Browsing, Riverfront Markets & Vintage Trains.

28 Apr

The last week in Bangkok has flown by! Its true – time flies when you  are having fun! :) We have not done anything too extreme but we have planned and done some great things in the last week… Some of which we will do again, others (namely, shopping) which I will do alone! :) I have learnt something really valuable since living in Bangkok – a pedestrian crossing does not mean it is safe to cross the road. Actually, it means nothing. Its just a few white lines painted on the road. Dodging traffic in Bangkok is an art – be prepared for (at all times) cars, taxis, tuk tuks, buses and scooters (in no particular order). They are everywhere, all the time and just because the bus stops, doesn’t mean the scooter speeding past on the other side has. I am now far more street wise literally. Back to the shopping…

Platinum and Pratunum

As we start our first day of teacher training tomorrow and neither of us had the right set of clothing – Thursday afternoon was dedicated to finding the cheapest clothes we could to meet the requirements. We decided to head off to the Pratunum Shopping Mall, followed by a visit to the Platinum Fashion Mall – both of which sell a vast selection of clothing and fashion apparel at wholesale price. Our first shopping experience in Bangkok was destined for doom when we could not find a taxi driver outside of our apartment block would commit to putting on the meter – with traffic being their main argument. This resulted in us having to take a tuk tuk. Which meant (duhh) that we had to make a stop off at the ‘Armani Suite Designer’ store on the way so that he could attain a can of petrol… Normally I would not mind, but it was a blazing hot day and the traffic was obscene for 2pm. Nonetheless, we arrived at Mr Armani boiling hot and not in the mood to pretend to have a suite tailored…

One of the sales techniques in Thailand is (once salesmen have established where you are from) to start rambling on in your ‘native’ language – in the hope to encourage a purchase. Being South African, the conversations Kyle and I have had to endure are a combination of English, Afrikaans, Xhosa and Zulu. “Molo Kunjani? You lyk baie mooi! … Souph Afreeka? JA, my brother is from Durban, Camps Bay side!” It is quite funny, but since Kyle has the patience of a Saint, the last two months have involved many conversations and promises to return. Whilst I no longer even stop, Kyle still gets every tailors card, name and contact details because “he will be back…” Needless to say (and this is not a joke) we have collected close to 40 beautifully designed tailor business cards – from Bangkok to Koh Samui to Nakhon Si Thammarat!

Anyway, after nearly two hours of driving around – we arrived at Pratunum. We breezed around and then walked across to the Platinum Fashion Mall. Im going to spare all the details – but if you are in a rush and do not like crowds, avoid shopping at either of these destinations. If your other half does not enjoy shopping under normal circumstances, avoid shopping at either of these destinations. If you are wanting to try garments on to see if they fit, avoid shopping at either of these destinations. We thought we were going at the right time – on an average Thursday rather than a Saturday or Sunday, but every day is the same in Bangkok – especially if your activity is centered around bargain shopping.

On a lighter note, I saw some stunning things at the Platinum Fashion Mall. There was a decent amount of variety and each floor was clearly labelled – so you knew which floors female/male/baby wear could be found. We managed to escape with the bare minimal, just enough to cover up for our first week of training but I will definitely go back (on my own) when I get paid… Although not all the clothing is worth writing home about, some of it is really nice and the jewellery and fashion accessories are stunning! I will be back.

Asiatique Riverside Market

Our Friday evening was spent at the Asiatique Riverfront Market. This night market was completely different to what we were expecting – in a good way! Once exiting the Saphan Taksin BTS Stop, you can either catch a taxi/tuk tuk or you can take a ferry boat across to the other side. We opted to jump on the free ferry shuttle service – and I highly recommend making use of the water option rather than taking a taxi. As you approach the drop off point, the beautifully lit up Big Wheel creeps closer and closer  – a truly magnificent sight which made us feel like we were back in Cape Town, walking around the V&A Waterfront! Along the waters edge are abundant restaurants, filled with diners who were making the most of another warm Bangkok evening.

