Trip To Bangkok : Day III

( This post follows from Trip To Bangkok: Day II. Post IV of V chronicling, well, what else? My Trip to Bangkok! )

I woke up after about 3 hours of sleep to the insistent ring of the phone. I answered to hear a voice at the other end say ‘This is your six-thirty wake up call, sir’. I thanked him and fell back to my pillow. I lounged for a while then got up and went to get ready. Freddie, who had decided we should be up at that ungodly hour, was still snoozing when I came out from the bathroom. After he got ready, I took our breakfast coupon and we went down to eat.

There was a large spread awaiting us. There were cornflakes, Chocos, toast, fried eggs, bacon, sausages, fruits, juices, pancakes and some more things. I stuffed myself on the chicken sausages and consequently, was feeling queasy the rest of the day. We both ate well and after being completely stuffed, lumbered our way to the front door to catch a taxi to the Grand Palace.

The Palace was quite a distance from our hotel. When we reached there, we were approached by an old man who offered to be our guide for 300 baht. We considered it and agreed. You aren’t allowed to wear clothes that expose too much skin; so 3/4ths, shorts, spaghetti tops etc. are a no-no. But they do provide you clothes to wear over your own. You’re supposed to deposit 100 baht or your driving license or something similar and collect it on the way out after depositing the borrowed clothes. We both had to get a pair of pants to wear over our 3/4ths, but our guide took care of procuring them.

We then walked down to the ticket counter where the guide told us to buy tickets, 250 baht each! We were stunned since we’d figured the 300 baht we were paying him was inclusive of the tickets! There was no alternative so we bought the tickets. Freddie was kinda ticked off at this. We then went inside and started following the guide. He seemed to be in a big hurry. He would point at something, tell us a little bit of its history, tell us to click a picture and then rush us off to see something else. It was very irritating and Freddie was especially peeved at this. He started showing his anger by not following him, or at best, ambling along at his own pace. He stopped everywhere to click photos.

As an aside, Freddie loves to take pictures. He doesn’t want to be in them. He doesn’t want anyone else to be in them. He just wants to take photos of the buildings and things that he sees. Just to document the trip. I hate going through photos like that! My dad does the same thing! We’ve got hundreds of photos of mountains and valleys and lakes and other natural exhibits. They’re ok for one look; some of the places are quite beautiful; but I just can’t go through that many photos of the same thing! I would prefer to see someone I know, perhaps doing something stupid so we can all get a laugh out of it.

Anyway, we went over the whole place and were out of it in less than an hour. We then walked around and went past the Democracy monument. After some more wandering around, we caught a taxi back to the hotel since we were supposed to check out at 1200. We reached back around 1100 and had a bath and packed all our stuff. I went down to get our things from the safe deposit box. Once we were all done we went down to the lobby. Freddie wanted to buy some Thai beer for his friend and he said that he’d seen a place along the Sukhumvit Soi 55, the road we’d walked down from the Thong Lo station. He suggested we walk back that way, buy the beer and then take a taxi the rest of the way. I agreed and we set off.

My suitcase was heavy and clumsy to carry. All Freddie had was his bag. We kept walking, looking for that elusive shop that Freddie thought he’d spotted the evening before. My shoulders were killing me and my palms were starting to blister when we reached the Thong Lo station without having found the shop. We gave up on the idea of Thai beer and took a train to Siam. Except we bought tickets for 15 baht and not 25 baht as we should have. So when we got off at Siam, the turnstile wouldn’t open for us. So we asked a guard what was wrong and he said we’d have to pay 40 baht to get out. Luckily, he was under the impression that only one of us was stuck. So he got us one pass for 40 baht and then was confused as I asked him from the other side about how Freddie was going to get through and finally just let him through.

