Counting on Various Transport Modes in Bangkok

At the front yard of Wat Benchamabophit
Our agenda for the exclusive tour today was to visit one place before the hotel check out time. The record of previous day tour can be read here. The place we were heading to was Wat Benchamabophit. This temple was constructed in 1899 at the same time as the completion of Dusit Palace whose distance only a throw stone away from there. Many people consider Wat Benchamabophit as one of the most beautiful temples in Bangkok and I think that's quite true. The beauty of the temple comes not only from the multiple layers of its roof, but also from its wall made of marble. That is the reason for the place to be also called The Marble Temple. The entrance fee to this religious attraction is 20 Baht. Coming in from the back gate, we had been wandering around for a while before paying. But, don't think to enter here without purchasing ticket because there is an inspection when about to enter the main hall.

Sitting by the inside of the main hall
The Buddha statues with different poses
The Bodhi tree found at the backyard of the temple was imported from India
To get to Wat Benchamabophit, we chose a non air-con local bus as the mode of transport. Buses in Bangkok look very old physically, but I think the system is better than Indonesia. Buses only stop at designated points. Some routes have very short arrival time interval, but bus no.72 which we needed to get to the temple took very long to come.
When finally the bus came, we hopped on and sat still. Generally, the bus assistant would soon come over the passengers to get the fare payment, but we were wondering why we were not approached this time. After a while, we realized that it was a free bus! Some of the bus routes in Bangkok had been freed of charge by the government indeed. It is a good step to increase the public service. However, it will be much better if the arrival interval of these free buses are increased.

When going back from The Marble Temple, we waited for the same bus but it didn't come! After waiting an hour, we were out of our patience so we took a taxi to the nearest BTS then took a skytrain to Thong Lor. Wasting much time for waiting for the bus, now we were in a deep hurry in order to return to the hotel before the check-out time. We made it finally, thanks to the skytrain with no traffic jam and no traffic light guarantee.
Electric cable installation in Thailand is generally a mess indeed.
But the one in a corner in Thong Lor was the worst.
A bunch of cables were ignorably fell to the sidewalk. 
Three of us were having lunch at a sidewalk before moving to another hotel.
After lunch, we took a taxi to Ramkhamhaeng in order to move to another hotel. The reason we moved to this three-star hotel was because we got a too-bad-to-miss promotional price which was crazily cheap. The hotel was directly connected to ARL station and a Saen Saep's jetty. But we chose to take another local bus with very cheap fare to go to Rattanakosin where the main attractions of Bangkok located. In this trip, we were hindered by an extraordinary traffic congestion. Well, it was Bangkok after all! I hope this will be a reminder for those who plan to use local buses in Bangkok; the bus fare is dirt cheap but you get what you pay for.

Alternatively, using taxi in Bangkok is a affordable and practical way when traveling in three or four persons. Choosing which taxi to take isn't so confusing and deceiving (just like in Indonesia where there are bad taxies with the similar colour to the reputable one). Here, different colour only means different company, while the fare is all the same. Just notice that if we look very much like foreign tourists, many taxi drivers won't turn on the meter. Everytime we took taxi in Bangkok, the drivers always turned on the meter though. Maybe it's  due to our Asian face and simple Thai words I always use when telling the destination.
The view of Ramkhamhaeng area from the hotel window.

