Friday, March 28, 2014

FEBRUARY 1, 2014: HARD ROCK, CHAO PHRAYA, OVERNIGHT TRAIN TO CHIANG MAI


February 1, 2014

     After breakfast we make arrangements with the hotel to leave 2 of our bags with them until we return on March 10, 2014.  We leave my husband's scuba gear bag and a carry on size bag already full of must have things/souvenirs I have bought during our time in Cambodia.  I do hope I'm not going to need 1 small suitcase for each country for souvenirs/mementos!!  The other bags we leave for us to retrieve at 8:00 pm when we will leave for the train station.  We check out, settle our bill for some phone calls.
     My step daughter collects shot glasses from the Hard Rock cafes all around the world.  During our travels if there is a Hard Rock store we buy her the shot glasses.  My daughter-her sister-didn't have time to get them when she was in Bangkok so I've decided to go there today.  Hotel reception staff are saying we shouldn't go there because of the protests but I want to try.  If it looks like it may be a problem or trouble we will turn back.
     We walk to our nearby BTS station and get tickets to go as far as SIAM.  Cost 68 baht for the 2 of us.  Once at SIAM we will have to walk the rest of the way.  Riding the BTS we see all the small tents that have been set up by the protesters.We get off at SIAM.




Vendors selling shutdown Bangkok gear

Protester tents as seen from BTS



   

















     We get off at SIAM and it's only a short walk to the HARD ROCK.  We haven't run into any protests on the streets.  The HARD ROCK  in Bangkok is not like a lot of the others we've been too.  Those were large buildings uniquely designed to reflect the Hard Rock theme.  Some have had huge guitars or vintage cars as part of the outside decor.  This looks like an ordinary building.  The store is open and I buy 3 shot glasses of different designs and then my husband decides he wants a T shirt.  Normally he never asks for anything from where we are vacationing so this is new territory!  We end up with not 1, but 3 T shirts as I found one I liked too.  Good thing they accept credit cards as bill comes to 4499.96 baht.








This one is mine
     Since we're here we decide to do lunch.  The past few we've been to-Athens and Sharm el Sheikh-we have had lunch.  We want to see if the food at the Bangkok cafe will taste as good as what we've had at the other oversees places.  We order the classic 6 oz. burger-one with fries, the other with mashed potatoes.  It's a bit of a disappointment as the quality isn't as good as what we had in Greece and Egypt.  Pricey lunch of burgers was 1247.62 baht with 10% service charge included.






     Well, at least we got Arleen her shot glasses!  A quick non eventful walk back to the BTS SIAM and another 68 baht to get back to our hotel.  I add these purchases to my hotel stored carry on bag.  We still have time on our hands so we decide to ride the ferry up and down the river, not getting off at any of the stops, but just to enjoy the ride.
     CHAO PHRAYA  King of rivers.  www.renegadetravels.com/bangkok-chao-phraya-river-boat-routes/       Another short walk from our hotel to the SATHORN/CENTRAL PIER.  We have decided to take the local, not the tourist, ferry so we wait for an orange flag boat.  We get on and this boat is full already so we will stand squished in with lots of others.  A lady comes around holding a cylinder object that makes noise like coins hitting each other.  I know the fare is 15 baht per person so I give her 30 baht and point to my husband to indicate I'm paying for him also.  As more get on and others get off she does this repeatedly but it's amazing to me that she knows who has already paid and who hasn't.  We make a lot of stops-probably around 20 or more-and see some neat sites like Wat Arun, River City, Old Custom House.  We get to the end of the line and now we will ride back but this time we have a good choice of seats.  Since we stood on the right side looking towards where River City and other sites are we will sit on the right side going back where we can see Wat Arun and other sites on that side of the river.  Another 30 baht.  Not a bad way to spend 60 baht total.



































     Back at the hotel we decide to spend some time at the pool.  We change in a room off the fitness room.  There are full shower/toilet facilities here also.  Feeling in the need for something the hotel restaurant is just the spot for a dish of strawberry ice cream for me and a Chiang beer for my husband.  Cost 176 baht.
     Finally it is time to go to the train station.  We have our bags and at 9:00 pm our taxi arrives.  Cost 50 baht from hotel to HUA LUMPONG RAILWAY STATION.  The train station is big busy, and dirty.  No available seats so we have to stand as there is no way you'd want to sit on the floor even though some locals are doing just that.  The restroom costs 2 baht to use and there's no TP so you need to bring your own.  We find platform 10 where we will board our train to Chiang Mai.



     Our train is ready for boarding.  We locate car #9 and our seats 15 and 16-window and aisle.  It's a bit more comfortable than I expected and the seats do recline.  Fans hang from the train car ceiling at an attempt to circulate the air.  However, most of them aren't working so it gets hot and stuffy.  Our window doesn't open either so no fresh air.  Every so often on our journey vendors selling food and drinks will come through the car.  There is a restaurant car behind our car but we do not check it out.  A man comes by to check our tickets, punches them and gives another man with him our final destination.  Most of my train info is from www.seat61.com/Thailand.htm             Unfortunately from that website I thought there would be 5 stops from Bangkok until we reach Chiang Mai.  Before reaching the Ayutthaya stop at 11:58 pm (behind schedule as supposed to be there at 11:30 pm) our train has made 8 other stops!  From Ayutthaya to Phitsanuluk it's 8 more stops.  From there to Lamphun it's 10 more stops.  From Lamphun to Chiang Mai I think it was another 2 stops.   So it was around 30 stops.  I don't know if it's the same on the recommended sleeper trains #1 and #13 but at least then you'd be sleeping!!  I would NEVER do this again and my husband who usually never complains was not a happy man.  My advice then is to book your train tickets far enough in advance to get the train you want with the kind of seating-be it sleeper or not, 1st, 2nd, 3rd class, etc.


  

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