I was in Bangkok last week, one of my most favourite cities in the world. The traffic was horrendous, seemed even worse than before but it was great to see this city filled with culture, colour and gentle people again. The gutted malls like the Central World are back on their feet and there’s peace, at least for now. We stayed at the Amari Watergate which is slap bang in the heart of the city and has the fascinating Platinum Fashion mall across the road. The Platinum Mall offers wholesale rates when you buy at least three items in a shop. Clothes, junk jewellery, footwear, bags- this is a great place to shop!
I made my usual pilgrimage to Jatuchak weekend market, one of the largest outdoor markets in the world, a totally atmospheric place sprawling over 27 acres. If you want to buy Thai Handicrafts or furniture, this is the best place. They even ship it to you! And for photographers, there are photo-ops galore: from the pet section to the food and plants. The JJ Plaza here is a better place to browse if your time is limited. And of course this is Thailand, so bargaining is the norm.
Another great discovery thanks to a dear friend was getting some clothes tailored by Nickermann’s located in the basement of the Landmark Hotel just close to the Nana train station. The Indian owner is friendly and has catalogues of all latest European fashions and can re- produce any of them. Men can make some dapper suits/blazers out of Italian fabric. And the best part, the measurements remain on file so you can call and make some more clothes later!
And of course no visit to Bangkok is complete without a spa/massage experience. What you must have is the traditional Thai massage which delves deep into your muscles and relieves pain and tension. The Sivara Spa at the Amari Watergate is expensive but offers some great experiences like the wasabi wrap. Of course you can try the massage centres ranging from the cheap, open booths like at the Pratunam Mall to the really classy ones like Health Land (which has many local branches) or the Arima Onsen.
And while I was there I talked to many locals about the traffic snarls. They all advocated the use of the Sky Train as much as possible, even the motorcycle taxis( now that’s one mode I am not fond of!), or just by- pass the roads and use the ChaoPraya river as far as practicable...also the adrenalin junkies can take a tuk tuk ride..Yes they are still around! There was one recommendation that I didn't have the time to check out but sounds interesting: Take an ABC tour- Amazing Bangkok Cycle Tours which take you to many off beat places that you would never know existed...That's what next times are for, right?
I am always on the lookout for unique or quirky things to see: and I have put down two for my next visit: one is a Phallic shrine devoted to yes...of all sizes and shapes, and the other is the Maeklong Market Railway where the train goes through a tightly packed market. Check it out on You Tube! And if you want a great view of the city at night check out any of the following spots: the Red Sky @55th Floor of the Centara Grand at Central World.
Vertigo @ 61st floor of the Banyan tree, Sathorn
Sky Bar@ 63rd Floor of Lebua State Tower, Silom Road.