Bangkok – Sky Trains and attempting excursions [2017]

Day 2: Bangkok… The Centre Eludes But The Skyline Trains Will Take You To Places.. Most Places – Just It seemed not the centre.

 

The question that remained to be answered – so how do you get from where we are, to where other stuff is? the more central set of sights that might come with the actual centre of a city such as this.
It was a question that was also actively being asked, though i wasn’t sure why. Not the question, it was a question that occupied my thoughts also, the asking though. I’d not been here before and knew as much as anyone else about the city and area in our group of two. I had not settled on an answer, it wasn’t clear that there was a clear answer.  We were on the green train line, it was not going anywhere helpful, it intersected with a dark green line which went the wrong way (heading off unnecessarily south from a centre of town locating perspective) .. it also intersected with a light blue line that seemed to adopt a slightly more on point trajectory but ended at a place that seemed to come without onward connections.

It looked – unclear – a situation that seemed in itself an oddity – the main form of mass transport avoiding any thought of moving toward the centre.


Anyway the start of the day ought to mean the first visit to the favoured spot to see the morning in – that rather delightful if not overly large rood top pool.

Swimming Trunks Blue and White Stripe

Something had happened – the photo doesnt do justice to what had happened – the white parts failed to conceal in any way a number of messages.   First – that they were at one time part of the short which had been white.. Second – that they (and by drawing attention their neighbouring blue parts) were no longer the tones and colours the manufacturer had intended .. The third and arguably more fundamental part – this change was not an act of sun or washing machine but some organic act of browning.  Browning of the shorts is probably the most problematic of all the discolourations – especially when it has such an earthy and organic hue to it.  A frenzied cleaning effort with shower gel and the shower could only salvage so much of the shorts dignity – still on the plus side if whatever it was wouldn’t come out under such duress  and effort filled scrubbing it probably wouldn’t just sift away like an errant tea bag when adorned in the pool.  All that remained was to hope that no audience existed to see and to form errant conclusions.


Away from the pool and back on efforts to escape the Hotel:
trains that avoid the centre
Trains that avoid the centre (art) – and they’re planning to stop providing paint with windows..!!

The trains had a dispersion pattern, as near as i was guessing the central part, the part with the characteristics of a big cities centre, was located somewhere within the red circle bit – i doodled it above because i had the time and inclination to do so some significant time after the fact.  The train when to the green circles …

  • [Green Circle Number 1 – quite far to the south]
  • [Green Circle number 2 – not really connected to anywhere much] &
  • [Green Circle number 3 – so far north as to escapes being drawn on the map, by being too far out to make it onto the map]

Attempting Something With The Vaguely Familiar Trains :

We headed out, not really to discover the centre, more simply to get out and discover whatever it was that might reveal itself through the act of not being inside the hotel.

Platform Skytrain Bangkok Phaya Thai station Thailand

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IMG_0880

Having wondered through some streets and not found food, we ended up at a Canal.  There was what looked like a hair dressers or possibly a pedicure type place, only the workers were outside and on passing made manual interception efforts to gain custom.

This rendered it less clear for me that this was a hair dressers – not that this impacted overly, i had no interest in my dishevelled but already short hair being cut, no intention of having my nails moderated.. so all service offerings were equal and polite continuing on our way was achieved.

On the canal boats roared and splashed past, not small boats, reasonable sized boats clearly designed for passengers and travelling at times at fair old pace.  Not as much pace as the noise and splashing might suggest but attention drawing none the less.

Bangkok housing by train track

Photographs dont really do justice but there was a reason why the last of these was taken in a dull large roads underpass / beneath a sizeable bridge.. Shade.  We were warm, hungry and despite leaving the hotel with very limited intentions we’d definitely walked a fair bit further than them.  Heat and fatigue had set in, they were not unrelated.  We were basically back around the corner of our hotel by the time we finally found food and it came with something more glorious even than the prospect of eating, it came with Aircon.

Pizza Size and People Suggestion Board Bangkok

This thing above – its a lie .. the good thing about it, you know its a lie.  We have been taught such thing well by any ready meal from any shop .. if it were to be shared by the people it suggested then aggressive untoward times would break out.

Bangkok Pepperoni Pizza
This Then Is A Large One – Pretty Welcome –  Evidently Not Suitable For Sharing

Maps of Bangkok

Bangkok – The Remains Of The First Day [2017]

Efforts to explore were curtailed by it no longer being morning anymore,.  Somehow, well not somehow, patently the result of a long night and befuddled morning, we’d made our way into the afternoon.  The airports air con lent itself to false conclusions about the world, as the sliding doors drew back and the outside world was stepped into, it brought a swift reminder of the heat and humidity.  There was truly no justification for forgetting, not at this point, by any measure there was quite enough experience wracked up to not be so cheaply lulled.

Map Of Central Bangkok

Between the heat and the steps, a sense of perspective around distance and the effort of that distance dawned.  We would not be marching our way into the centre.. It looked to easy again on the map, there we were, basically at Phaya Thai so it was just a matter of down a bit, right and long a fair bit more.  Nope or maybe yes, but too many steps to ever find out.

