Last year I had the privilege of partaking in an amazing journey through southern Thailand as part of a G-Adventures tour. I’ll blog about this soon, I promise.
During the days leading up to the tour and for three days after the tour, I stayed in the Bangkok Centre Hotel. The Hotel is located a quick 1 hour from the international airport. Bangkok is actually 1 hour from the airport so it wasn’t as if it were something out of the ordinary for travellers staying in the city. A train can get you into the city but a taxi is easier (300 – 500 Baht)
Driving into the entrance of the hotel, at first impressions, you wonder why There’s what appears to be a security checkpoint, complete with guard. Well thats because there is. Bangkok city has a population of approx 8 million people (about he population of a small country) and covers the size of approx 1.5 sq km’s. A good percentage of those living under the poverty line. So having security keeps the hotel for guests only. After walking around the city you’ll appreciate this.
As you walk/drive or Tuk Tuk towards the Hotel Foyer, you’ll hear singing, music and a Thai voice trying to entice you into the massage parlour next door to the Hotel. It took us just a few trips in and out to realise that the Thai Masseuse actually picks up a microphone and serenades guests as they come in and out, advertising her products (all of which were above board) but in the Thai accent, “Hot Thai Massar’, Oil Massar’ Couple Massar'” sounds quite funny in an uncomfortable sort of way.
The foyer to the hotel is dripping with Thai antiques (couches, desks and ornaments) and the staff are very quick to acknowledge your presence.
Once inside the main doors, to The left is the hotel bar. They serve an amazing array of cocktails, and all the usual suspects (drinks). To the right is the Hotels Restaurant, where more than likely you’ll be given complimentary breakfast.
The restaurant is dated but nice (in true Bangkok fashion). The breakfasts advertised as “continental” have eggs (both fried and scrambled), baked beans (looked nothing like I’m used to), cornflakes and coconuts, but I stayed with what I knew – Toast. I did try most items on offer but every other breakfast at this restaurant I had toast. I was told that most Thai locals have rice and soup for breakfast if they had it at all.
The juices on offer were so sweet you’d need just a small amount and risk topping up with water. I didn’t know where the water came from so I passed. The Coffee came out of a pushbutton expresso machine and weren’t too bad at all.
Now like most places overseas, you’d expect subtile differences, and this includes things to stay well clear of. In Thailand, the first rule is; DO NOT DRINK THE WATER, or in fact anything that contains tap water – especially the ice. Unless its been boiled of course. making a trip to the bathroom every 5 minutes isn’t enjoyable, and in Bangkok where the humidity and heat strips your fluids away, having “the runs” (Diarrhoea) can land you in hospital. Avoid the water !! even brush your teeth with bottled water and keep your mouth shut in the shower.
The rooms. I stayed in a standard double room on the 8th floor, but did manage a sneak peek at a few of the other rooms on offer.
The rooms were well presented and the bedding was clean. The pillow inners were obviously replaced regularly as were the sheets. The wooden headboards were not fixed to the wall, and were sure to make noise throughout the night unless you stuffed a towel between the board and the wall. The beds were free moving.
The Bathrooms, like the rooms themselves are dated, and definitely in need of upgrades in the coming years to keep up with the more modern hotels available in Bangkok. There wasn’t much room in the bathrooms, but really, how much room do you need ? There was a clothes line above the bath, and old fixtures could sometimes be difficult to use. The rooms TV was actually a TV (old fashioned), but it worked and picked up a handful of channels. The room came with a bar fridge and complimentary bottled water (hooray).
The room view (above) wasn’t too bad, but don’t expect beach or mountain views. During the wet season (mid May – October) you’ll usually be exposed to an amazing thunderstorm mid afternoon to evening where you’ll see some of the best forked lightening I’ve seen. Looking out the window however, you’ll get to see how most Bangkok residents in the city live. Packed in like sardines, using whatever materials they can find to create their homes. You’ll never hear any complaints, and only see smiles and happiness from these very pleasant people. It makes you realise, that the more you have, the more unhappier people seem to be – Thats true here in Melbourne. To be honest, being in a place like this changes how see your own life.
The Bangkok Centre Hotel is only a 25 minute Tuk Tuk rode (150 Baht) or a 35 minute taxi ride (300 Baht) to the famous Khao San Road. Khao San Road precinct is the renown for its markets and nightlife. It boasts an array of bars and nightclubs, restaurants (incl Burger King for those that want a recognised taste of home), massage parlours ( 1 hr Oil massage 150 Baht)and hostels. GO HERE FOR A FUN NIGHT OUT !!!
Beware though, you will be confronted by sales people trying to get you to buy a suit, have your palm read or for you to buy any one of a million different trinkets, necklaces, tattoos, glow sticks, wooden frogs (you’ll see traditionally dressed women selling wooden musical frogs) and bracelets.
Also not far from the Hotel (approx 15 minute) walk is the Bangkok Asian Markets. I’ve truely never experience so many people in such a small space, and sharing that space with Motor scooters, hand trolleys and a train, makes for a life memory, and makes you appreciate the local malls at home (even during Christmas) !!.
Immediately within the vicinity of the Bangkok Centre Hotel, there are also a few Cafe’s that boast menus more accustomed to Westerners. So if you feel like a traditional burger, fish’n’chips or a latte, you don’t have to go far. But this is Bangkok, the food is amazing, the prices make you feel like royalty ( a long neck beer for 120 Baht ) and people just want you to be happy and enjoy yourself. The Tuk Tuks are everywhere and the drivers constantly beep their horns or offer their services. Be aware thought hat some will offer cheaper trips if you go with them to a suit store (they receive commissions from these shops to bring tourists to them – a bit of a scam). Ask the reception at the hotel to organise a Tuk Tuk and make sure the driver accepts the cost before you accept a ride.
I have to say that I never felt uncomfortable anywhere I went and everyone went out of their way to make sure of it.
I’d go back !!!