Bangkok Day 4 (9 Nov 14) – Last Day Shopping in Downtown Bangkok

Today is the last of our 4-day stay in Bangkok. After a night of packing, we all slept at around 3am. One of our friends took the second flight out of Bangkok back home. After she had left, we lazed around till around noon. As our flight is late in the evening, we still have some time to kill before heading for the airport. We decided to hang around the area, not too far from our hotel so that we would have sufficient time to make it for checking in at the airport. Our first stop today is to the 4-faced Buddha at Erawan Shrine. One of my friends want to pay his respects before heading back home. The shrine is crowded by the time we arrived at the shrine. Little did we realised that today is the birthday of the 4-faced Buddha. Other than well-wishers, there is also a group of locals performing local dance and human totem for devotees to express there gratitude for the Buddha. One can hire lion dancers or the staffs for some acrobatic stunt (limited to 4 humans stacking on top of each other’s shoulders). There was a long queue for people who wished to hire dancers to dance for the Buddha. Despite the heat, these dancers, cladded in traditional Thai costumes, went on dancing for hours.  We spent around 2 hours here (mainly due to the waiting for the dance) before heading towards Siam Square.
Grabbing a Starbucks on our way to Erawan Shrine
Crowded at Erawan Shrine
Cheeky post
The 4-faced Buddha
A very crowded Erawan Shrine
Human totem at Erawan Shrine
Devotees praying the 4-face Buddha at Erawan Shrine
Taking a wefie at the shrine
Downtown Bangkok Skyline from Erawan Shrine
The crowd just keeps coming
BTS railway
Waiting for our turn to offer our prayers
Human Totem at Erawan Shrine
Lion Dancing at the Shrine
Lion Dancing at the Shrine
Lion Dancing at the Shrine
My friend with the Dancers at Erawan Shrine
My friend offering his prayers at the shrine
While at Siam Square, we decided to dine at the Hello Kitty restaurant to see what the hype is all about. We read that dinning at this restaurant entails one to queue up for hours on weekends. We did not wait for long for our turn in the restaurant. I would say the food there is so-so. They are not that fantastic and all the hype soon turned into another let down in the food. We ordered some cakes and Phad Thai here. I would say the Phad Thai is actually very nice. Wrapped in rice skin (like those of Vietnamese Spring rolls), the bite-size Phad Thai is ideal for sharing amongst a group of friends. We also ordered some pastries, which turns out to be very sweet. After food, we walked around Siam Square. There is a weekend bazaar at Siam Square (on top of the regular shops), where one can find some really good bargains.
Waiting outside the Hello Kitty House
Waiting outside the Hello Kitty House
Waiting outside the Hello Kitty House
Waiting outside the Hello Kitty House
Ordering food inside the cafe
Hello Kitty house is packed
Chatting while eating
We cleaned up one plate of Phad Thai
Wefie inside Hello Kitty House
Phad Thai
Our drinks
Pastries
Hello Kitty House Cafe
Shopping around Siam Square
Siam Square
Shopping around Siam Square
Shopping around Siam Square
Shopping around Siam Square
Bazaar at Siam Square
Shopping around Siam Square
Time passes so quickly when one is enjoying, we have missed our time to get to the airport. We hurried ourselves back to the hotel and collected our luggage and headed to the airport. As a rule, one would have to cater at least 1.5 hours for the trip to the airport, catering sufficient time for the traffic jam. As we were cutting a little too fine for our checking in, I decided to check in online whist on our way to the airport, which would give us sufficient time for boarding. We made it to the airport and line queue for online check in (luggage drop off) is significantly shorter than the usual queues. We were glad that we did the online check in. As there are some time to kill before our flight. My friends and I roamed around the airport terminal before heading to the gate for boarding.
At the immigration area in Bangkok Airport
At the immigration area in Bangkok Airport
At the immigration area in Bangkok Airport
At the immigration area in Bangkok Airport
Reflecting on this trip, though Bangkok is not an unfamiliar place and I have actually blogged about it before, this trip is unique as I have experienced some things for the first time. It was my first time celebrating Loy Krathong in Bangkok, my first time squeezing into the BTS like packed sardines, my first time shopping in Chatuchak market and my first time visiting Erawan Shrine during the birthday of the 4-faced Buddha. This goes to show that although one may have been to a place umpteen times, every trip can be different if planned properly. We have enjoyed our trip this time round as there are several firsts even for some of my friends who have been to Bangkok before.
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Bangkok Day 3 (8 Nov 14) – Chatuchuk: The Weekend Market Shopping