Freddie wanted to go back to Sizzlers since, he said, he’d not get to have authentic beef steak till he was back in Ireland, and that was two months away. I wasn’t very hungry and wanted to have junk food so I waited for him to finish eating. I was so tired that I slept through his whole meal; right from placing the order till he ate his last bite! After he paid, we went to get him a coffee from Starbucks. On our way out, he pointed out a KFC across the street and we made our way to it. I ordered a Zinger burger to take away and went out to the pavement where Freddie was waiting on my suitcase and proceeded to devour the burger. After that, I felt like some ice-cream so I went to the Siam Paragon, where we’d been the first day, and got myself a scoop of chocolate ice-cream from New Zealand Natural. On the way back, I crossed some people promoting Eragon, the movie. I got a couple of mini-posters from them for my sister. On reaching where I’d left Freddie with my luggage, I put the posters in my suitcase.

As we started walking, a car stopped by us with a Starbucks paper coffee cup on its top. A tourist passing by tried to take it off to discover that it’d been pasted on top! As a Christmas promotion, they were giving away coupons for a free coffee at Starbucks. We both got one each too but we were too tired to go back to the store and get any. So we just caught a taxi to the airport. We stopped once on the way as the guy needed to make a visit to the bathroom :)

Once at the airport, I went to get changed into clothes that’d be more suited to the Delhi winter. It was a difficult job and it took me quite sometime to get done. By then, Freddie’ had already got his boarding pass. I’d to struggle a bit to get the guy at the counter to understand that I wanted a seat with Freddie. With that finally done, I checked in my suitcase, collected my boarding pass and we walked around a bit and then decided to move into the airport. Then we discovered that we needed to pay 500 baht as airport tax! Freddie had been saving some money for duty free shopping, so he had 1000 baht. I had almost nothing. He needed more money now, so I got a $20 bill changed to lend to him.

The duty free shops were incredible! There was so much to buy! And buy Freddie did! He spent more there than he had during the entire stay at Bangkok! I don’t remember what he bought since I was more interested in getting on the plane and getting back home. I spent all that time trailing behind him and watching all the gadgets at the electronics shops. Later, we tried to locate a Starbucks so that we could use our coupons but couldn’t find one. Sigh!

Finally, we were tired and Freddie had bought all he wanted, so we sat down and waited for our gate to open. After it did, we went through the security check and walked to our gate and sat down to wait some more for our boarding call. I spent the time reading my magazine. We found our seats; they were right next to an emergency exit and at the start of the seats. So that meant that there were no seats in front of us. That gave us leg space but no pockets to put stuff into and tables that were awkward to get out of they little places in the armrests.

Freddie got talking to the guy with us who was also from Ireland and I got out my player and magazine. We were soon served dinner and I watched the in-flight movie ‘Lage Raho Munnabhai’ which was nice. We were delayed a bit and when we finally reached, it was 2130. Stepping into Delhi airport was such a disappointment after having seen the Bangkok airport. We walked to the immigration counters where we parted ways since I had an Indian passport and Freddie was a foreign individual. I was through faster and I went to collect my suitcase. I was soon joined by Freddie who was looking for his duty free shopping parcel. After a bit of running around to find out where he’d be able to collect it, we found out that it’d be coming on the same belt, but right at the end. So we waited till all the luggage had come and then he finally collected his stuff.

We were supposed to be picked up by a car that Freddie had requested from the company but we couldn’t see anyone at the arrival area nor could we get in touch with the driver. Freddie tried calling up the guy who arranges the vehicles and he told him that he’d try calling the driver and get back to him. To cut a long story short, the driver was somewhere at the airport and we were able to explain to him where we were after a little struggle and he turned up soon after to pick us up. The journey back home was quick, since it was around 2230 and soon I was back home.

I waved goodbye to Freddie once I got off the car and then I proceeded to the gate to find it locked! Since everybody in the house where I rent a room was out of town, the landlady had locked up the doors from the inside. I rang her up and asked to open up. Luckily she was home otherwise I’d have had to spend the night outside! I went home, heated some water for a bath. I didn’t bother to unpack since I was really tired.

After bathing, I got into bed and lay for while thinking about the whole trip. I was a little depressed at coming back home, back to the dirt and crudity of India. But I’d also missed it and it was a contest between depression because of short trip and familiarity of being back home. Guess which won?

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