies started showing themselves. We were quite agitated because the last van going back to BKK was 8:30 pm and we need to get back to terminal before then.
After the Firefly Lights Show, we hurriedly returned back to the bus terminal for our ride back to Bangkok. Thankfully we didn’t experience traffic jam that time 🙂
Part 2 of this Thailand post after the jump 😀