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The best rooftop bars in Bangkok Apr 18

I enjoy having a drink with a view and in some cities there are many bars to choose from. I have been to Bangkok a few times and I was blown away by the view from Vertigo on the Banyan tree building (you can read one of my Bangkok trip reports on my homepage). The local paper here in Stavanger had an article the other day about new places in Bangkok that might be worth checking out. Here is the list:

 Up & above: Seems to be both a bar and restaurant and it is located at hotel Okura near Ploen Chit skytrain station. Located on the 24th floor.

L’Appart: French restaurant located in Sofitel hotel near Nana. The restaurant is located on 32nd floor and according to the article it is decorated as a French apartment and there is also a balcony where you can enjoy food and drinks.

Park Society & Hi So: another new place located at a Sofitel hotel. This time it is the hotel located near the Lumpini stop on the subway. Park Society is the restaurant part of this concept and it is located on 29th floor. Hi So is the bar and it is located on the roof.

Zense: this place is located on top of the CentralWorld chopping complex in the middle of Bangkok. It is “only” on the 17th floor but it can offer restaurants, bars, indoor and outdoor seat etc.

Speakeasy: this bar is located on top of the trendy hotel Muse. It seems to be located on level 24 and 25 and the hotel is on Langsuan Road. The bar also seems to have a cigar lounge called Blind pig.

Red Sky and Fifty five: Red sky is the bar part and Fifty five is the restaurant. It is located on top of Centara hotel at the Central World complex and the view is of course great from 55th floor.

Vertigo and Moon bar: I guess the original roof top bar in Bangkok. From 61st floor you get an amazing view of Bangkok. Located on the Banyan tree building on Sathorn Road.

Sirocco, Distil and Breeze: Sirocco sky bar is located on the top of Lebua hotel on Silom road. You get a very nice view of Bangkok from the bar on 63rd floor. Breeze is a restaurant on 52nd floor that offers great view of the river.

So if you are going to Bangkok – now you have a few places to check out if you want a drink with a view Smile

Gard – trip reports and pictures

Shangri-La Bangkok – Great hotel by the river Jun 19

IMG_7511I have had the pleasure of staying at Shangri-La Bangkok a couple of times. The first time was in October 2011 when I stayed in the Krung Thep wing and the second time in June 2012 when I stayed in the Shangri-La wing. In June 2012 I actually booked the hotel using my Golden Circle points as I was only staying one night. I chose the hotel as the location is pretty good and I am a Golden Circle member and like staying at Shangri-La/Traders hotels.  I travel a bit for work and pleasure and I have stayed at various 4 and 5 star hotels around the world just to give you an idea about the background for this review.

IMG_7513The taxi from the airport cost about 400 Baht (including the 50 Baht airport tax) + the toll station fees of 70 baht.  The reception at the hotel was great as always when coming to a 5 star hotel in Thailand. The staff took care of the luggage of course and we were taken to the reception where we got checked in and I got 1425. This time I was staying in the Shangri-La wing – the hotel has these two wings that both have stunning views of the Chao Phraya River. IMG_7515The room was delicate as always at Shangri-La hotels – a neutral carpet, light wall paper, dark furniture, art on the walls etc. The centerpiece was as always, the over-sized king-sized bed which was quite comfortable. Apart from that there was a sofa by the window with a grand view of the river, a desk and chair and a flat screen TV mounted on the wall in front of the bed. As a Golden Circle member I was also greeted with a welcoming package on the room which is always a nice treat. The furniture under the TV hid a small fridge with a selection of drinks but as usual it is cheaper to buy this outside the hotel (one Coke is 160 Baht) . There is also complimentary water in the room.

IMG_7522The room also included a large wardrobe with hangers, ironing board, iron, a small safe, robes and slippers. The bathroom was also in line with other Shangri-La hotels that I have stayed at around the world…a combination of neutral marble tiles and dark tiles. The sink was in black marble finish and the bathroom also featured a bathtub, shower corner (with a proper glass door) and a toilet. The selection of amenities are not as extensive as when you stay at the club level but you still get a tooth brush, soaps, shampoo etc. When I checked in the duty manager came to greet me and said that I should get in touch if I had any additional requests – later on I did go to the front desk to ask if I could get the L’Occitane shower products and not the standard shower amenities as I love the small of the L’Occitane products. I know this is just for the club rooms but I was hoping the guy would give me a break as I’m a Jade member but apparently not.

