Sawatdee Khrap!

5:58 PM Shanky 2 Comments

Courtesy: Google Images

Courtesy: wikitravel


This is the first time my Indian issued passport is going to get a foreign stamp or should I say "Farang" stamp as they say here in Thailand ;)? Thanks to the company I am working for, I will be in Angthong province in Thailand for a 3 month training stint. Angthong is around 110 kms from Bangkok and so weekends are not going to be sober ;) But only after coming here I discover that even weekdays need not be sober :) So on 18 Sept, 2011 early hours I started my epic journey to Thailand. Thanks to Air India, we were delayed and practically held hostage at the Mumbai International airport for over 3 hours after scheduled departure time (I was so pissed off that I could have slapped any employee who had the guts to justify with some stupid reason).

After the delay, tiring flight and some 4.5 hours of time later we arrived at the Suvarnabhumi airport, Bangkok. I was too tired by now to be even psyched about being there! Damn you - Air India! After the usual airport checks me and my friend (he is to be stationed 15 min from the nearest skytrain station in Bangkok!! Lucky Bugger!) were searching for our company placard holding driver! And to our horror neither of our drivers spoke English!! After dancing around in the name of sign language we got into our cabs and drove towards our respective destinations.

So with no Thai from my side and no English from their side most of my conversations with factory workers, drivers or shop owners were like Sunday 2:00 pm DD news! But I love to learn new languages and so, I started off with internet (www.learningthai.com) and it was pretty useful. Unlike Indian languages, Thai is a tonal language and pretty difficult to master without you actually hearing them speak the words. That is where learningthai.com was better than other sites and they usually have an Romanised version of the Thai word phrase or sentence and on clicking the Thai version of it, you can also hear a native guy speak the word out to you.

So, equipped with some basic Thai and loaded with some Baht, my friend and I decided we should go around Bangkok the following weekend-day (I have a 6 day workweek :x and hence the new word). I took a commuter van from Angthong to Bangkok on Saturday evening. These vans are very comfortable with Aircon, LCD TV and plush cushion seats. However, there was only one problem, they don’t speak English and my "basic"/"Fair" Thai was not making any sense to them. As fate would have it, I ended up at a farther off skytrain station that lengthened my journey as well! But what the heck, I was in Bangkok!! I took a sky train to my friend's place in SamutPrakarn and the skytrain system is exactly like our Delhi Metro system minus the bag checking and extensive security. Luckily the automated voice announced the stations both in Thai and English which made it easier. We then passed our time off at a mall in Samutprakarn. We roamed around the mall marveling at the variety of stores, size of the mall and the hotness quotient of Thai sales girls. The night was well spent!

The next day morning we decided to visit the three most important tourist attractions of Bangkok - The grand palace, Wat Pho and Wat Arun. After landing at few wrong stations and then shifting trains (Luckily I had a 30 day pass for the skytrain), we reached SuphanTaksin station on the Silom line. From there we had to take an express boat on the Chao Phraya river to reach the Maharaja pier where all the three attractions are located. Grand Palace has a hefty entry fee for foreigners (THB 400) and I think it is worth the money. It also houses the Wat Phra Theow, the temple of Emerald Buddha. Emerald Buddha is the most revered and loved Buddha in all of Thailand. The other two attractions will cost you THB 50 each. Wat Arun is across the river and ferry service for THB 6 per person (up & down) is available. You will definitely be approached by scamsters claiming the palace is closed or is under renovation, just ignore them and go see for yourself. (We were approached by a guy with a "Tourist Police" tag with the same story)

After tiring roundup of the famous attractions in Bangkok it was time for me to leave for Angthong and this time I was better off in finding the right commuter van and was back safe at my company guest house.

Practical Information:
  • Never ever trust someone who is willing to help you unsolicited and more than required. Insist on meter when in taxis and tuktuks are best avoided.
  • You get better exchange rates in the city than at the bank counters in the airport (1THB = 1.6 INR in the city while it was 2.5 INR at the airport. 1USD = 30.1 in the city while it was         29.1 at the airport)
  • Buy a lonelyplanet guide or at least go through wiki travel pages and take printouts if need be
  • Bring along the two pin US to India travel adapter/converter

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2 comments:

  1. I agree with the first bullet point under "Practical Information." I have suffered after trusting.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sir, I think there are always exceptions. Have a look at my next blog post :)

    ReplyDelete

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