First impressions of Bangkok
We had arrived in Bangkok in the evening, and by the time we had managed to get from the airport to the hotel* with the Airport Rail Link it was already pretty late. So when we got up early the next day to explore the city, we didn't really know what to expect. Many people we know had been to Bangkok, and many of them liked the city very much. We on the other hand somehow got off on the wrong foot. Maybe it's because we didn't read up enough before coming here. We got tricked and cheated almost everywhere we went, and there just weren't enough good things about Bangkok to really make up for it. But let's start at the beginning.
One thing we had read, was that taxi scams where as common here as in Vietnam, so we tried to avoid Taxis and TukTuks as much as possible. Instead we took the metro to the old town part of the city. But the metro doesn't really go anywhere near the old town, so we walked through most of chinatown. On the way we got stopped once by a guy, offering us advice on the sights and trying to hail us a TukTuk. We declined, explaining that we wanted to walk to take in as much of the city as possible, and quickly walked away.
With a little map we had gotten at our hotel we navigated through the many many streets as good as possible. Our first real stop was at Wat Suthat, one of the many buddhist temples in Bangkok. We paid the entrance fee, walked around the temple complex and marveled at how different the religious culture is in Thailand than it had been in Vietnam, even though both seem so close to each other.
Afterwards, we wanted to go the Great Palace. Maybe a block before we had gotten there, a guy came up and told us that the temple was close due to the upcoming burial of the late King. We didn't think much of it, because we knew the king had died about a year ago, and was to be buried a year after his death. So it made sense. Had we read a bit more about Bangkok, we would have know that this is one of the most common scam that happens to tourists. But I guess we had to learn the hard way. The guy talked to us for a few minutes, told us about a boat tour that we could do really cheap today, hailed a TukTuk and before we had really processed what was happening, we were taken to a pier at the Chao Phraya River. We had realized that something was going on, so on the way we decided we wouldn't do the boat tour. That way the TukTuk Ride was alright because it brought us to the Chao Phraya and we had wanted to cross to see Wat Arun anyways. And there is no way we could have hailed a TukTuk there for only 10 Baht ourselves. When we got to the Pier, which was not one of the official, named ones, but a small one somewhere at the end of an ally, we were asked to pay 1000 Baht each for the boat tour. We declined. And we wouldn't even have had a much cash if we had wanted to do the trip, so we got out of the situation.
Then it started raining, so we looked for a restaurant to have some lunch. After that we took the ferry to Wat Arun. We didn't notice right away, but here we were tricked again, again one of the old tricks out there: wrong change because we didn't have the right coins ready.
Wat Arun was really cool. It's impressively big and also really beautiful with the mosaics made form ceramics. But what we liked most about it (and actually about all the Thai Temples): There were sooo many cats running around. We might have taken more pictures of cats than of the actual temple.
After we got back from Wat Arun, the sun was already starting to set. So we walked the whole way back the tram station.
One of the things we had actually read about Bangkok was that you can have a great view over the city from Bayoke Tower, so we decided to go there. The entrance fee was absurd, it's 400 Baht per Person to go to the top. But a cocktail is included in that amount, so we decided to go up anyways. We had walked another half hour or so to actually get there, so skipping the experience just wasn't an option.
But in the end we decided it was even kind of worth it, the view from up there was stunning.
*What I really really liked in Bangkok was the hotel we stayed at. It's called Tints of Blue and fairly close to Sukhumvit Station. The hotel is located at the end of a long alley, and they even have a TukTuk-Shuttle to take you to the main road. For some people that might be a bit of a turn off, but on the other hand the hotel was really beautiful. A bit hipster, but beautiful, I mean it!