My friend stayed at the club level and at 5.30 PM he invited me to the Horizon lounge on the 24th floor for evening cocktails. The lounge has again a stunning view in many directions and there are lots of tables right by the windows. Here they had a small selection of snack and a pretty good selection of wine and drinks that we could enjoy while watching the sun go down over Bangkok.

IMG_7527Shangri-La Bangkok is a great hotel and it has a great standard as you will find in many other Shangri-La hotels in Asia. The room is lovely, the reception that you get at the hotel is great and if you stay at horizon level you will be able to enjoy breakfast and evening cocktails in the horizon lounge on the 24th floor. The hotel is located near the river so it is easy to get around by skytrain as it is located near Saphan Taksin skytrain station. But you can also easily take a river boat bus to go e.g. grand palace. If you want a great hotel and want to stay by the river in Bangkok, you should definitely check out Shangri-La as one of the options.

Gard – trip reports and pictures

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Aloft Bangkok–new hotel with a young&trendy atmosphere Feb 27

IMG_7024I stayed at Aloft in Bangkok located on Sukhumvit Soi 11 for 3 nights in February 2012 and I chose the hotel as it was brand new (opened in December 2011), the price was quite reasonable and I wanted to stick to a Starwood Preferred Guest hotel (I have a Gold card so it gives a few benefits). I have been to Bangkok a number of times and I have stayed at hotels such as Sheraton Sukhumvit, Westin Sukhumvit, Lebua, Centara Grand at CentralWorld, Shangri-La, St. Regis and Plaza Athenee just to give you an idea of my reference point when I write this review about Aloft. I booked the hotel online on the SPG site and I went for an offer “stay 3 night – pay for 2” and the cost was 7000 Baht plus the mandatory 17-18 % hotel tax (so a grand total of 270 USD including taxes for the three nights). You can get single nights down to 2100 Baht if I’m not mistaken and that is about  80 USD including the taxes!

IMG_7025I arrived in Bangkok at night and took a taxi into the hotel (remember to use the meter even if they suggest a fixed price of 450 Baht). I’m familiar with the Sukhumvit Soi 11 area so this was not a surprise to me – I actually had to guide the taxi driver as he was not familiar with the hotel location at all. Driving up to the hotel lobby it was easy to see that this was a young and trendy hotel rather than a 5 star hotel like Sheraton or Le Meridien. When I got to the reception the music was blasting from speakers, TV’s were displaying sports and music videos etc. The check in was fast and I got a different room than I had booked (I got Urban and not Chic) but I’m not sure that it makes a big difference. As I have a SPG gold card I also got late checkout (4 PM) and I got a voucher for three drinks in the lobby bar.

IMG_1306I got room 1103 on the 11th floor and with 4 lifts it was not a problem getting fast to the room. As it is a new hotel it offers modern technology like swiping the card in the lift to be able to get to your floor and the door to the room was also opened by just placing the hotel key card next the lock. The hallway to my room was quite dim and very warm but my room was a nice surprise. The room was a bit on the small side and it was a bit hard to place my over-sized Samsonite suitcase but it still looked like a nice room.  As I walked into my room I had the bathroom to my immediate right while the room was straight forward. IMG_1304The floor was covered by a colorful carpet while the walls were in light colors. The room was dominated by the king size bed, a corner sofa and the desk with the large flat screen TV on it and a small mini bar. The bed was huge and it was actually quite comfortable. The TV had a number of channels like you would expect in a modern hotel – but more importantly: the wifi at the hotel was free and seemed to work pretty good. The mini bar had a small selection of drinks and a beer was about 120 Baht (about 4 USD) but why buy it at the hotel when you can get it on a street bar for 2 USD? ;-) The small table next to the bed included a Philips alarm clock where I could dock and charge my iPhone – brilliant in other words. But there were also lots of sockets around in the room to charge the laptop, iPad, camera etc. The view from the room was not bad – I had a city view and I was looking down on the bar The Nest.

