The first stop on our South East Asia two week holiday was Bangkok, Thailand. I have actually been to Bangkok about 4 times with work, but those trips usually consisted of waking up early to drive out to the factories, driving back late in traffic and doing it all over again the next day. (although it may sound fun, you just feel like you're constantly traveling for 2 weeks straight). So I was excited to really explore this city and have some fun with Andrew.
Getting to Bangkok is actually quite easy if I compare it to my past experiences of flying from Boston. We were able to get round trip flights from Frankfurt to Bangkok for about 480 euros each (SO CHEAP!).
Our travel time: Train 2 hrs (Nuremberg - Frankfurt) / Flight 6 hrs (Frankfurt - Bahrain) / Layover 4 hrs / Flight 6hrs 45 min (Bahrain - Bangkok) = about 18hrs 45 min give or take. (keep in mind, when i've done this from Boston its taken about 28 hours!)
This entire 2 week trip was packed into carry on duffle bags for each of us. With all of the flights, connections, etc, its just easier to pack light. And its also peace of mind knowing everything you need is in your hands. (or if you're as lucky as I am... in your husbands strong hands)
When we got to the Bangkok airport, we hopped in a cab and headed towards the Lebua at State Tower Hotel. This hotel was GORGEOUS! (it was also the hotel from Hangover II). Our room wasn't going to be ready for another few hours so we quickly changed into something other than our plane clothes and headed out to explore.
The Chatuchak Weekend Market is only open on Saturday & Sunday (duh), and it is THE most massive market i've ever been to. I have been to quite a few during my travels to Hong Kong, Shanghai, Vietnam, etc, but I have never seen anything like this! Imagine the biggest mall you've ever been to, times 200. Below is a map of the place. Each of those 'blocks' isn't just one store, that is probably 40 different stalls.
Just a few facts: it is a 35 acre area with more than 8,000 market stalls. On a typical weekend more than 200,000 visitors come here. The stalls are organized into different categories (clothing, handicrafts, ceramics, furniture, food & beverage, plants, art, pets, antiques, etc). You can find a new dress and a new pet snake all in one day!
It can easily feel extremely overwhelming, there are so many different alleyways you can get lost in. But for us, as we were a bit delirious from the jet lag, we just let our interests take us wherever looked interesting. Also - what made this different than any other market i've been to in Asia is the fact that there were some beautifully curated little stores. Like, nicer than anything i've seen in Germany. I was really impressed!
After a sufficient amount of walking, we decided we needed some food to fuel the rest of our shopping experience. Since this was our first real meal in Thailand, we wanted something traditional. We found a cute little place where we could sit and order some chicken and mango salad, shrimp and papaya salad and some breaded chicken. (all for 4.50 euros!!) Already I was in love with Thai cuisine. The mango & papaya salads became a favorite for the rest of the trip. They are super fresh, a bit tangy balanced with some heat (almost everything we ate in Thailand was spicy, and I LOVE it!).
Another thing I love about Thailand is how much they love SEAFOOD. Seafood + Mangos + coconuts is basically my heaven.
After some more walking, shopping and people watching... we needed to cool off, and of course the best way to do that is to have coconut ice cream inside a coconut shell.
After several hours of walking in the hot sun, our jet lag officially kicked in. We hopped in a nice a vibrant tuktuk (they all seem to have party lights) and headed back to the hotel to hang by the pool.
Tips when visiting the Chatuchak Weekend Market:
- BRING WATER: We may have gone during one of the hottest months, but I'm guessing in Thailand it is never NOT hot. And with all of the walking around in the sun, you need to stay hydrated.
- GET LOST: Don't be afraid to get a little lost. It will most likely happen in this labyrinth anyway, so might as well enjoy it!
- MAP PICTURES: When you first walk in, there will be a big map of the entire market. Anytime we see a map before our excursions, we ALWAYS take a picture of it. Its much easier pulling that up on your phone to look at vs trying to find another map.
- BUY IT: If you see something you like, and you think to yourself "hmm maybe i'll come back for it if i really want it" ... nope, you won't, because you will never find that store again.
- COCONUT ICE CREAM: I feel like i really don't need to tell you this because it is common sense... get the coconut ice cream. It's amazing.
There will be plenty more blog posts to come... stay tuned!