We ate dinner at an affordable Italian restaurant where we had one of the nicest, thin based pizzas since being in Bangkok! One of the most frustrating things about eating out in Bangkok (something we did not experience whilst traveling the islands) is when eating out with a group and attempting to pay the bill… Coming from South Africa, it is standard to tip 10% of the total – more or less depending on the standard of service. We are also used to having the TAX amount included in the individual food prices quoted on the menu. However, it does not work this way in Bangkok and can come as quite a surprise when the final bill does not add up. What generally happens over here, is that a service and TAX amount are added to the final amount owed by the patron. It may sound simple, but it can be quite complicated when there is a big group of people who all need to take out their phones to calculate the actual amount which they owe. There have been some evenings where we have felt a little bit annoyed at the situation as a great evening comes to an end with everyone frantically trying to work out what they owe, why the total does not tally up etc etc. Nonetheless, we had such a great evening, met some more wonderful people and I drank a glass of delicious red wine for only 80 Baht! – YAY!

So what makes Asiatique different to other markets in Bangkok? Well, firstly this market is only open in the evenings. Second, the clothing and fashion apparel for sale can be regarded as more top end, boutique items compared to items sold at the usual markets. Because you are on the waters edge, you do not feel like you are even in Bangkok! The neatly paved streets and decorated stores have a classy, chick feel about them.

Rod Fai – The Vintage Train Market

On Saturday evening we went to the The Vintage Train Market or Rod Fai Market. (But wait, prior to leaving home, I had my first hour long foot massage! I was in heaven!) After struggling to find the exact location of the market and with no locals or taxi drivers having any idea of where we were wanting to go – we eventually found this amazing, hidden little gem! This market is filled stalls which are completely different to any of the other markets we have visited whilst being in Bangkok. Also, there is a focus on food – with Thai food vendors being scattered all around the venue, encouraging visitors to choose a selection of eats and then sit around on the benches and tables provided. There was something very special about this market and I think one of the main things was the very few foreigners which we saw, even thought it was very busy. The market was predominantly Thai and can definitely be regarded as a local hang out spot.

(Photographs below: http://www.bangkok.com/rodfai)

If shopping and browsing are not your idea of fun – no problem! You have the choice to sit back, have a few beers and enjoy the bustling atmosphere. If Thai food is your thing – then you have to go to this market! There is an array of dishes available – some of the most delicious mushrooms wrapped in bacon, chicken and pork kebabs and fried chicken – along with all your usual and exotic (fried cockroaches) Thai dishes. We met up with friends (another couple) which is definitely the way to go when visiting a market or anything vaguely related to shopping. Kyle spent the evening drinking beer (maybe a bit too much…) while I browsed the stores. You might think that having been to so many markets, there must be a general similarity shared by all. But no – each one has its own unique feel. Rod Fai emphasized vintage wear and items – with old cameras, leather handbags and unique wall pieces on sale.

So what now?

We definitely ended our two and half month holiday off in style – spending the weekend with amazing people, seeing new things and experiencing a little more of what Bangkok has to offer. Tomorrow, we enter the real world again and to be completely honest, I cannot wait. I am so excited to start training, get an idea of what this whole teaching English craze is all about and  get a little bit more prepared for official classes which start on the 16th of May.

I cannot believe it has taken me so long to say this – but the Purple People are back! My last post emphasized our utter devastation and disappointment that our friendly little street vendor who serves the most delicious food, had disappeared – but they are back! Not in the same spot, much further up the road, but who cares? We found them! :)

We are still so happy over here, settling in more and more as the days go by. I miss my family and I miss my friends more than anything, but having access to Skype, Facebook and instant Whatsapp messages has made this time away so much easier. Chatting over Skype has made it feel as though we have just had a cup of coffee and catch up with friends and family  – even though we are millions of miles away from home! We are still fascinated (on a daily basis) at how different Thai culture is to what we are used to back home. We learn something new everyday and are as excited as ever to see what the rest of our time over here has installed…

Wishing you all a happy week x

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2 Responses to “Browsing, Riverfront Markets & Vintage Trains.”

  1. cookazido April 30, 2013 at 11:34 am #

    Wow, what an adventure you are having! I enjoyed reading your post. Your pictures are beautiful, and writing style so easy to read. Thanks for stopping by my blog as well.

  2. Kate Lighton May 1, 2013 at 4:48 pm #

    Thank you for having a look at my blog! Yours is just wonderful too! :)

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