Day 2 – Bangkok Chutuchak Market
It was very nice to wake up to a wonderful view of Bangkok across Lumphini Park, so peaceful and calm in such great contrast to the noisy partying at the hotel the night before. The smell of freshly brewed coffee from the illy coffee maker with two coffee capsules provided by the hotel was heavenly to start a brand new day for our vacation. The pastries and cakes bought from Chocolab café the night before went very well together with the coffee and this perked us up for quite a lot of walking the day ahead.
Since we were changing room from the Metal theme to the Wood theme, we did not go anywhere this morning. The wonderful Apple TV was fun to keep us occupied whether for TV programs or movies or even surfing the internet. By late morning, we went back to the restaurant on the 8th floor for an early lunch before moving to our new room. We like to hang out at this restaurant which has an outdoor open area to enjoy the view of Bangkok. The restaurant has a very high ceiling with glass windows that give the restaurant a very airy and comfortable feel. We ordered from the a la carte menu for a quick and simple lunch instead of having a heavy buffet meal as we were going to visit Chutuchak Market after lunch, not a very good idea to feel drowsy walking outdoor on a hot afternoon.
After lunch our Wood theme room was ready so we excitedly grabbed our stuff and went with the hotel staff to see what the room was like. As we were free earlier in the morning, we packed our stuff in anticipation of this move to change room and so there was no unnecessary delay to our plan for the day. We were given a corner room on the 18th floor and we also requested for the same park facing room. The room is elegantly furnished with wood elements together with a small lounge sitting area. This room exudes a very modern yet very warm and comfortable feel. In fact we preferred this room than the room we had the previous night even though the Metal theme room had a pure white based modern effects which was also a class of its own. Our new room also has an oval shape bathtub, separate from the other cubicles for the toilet and shower room. The wash basin is contemporary type and the toiletries the usual high quality products, if not wrong from Paris. Being a corner room, there are more windows and this gives a lot more views of Bangkok city across Lumphini Park.
With our new room settled, we were free to move out for our shopping trip this second day of our holiday. We did not visit Chutuchak market back in 2007 and having heard so many people talked about this must-go tourists attraction, we looked forward to our first visit. Since our hotel was located so near the MRT station, we simply crossed the traffic junction at our hotel and entered the Lumphini Station of the MRT line. To go to the Chutuchak Market, as instructed by the hotel staff, we took the MRT train to the second last station, Kamphaeng Station, just after the Chutuchak Park Station. Once we exited the station, we were swarmed with people at this much talked about weekend market.
This place was a hive of activities with visitors strolling, shopping, bargaining and it was really a very lively place. The market covered quite a huge ground area with different sections selling different stuff. There were many stores selling drinks and food of all sorts. Most visitors would walk along the perimeter of the main road inside Chutuchak Market to look at stores on both sides of the road.
There are also many small lanes within the covered part of the market where more shops and stores selling all and sundry that one could surely find something of interests from such a huge complex. However, the lanes are quite narrow and could become congested with human traffic and could be quite warm and stuffy as well even though not under the hot sun. There are also places for massage to provide some relief to tired shoppers usually spending many hours here.
While walking and looking at stuff, we overheard a guy asking his girlfriend or wife whether she was tired. Her reply was epic, “Happy”. That sums up why people are attracted to this place, especially women. I’m not so sure I could say the same for men visiting this place if they have nothing they intend to purchase. Notwithstanding, if making the female counterpart happy could derive joy for the guys as well, then perhaps, men should enjoy their day out at Chutuchak Market, which usually requires them to be porters carrying stuff for their happy wife, daughter or girlfriend and at the same time wearing a cheerful looking face.
Shopping under the hot sun can be a tiring affair. So it is better to come in the morning when the shops and stores are opening or late afternoon towards the evening when it is not so hot and humid. This market can be reached very easily via the MRT station towards the second last station so there is no need to take a cab which you might have to contend with the heavy traffic in Bangkok City. For us, the cost from Lumphini station was only 40 THB per person. I’m sure the next time we visit Bangkok again over the weekend, Chutuchak Market will be a place my wife or daughters will not miss and I will happily volunteer as the cheerful porter.
Finally, we were glad to be heading back to the MRT station. Actually there are more shops in the underground station which is air-conditioned. There is also a small food court and benches to sit if one is tired. There we saw a shop offering foot massage so we went in for some muscle relaxation. Earlier, we came across other massage places at the market but they didn’t look comfortable to sit around for foot massage so we didn’t patronize those shops. What we liked about this place is the environment, clean and air-conditioned in contrast to the other outlets at the market though quite big in space but hot and humid with many people sitting in the open having foot massage together.
