A Weekend in Bangkok (December 8-9, 2012)

Call me freak, but since last few years then somehow I feel that every year on my birthday (or the week of my birthday date) then I must go on trip somewhere. It was Bali in December 2007, Bali (again) in December 2011, no trip in December 2008 because I was broke (jobless, hahaha…) and also no trip in December 2009/December 2010 because I was taking my master degree and couldn’t leave the weekend classes.

For December 2012, I chose Bangkok, Thailand. Return tickets for both Alif and I was only Rp.2,655,400 (US$276) by Tiger Airways.

We left home on Saturday early morning (4:50 AM), took bajay from Matraman to Gambir (15 minutes trip – Rp.20,000). We continued the trip by DAMRI bus that departed at 5:15 AM, only 30 minutes to Soekarno-Hatta International Airport (Rp.20,000 per person).

The bus first entered Terminal 1, Terminal 2, 15 minutes later we arrived at Terminal 3 for our Mandala flight.

RI900 took off as scheduled, 7:20 AM (a great effort by Tiger Airways to be on time after my very bad experience on flight from Melbourne to Sydney last year). The fellow traveler who sat with us was Gaurav, an Indian young software engineer who got a project in Jakarta in the previous weekday, on his way to holiday with friends at Pattaya.

Our plane arrived on Suvarnabhumi Airport at 10:30 AM (only 3 hours 5 minutes, meant 25 minutes earlier than scheduled). The immigration process was super quick because of not much queue. Only few minutes walk to arrival gate, a quick stop at toilet, withdraw some Thailand bath from ATM (using my card of Indonesian bank saving account), finally we got the Airport Rail Link to the city (90 baht for one way, I purchased 150 baht for return trips which is valid for 14 days after first use).

ARL departed as scheduled, 11:31 AM. Super quick (express/non-stop line), only 15 minutes to Phaya Thai BTS Station, 35 km from airport.

Finally met Julie (Couchsurfing.org member from US) at Fountain Cafe on CP Tower groundfloor, we took taxi from Phaya Thai to Grand Palace (30 minutes, 93 baht but I gave 100 baht including tips for the driver). Entrance fee = 400 baht per person (free of charge for Thai nationals).

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We spent 2 hours at Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaeo (including visit to The Pavilion of Regalia, Royal Decorations and Coins), then took tuk tuk (50 baht) to Wat Pho. Entrance fee = 100 baht per person.

After seeing the giant reclining Buddha, we got on ferry to Wat Arun across Chao Praya River from the pier (Tha Tian) which is only few minutes walk from Wat Pho. Julie climbed up to the top (entrance fee = 50 baht), but Alif and I were tired then we chose to wait for her at the yard instead.

Another ferry trip back to Tha Tian, then tourist ferry to Ratchawongse and another tuk tuk ride brought us to Chinatown area. We visited Wat Traimit, The Temple of Golden Buddha, then took MRT from Hua Lampong Station nearby to Lumpini.

Julie wanted to watch muay thai boxing match at Lumpini Boxing Stadium (entrance fee = 2,000 baht per person, free of charge for kids) but Alif was so tired then I took him to our hotel, Pinnacle Lumpini across the street from the stadium.

After he got an hour nap, I took him out to Siam. First we visited MBK, then Siam Discovery, later walked to Hard Rock Cafe at Siam Square to buy some t-shirts before went back to our hotel and got night rest.

We started our Sunday morning by went to swimming pool at 7:40 AM, it was located at the rooftop (14th floor) next to fitness center. After half an hour, we got back to our room, take shower and packed our things, then went for breakfast at 8:40 AM.

We checked out from the hotel at 9:15 AM, took a taxi to Pantip Plaza, made a pose in front of Indonesian Embassy (KBRI, Kedutaan Besar Republik Indonesia) which located next to it, then walked to Ratchathewi BTS Station to Phaya Thai. We arrived just a couple of minutes before ARL express departed to airport (10:01 AM). Another super fast and convenient 15 minutes trip.

At 10:30 AM, we already checked in, got seat numbers 7A and 7B. Still 95 minutes before ETA then it was enough time for shopping on our way to Gate D1. Well, must spare that much time because boarding gates close 15 minutes before departure, and the airport is so huuugggeee…we had to walk almost 500 m away from immigration counters.

At one of duty free shops, I bought keychains and a pack of Tiger Balm to finish my remaining cash of Thai baht.

The plane departed as scheduled, 2:05 PM. Cloudy sky during our flight, perhaps the pilot had to pay more attention, then it was 3 hours 20 minutes from Bangkok to Jakarta (15 minutes longer than our trip from Jakarta to Bangkok).

It was an awesome short weekend trip…but next time definitely must stay longer in Bangkok to visit Ocean Park, Madame Tussaud’s, and more temples.

Pics are available on my Facebook photo album.

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