Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Travel Diary | Thailand, pt. 3 (Bangkok)

reading time: 4 min




Welcome to the last part of my photo series on Thailand!
I hope you're not sick of it already ;)
 
For our third and final stop we went to Bangkok (again), where we spent the first day in the ancient capital of the Ayutthaya Kingdom, 85 km north of Bangkok. The ancient city of Ayutthaya was the Thai capital city for 417 years. During the period when Ayutthaya was capital, 33 kings and several dynasties ruled the kingdom, until the glittering city was sacked by the Burmese in 1767, ruined and abandoned. Nowadays, all that's left of that majestic kingdom are the ruins of Buddhist temples and monasteries that are preserved in the historical park of Ayutthaya's old city which is recognised internationally as a UNESCO World Heritage Site

I wish i could travel back in time and look at the magnificent buildings and the ancient culture that once inspirited this site...

BANGKOK

- Ayutthaya - 


Buddha's head grown together with the intertwined and twisted roots of a Bodhi tree. Such a wonderful thing...

However, be prepared for crowds of tourists. The pictures might not look like it (because they were carefully selected), but there was actually a ton of people with cameras all around. And these adorable young monks that were getting some sort of lecture or instructions i think. That's the only thing that i really missed in Thailand: getting in contact with monks and talking to them. They always seemed so far away from other people and as a girl raised by a Buddhist mother i would have loved to learn more about them!



This flower you see everywhere in Thailand is a frangipani - in case you're wondering :)


And look what i found: a mango tree!! Not ripe yet, unfortunately. But still!


Honestly, i don't really remember which Wats we went to - we rented bicycles for the day after getting to Ayutthaya by minivan, and we more or less just drove around randomly until we found something interesting. I think we came across Wat Thammikarat, Wat Maha That, Wat Ratchaburana, Wat Lokayasutharam, What Phra Si Samphet and the great Wat Yat Chai Mongkhon, but we weren't trying to trudge round all the sights - instead, we just wanted to ride around on our squeaky bikes that felt like trinkes, lol - and the only sights that i was really keen to see were Buddha's head in the tree at Wat Maha That, the lying Buddha at Wat Lokayasutharam and the rows of robed Buddha statues at Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon. And we made it to each of them :)




- Random Street Walking - 

Yes, my key chain kangaroo and travel buddy Hopsy was with us in Thailand too of course!


BTW: My new favourite (besides Hopsy and coconut ice cream of course) is this banana backpack that i bought in Khao San Road (for 6 bucks)!! I'm so in love with it, and i've already gotten so much wear out of it - both in Thailand and back home! It's just the perfect size for a day trip. And now everybody can see at first sight that i'm a banana girl :)


This was our hostel near the very touristy Khao San Road: Baan Nampetch Hostel. And it's probably the most minimalistic, clean and tidy hostel i've ever been to. Our double room consisted of a mattress, pillows, blanket, a clothes rail and an AC. That's it. And it was great! Great place, great staff, great atmosphere.


Our breakfast included in the low price of our super clean and tidy hostel was almost entirely vegan, yay!! Whole grain toast, marmalade, margarine, cornflakes, fresh fruits, tea, juice, and some weird dessert that looked like wobbly jelly that I didn't try. The soy milk are mine but everything else is part of the hostel buffet - and all on a terrace with a nice view on the river! :)



- Golden Mount -

The last huge sight we visited was Wat Saket (the Golden Mount or Golden Mountain), the biggest Buddhist temple (wat) in Bangkok. It actually dates back to the Ayutthaya era, when it was kind of a small and unimportant temple, but i think they restaurated it in the 18th/19th century and is most remarkable for its golden chedi or stupa at the top. We walked up all 318 steps, of course. But before that, i got distracted by a hidden little cemetery where i took like 50 photos of the interesting offerings and "architecture".

Sorry if i made you cringe a little :P But that's reality! That's life. There's creatures everywhere on our planet! And aren't we quick in judging which are "nice" and which are "disgusting" or "creepy"?

BTW: I love how they put this tablet with a cup of coffee as an offering for Buddha at the statue's feet, i'm sure he appreciates it, lol.


A miniature of the Golden Mount.