IMG_1302The bathroom was very nice and with a pretty creative setup. The first part of the room contained on one side the wardrobe (with an ironing board and iron), small safe, a coffee machine and water boiler (maybe a bit weird to have this in the bathroom) and on the other wall there was a sink with just a couple of amenities. With a mirror sliding door it was possible to divide the room in two rooms and the inner part of the room contained the toilet and the shower – nice setup if you are sharing the room with someone but want to have some privacy when e.g. taking a shower. The shower was huge (I guess there is space for a bigger shower when there is no bathtub) but there was not a lot of the amenities that you find in the 5 star hotels. Instead of having small bottles with various products there were just two dispensers on the shower wall…one with shampoo and one with shower gel. The water in the shower took a bit of time to heat up but in the end it was possible to get a pretty hot shower if that is want you want. The floor was in dark tiles which looked stylish but with the uneven surface it might be a bit tricky to clean?

IMG_1303I did not have breakfast in my room rate but I did have breakfast at Crave one day. It is located on the 8th floor and it seems like it is a restaurant at night (with a nice selection of wine on display) and a breakfast place in the morning.  It is split in two section so you can actually sit outside or inside in air-con. The breakfast selection was quite good with the option of getting your eggs made the way you want, they had bread, cereal, fruit etc. It was not as lavish as the breakfast buffet that you see on the 5 star hotel s but more than good in enough for most people I would imagine. If you don’t want to pay the 550 Baht for breakfast at Crave you also have the option of getting something in the lobby. IMG_7029In the lobby there is a small self serve place that has drinks, fruit, cereal and there was also staff there to make a sandwich – a great option if you are not a big eater in the morning.
On the 10th floor you can find the pool and the gym. The gym had the stuff that I need for a workout – a couple of treadmills, and they were brand new and everything was control on a touch screen – not sure if that is the best option. The pool was described on the Aloft webpage as being 80 meters long which is of course wrong. The pool area is rather small but at least you have the option of cooling down in a pool and get a view at the same time. I think the tower itself puts the pool in the shade in the afternoon.

The location of the hotel
IMG_7026I’m not quite sure what to say about the location of the hotel. It is located deep in Soi 11 but you can easily walk to Sukhumvit road and the second you turn the corner you are at Nana skytrain station so it is easy to get around from there. Soi 11 is a lively street with lots of restaurants, bars, massage parlors etc. There are some well known places here: Bed and Supper Club is right across the street from the hotel and you can find Q Bar and The Nest around the corner. Some of these places do contain a number of working girls so don’t be shocked when you see a number of western guys with Thai girls coming into the hotel.

IMG_1307So what about things that were not that great? Well, I came back to my room at about 3-4 pm after work and my room was not cleaned – a bit strange as this is normally done in the morning when people are out of the room.  My wifi worked pretty well but I tried to plug in the cable to get an even better internet line but the cable didn’t see to work at all. When I handed in the laundry bag one day I did not get a new bag – I guess this is just start up problems and they will figure it out when they get a bit more experience.

This is a brand new hotel located in one lively part of Bangkok. The hotel has a young and trendy atmosphere so I’m not sure it will be the right hotel for everyone. The good thing about the hotel is free wifi, it is new, the room was quite good in layout, there was a bit of complimentary water in the room for drinking and the location is not bad at all. But if you are looking for a quiet hotel for relaxation you might want to look somewhere else.

Gard – trip reports and picture

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A suite at St. Regis in Bangkok Aug 29

I stayed at St. Regis in Bangkok earlier this year and it was a great stay as the hotel is brand new and it is a quality hotel with an amazing view. Here is my review from the visit earlier this year: . I went back there recently and I got upgraded to a suite this time and I got a HUGE room with an amazing bathroom. Below is a video that I took that shows the room – if every hotel room could be like this Winking smile

Gard – trip reports and pictures

St. Regis Bangkok: new luxury hotel with quality in all the details Jun 25

IMG_6023I have been to Bangkok a few times and I have stayed at hotels like Plaza Athenee, Sheraton Sukhumvit, Westin, Lebua, Centara CentralWorld, Le Meridien etc just to give some sort of idea of my experience with hotels in Bangkok before reading this review. I normally try to stick to Starwood hotels these days as I have a Starwood gold card and that can of course bring some benefits. This time I choose to stay at St. Regis as they had a special opening offer as the hotel opened recently and because the location seemed pretty good. As usual I booked the hotel online of Starwood Preferred Guest and the rate was 7300 Bath excluding taxes. This offer also included breakfast for two or dinner for two, complimentary internet and a 1000 Baht voucher for Elmis spa.

