This is the last leg of our tour … the 3rd country we’re going to visit before heading back to our home country … It’s now time to see a famous part of Thailand – the Land of Smiles 🙂
July 24th – Monday
It was a gloomy day, after staying for 8 days in Siem Reap, we have to bid this friendly city goodbye – same with the friends we met there. At exactly 7:00 AM Uncle Sam (our friend and tuktuk driver) fetched us from the hostel and took us to the Giant Ibis Bus Station. After saying goodbye and thanking him for his services, we boarded the 7:30 AM bus trip to Bangkok, Thailand.
Upon boarding the bus, the attendant gave reminders and told us that upon reaching the Cambodian border, we have to bring our passport and have it stamped by the consul. He also emphasized that we don’t have to pay for our exit in the border, and that the rumors regarding corrupt officials asking for money in the border are sickeningly true. And he is really sad for having fellow Cambodians who try to do that to foreigners like us. So in case we will be asked for money before our passport will be stamped for exiting the Cambodian border, we know what we have to do.
IT WAS TRUE!
Upon reaching the border, we were asked to fall in line and process our exit from Cambodia. We need to do this personally, unlike in the Vietnam border where the Giant Ibis bus attendant did the processing of our exit for a minimum fee. I thought everything was going smoothly. When it was my turn, the Cambodian officer looked at my passport and then raised 100 Baht – he was asking me to give him 100 Baht! So it was really true! My niece was at the other window processing her exit and I asked her if she’s being asked to pay 100 Baht. She told me that the officer in her window is currently putting an exit stamp on her passport without any fuss – and she reminded me of the advise of our bus attendant. So I looked straight into the officer’s eyes processing my passport and told him that I don’t have 100 Baht (thankfully, we failed to change currencies before traveling to Bangkok – so we do not really have any amount in Baht). And then I asked him why I’m supposed to pay for anything when in fact there’s no fee for exiting the Cambodian border going to Thailand. He stalled for some time and I continued staring at him and asking for the reason of the payment. After a while, he gave up and just put the exit stamp on my passport and gave it to me. That was one unpleasant experience!
Afterwards, we had to walk under the scorching heat of the sun for 10 minutes to reach the Thai border. Thankfully, there are no glitches whatsoever. We just had to fall in line again and get an entry stamp on our passport. The Thai officers are very formal yet friendly and their office has air conditioning – so we felt refreshed after walking under the heat of the sun.
It was a long and tiring journey, imagine sitting in the bus for almost 10 hours, aside from walking under the heat of the sun to have exit and entry stamps on our passports plus an unpleasant encounter with a corrupt border official? Whew! We can’t wait to finally reach Bangkok and rest in our accommodation.
These are the scary scenes outside the bus when we reached Bangkok. The clouds are getting dark and rain is imminent.
It was really hard to think how we are going to carry our luggage and still hold an umbrella. It was a scary thought to be drenched under the rain after walking under the scorching heat of the sun while traversing borders.
It was raining hard when we reached Bangkok. And we had to go down the bus in an unknown yet busy district.
After a few minutes, the rain stopped and we tried navigating that part of Bangkok. We went inside 7/11 ( it was good that this convenience store is sporadically located in most parts of Bangkok), asked the store attendant where we can change currencies and it was just a few steps away. After changing currencies, we bought a sim card for foreigners – good for 7 days – with unlimited internet access and it will serve as our wifi hotspot so we can use the net and navigate the area. Then, we hailed a cab so we can reach our accommodation: The Spades Hostel.
At the lobby, we were immediately welcomed by a friendly staff who confirmed the papers of our booking. And since we are having a hard time using the sim we bought, the manager was called and he immediately fixed our problem by calling the telecommunications company. Afterwards our sim worked and served as our wifi hotspot.
Our Dormitory-type room
One of the rules in the hostel is removing our shoes before boarding the elevator. They have a space containing shoe racks divided according to the floor levels of the hostel. Since our room is at the 2nd level, we had to put our shoes and sandals in the shoe rack designated for us. We were then ushered by the friendly hotel staff to our room, he also gave us some reminders regarding the use of the AC, safety cabinets and light switches.
It was nice to finally have our own spaces and beds. We enjoyed the perks of renting a dorm-like room. Outside our room are common spaces like a living room with a TV connected to the internet, a dining space and several wash and shower rooms at the 3rd floor. It was a new experience and it was worth the try.
We were really tired but we were also famished. The front desk clerk at the reception area told us that if we’ll walk, a few blocks away at the back of the hostel, there is a market where we can find local restaurants serving Thai food. We went on our way and found a small restaurant. The staff are nice and friendly and we had a satisfying meal.
Perimeters of The Spades Hostel
The next morning, we explored the perimeters of the hostel while waiting for the Uber service one of my friends called.
The hostel has it’s lobby and a dainty dining facility with a very friendly and comfortable ambiance. It also has a waiting area for the guests while they wait for their transportation or even dates.
Breakfast at KFC and Java time at Starbucks
We reached Pratunam, the nearest shopping complex to our hostel, and it’s still closed -giving us enough time to have our breakfast before spending our day exploring and shopping.
Pratunam Shopping Complex
After a hearty breakfast and then tea and coffee, its now time to use our wee little legs and explore the Pratunam Shopping complex. A never ending alley of clothes and other goods welcomed us. And were really thankful to see a lot of clothes at cheap prices – so we can say that its also a cheapskate’s paradise 🙂
It really looks like Divisoria and Baclaran in the Philippines – it seemed that they are patterned from a shopping complex like this.
After buying what we need, we just stayed at one part of the complex and watched another set of displays unfold before our eyes. It seemed that they have schedules in putting up displays at bargain prices depending on the time of day.
Walking and sightseeing
Instead of using Uber or hailing a cab, we decided to walk to our hostel. According to Google Map, it was only a 40-minute walk. Since it was a fine day and somehow, we would like to explore the surrounding places, we decided to walk and let Google Map lead our way.
Some structures we have seen while walking …
Last Dinner in Bangkok
When we reached the hostel, we just dropped our shopping bags then headed out once again to explore the vicinity near the hostel. Our goal is to find native shops where we can buy pasalubong. But to our dismay, the goods in the small shops are much pricey. We should have bought them from the stores near the Pratunam complex. So instead of buying more, we decided to just go back to the market and look for a restaurant where we’ll have our dinner.
Though, we would like to try other restaurants we found ourselves entering the same restaurant where we had our dinner upon our arrival in Bangkok. We were really lazy to look for others and we think that their meals have decent prices and the atmosphere is friendly.
It was my first time to try the iced chrysanthemum tea – highly recommended by the waitress. I was very thankful because the tea was really refreshing and leaves a sweet yet delicate aftertaste. While I’m enjoying my chrysanthemum tea, it was also a time for my “adings” to try the Thai beer. They wanted to know how its taste differ from the beer they have tasted in Cambodia, so they gave in to their whim. 🙂
The Suvarnabhumi Airport
We woke up really early the next day since we don’t want to be late for our flight. We have seen the heavy traffic as we passed by the road going to the airport when we arrived at Bangkok, and we do not want to experience the same thing on our way to the airport and miss our flight.
It was a very big airport and we were happy to finally find our queue.
After checking-in our luggage, it’s now time to proceed to the departure area.
We looked at the shops and bought candies, cookies and bottled water for breakfast.
Then, its time to board the plane.
It was a nice trip and we can’t wait to reach the Philippines and tell our loved ones our experiences in Bangkok, Thailand.
Photos (c) are from the members of the tour group.