A relatively brief circuit of the local area (Ratchathewi) to no other end other than to head back from a failed initial scouting flurry of an outing.

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The pool on top of the hotel which if not already established can be clarified here as my definite favourite bit, was open to a reasonable hour and was not generally populated by.

Heap Restaurant Bar Bangkok Ratchathewi

We did venture not venture far and it was pretty late by the time we left the hotel again.  The choice to be made was more about what remained open among the places that required limited effort or local insights to get to.  Also it needed to have been on googles maps, in order to work out that it was there at all in the first place.

We settled on the Heap Cafe & Restaurant, it had a familiar western look.  It also looked pleasant with open spaces and large glass windows that let the light in and suggest look at us with our nothing to hide food serving ways.   For all that we sat on the outside, temperatures only fell so much in the absence of fresh sunshine. https://www.facebook.com/heap.victorymonument

 

Some sort of related item links from other sites:

Nightlight ratchathewi station

khao-san-road-vs-ratchathewi

City Guide Website – Bangkok

Bangkok – An Initial Night At The Top High Airport Link Hotel [2017]

The room created an initial impression and then a secondary and territory impression.

The initial impression was more mixed – consisting of:

  • have i stumbled upon the not overly opulent room of a late 80s teenager (a heady mix of assorted grey and an appreciation for the cinematic worlds of the original total recall era
  • its not the largest amount of space two people have every shared
  • whats that smell

The second and not much delayed thought was along the lines of:

  • Its Bleach

Then, with an air of ponderance – what had befallen the air?  and mightn’t we need some of it over the course of the remaining night.

  • Its really a lot of bleach, a whole lot of bleach, surely more bleach than should be required for anyone’s legitimate cleaning needs..

Hotel rooms must see an assortment of things – this one lent itself to unfortunate thoughts of Pulp Fiction-esk scenes.

While my brother set to sleeping – i studied the room for signs of anything that might be ignite the air and free up space for air to make a triumphant return.  Above my pillow a shelf had been strategically placed, assuring any unplanned efforts to sitting up were met with a swift rebuke to the forehead.

I decided that other options might be welcome – a further week seemed like something that could be improved upon: – considering the time difference I took the opportunity to write to agoda.


“Dear Sir/Madam

Regarding the reservation below, we have just arrived and find that the hotel is not as we hoped it would be.  I have the below reservation for 6 days but we are meant to be on holiday and with the room small, functional and smelling of bleach it would be fine for a one night stay but would be a disappointing way to spend 6 nights.

What options do we have?”

As for the reply:
“Thank you for your email.

In response to your question, we can reach out to the hotel and inform them that you are unhappy with the room that they have provided to you and negotiate with them to have you upgraded to a better room if possible or alternatively, if you provide us with a specific date that you would like to check-out we can can negotiate to have the booking amended until that day with a refund of the remaining nights.

Please note that we will not be able to guarantee that the hotel will agree to any of the options above mentioned options but we will be happy to negotiate with them.

Kindly get back to us and let us know how you would like to proceed.

Our Customer Care is available around the clock so please do not hesitate to contact us, should you have any further inquiries.”


Sleep was not so quick to come and seeing their reply – i opted to write back with clarification:

“Thanks for your quick reply.

I dont wish to overstate the case – the hotel seems clean and hygienic, but it seems the functionality of the rooms and size makes it more suitable for short stays, people staying one or two nights not spending 6 nights of their holiday here.

We could look at alternative rooms certainly but the setup here seems to be like as described above so im not sure the other rooms would solve the problem.

As for dates we need to stay for now regardless and would need time to find an alternative so it would be the 18th and 19th, we would need to stay but would like the option to look at an alternative for the time after this.”


When i awoke the following morning it was a relief to find the smell had in no way been diminished by our unconscious sponge efforts at cleansing the air via inhalation.   I’d received a reply from Agoda, which was nice but since sending the email events had transpired.

Least among the events:

Top High Airport Link Hotel Tilet
So – One Place Can Be Ruled Out On the Source Of The Bleach Front .. Raises Questions and Presents A Grim Morning Sighting – Welcome

I decided to roll back a on my previous, more casual stance on matters:

“Further to my last email – we may now have discovered the reason for the smell.

The toilet has remnant in it, someone has probably attempted to clean it but there was significant residue and hair clamped on, perhaps someones half attempt to clean this explains the smell but it is not pleasant and not really a good standard commensurate with reasonable expectation or the scores this hotel has on the grading reviews it has.


To be fair to Agoda they replied again – this time a different agent chimed in – time and shift patterns probably playing their part

“Thank you for your email.

I have emailed the hotel with your request of check out on the 20th of March, 2017.

I can not guarantee that they will allow the modification for we are inside the cancellation policy and you have already checked in. When  I will have a clear answer from their end I will immediately inform you accordingly.

Thank you for understanding and for your patience. ” 


Of more significant was the manner by which sleep had ended and the fact it had thus been ended early.