This is the day I finally get to visit Chatuchak Market. The plan to include a visit to this market was hatched as this is the first time one of my friends visited Bangkok. As for me, despite having been to Bangkok for around 10 times, all along I have never been to Chatuchak Market. The outdoor market, spanning 27 acres, is only opened on weekends. As such, weekend visits to the Chatuchak Market becomes one of the past time of visitors and locals alike. To get to the Market, we took the MRT to Kamphaeng Phet station. The naming of the MRT station can be confusing for first time visitors to Chatuchak Market. There is another station by the name of Chatuchak Park which is one station before Kamphaeng Phet station and that is not the station to alight for Chatuchak Market. Once at Kamphaeng Phet market, there are no lack of signs to point visitors to the weekend market. The station exit, where we came out from, is right smack next to the entrance of Chatuchak Market.

Having Breakfast at the hotel before we head for Chatuchuk Market
Taking the MRT to Chatuchuk Market
Discussing what to shop at Chatuchuk Market
Taking the MRT to Chatuchuk Market
The MRT station that is right smack at Chatuchuk Market

When we emerged from the station, my friends, like kids in a candy store, were immediately excited by the numerous shopping to quench their thirst for shopping. There are approximately 15000 booths selling goods from all over Thailand at a near cost price. Despite that, one should never give up on bargaining when shopping, especially here in Chatuchak. We walked along the main streets, stopping by at the booth that sells what we wanted throughout our stay here. One tip when shopping at Chatuchak market – one would rarely need to compare prices around as the price quoted by the vendors are usually around the same. When one sees the stuff that one likes, one can approach the vendor to reach a price that is win-win for both the buyer and the seller. There are indeed something for everyone here in Chatuchak market. The market offers things from clothing to pots and pans to massages services to footwear to essential oils. There are even banks in the market that offers forex services for foreigners who did not bring sufficient cash with them while shopping here. There is also a section where one can find pet food and pet clothing. As I speak Thai, my friends relied on me to bargain for them. One can be expected to spend at least one full day here at Chatuchak Market mainly shopping. Shopping in Chatuchak Market will also mean shoppers will never go hungry as there are stalls popped up all over the market selling food. Shoppers also shouldn’t miss out on some of the booths in the sheltered area of the market. Despite the price variation being minimal amongst the shops here, these shops in more isolated areas of the market is where one will be able to drive the price lower by bargaining. There is this shop in one of the isolated area, where my friend wanted to buy a couple of shorts for her causal wear. We drove such a hard bargain that the shopkeeper was able to match our price. At the end of the bargaining session, the shopkeeper naughtily joked that we made his life difficult. He even gave us a hug before we left his premises. Smokers beware!! There has been a smoking ban in the market in place since 2008, which carries a 2000 baht fine if caught.

Along the streets of Chatuchuk Market
One of the sections in Chatuchuk Market
Chatuchuk Market
The crowd is starting to gather at Chatuchuk Market
Taking wefie in Chatuchuk Market
Taking photo with one of the mascots in the market 
Taking photo with one of the mascots in the market
Wefie in Chatuchuk Market
My friend spotting a pair of shades in Chatuchuk Market
My friend with her new shades in Chatuchuk Market
Street food in Chatuchuk Market
More street food in Chatuchuk Market
Time for a drink
Counting change for drink in Chatuchuk Market
Street food in Chatuchuk Market
Thai style fried carrot cake in Chatuchuk Market
Shopping in Chatuchuk Market
Chatuchuk Market
Chatuchuk Market
Shopping in Chatuchuk Market
Taking wefie in Chatuchuk Market
My friends wandering where to go in Chatuchuk Market
Shopping for shorts in Chatuchuk Market

