One Day Stopover in Bangkok

A couch to sleep on
Here it comes the very last part of our long journey. A one-day tour in Bangkok became our 'dessert' before going back home. But first, I'm going to share how we moved out of Siem Reap, Cambodia. Around noon we rode a minivan to Poipet border. The minivan picked us up at our guesthouse. It took about three hours, yet I did not feel bored as I was having a good conversation with a friendly local on board. At the border, it was not too late actually to cross to Thailand but we chose to spend a night in a western couple's house. We missed doing this couchsurfing stuff after staying only at guesthouses and hotels all the time during this long trip.
With Andre and Whitney, our host in Poipet

The next morning at 7, we crossed the border. It was so crowded mostly by workers from Cambodia who were going to Thailand. An officer recognized us as tourists soon offered us an 'express service', so frankly! Despite our rejection to the service, we were moved into the tourist line which was much shorter. The immigration line into Thailand was very long as well. So at the border two hours of our time was wasted. If we had made it through the border earlier, we might take the cheap & comfortable casino bus to Bangkok. But now we had to take another option. Walking away the border till 7-11 store, we turned right and many minivans were waiting for passengers there. As these transports were meant for the locals, there was no English writings at all. This was just as I expected.

The minivan took and dropped passengers along the way, so taking this was not the fastest mode to get to Bangkok. It was also stopped few times by the military as it passed through security checkpoints. The country was just after  a coup d'etat so tensions felt still on the atmosphere. Had we came months earlier, it was even more worrying. Around that time, many roads in Bangkok were blocked by protesting mass and sadly the demonstrations often ended in a deadly violence.
Minivans to various destinations in Thailand lining here

Every passenger had to get off while the minivan was refilling the gas.

At 2 pm, we reached Bangkok. We were dropped off near BTS Bang Na by request. Wondered the minivan's final destination... maybe it's Ekkamai terminal. The first thing to do in Bangkok was to eat coz we'd been starving! Nice to meet cheap food again here, not to be paid in USD like in Cambodia. Though this was the first time in Bangkok, we had been to Thailand before. But only after we finished our lunch, we found out another interesting fact of Thailand that even in the capital city many people didn't speak English. Especially we dealt with an old lady at the food stall. Well, body language could do eventually. When we walked toward the BTS Station we asked for the direction to make sure we're heading the right way. The person we asked was a young woman (which we expected to speak English). She did understand our question but she answered back in Thai. Here I began to love this country!

We finally found the BTS Station then we took the skytrain to Mahboonkrong (MBK) shopping mall which was conveniently connected to National Stadium station. MBK stole my heart in no time because this shopping mall provided free service for left luggage and interestingly gave free T-shirts for tourists (it was an Air Asia promo, we just showed the photo in AA magazine to the counter). Here the couple got separated. Kristin was having her period and very tired as well. So I went out by myself to explore the 'Big Mango'.
Cheap and 'aroi' (yummy) food we first had in Bangkok
MBK was only one of many shopping malls around Siam area
Now I'll tell you how I explored Bangkok alone in only two or three hours yet I covered most of the main attractions. This way is very efficient and applicable for those who transit in Bangkok and have limited hours to spend. First of all, it's important to make MBK as a base for its central location and its free luggage handling service. Within walking distance from the shopping mall, there was a small boat pier named Saphan Hua Chang. The boat cruise along Klong Saen Saep. was cheap, stinky but adventurous. It brought me to the final stop, Panfa Leelar, which was only 4 stops away. There, I immediately found the Mahakan Fort. This was the two remaining of 14 forts built to protect the old city of Bangkok from any potential invasions, the other one being Phra Sumen Fort. Nearby there was Wat Ratchanatdaram with its Loha Prasat as another attraction. A tuk-tuk driver standing by there soon offered me a ride to some other attractions around the old city but I rejected as I had read a lot about tuk-tuk scams in Bangkok.

An express boat pier at Khlong Saen Saep
The boat is coming

On board

Mahakan Fort

Wat Rachanatdaram and Loha Prasat
Welcomed by two attractions just after getting off the boat, I was then encouraged to go further into the heart of Rattanakosin (the old city of Bangkok). I walked straight through the Democracy Monument till I saw a canal then I turned left, following the canal. Starting to doubt whether I was on the right track, I asked a police officer where the Grand Palace was. He didn't speak English but was really helpful with his body language. So I crossed the canal and kept walking a little bit more. The Grand Palace was now visible to my eyes! Surely, a visit to Bangkok would not complete without it. I could not enter though, it was closed already. But I was satisfied enough to get here.
Democracy Monument, an important landmark in Rattanakosin area

At a bus stop, people were scattering around waiting for the bus.

A canal with quite clean water

Ministry of Defence, just across the Grand Palace

A city pillar is in every city of Thailand based on the belief that
it needs to be installed upon the establishment of a new city.

Various modes of transports passed through the Grand Palace

Nice park near the Grand Palace

The park got a fountain and birds too!
Near the Grand Palace there was a boat pier named Tha Chang where I took a boat from to sail down Chao Phraya River. It took quite long to wait a boat with orange flag to come though. I hopped off at Saphan Taksin, which was also called the Central Pier because of its connection to the BTS. Thanks to the BTS Skytrain, the chronic traffic congestion in Bangkok was now avoidable. It's not very cheap though if compared to similar kinds in other Southeast Asian countries. One-way trip was from 15 to 52 Baht. Then. the one-day unlimited pass cost 140 Baht really worth to buy.
Chao Phraya River

The orange flag boat is always crowded on board
Watching Wat Arun from the boat

Finally I rode the skytrain back to MBS. It was 6 pm already and I left Kristin alone with nothing. I kept all the money and even her passport! Well now, we were together again and the problem was now to catch our flight. We rushed taking BTS to Phaya Thai then we connected to the Airport Rail Link. Luckily, at Suvarnabhumi Airport there was no line at the check-in counter, neither at the immigration. We flew back home and ended the longest trip ever of ours. 
Kristin was left alone

We had an overnight transit at Changi Airport, Singapore
where a world cup match was broadcasted live.

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