IMG_6007Getting the airport taxi staff to understand where we were planning on going was not easy. First of all it is a new hotel in Bangkok and Thai’s normally struggle with some of the sounds in the St. Regis name. But we explained that it was on Ratchadamri road and next to another hotel. At the hotel we were welcomed and a woman took us to the reception on a higher level. Check in was not done in the regular way standing at a desk – instead it was done by sitting down in comfortable chairs while getting everything sorted out. Check in went fast and I was taken to my room 2005. The room was very impressive at first glance – IMG_6006the floor being with white tiles to start with and the rest in darker wood. To start with there were the usual wardrobes with lots of hangers, a small safe, robes etc. There was room enough for my large Samsonite suitcase to be placed between the wardrobes and I appreciate that. There was a large Samsung TV and in the furniture underneath it there was a fridge that even included a half size bottle of champagne – you don’t see that every day in hotel fridges.
IMG_6008The bed was huge and quite comfortable but the pillows were a bit too big and hard for my liking. There was also a desk with two chairs and a two seat sofa with a small table. And then there was a beautiful view of “The Royal Bangkok Sports Club” from windows stretching from floor to ceiling. The bathroom was set up it a genius way – there were sliding doors between the bedroom and the bathroom and hence it was possible to make it into a full room with 4 walls. The bathroom was tiled with light tiles, included huge mirrors, a modern style bathtub, two sinks and a large shower with a huge rainforest shower head. There were also very good amenities and the shower soap even included some scrubbing grains. There were also tooth brush, shaving kit, mouth wash etc. The towels were huge and soft. The toilet was in a small separate room in the bathroom and I think that it a good idea.

IMG_6012The breakfast was included in my room rate – I normally don’t eat that much breakfast but it is always interesting to take a look at the selection. Some of the Bangkok hotels have an enormous selection of food at the breakfast buffet. At St. Regis it seemed to be toned down a bit and hence it was not as impressive as other buffets. But the hotel did have all the stuff that you normally need – bread, selection of cereal, various fruits, various cold cuts of Italian ham and sausages, a selection of eggs in various ways made according to your order. I did not try the restaurants at the hotel but they have a hotel bar with the same great view over the sports club. There was even a sword on the bar and it seems like they use this every night when opening the champagne bottles.
The pool area was not huge but it actually looked like there was quite a lot of sun during the day in the pool area. In addition to this it seems like they also have a nice spa and exercise room at the same floor.

IMG_6011Location of the hotel is very good – as you have the skytrain station right outside the door it is easy to get around. But you can also walk if you can stand the Bangkok heat. It is only about 700 meters to CentralWorld or a bit longer to the start of Silom road.
But there is no such thing as a perfect hotel and here are some of the things that can be improved or things that didn’t work out quite as I expected at the hotel.
The internet was complimentary in my room rate but normally this is something that costs like 500 Baht per day. In these modern days I would like to see the internet for free at hotels. The internet also stopped the second I checked out of the hotel!
I also had free pressing of 4 items in my room rate and I got in touch with the butler service to get it picked up. But when I came back to the hotel at night the shirts had not been picked up and were never picked up at all.

The shower was great but the problem was that it was leaking out on the bathroom floor – I hope this is fixed soon as it is annoying with water splashing around on the floor.
When I booked the room online I got e-mails from both the reservation desk and the butler service asking me the same questions. This shouldn’t be necessary.

IMG_6005Despite of the few problems that I have mentioned above, I have to admit that this is one of the best hotels that I have stayed at in Bangkok and even around the world. The reception was great and the staff seems to be highly focused on giving the customers an exclusive experience. The room itself was beautiful and there seemed to be quality in all the details ranging from furniture, leather casings for everything to the great amenities. When I checked out I mentioned some of my “problems” as a feedback to the hotel and this was picked up by the assistant manager. She gave me her card and took the time to listen to my feedback and I appreciate that. I would not hesitate to stay at the hotel again if the price is right. It is a true luxury hotel! You can find more info on the hotel homepage.