We enjoyed the first part of the foot massage but when the masseur started to work on my neck and shoulder, I quickly developed a different opinion. The petite middle age lady was using the tip of her elbow to force herself down on my collar bone. I thought she was trying to dislocate my collar bone. Not sure whether she took physics lessons in school, the force she applied via the small area of the tip of her elbow onto my shoulder caused great pressure to bear on my collar bone. It was not only not enjoyable but distressing. Anyway, we heard quite a bit of screaming due to pains from different customers, especially from women, during our time there. It seems these masseurs are trained to apply a lot of force on their customers. We had a foot and shoulder massage a month ago in Phuket and we didn’t experience such discomfort. I was glad the 45 minutes was soon over and I was still in one piece. My feet and legs were fine after the massage but the right side of my neck and shoulder was sore. I think we paid 250 THB or 300 THB each for the massage. This is definitely not my kind of idea of a rejuvenating break; it is more like a regulated breakdown. So after this assault, no more Thai massage for me for a very long time.
It was late afternoon now and about time to head for dinner. So we took the tube again, this time to Phetchaburi station. We planned to explore downtown area and try out the food at Hotel Sofitel Bangkok Sukhumvit. Taking the train was quite economical. The cost from Chutuchak Market to Phetchaburi Station was only 33 THB per person so much cheaper than taking a cab and not having to deal with the heavy traffic in the city. Moreover, the MRT is very clean and efficient, a real comfort to get from point to point very quickly and also affordably within the city. Very quickly, we arrived Phetchaburi Station and was excited to exit the station for the next part of our holiday activity. Once outside the station, we were dwarfed by all the high rise buildings in a modern city, full of life and activities. Quickly got our bearings right, we walked towards Sofitel Sukhumvit Hotel to have dinner. This 5 star hotel is grand and has a class of its own though not the same as the Sofitel So, a designer hotel with a very different niche.
We were warmly greeted and welcomed once we entered the hotel and we made our way to the restaurant. The wait staff were really warm and friendly and offered suggestions for our dinner. We were too tired after the Chutuchak Market tour to have buffet dinner so we ordered from the a la carte menu instead. We ordered local Thai dishes which was delicious and filling. The dinner was very enjoyable though we didn’t feast like a king. Our usual 50% discount dining for two for Accor members over here was honoured. So a good meal and at a great price.
As the night was still young, we explored this hotel and perhaps our next visit might end up staying at this hotel. We went to the rooftop lounge, L'Appart, on the 32nd floor. We were welcome to enter the open air lounge and dining area for a look and take pictures of the night scenes of Bangkok City. It was amazing to look at the city from above and very beautiful to behold. How often do we get the opportunity observe night scenes of beautiful cities from high rise buildings...
The night scenes were no doubt captivating and the air quite fresh and a little windy up there. We were thankful the air was clear with no haze or smog we experienced in some other cities where visibility became so poor that it wasn’t worth the time outdoor. Finally after taking quite a few pictures, we reluctantly descended back to ground floor. Before we left the hotel, we went to the hotel’s bakery to buy some pastries and cakes for our next day’s breakfast since we had such a wonderful illy coffee maker in our room. The bakery was also giving 50% discount after 7 pm if I didn’t remember wrongly so we bought high quality food at very reasonable price.
On the way back to the MRT station, the roads were lighted up with the many streets stores along the road, an atmosphere that was quite unique to Bangkok.
Just before Phetchaburi Station, we went into Terminal 21 mall to do some windows shopping. This mall is incredibly fascinating with the many themes that decorate this shopping mall. Every floor has a unique theme from a particular country. There is one floor completely dedicated to Italy, another to UK, one to USA and then one for Japan and a few more.
There are many shops and restaurants, a supermarket as well as a cinema in this very modern shopping mall which is really worth to spend some time exploring. Would be a great place to hang out if the weather is bad or too hot during the day.
Having done exploring and shopping at Terminal 21, it was time to go back to our luxurious Sofitel So Hotel which was just 3 stations away. The cost was 20 THB per person for this quick, clean and efficient ride back to our hotel. Back in 2007, we spent more time stuck in traffic jams than actual exploring and shopping and so we were rather thankful this time. Soon we crossed the road at the traffic junction and quickly reached the 9th floor lobby of our hotel. Since this was the last night, we spent some time at the lounge to have our member’s welcome drinks and enjoyed the luxury and ambience of this 5 star hotel.
After the short chill out at the lobby lounge, we made our way back to our warm and comfortable room. As the hotel offered DVDs for rental, we called the hotel to set up the DVD player and borrowed two DVDs. My wife had heard a lot about the movie ‘Frozen’ so she requested for this movie and I chose the movie ‘Olympus Has Fallen’. The hotel staff was efficient and soon the DVD player was set up and we also got the movies we requested. So we made ourselves comfortable after shower and watched ‘Frozen’ first while wife did some packing. At the same time, we kept our children back home updated with our day’s purchases via whatsapp over the phone. By the time the movie played that part with the theme song ‘Let It Go’ which wasn’t the end of the movie, I was so tired that I took it literally to let myself go and couldn’t remember a thing till the next morning...
Continue to Day 3 ...