After spending the whole day at the market (we stayed till most of the shops are closing), my friends still couldn’t get their shopping bugs fixed. We headed towards MahBoonKrong centre (or affectionately known as MBK for locals and visitors alike) to get some souvenirs and more shopping!! There is a shop in MBK, that is known by most Singaporeans, where one can get relatively cheaper local snacks at Level 4. MBK is a place that I would not visit these days (if not for the local snacks that I wanted to bring home for my friends and colleagues). Generally the goods are a little pricer that what one can find compared to Chatuchak market or Patpong night market. Nonetheless, MBK remains a “must go” mall for visitors as it offers a one-stop shopping. The crowd at MBK did not seem to thin throughout the years. MBK seemed not to have reduced its popularity even when the new malls sprung up in downtown Bangkok. We had our dinner at Sumo restaurant, that serves Thai and Japanese food. The food is a let down and is rather pricey as compared to other restaurants with the quality of the food. The food is rather blend and lacks the spiciness and sourness which made Thai food famous (despite us ordering thai food). After dinner, we walked around Siam Square a little, which is right opposite of MBK centre. One of my friend saw a nail art saloon and went to get her nails painted. While the rest of us roamed around Siam Square, stopping by for an A&W root beer float. Originally we had a massage appointment at 10pm, however by the time my friend got her nails done, it was already past 11pm. As this is our last night here, my friends wanted to get a good Thai massage before heading back. The only place that has Thai massage near midnight would be Patpong. The massages parlours in Patpong usually closes at around midnight to 1am. Hence should one still wants to enjoy Thai massage late at night, one can try one’s luck at Patpong area. After massage, we headed back to the hotel to pack and rest for the night, getting ready to depart Bangkok the next day.

Dinner at Sumo restaurant in MBK Centre 
Tom Yam Chicken soup
Thai Fish cakes
Pandan Chicken
Phad Thai
Pineapple fried rice
Root beer and Root beer float!!

Bangkok Day 2 (7 Nov 14) – A Wet Wet Day in the Land of Smiles

No visits to Bangkok is complete without visiting some of their temples. Thailand is largely a Buddhist country and the Thai temples are vibrantly decorated with bright red, yellow and gold themes. Mirrors are also used to brighten the facade of the temples There are a few iconic temples that we should not miss while in Bangkok. Wat Arun (the Temple of the Dawn), Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha) and Wat Phrakaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) situated in the grounds of the Grand Palace are such icons that visitors should not give them a miss. We planned to visit two of such temples – Wat Pho and Wat Phrakaew as well as less famous Wat Saket (Temple of the Golden Mount). Our route for the day includes traveling by the BTS, by water and by land.

I love traveling on the BTS in Bangkok. Not only it is inexpensive, it is also the fastest way to move around the city, given its reputation for its all-day traffic jams. One is also able to avoid being ripped off by the cab drivers (well to be fair not all of them does that). Our first stop of the day is to visit Wat Pho. Getting to Wat Pho on the public transport include a trip on the BTS and transfer to the ferry on Chao Phraya River. A trip to Wat Pho would cost 20 Baht on the public ferry, the one that we mistakenly took costs 4 times that price. Little did I realise we were actually on the ferry meant for the tourists. The ticketing counter at the ferry stop is a tad misleading. They only sell tickets for the tourist ferry. A point to note, to get onboard the commuter ferry, one would have to purchase the tickets onboard and not at the counter. So skip the counter totally and ask the locals where to get a ferry towards Wat Pho. The journey upstream towards Wat Pho took around 20 mins, along the way, one is able to see how the locals used Chao Phraya River as a means for their daily livelihood. Several big chain hotels popped up along the river as on the higher floors, the hotel do offer a fantastic and almost zen like feel over the river. It is not hard for one to realise that one had arrived at the stop for Wat Pho. The iconic Wat Arun, a temple with a single building structure surrounded by 4 towers, is right across the river.

Wefie before boarding the BTS
Riding on the BTS 
Taking the river ferry towards Wat Pho
Scenes along Chao Phraya River
Scenes along Chao Phraya River
Leaving the pier
My friends on the river cruise
Posing on Chao Phraya River
Scenes along Chao Phraya River
Scenes along Chao Phraya River
Scenes along Chao Phraya River
Scenes along Chao Phraya River
Ferry drop off points
Scenes along Chao Phraya River
Wat Arun on opposite bank
Wat Arun
The pier we alighted the ferry