Our hotel room at the Small hotel in Krabi, Thailand Dec 04

After a short stop in Bangkok, we moved to the Krabi area in the south of Thailand where we stayed at the Small hotel near Ao Nang beach outside Krabi. We had a moon deck suite and we did have high expectations but these were not met – maybe because we just came from a great hotel in Bangkok. But here is the review of the hotel as posted on Tripadvisor and below is a video of our room.

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Our room at Le Meridien in Bangkok Dec 01

We just had the pleasure of staying at Le Meridien in Bangkok. When we arrived we were upgraded to a suite and got a great room.

Le_meridien_bangkok_entranceI booked the hotel online on the Starwood Preferred Guest site and we chose this hotel as we wanted to try out a new hotel in Bangkok – from before we have tried hotels like Sheraton Sukhumvit, Westin Sukhumvit, Lebua, Plaza Athenee etc. The rate I got was 4590 THB (about 150 USD) including taxes but without breakfast. Le Meridien is located on Surawong road in the Silom area so getting to the hotel took a bit of time with a taxi in the Friday afternoon traffic of Bangkok – but we decided to use taxi as it is not very practically to drag around big suitcases on the airport express train and skytrain/subway. The taxi was about 500 Baht including the toll stations on the express way.

Le_meridien_bangkok_bedWhen checking in we were informed that the room we had booked (corner room) was not available and instead we had been upgraded to a corner suite – not the worst message one can get when checking in at a hotel ;-) We got our keys, vouchers for a free drink at Bamboo Chic and our suitcases were sent to our room. We got room 1124 and it was quite a room to say the least. When we walked in we were met by some sort of book shelf but behind this was a living room with two sofas with a table, a large flat screen TV, a work desk and even an espresso machine – we had the option of espresso, regular coffee (in a press mug) and there were even takeaway cups – how cool is that?.

Le_meridien_bangkok_living_roomThe room was tastefully decorated with books about Thailand in the bookshelf and with pieces of art scattered around in the room. The room was tiled with black tiles on the floor to start with but the rest of the room was with a yellowish carpet. The work desk had a large phone with a display that greeted us welcome – not that we used it much. From the living room there was a large window facing to Rama IV road leading to Hua Lamphong train station. The room also included a small fridge with various cold drinks and there were also proper glasses if you wanted to enjoy any of the drinks.

Le_meridien_bangkok_bed_room_TVFrom the living room there was a sliding door leading into the large bed room. In here there was a large bed of course which turned out to be very comfortable with one large duvet and 4 pillows. There was also a TV for the bedroom and in this room we also found the mini safe. There was also a chair by the windows with the same view as for the living room. The windows had electrical day and night blinds. A new sliding door took us into the bath room and it Le_meridien_bangkok_bed_room_bath_roomwas also possible to slide away most of the wall that was separating the bed room and the bath room. In the bath room there were black tiles on the floor and walls and we also had a bath tub, two sinks, lots of amenities ranging from shower caps, mouth wash, dental kit etc etc. A glass door led into the large shower with two separate shower parts…each part had a regular shower and a rain forest shower head option. The shower was all done in black tiles so it was a bit on the dark side – I would have loved to see lighter tiles here. The toilet was separated from the rest of the bath room with a door made with frosted glass – an excellent solution.

