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Planes, Trains, Boats and Automobiles
By Amy Wyatt
30 September 2010

Our journey to Bangkok begins with a friendly 'Sawasdee' welcome from the flight attendants as we board Thai Airways. After a smooth flight with great food, plenty of entertainment and space to stretch out and sleep we arrive in Bangkok.
Bangkok can best be described as organised chaos. The oppressive heat and humidity clings to your skin as soon as you step out of the airport. Traffic is a crazy mess of technicolour cars all fighting for a position on the road. Ancient temples of yesteryear sit alongside the new modern mega shopping malls of today. Every street brings a new surprise, from the pungent smells of the fish market to the sweet sickly smell of the local food carts lining the roads. The sun fights hard to break through the haze of pollution, as people swarm through the streets completing their errands.
The day began early with a trip on the Skytrain, followed by a leisurely cruise up Chao Praya River to the Temple of Dawn- Wat Arun. Such an ancient temple sits peacefully alongside the banks of the river, and from its highest vantage point one can observe the many boats that weave up the river completing their everyday tasks. With humidity sitting around 100 percent and a faint sheen of sweat clinging to our skin, we welcomed our next stop at a traditional Thai Massage school. Two blissful hours later we floated out into the Bangkok chaos once more bound for a traditional Thai lunch. After our lunch of traditional Pad Thai, chicken satay, beef or fish curry we left with full bellies eager to check out Bangkok's mega shopping malls. First stop was MBK. It didn't take long for the group to splinter into tiny fragments as we all raced off in search of a bargain.
Having been to Bangkok many times before, I left the chaos of MBK behind and headed for some window shopping at Siam Discovery and Siam Paragon. I then followed the skywalk high above the traffic to check out the newly re-opened Central World shopping centre, which had been badly damaged in the protests earlier this year. Everything is shiny and new with plenty of retailers offering attractive bargains to entice shoppers to part with their Thai Baht. It is good to see that this shopping centre is starting to re-open and hopefully in a few more months the past will be a distant memory.
By now my feet were throbbing, my throat was parched and my stomach was grumbling so I continued on to a little gem I discovered on my last trip to Bangkok...the Erawan Tea Rooms at the Grand Hyatt. This is a beautiful little place that I recommend everyone try at least once on their trip. Every afternoon they offer a traditional high tea of savoury and sweet Thai treats for the ridiculously cheap price of 220 Baht (around $8). You can also order off their a la carte menu. I started with a home made pink lemonade, followed by prawn spring rolls, red duck curry and steamed rice and then just because I could not decide; a coconut creme brulee and mango with sticky rice. Suitably full I left to brave the skytrain back to the hotel. Once you get the hang of it, this really is the easiest and cheapest way to get around Bangkok with most journey's costing no more than $1.80AUD.
Bangkok is a perfect stopover on the way to or from Europe, offering something for everyone from ancient temples and culture, to mega shopping malls, delicious food, a broad range of hotels and most of all the friendliness of the Thai people, always ready with a smile.  

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