We alighted the ferry and made our way to Wat Pho. The walk from the ferry stop to the temple is just mere minutes. In the event that one is not too sure where to head towards after alighting the ferry, just follow the crowd of visitors as most of them are generally heading towards the same place. The entrance to Wat Pho is nothing grand nor it is glamourous. Behind the plain looking structure and temple walls, the temple ground opens up to a vastness of space and tranquility. While the scene outside the wall is one of bustling and full of life, the scene within the wall is one of peacefulness. We headed for the main temple, which houses the gigantic Reclining Buddha. The Buddha measuring a good 15m in height and 46m in length reclines in a “Lion Sleep”position. Female visitors in shorts and sleeves are required to don on a robe (available at the entrance to the Reclining Buddha building) as a mark of respect. The hordes of visitors did not seem to thin at the time of our visit. It is hard to get a shot of the Buddha without the other tourists in the background. Visitors come to this temple to marvel at the grandness of the largest Reclining Buddha statue, and in fact the largest Buddha statue in the whole of Thailand. The Buddha Statue is covered in gold plating and decorated with mother-of-pearl inlay on his eyes and the soles of his feet. There are a total of 108 auspicious symbols carved on the soles of the buddha statue. These 108 symbols are believed to have its origins from the ancient sculpture of Sri Lanka, spotted by the Brahmins on the soles of Prince Siddhartha (the man whom became buddha) 5 days he was born according to legend.

Entrance of Wat Pho
Inside the temple
The reclining Buddha
Peaceful and solemn Buddha
Reclining Buddha in Wat Pho
Reclining Buddha in Wat Pho
108 auspicious symbols laden with Mother of Pearl on the Buddha’s soles
Me in Wat Pho

One of the must-dos in this temple is the dropping of coins into the 108 bronze bowls. It is believed that it will bring good fortune for those who does that. There is a small counter for one to exchange their bills into small coins to be dropped along the length inside the temple. The dropping of coins is, after all voluntarily. I urged my friends to do so as it not only brings good karma, the sound created by dropping coins into these bronze bowls are rather therapeutic. My friends had a great time doing so anyways. After touring the Reclining Buddha, I brought my friends around the temple grounds to see the other parts of the temple, where most of the visitors would give it a miss. There is a place where one will spot about 400 Buddha statues, mostly in seated positions. Some of the statues are decked out in shiny gold paint, while others are more bronze looking. There is also another side temple where one can offer one’s prayers to the Buddha further into the temple grounds.

Surroundings of Wat Pho
Very colour and vivid architecture in the Thai Temples
300 Buddha Statues
300 Buddha Statues
Chinese elements in Wat Pho
My friends posing under the pagodas in Wat Pho
Shiny gold plated Buddha Statue
My friend posing with the statues
My friend posing with the statues
This is where we offered our prayers to the Buddha in Wat Pho
Getting our offerings for prayers
Offering our prayers to the Buddha in Wat Pho
Offering our prayers to the Buddha in Wat Pho
Serenity in Wat Pho
Around Wat Pho

Our next stop is the Grand Palace and Wat Phrakaew. One can make way there on foot from Wat Pho, which takes about 15 mins. The Grand Palace closes at 3pm, hence one would have to get there by 3pm to get the tickets into the Palace. When we reached the Palace grounds, we were rather put off by the crowds at the Palace entrance. The swarms of crowd, plus the humid weather are the deciding factor for us to give the Grand Palace a miss and headed for our next stop, Wat Saket.

Wat Saket is not far from the Grand Palace. The cab ride took us 10 mins to reach the temple. Half way through the cab ride, it started to pour cats and dogs. We were hoping that the rain would cease by the time we reach the base of the temple. However no such luck. The sky did not seem to be giving way to sunny weather. The cab dropped us at the front gate of Wat Saket. Wat Saket or Golden Mount Temple is situated on tope of a small hill. There was a small scale bazaar at the base of the temple, selling mostly food stuffs and clothing. My friends and I browsed through the bazaar (as there are canvas that offered us shelter from the rain) and headed towards the stairways that would lead us up to the temple. We climbed the 300 steps that led us to the temple for shelter from the rain. When we reached the temple, we saw numerous visitors hiding inside the temple for shelter. Most of us were waiting for the rain to stop before continuing our itinerary. As we were waiting, I brought my friends around the temple. My main focus of bringing them here is for the view. From the temple, one can look out into parts of Bangkok. As there are no high-rise buildings around the temple, we can look as far as downtown Bangkok and Thakksin Bridge from the temple. It is rather therapeutic to look out and enjoy the breeze on a sunny day at the temple. As we were walking around, we spotted a small staircase that seemed to lead upwards. As it was still raining, one other visitor told us the door up there was closed. We must have waiting for another hour or so, the rain finally gave into the sunny skies. As we were heading towards the staircase that would bring us down to the base of the temple, we walked past that inconspicuous staircase again. This time we saw people heading up the staircase and we followed suit. Little did we realise that narrow wooden staircase brought us to the roof top of the temple. I have been to Wat Saket a few times and this is the first time I came up here. From the roof top, the views into downtown Bangkok is event more stunting!! There are a few Buddha statues up at the roof top, surrounding the golden dome that distinct Wat Saket from most other temples in Bangkok. We stayed up at the roof for another 10 mins or so before heading down towards our next destination.

