We were still dealing with a sick child. Parker was absolutely miserable and by the time we were ready to head to the airport to catch our 7:50pm flight, Parker was absolutely exhausted and ready to go to bed. He was a complete zombie at the airport, literally sleep walking through security and to our gate.
Before leaving home, I read many Trip Advisor posts and other travel blogs about taking taxis in Bangkok and to always insist they use the meter. We went to the taxi stand at the airport to get a taxi and the driver told us it was something like 500 Thai baht (I no longer remember the exact amount) to get to the Marriott Sukhumvit. We argued with him for a while about using the meter and he finally agreed. I knew from looking at Google maps that the airport was about 40 minutes away. It took us well over an hour to get there and the final meter price was about 125 baht Higher than what he quoted us at the airport. He purposely took the long way around to get the higher fare because we insisted on the meter. OK. You got me. At that point I really didn’t care because I had a sick baby sleeping on my lap and all I wanted to do was get to our room and go to bed. (it was now almost 10pm)
The Bangkok Marriott Sukhumvit was such a welcome sight! A Beautiful hotel (in a rather odd location) and very friendly staff. They immediately brought Parker a cool towel and took our bags to our room. They knew we needed to get him to bed as soon as possible and the check-in process only took about 3 minutes.
I think I will write a separate blog entry about the Bangkok Marriott Sukhumvit because it was my favorite hotel of the entire trip.
Parker got a good night’s sleep and on our first morning we went outside to find a taxi to take us to the Grand Palace. The taxi driver said he could not drive near the Grand Palace because of the protests and it would take too long to go around. He suggested we take the boat instead. He said he would take us to the pier for 100 baht (about $3) and I knew the public boat was only 20baht (80 cents) so it sounded like a good deal. As cab drivers usually do, he tried to get us to stop into a tailor shop for 10 minutes and he would cut the fare in half. He kept on about that for the whole ride and we just kept saying “No no no”
When we got near the river, he drove down a side road toward a dock, but it did not look like a public ferry dock. I kept asking him if this was the public ferry and he kept saying yes. It wasn’t. It was a private boat operator (more kickbacks for the driver for bringing people there I guess) who wanted 1500 baht for a 1 hour ride. They refused to tell us where the public ferry dock was but after some chatting with a shop owner down the road, we found out it was only about a block farther down.
I felt like a total travel newbie, getting taken by 2 cab drivers in less than 24 hours. But the 2nd one was totally not a big deal and actually saved me money from taking a cab the entire distance. The first one was worse because of Parker being sick, but again, not a “trip ruining” experience by any means. Travel is an adventure and you always have to be willing to learn as you go along.
Once we got to the Grand Palace, we walked around for about an hour in 100 degree heat. Parker was a good sport about it and was starting to feel much better. Although the heat there will take anybody down. I wouldn’t say the Grand Palace is a great place for kids unless they are really into Thai temple architecture. Once I started to get bored, I knew Parker would be more than ready to leave.
Since it was so beastly hot, we committed another Thailand Travel Faux Pas and caught a taxi right outside the Grand Palace. “Oh don’t ever do that! They will rip you off. You can get one cheaper if you walk a couple blocks down the street!” Forget it! It was 100 degrees and the taxi had his A/C blasting. Best 350 baht I spent on the whole trip! “WHAT?? I would never pay more than 100 baht for a ride to ANYWHERE in Thailand.” Whatever. After a while I get sick of hearing that. In general, the cab fares over there were much cheaper than you would pay in the States. And everything is relative. If I think it’s worth it to spend $10 on a taxi right in front of me, rather than walk another 10 minutes in ungodly heat to save $3, then it’s money well spent. As you know, the same is true for how you use your miles and points. They are worth what they are worth TO YOU. Not how much some blogger values them by doing complicated math equations.
We spent that afternoon in the pool at the Marriott and even ordered lunch poolside!
After swimming and a short nap, Parker was ready to go explore so we took the BTS (train) to the ferry dock and headed to Asiatique. Asiatique is Thai for “tourist trap”, but kids love it. They have lots of shops and restaurants and of course, a giant ferris wheel. Does every major city have a giant ferris wheel now?
Parker found a guy making balloon animals and he made him this most awesome Minion balloon!
When we left Asiatique, we took the public ferry back to the dock to catch the BTS train. When we got to the top of the escalator, the security guard said that we could not bring the Minion balloon on the train! What the? I told Matthew I was going to go back down and stuff the Minion in my bag and then come through again. The security guard probably heard me say this and was conveniently not there when we came back up. It’s a crazy rule, but I guess there is a reason for it. I’m glad I didn’t argue with the guard too much because apparently in 2012 an Irish passenger was badly beaten by BTS security guards for trying to bring (a big bouquet of ) balloons on a BTS train.
We decided to spend Friday indoors to beat the heat. We went to some of the big shopping malls that honestly were not much different than the malls at home. Mostly high-end stores. We did make our way over to MBK which was a bit different. Knock-off haven. The most popular knock-offs in Bangkok were Polo and Ray Ban. We bought some “Polo” shirts and shorts for Matthew and Parker and I got a pair of “Ray Bans” for about $3 that broke after about a week.
Terminal 21 was probably my favorite mall. Each floor is themed like a different country, Japan, England, France, USA etc. Very neat concept and they had some great restaurants and interesting bathrooms.
Saturday morning we went to the weekend market known as Chatuchuk Market. I am not a fan of flea markets in general, and this was no exception. There was nothing new or unique there that I couldn’t have bought at MBK. I read a lot of travel reviews about Chatuchuk and how much kids would enjoy it. Parker didnt. He was hot and still sick and there really wasn’t much there of interest to him. Plus it gets so crowded! We only stayed for about an hour and then took the BTS back to Taksin pier to catch the ferry to Wat Arun. If you get off the ferry at Ta Tien, you can catch another ferry to take you across the river for 20baht.
Before heading over to Wat Po, we found a vendor on the street with a nice assortment of food. I should mention, we had been having a very hard time getting Parker to eat. A very hard time. It’s not that he just wouldn’t eat Thai food, he wouldn’t even eat Western food (McDonald’s) because he said it tasted different. He got better as the trip went on, but in the beginning he ate very little. It could have been because he was sick, so I can’t write him off as a picky travel eater….yet.
I got a few things that looked like chicken nuggets and hoped that Parker would eat them. He did eat a few bites, but then started spitting it out.
On our last night, I had to go to Khao San Road. Backpacker paradise that I first read about 15 years ago and was always a “Bucket List” destination for me. I’m not 25 anymore, but I still had to check it out. It’s not easy to get to because it’s not serviced by the BTS. We took the ferry there, which was easy, and took a cab back to the hotel. It wasn’t as “cool” as it was in my daydreams, but I’m still glad I went.
I think Parker enjoyed Bangkok. He loved saying “hello” and “thank you” in Thai. He played with Thai children in the parks and loved all the attention he got from the adults. They love little blonde-haired faring babies!
He loves public transportation and liked buying his own tickets on the BTS and trying to figure out which train we needed to take by looking at the maps.
Next up: Khao Lak