Well, we got down right across Sanam Luang situated near to the Grand Palace. This area is the main tourist attraction so it's suggested that visitors be careful of frauds. One of the most frequent scams here; someone tells you that the place you're heading to is now closed then you're offered an overpriced tour to another place. This happened when we're on our way to Wat Pho. It made us doubtful once, but luckily we ignored it. When finally we arrived at our destination, the information was confirmed to be just a lie. Be careful as well with the money changers around here. The exchange rate was very bad or better said as robbery. Do your best not to exchange money here.
The Grand Palace complex from afar
It's quite tempting to sit and relax while observing the roaming birds at the park across Grand Palace.
But again, be careful. Someone might come to you giving birds' food. You would be asked to pay later.
It's also one of the common scams around the Grand Palace.
The very thing attracted us to come to Wat Pho was none other than the widely-known-46-meter-giant statue of sleeping Buddha. So big the statue is, it is pretty difficult to take the full picture of it. Even to take pictures with a part of it, we had to wait our turn as the popular temple visited by many other people. The entrance fee to Wat Pho was 100 Baht (June 2016), including a small bottle of drinking water. Having paid quite a lot of money, we felt bad if we did not explore the whole area of the complex. The complex was very big with many identical areas, so we got lost and needed a map to get back to the first point we entered. At the inner area of the temple complex, there were still a lot of things to be seen; making this temple-the first Thailand's public university in origin- worth a visit.
With the giant Buddha statue
Oh boy, the feet are this big!
The temple alley is always crowded with visitors like this
The vast area of Wat Pho with similar structures on every side sometimes become a labyrinth for the visitors.
Two monks were having a conversation outside the main hall of Wat Pho
The attractions in Rattanakosin are possibly wandered around on foot. But most of the time, visitors are not keen to do that due to the extremely hot weather in Bangkok. We were lucky enough that after getting out of Wat Pho, it was cloudy so that it was comfortable to walk around. However, the comfort did not last long as the rain came. We kept walking through the rain wearing rain coats.

This was our walking route: First, we passed by Wat Ratchbophit, another magnificent old temple, then we strolled along the shops selling Buddha statues and ritual equipments while hiding ourselves from the rain pour. At the steet corner, we saw a red giant construction. That was the Giant Swing! The pole in front of Wat Suthat is quite phenomenal due to its use for harvest celebrations in the past. But after so many accidents happened (sometimes caused death), the swinging activities then got suspended.

From there, we turned norht and kept walking by shops side until we arrived at the Democracy Monument. We then walked a little bit to Khao San Road which is widely known as a backpacker haven. With tired and sore legs, we brought out the remaining energy of ours to walk to the nearest pier; Tha Tien. At that time, it was dark already. I worried there was no boat operating because as far as I knew the boats did not run till late. But in fact, there was still a boat with orange flag passed. Good to know that the boats passing through Chao Phraya River are equipped with colored flags to differ its routes. The orange flag boats are the most important river transports for tourists as they stop at the piers near to attractions. In that evening, we took the orange flag boat to Yaowarat.
Giant Swing
Rainy Democracy Monument
As we tied up at Ratchawong pier and got out, we were greeted by silence. Most of the shops around the pier were already closed. But as we were approaching the main road of Yaowarat, we saw crowds. Yaowarat is Bangkok's Chinatown. The main street is fulfilled with bars of shops selling Chinese foods and medicines. In front of those shops, people set up tents to sell things. In the evening, this area is a populer place to hang out both for tourists and locals alike. We had our dinner here.

After getting full, we continiued walking toward Hua Lamphong Station. We passed through Wat Traimit which had already been closed. This temple is well-known for having a Buddha statue made of real gold. The story tells that in the ancient time when Thai Kingdom invaded by the Burmese, the Buddha statue was layered by cement to get away from the plunder. Then after being forgotten for so long, in the later days when being carried to move to another place, the statue incidentally fell and the plaster layer cracked up. That was when people realized the statue made of gold.
Crowds in Bangkok's Chinatown
Tired faces while waiting MRT back to hotel
Hua Lamphong station provide shelters for long distance trains and MRT. MRT in Bangkok has only one line and so doesn't really cover the whole area of the city, but it is quite effective to avoid traffic congestion just like the Skytrain. It is also connected to other lines at some stations. We took MRT from Hua Lamphong station and transferred at Phetchaburi to take an ARL to Ramkhamhaeng station which was connected to the hotel we stayed for the night. ARL is an airport train with some stops along the way.

And so the long tiring day was over. We now had experienced various transport modes of Bangkok; starting from the local bus, taxi, skytrain, flagged boat, MRT, to ARL. Nevertheless, we often moved on foot. So, if the question is: 'what mode of  transport is the most reliable in Bangkok?' I would say it is the right combination of all.

No comments:

Post a Comment


OUR TRIPS (Based on Places)