Le_meridien_bangkok_breakfastSome of the walls turned out to be not just walls in the bath room – some turned out to be the wardrobe with nice fluffy bathrobes and soft slippers and the other contained an iron. One even turned out to be a sliding door which opened up into the living room.
The breakfast was served at Last recipe on the 2 floor and as it was not included we had to pay. The full buffet was 650 Baht (22 USD) so there was no point in just going for continental breakfast as that was 550 Baht. Le_meridien_bangkok_breakfast2The breakfast selection was excellent as you would expect from a 5 star hotel – a good selection of bread, cereal, fruit etc. But there was also stations with staff that could make omelets, carve up meat, scoop up some frozen yogurt for you and there were also various selection of hot food. In some of the reviews on TripAdvisor the breakfast buffet has been described as the best in town so naturally we had high expectations but after having stayed at other nice 5 star hotels (like Sheraton on Sukhumvit and Plaza Athenee) I don’t think this was any better than what the others have to offer. Nikki was missing hard boiled eggs, she was not that impressed with the watermelon but she was impressed with the option of fresh waffles and that it was possible to get some funky smoothie blends. And it was nice twist with the Illy press filter coffee that was served at our table. We also stopped by Bamboo chic briefly to have an aperitif before going out one evening and it looked like a nice place.

Le_meridien_bangkok_bedroom_chairThe location of the hotel is not bad – located on Surawong road it is about a 10 minute walk from Sala Daeng BTS station and you can also walk a couple of more minutes to Silom subway station. But note that the most direct route leads you straight through Patpong – maybe one of the most famous red light districts in the world and certainly the most know red light area in Bangkok. Today there is also a night bazaar and if you walk in the middle of this and keep your eyes focused on this you might be able to avoid seeing all the neon lights. But trust me…you will get asked if you want to see ping pong shows or if you want to buy various movies.

Le_meridien_bangkok_bath_roomConclusion: well, it is hard to really give an accurate conclusion as we were upgraded to a corner suite and that turned out to be just an amazing room. I really think the layout of this room is one of the best layouts that I have seen in a hotel room and I loved the larger double shower. Special treats like a coffee machine, lots and lots of complimentary water etc made this into a very comfortable stay. But I can also mention a couple of things that I don’t like – I would have liked to see free internet in the room. We were actually informed when we called the first day that it was included but when it didn’t work the second day we got the opposite message. There was free internet in the lobby but it required a user name and password from the concierge and he seemed to only activate it upon request. Another thing that turned out to be a challenge was the air con – there was a separate air con in the living room and the bed room but we could never really figure it out and it was always freezing in the living room. But these are just details of course – all in all this was one of the best hotel rooms that I have ever stayed in. I have also uploaded a video showing the room by the way.

Gard – trip reports and pictures

Here is also a video that I took of the room…enjoy Winking smile

Testing the new Bangkok Airport train link – part 2 Nov 21

A while back I tested out the new Bangkok Airport train link (check out the first review on this page) and a few days ago I got to check it out once again. I decided to take it again as I had no luggage this time. Getting to the train station at Suvarnabhumi is easy as you just take the escalators down to the sub-level. But getting a ticket was not that easy – all the ticket machines were out of service so all people had to line up at the counter. The platform when boarding the train is not ideal – when there is lots of people on the train and lots of people on the platform waiting, the process of emptying and filling the train gets pretty messy ;-)

The train into Bangkok was pretty full and it looked like it was mainly locals without luggage taking the train so I assume people are just using it as a regular transportation method as it is so cheap (15 Baht). A few people got of at Makkasan but it seemed like most continued to Phaya Thai. In my last report I wrote about the troubles of getting of at Makkasan – this time we continued to Phaya Thai as we wanted to connect to the BTS (skytrain). Getting of a Phaya Thai took some time as there were lots of people waiting on the narrow platform and hence people exiting had to squeeze by people waiting on the outside. The link from the airport train platform and Phaya Thai BTS station is excellent – there is an elevated walkway leading directly to the BTS.

Going back to the airport was more or less the same deal – the platform was very crowded and the train was delayed due to technical problem. But we got to squeeze in eventually and we had to stand almost to the airport when most locals had gone of the train.

Conclusion this time: the link between the airport train and the Phaya Thai BTS station is a lot better than at Makkasan. But due to a very crowded train and plattform(s) it would have been a challenge if I was dragging along a huge Samsonite suitcase. The value is still great (only 15 Baht per way at the moment) but if you have a suitcase and want to go to a hotel I think a taxi is still the best option.

