Bangkok - Unchained Melody - CycleBlaze

January 8, 2024 to January 10, 2024

Bangkok

Logistics Planning of our Last Month

It's hot in Bangkok.
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Bangkok, Thailand

The main reason we decided to take the train to Bangkok from the border town of Aranyaprathet (border with Cambodia) was because that is one of the only trains that still ends up at Hua Lamphong Station in Bangkok.  And the reason we wanted to end up at that 107 year old station is because it is across the street (and a klang or canal) from our favorite hotel, the Krungkasem Srikrung Hotel.  And the main reason it's our favorite hotel is because of their buffet breakfast, and they let us park our bikes in the very prestigious spot just inside the front entry in their rather nice lobby.  I still can't believe they let us do that.  There is even a guard at the front door most of the time and we don't even lock our bikes.  Well, we eventually threw a lock on them when, one time when we were down there we saw no guard anywhere.  

The bridge over the canal which separates our hotel from Hua Lamphong Station.
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The buffet breakfast at the Krungkasem Srikrung Hotel. This time on the upper level.
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Bo LeeI love the looks of this hotel! Will keep it in mind for next time!
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1 month ago
Bo LeeAndrea, you look sooo happy! :-)
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Ron SuchanekY'all are fancy!
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Our bikes waiting patiently in style for our next move. Where is that guard that is supposed to be there all the time?!
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The dining area has a rather elegant 1940's feel to it but the rooms are all vintage 1970.  Maybe there are some renovated rooms somewhere but we sure haven't seen any and we have stayed in a lot of rooms there.  The people who stay there are a huge mix of foreigners and Thais.  I'd say most look like they are rather wealthy so I wonder how they feel about the rooms.  The rooms are perfectly nice but super dated.  And the other thing is that their wifi was the worst of our trip so far; not really even usable!  There are many things wrong with the rooms, but, there is that buffet breakfast which everyone seems to really enjoy.  It has an old-time elegance about it.  Do the owners of the hotel rely solely on that breakfast for repeat visitors?  I wonder.

Our room at Krungkasem Srikrung Hotel for the first time faced the other direction from Hua Lamphong Station. It overlooked the triangular building that is the famous and excessively cool hotel that is Mustang Blu, a hotel which Andrea's son and daughter-in-law would definitely stay at and come away very happy.
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We stayed two days and three nights using almost all of that time mulling over the logistics of the rest of our trip; one month.  There were so many factors and possible scenarios that our minds became rather boggled and all we could do at one point was to buy ice cream on sticks at 7-Eleven and sit on a curb.  But what a curb it was!  All of Thai life was going on all around us and it was fascinating to watch.  

Andrea deciding on ice cream.
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We sat there for a long time as it got dark.  A group of seven guys across the street at a closing corner restaurant were drinking beer.  Their table was loaded with big bottles.  Then we started seeing lots of people coming to the restaurant to buy bottles of beer which were in a big cooler.  The food portion of the restaurant was closed but it seemed it was the neighborhood place to buy beer. The proprietors were busy cleaning up, washing huge stainless steel pots on the opposite curb from us after first emptying the last bit of sludge down the storm drain.  Two older women had a long conversation in the street and I kept being nervous for them since lots of traffic came within inches.  They were not bothered in the least.  Street food vendors were closing up their carts and others were opening theirs.  The lights came on illuminating a huge and very tall chedi behind a big temple just around the corner.  It was fascinating to watch it all but we got nowhere in figuring out what we were going to do. 

Friends enjoying being together.
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I'll just tell you one of the possible scenarios.  Take the train to Prachuap, one of our favorite towns not too far away on the east coast.  Ride from there slowly south for almost a month and end up in one of the larger towns with a big train station.  Then, box the bikes down there and take a night train with the big boxes back to Bangkok.  But our original plan was to jettison a whole lot of stuff at the hotel in Bangkok that we wouldn't need in hot southern Thailand.  They told us we could leave two duffels free of charge if we were returning to stay in their hotel, which we wanted to.   It would be easier to lug boxes back to a hotel in a smaller town than Bangkok.  But if we boxed everything down there we couldn't jettison stuff because the stuff we would be jettisoning was good packing material for our bikes in the boxes.  Round and round we went and for all of you out there who are planning a bike trip, you too will encounter myriad decisions you never thought you would ever have to think about.  

We also discussed flying back to Bangkok from down south just before our flight home because then we would be in the airport already.  But that makes an already long travel day longer.  And, most domestic flights land in a different airport which would entail a shuttle with our big boxes.  Plus, small domestic airlines charge up the wazoo for every kilo overweight.  Their limits are not the limits of international flights.  So, that plan of ours had a quick loss of altitude.  We were getting nowhere.

I really love the intricate details in Chinatown.
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After I took this photo the man had a huge smile and gave me two thumbs up.
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An acupuncture clinic in Chinatown.
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So, we took a walk towards the river from our hotel and saw all sorts of interesting things.  The area is on the edge of Chinatown and is the area where a lot of metal is dealt with.  There are lots of businesses that fix big metal things like engines.  There are mountains of spare parts rusting away in the street.  You come across guys grinding metal with sparks flying. Chains?  You need chains, any kind of chain?  There you can find it.   