Start of the 300 steps ascent to Wat Saket
My friends waiting to get up to Wat Saket
My friend in Wat Saket
View from Wat Saket
We were all drenched
View from Wat Saket
Dome of Wat Saket on the roof level
Panoramic view from Wat Saket
Buddha statues on the roof of the temple
View from Wat Saket from the roof
Flooded bazaar at the base of Wat Saket
Having fun walking in the water

I am rather excited to bring my friends on the canal ferry, that most Bangkokers utilises to beat the horrid traffic jams in Bangkok. The fare onboard the ferry to central Bangkok did not cost much. The ferry ply through the canal at the back of Bangkok dwellers. For those who pay a lot of attention to hygiene, this mode of transport is perhaps not suitable for you. The foul smell (well it is still bearable to us) will probably turn one off. Nonetheless, my friends had a great time taking this form of transport, as this is the first time they ply through the canals of Bangkok on a ferry. We alighted at the Pratunam pier, which happens to be the interchange pier for this mode of transport. As we were walking out towards the main road, my friends immediately recognise Pratunam Mall, and this marks the beginning of our shopping trip in this area.

Taking the ferry towards Pratunam
The pier where we boarded the ferry
Onboard the ferry towards Pratunam
Onboard the ferry towards Pratunam
And we are leaving
Scenes along the canal
Someone’s backyard
Scenes along the canal

 

We were dry by the time we reached Pratunam

Pratunam Mall is the largest clothing mall in Bangkok. There are over 1000 stores here selling clothes here. There is bound to be something for everyone here. As the time we arrived was near closing time. My shopaholic friends had no choice but to browse through the shops and be very targeted at what they want to buy. For shopaholics, one can spend up to 1 full day here by just walking around once. My friends, who have been here previously, was commenting that the trick to shop at Pratunam is to buy the clothing when you see the one you like. It is like a maze inside here and don’t even hope that you will remember where the shop you last see the stuff you want. Moreover, the price seemed to be standardised from shop to shop, no point comparing prices. True enough, the mall (selling mostly clothes for ladies, out of the 7 storey building, only half of one storey is for guys!) is like a maze. I saw people practically dragging their luggage around the mall seemed like they are here for retail therapy. We stayed here till the malls are closed before heading back to our hotel to rest for the night. This is my first time to Pratunam area, and little did I realise it is actually located within walking distance from our hotel.

Shopping mall opposite the ferry pier in Pratunam

Bangkok Day 1 (6 Nov 14) – Soaking in the festive mood of Loy Krathong in the Land of Smiles

We planned this trip some months ago as a birthday trip for one of my friends. Coincidentally, his birthday falls on the same day as the Loy Krathong festival in Thailand. Loy Krathong festival is known as the “Festival of Lights” to the Thais and is celebrated on the 12th Lunar Month on the Thai calendar.  Loy Krathong literally translates to mean floating basket.
The bird that took us to the Land of Smiles
Arrival at Suvarnabhumi Airport
We took the first flight out of Singapore to Bangkok, cleared custom in relatively fast timing. Soon we found ourselves heading towards the hotel that we called home for the next 3 nights. The hotel we put up during our trip here is centrally located. We opted this hotel mainly for its centralised location and we were not surprised at the convenience of the location of the hotel when we arrived. As our rooms are yet to be ready (we were way earlier for the staff to check us in), hence we left our luggage at the concierge and headed for the nearest supermarket to stock up on drinks for the next 4 days. Before heading for Siam Square, we stopped by the famous 4-faced Buddha shrine – Erawan Shrine to offer our prayers to the Buddha and seek his blessings for a safe trip. This Shrine, located just in front of the Grand Hyatt Hotel, has continued to attract hordes of locals and tourists alike for its ability to grant wishes. It was 11am when we arrived at the shrine and already it was jam packed with people seeking blessings from the Buddha. After offering our prayers, we continued to head for Siam Square.
Taking a wefie at the hotel lounge
The famous Erawan Shrine at downtown Bangkok
Praying at Erawan Shrine is believed to bring good luck
Wefie at the shrine