The transportation we used during our trip through Thailand was: airplane (8 flights including connecting flights), train, metro, ferry, boat, kayak, bus, minivan, 4x4 pick-up, taxi, tuktuk, scooter and bicycle. And our feet of course! :)

Great places to eat vegan in Bangkok:

- Mango Vegan & Vegetarian Restaurant (great pad thais, curries, gluten-free pancakes, ice cream...)

- Ethos (salads, burgers, curries, gluten-free pancakes...)
- May Kaidee's (traditional Thai food such as curries...)
...

  
BY THE WAY: our flight home was a nightmare! >> do not book with China Southern Airline! The cheap price is not worth the troubles you might go through!! << First our flight from Bangkok to Guangzhou/China was delayed for 6 hours (they kept postponing the flight due to an unknown reason), the personnel in China on the phone continuously lied straight to our face (they kept promising (!) us that the connection flights would wait for us - as if they would hold on for 6 hours! - of course they didn't -.-), and the ground crew in China was incapable to cope with the whole situation - which could be reasonable if it weren't for the 6 hours time they had, to prepare solutions and alternative flights, knowing that none of us would be able to catch their connection flights. No wonder some of the passengers lost their nerves facing this wall of held back information and lack of cooperation/competence -_- I don't blame it on the staff because they were obviously pretty clueless and overwhelmed (and the girls sitting at the counters don't determine the procedure of course) BUT I have a number of serious complaints against China Southern Airline that cannot be excused by the chaotic situation
(1) Nobody gave us any information concerning the delay - let alone the REASON for the delay. No communication with the passengers at all !
(2) The responsible lady at the counter of China Southern Airline in Bangkok left to "take a break" after we started questioning her about the delay (she never returned). No available contact person!
(3) Okay so our flight was supposed to take off at 7 pm with an announced delayed departure at midnight. After 4 hours of waiting around in the airport and repeated requests, we finally got some airplane food to eat - unfortunately, only meat options. Great -_- After explaining them that yes fish and shrimps are also meat, we had to wait an hour to get a vegetarian meal. Keep in mind that several people had of course booked a vegetarian meal for the intended flight, so it wouldn't be too hard to figure out that they would have to hand out the same amount of booked vegetarian meals -.-
(4) Finally, we made it to Guangzhou. Yaay. There we were surprised by an utterly unprepared ground crew that took at least 2 - 3 hours more to rebook all our flights (which basically meant that the majority of us had to take the same flight 24 hours later). Lack of preparation and alternatives!!
(5) I should also add that during all this time (it was 7 am by then) we didn't even get a bottle of water or ANYTHING!
(6) There was no compensation for the 24 HOUR DELAY whatsoever - for a missed day at work etc. Just a polite smile and a "no, sorry". Great, thanks -.-
(7) Last but NOT least, unprofessional officers in Guangzhou! I know that some German authorities can be real stubborn talk-to-my-hand douchebags too, but this one officer wouldn't admit a mistake on the side of the Chinese staff (they forgot to provide us with the second necessary immigration papers because we had to temporarily immigrate to China for the 24 hours) and this officer just started to shout at one of the passengers in an absolutely irrationally aggressive and commanding tone that really scared me because it reminded me of the way that authorities can abuse their power. It was obviously just this officer's desperate attempt to intimidate us for some reason - he immediately threatened this one lady to take away her passport just because she wanted to fill in the immigration form while standing in line instead of walking all the way back (like I said, the ground staff gave us wrong instructions, so it wasn't even our fault...). This gives you an impression of how respectfully and apologetically we were treated that night...
At least the hotel they brought us all for the day was quite decent. And we could shower and sleep for a few hours after a sleepless night.

But of course the airplane meals we got delivered to our hotel for dinner were all meat options. Because who doesn't eat meat, right? :(

>> This experience has given me a very negative impression of China Southern Airlines, not only because of the way they handled the overall situation, but especially the (understandably unhappy) passengers. PLEASE NOTE: I'm not just bashing on China Southern Airline because these past 2 days have been exhausting, frustrating and challenging, but one of the passengers told us that more or less the same thing happened to him on his flight to Thailand, also with CSA. so this seems to be a recurring problem. Next time I will choose a different airline for sure << 
At least it's safe to say that this has probably been the worst flight ever. It can only get better now :D

 
... return to PART 1: Chiang Mai!

Till next time, Thailand! Take care...

Happy Wednesday (and Ascension Day - and Mother's Day if you're celebrating ;) !



Maisy



(\(\
( - -)
((') (')