When a group of Chinese first came to Bangkok from Hokkien Province in China in the late 19th century, they settled in this area and the only job they could foresee was collecting garbage. They especially gathered metal pieces and recycled them. This metal business grew and is now an entire section of Bangkok.
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Even a place like this has to have a Chinese shrine. The separation between Chinese and Thai is fuzzy at times. Chinese shrines are always on the floor but Thai Buddhist shrines are always up above heads. This place has both.
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Gate to a Chinese temple.
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Outside a Chinese temple.
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Chinatown, Bangkok
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Chinatown, Bangkok
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Cornelia SchulzAre these the left-overs of the shoe- chewing dog? Seems it prefers the right one of a pair
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Bruce LellmanTo Cornelia SchulzThat's funny. I hadn't thought of that but, yes, there is only one from each pair.
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Each little dark alleyway I look down is more intriguing than the last.
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We dry a lot of our laundry on our bikes as well.
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This is a new program in Bangkok. Of course you really risk your life riding a bike in Bangkok.
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And then you come to the river, the Chao Phraya.  We were there just at sunset and things were active on the water.  I actually have never seen so many tourist boats. We are not the normal sort of tourists so we are out of the loop for these sorts of things.  It must be that every big hotel, except ours, is promoting a sunset cruise on the Chao Phraya.  A booze cruise most likely but I bet a lot of them include dinner on the boat.  There were huge, fancy boats with hundreds of foreign tourists packed on board.  Lots of the boats making the water as choppy as I've ever seen.  I was amazed how many foreign tourists there obviously were in Bangkok.  We just don't frequent places where they are.  

The Chao Phraya River in Bangkok.
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Mark LellmanA few new buildings there since I was there last. Hard to believe it has been 22 years!
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Bruce LellmanTo Mark LellmanBangkok has changed tremendously in just the last few years. It's incredible how much the Thai government is spending on infrastructure. And it's paying off already.
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A sunset cruise boat for tourists on the Chao Phraya River, Bangkok.
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This boat is the normal river taxi that goes up and down the river and stops on either side many times. It's super cheap and gets you to a completely different part of the city quickly. And it's a lot of fun too.
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There was a guy feeding bread to some enormous, beautiful fish by the dock and then some women started to filter onto the dock, all wearing outfits that looked suspiciously like an aerobics class was going to happen.  Those are always fun.  I'm always curious as to what kind of music the teacher will play on his or her boombox.  The teacher showed up, he put on some energizing nondescript music and things heated up.  It's always energizing to watch people do aerobics too!

Aerobics alongside the Chao Phraya.
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Lisa LeslieWatching other people do aerobics is my favorite kind of exercise!
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We found some good Chinese food and came to a decision that we were going to jettison the stuff, (sleeping bags, pads, cold weather clothing, and all the stuff I should have not taken along in the first place but couldn't help myself because I am the ultimate Boy Scout and am alway prepared for anything), take the train to Prachuap and ride south until we take a train back to Bangkok back to the wonderful hotel with the dated rooms but elegant breakfasts.  

Poor Hua Lamphong Station is basically deserted these days since a huge new train station has been built five miles down the tracks and few trains now come or go from here. At least they are not going to demolish it. It's in the process of becoming a museum for antique trains. I love the terrazzo floor too.
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That's a pizza box blocking the little window!
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We left our bikes in the Parcel department of the train station.
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Bangkok is a gem.  Any part of the city is incredibly interesting.  The problem is that it's too huge and too hot.  Taking a taxi at either rush hour means you will be sitting in that taxi for a very long time.  The Bangkok Transit System is ever expanding but there are still lots of areas that it doesn't touch.  The infrastructure is improving faster than any city I have ever been to and soon Bangkok will certainly be a world class city, easy to navigate and a hub for traveling to any part of Asia.  We love Bangkok.

The klang that runs in front of our hotel connects the Chao Phraya River in one place, runs through the city, and reconnects with the Chao Phraya far away in another place.
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The klang that runs in front of our hotel.
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I love all the plants on the sidewalk areas in some places in Bangkok.
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Evening comes and some places in Bangkok become transformed into eating areas. It's always unexpected and amazing how many food carts appear suddenly. Food everywhere.
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Stuffed, grilled squid.
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There was a group of men clamoring for tray food. I don't blame them. We had already eaten or I would have been there with them.
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The edge of Chinatown at the edge of darkness.
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Just one of the more minor hazards walking in Bangkok.
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lovebruce

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Ron SuchanekLogistics....this reminded me of a few points in Porridge spending days looking at alternatives to bypass storms, get some shelter for Jen to heal from her respiratory virus, etc. It's amazing how it can consume hours.
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1 month ago
Bruce LellmanTo Ron SuchanekHours! Even days!
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