As we were walking towards the supermarket, since there are some time for us to kill, I proposed to my friends that we head over to Siam Square, where the Hello Kitty House is located. One of my friends is an ardent Hello Kitty fan, hence the trip to the “pink house”. As Siam Square is not far from our hotel, we went there by foot. To reach Siam Square, there are a series of shopping malls that we had to cut through. The first mall that we walked past and into is the Central World Shopping Mall.  As we were through the mall, we bumped into a foreigner distributing samples of the cakes that the cafe is selling. Maxim’s Bistro is a French cafe, mainly sells cakes and is famous for their chocolate cake. I jokingly informed the staff that it was my friend’s birthday, the staff immediately invited us into the cafe and offered my friend a slice of their signature cake on the house for his birthday with no obligations from us. That is great service there. We chatted with the manager of the store whom invited us back the next day for complementary drinks.

 

Pastries at the cafe
Picture with the birthday boy
The cafe is rather contemporary and is a great place to chill
We continued our journey towards Siam Square, passing by Siam Paragon and finally reached Siam Square opposite Siam Paragon. We did not quite know where the Hello Kitty House is located. All we know is that it is in Siam Square. We searched abit around and finally found it. As it is a Friday afternoon, there is no crowd here (I was told that this place is packed during weekends). At first I thought we are going into some Hello Kitty Museum, but we were soon disappointed. This place is actually a shop with cafe selling Hello Kitty item, ranging from notepads to body lotions to cakes and coffee. The constant “Hello Kitty…. Hello Hello Hello Hello….. Hello Kitty” playing over and over again like a broken record soon started to annoy us. We hurried our ardent Hello Kitty Fan friend and got out as soon as we can. My verdict, this place is not worth visiting at all. After getting out of the cafe, we headed to the supermarket to get some food stuffs and drinks, in case we are thirsty or hungry at nights. By the time we were done, it is nearly 4pm, we headed back to the hotel for checking in and settle down. After checking in, we rest in our rooms for a bit before heading back out to Asiatique for Loy Krathong. (The staff at the hotel recommended for us to head out at around 6pm before the place gets crowded.)
My friend at Hello Kitty House
My friends at Hello Kitty House

We must have overslept. By the time we woke up, it is already nearly 8pm. We quickly readied ourselves and headed out for Asiatique, which is along Chao Praya River. To get there we took the BTS and then transfer onto the ferry for Asiatique. I love to travel via BTS in Bangkok as it is the fastest way to travel in relatively comfortable environment (Bangkok is infamous known for its horrendous traffic situation). We had to transfer to another BTS at Siam Square Station, as we were heading down to the next platform where another BTS will take us to Chao Praya River, we were shocked at what was in front of us. The platform was crowded! Despite the crowd, the Thais are still patiently and orderly standing in their queue awaiting to board the BTS (and so did we). As the BTS pulled into the station, we were being pushed into the train. Instead of finally it disturbing, my friends and I actually found it fun! This is something that we had not experienced before. The BTS was so jam packed that one will not fall from the jerking motion of the train, as there will be another person around you cushioning the fall. Despite the crowded BTS, people still manage to alight the train as the locals will alight for those further in to alight before boarding again. This is what I love about the Thais, patient and considerate.