Gard – trip reports and photos

Testing the new Bangkok Airport train link Sep 30

photo%201[1]I have stopped by Bangkok many times over the last few years (you can check out this trip report) and we have normally used taxi to get to and from town. A taxi from Bangkok airport Suvarnabhumi to town (e.g. Sukhumvit road) does not cost that much – maybe like 400 Baht with the toll stations on the express road into the city. This is still only like 13 US Dollars so the transportation has been quite affordable if you compare it with other big cities around the world. But with skytrain, subway and a new airport added to Bangkok, I guess it was only natural to also add a airport train. On the last trips we have seen the train track (looking a lot like the skytrain I guess) reaching further and further out towards the airport and on the last trips the train has been in a test mode. But when we got to Bangkok in the end of September 2010 the airport train was finally open and it was time to test it out.

photo%202[1]After immigration and customs we followed the train signs to get to the lower levels and there we found a new connection to the train station itself. There are two options that you can take: the express train into town or a local train stopping on each of the stations. The express train leaves the airport every 30 minutes if I’m not mistaken but we went for the local train that cost us 15 Baht…only 50 US Cents in other words! The station at the airport is all new and shiny but it did not seem like everything was working yet (e.g. the entrance gates). photo%203[1]After taking the escalator down, we had to wait a few minutes for the train. The train itself looks like the regular skytrain (BTS) with air-con and with hard, plastic seating. The train ride was comfortable and there was only about 5 stops until we reached Makkasan after about 20 minutes. And I guess this is where the problem started! The Makkasan station seems to be a copy of the airport (at least seen inside) but only in a smaller version. When we got out it was pretty empty and naked as it was just opened and I don’t even think the escalators were working (or were there escalators at all?) – this is a bit of a let down when you are carrying a huge, 20 kg Samsonite suitcase.

photo%204[1]When we got out of the station there were taxi available but we decided to be environmental friendly and go for the subway (MRT) instead as the information said that Makkasan was connected to the Phetchaburi MRT station. We followed the temporary signs into the darkness, humidity and heat of the Bangkok night but soon there were no more signs and a lady that saw the confusion in out eyes, pointed us in the right direction. If you have been to Bangkok you know that the city is not really made for walking with roads, pavements that are high above the street…we even had to cross a railroad track to get to the MRT station. I think the walk took 5-10 minutes but with a big suitcase and in the heat it was not really a great way to meet Bangkok. photo%205[1]When we got into the MRT station we faced another “problem”: the security staff. They have started a some sort of security control when entering the MRT stations but it seems more of a superficial check than anything else. But still…the security guard insisted that we had to open the suitcase so that he could take a milli-second look in there.  The MRT fare was only 15 Baht as we only had one stop to Sukhumvit station (at Asok) to get to our hotel. To top it of we had to carry the suitcase over Sukhumvit road and I arrived soaking wet from the exercise of carrying the suitcase up and down stairs. To be fair, I think work is underway to connect the Makkasan station with the Phetchaburi MRT station. You are also supposed to connect to the BTS (skytrain) by taking the train to the end station Phaya Thai station.

Conclusion: This only cost us 30 Baht per person (1 USD) so if you are on a budget and live near a station (and remember to put on you workout clothes) this is a great alternative. If you carry a big suitcase it might be a better idea to take the train to Makkasan and take a taxi from there but be aware that the Bangkok traffic can be pretty bad and you might get stuck for some time. If you just want to sit back and relax, take a taxi straight from the airport to your hotel. Just make sure that the driver uses the meters and get him to take the express road. Also is is useful to have 45+25 Baht available for the toll stations Smile

Looking for Arabic food in Bangkok? Mar 18

A few weeks back I had a stop in Bangkok. I like my Thai food but we decided to check out Arabic food that evening. So we headed for Sukhumvit Soi 3 or better known as Soi Arab (close to Nana). As we walked in from Sukhumvit road the scenery changed – all of a sudden I got the impression that we were not in Thailand anymore but had gone to the Middle East. We decided to stop by an Egyptian restaurant and while we were waiting for the food we had a shisha (the traditional waterpipe) with apple taste. The food was hommos, fried meat of various kinds etc and it was a nice meal. The only thing that we were missing was an ice cold beer in the Bangkok heat but that was not possible at this place at least. Check out this article from New York Times about Soi Arab :-) The photo on the right hand side shows me getting into the apple taste of my shisha :-)

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