Queuing up to board the crowded BTS
Boarding the BTS
The crowd onto the BTS is just amazing

We arrived at the BTS near Chao Praya River (Saphan Taksin). It is really crowded here, with most people going up the river towards Wat Arun for Loy Krathong or down towards Asiatique. As we alighted the BTS station, we saw numerous stalls selling mainly food and the floating lantern (or Krathong) for the festival. I told my friends to buy our Krathongs here instead of Asiatique, which is likely to be more expensive. And so we shopped for our Krathongs. There are basically 2 types on sale, on with the base made up of Styrofoam, the type made with banana tree trunk. I read that the one made of the banana tree trunk is more traditional and urged my friends to find one that is made of that material. To choose a Krathong, opt for the ones that are made out of banana tree trunk as it is more traditional, the top of the Krathong is based on individual’s liking on the type of flowers and the design the local vendor has on their Krathongs for sale. There are several design of the Krathongs with lots of stalls selling Krathong, other then the base (which to me is more important), the rest is really up to one’s preference on what flower they want on their Krathong. A Krathong usually has a base and is wrapped by a banana leaves, flowers, a candle and and incense. The Thais believe that floating a Krathong on this day symbolises letting go of anger and bad luck. A strand of hair, a clipping of finger nail, or a coin is usually being placed in the Krathong before floating it down the river.

Various Krathongs on sale
Shopping for Krathongs
Wefie with our Krathongs
My friends choosing their Krathongs
Shopping for Krathongs

It took us quite awhile to find a Krathong each to our liking. After picking our Krathong, it is another waiting game. As the crowd going to Asiatique is huge, we had to wait for the ferry that would send us there. We must have waited for around 1 hour before managing to board on towards Asiatique. Initially, I was a little puzzled at how we are going to release our Krathong, as there is quite a bit of height from at the harbourside in Asiatique, I have only read of people releasing Krathongs and not throwing them over.  Are we going to throw our Krathongs over the edge of the river or what???!! Soon the mystery was solved. Upon alighting from the ferry, we followed the crowd to the edge of the river. There is a long pole with a basket at the end for people to lower their Krathongs onto Chao Praya River. Despite the crowd, there were absolutely no pushing or chaos or anyone jumping queue. This is one thing I like about the Thais, people were generally patiently waiting for their turn to use the pole, and there is no need for any form of crowd or queue. Soon it was our turn to use the pole, before lowering the Krathong, I reminded my friend to put a coin into our Krathongs, symbolising good luck.  Using the pole to lower our Krathong into the river is harder than it looked. The pole was rather heavy and one would have to stretch, while balancing the Krathong on the pole and hoping that the flame on the candle do not extinguish. It is a mixture of strength, balance and more importantly luck lowering the Krathong into the river. Of the four of us, my Krathong is the only one where the flame on the candle did not extinguish. It must have been a tough job for one of my friends, whose Krathong toppled when she was lowering hers.

Boarding the ferry to Asiatique
My friend with her Krathong
Nearing Asiatique
The huge crowd at Asiatique
Asiatique at night
Krathongs that were lowered into the river
Me at Asiatique
Getting ready to lower our Krathongs
First have to light up the incense and then the candle
My Krathong ready to be lowered onto the river
Lowering Krathong
It takes strength and balance to lower the Krathong into the river
My friend trying her best to lower her Krathong
Posing for the camera while lowering her Krathong
My turn lowering my Krathong

After releasing our Krathong, we walked around Asiatique looking for some street food. I visited Asiatique last December and remembered there were street food. However not this time round. I generally find Asiatique to be boring. The food is expensive (comparable to restaurant in an upscale hotel in Bangkok) and the merchandise for sale are a tad more than what one will be able to find elsewhere. There are, however, several local designer clothing up for sale. As we planned to head to Chaktuchak Market in 2 days time, we thought it is not worth the time to do any shopping here. As Asiatique was very crowded, we left Asiatique and headed for Patpong for the night market. We managed to get a Tuk-tuk at a reasonable price. It was the first time experience on a Tuk-tuk for some of my friends, they were certainly excited over this popular mode of transport in Bangkok.

Walking around Asiatique
Asiatique at night
On a Tuk-tuk to Patpong
On a Tuk-tuk to Patpong 
On a Tuk-tuk to Patpong
We bumped our friend onto the floor of the Tuk-tuk

It did not take us very long to reach Patpong night market. This is one of the few night markets in Bangkok. Generally the prices of the goods here is rather reasonable. I thought it is a good thing that I can speak Thai, we managed to obtained some good bargains here. After walking for a good hour or two, it is time for us to settle down for dinner (or is it supper, as it was already nearly midnight). We headed for one of the road side stalls for dinner. The food was great and inexpensive. After dinner, we hailed a cab and headed back to the hotel to rest for the night.

Dinner at the roadside stall
The Tomyam chicken is very flavourful
Simple season of salt and pepper can bring so much taste to this sea bass