The room backed onto a building site – fabulous, great stuff.

Looking out the window I couldn’t really the source of my alarm, the proximity of the half constructed neighbour was altogether too close to see anything much, just a wall.

P1110976 (1)
Dark Room – Not Quiet Room

I clarified for Agoda in case they were under the impression that contentment had broken out:

“Further after trying to sleep here – we have found that it is very noisy 

The internal door does not keep out any noise and the external windows perform as if they were open with a building site of some sort next door.
 
It has been a much impacted effort at sleeping”

However the reply started to raise some doubts over how much of a handle these different agents truly had or were attempting to have on the issue and finding a resolution to it – they seemed a tad confused:

“Let me inform you that we are investigating your issue. May I ask you to confirm if you have checked out on the 20th?  This would be key to step further with your case. We have already escalated your issue to the market manager who will help us to solve this case.

I am looking forward for your answer.”

I was tired enough to head down to the reception and awake enough to head down there also  – we hadn’t come so far on a trip to be couped up,  gassed a little and woken in the wee-est of small hours but furious hammering efforts.
The reception desk had been friendly enough the night before and they were friendly enough again in the morning, all be it not particularly aware or able to respond to my request to cancel the booking.
They asked for 45 minutes to seek out a solution and for me to consider an alternative room.  Although i had reservations the prospect of wasting a day finding and migrating to a new hotel didnt appeal, so if they had a solution (which i wasnt sure on doubts about) then why not consider it… the mood was a decent and not immediately combative one.. so i headed back to the knocking and the bleach, to reaffirm my dissatisfaction with it, as an ongoing proposition.

No news – meant a return visit to the reception with a more ardent disposition in tow, only so much of the day could be lost to uncertainty, otherwise we could be remaining here by default and loosing tomorrow as well to moving ourselves to pastures hopefully greener – or in this case quieter and with a thinner more natural quality to its air.

The alternative room, came without building sounds i was assured, as it was on the other side of the building.  On the veracity of this view, which cast the building in the role of grand sound dampener, I had reservations.  It was a larger room with a lighter decorative style, no shelf was in place to assault my head at any lax moment, it was clean without having the scent of place forever blighted by an unmentionable history burnt with industrial detergents from all its corners.  In short it had air, it was a bit rudimentary but ok, for my mind it didnt require us to flee.  Just to wait it out, trial the room until the building site situation was clearer, evidenced one way or the other, on the role it would be playing in our week, should we opt to stay.

No evidence of the building site came … so a train rolled past – on route to that close by station that had had been our arrival point the previous night – it was pretty close in the light of day, just like google had said it was..

Phaya Thai Train Station Bangkok

Amused but unsure we resolved that trains are not building sites.  They have a sort of predictable regularity about them – (assuming Thameslink and Southern hadn’t extended their franchises here just yet) – timetables, that can be checkout up on.   They only ran so late and so early – not sufficiently late as to trouble us nor so early as to do away with the concept of sleep.

Top High Airport Link Hotel Roof Top Swimming Pool
I did really kind of like the pool and prospect of not moving baggage around the place – warm days.. uncertain alternatives

Top High Airport Link Hotel Pool

We opted to remain in our new room, see how that went and courtesy of a trip to the rooftop, managed to get that previously wall obstructed view of the neighbours and their efforts.

Neighbouring Building Site Bangkok

Bangkok – The Return To Thailand [2017]

Its odd to think of yourself not as a singular thing but as a sort of small scale eco-system home to and reliant upon a wealth of life forms that are not you at all. An odd thought only because it gets forgotten so readily, so frequently and as odd as it is, its equally without relevance to the topic at hand. It is however something that the TV is currently talking to me about.

The second week of this trip was to be spent in Bangkok, sort of vaguely, most vaguely, familiar from half digested, unfulfilling American movie offerings. Bangkok dangerous and I think, though having offered it even less in the way of considered attentions, one of the hangover movies that was not the first one.

We landed in the evening and having endured a long old queue at passport control around a week previous, when first we’d arrived, I had certain expectations of a repeat performance. Question marks certainly existed over reaching our train connection and getting to the hotel. The hotel that was our destination, it had been selected based on three things – first location, it presented little in the way of challenge to locate being very close to the end train station which was the only train line out of the station, second it had reasonable reviews scores and third it was in the accessible price bracket.
The Queue at passport control was there to greet us but did not prevent us from catching one of the later night trains and making our way to down town Bangkok for the first time. Last time we were here it has been a matter of seeking out the lift to our airport district hotel for the one night stop over, this time it was the train and seeing how things went from there.

On maps things have a way of looking simple. In city centres, specifically the foreign and really unfamiliar ones that simplicity has a way of morphing itself, contorting into something else as though looking into one of those old school circus comedy mirrors. The station hung above the roads, with multiple exit stairways to the pavements below. The route from here was less than clear, the obvious barely a small fingers width of wondering was beset by tired eyes wondering which of the now multiple roads and side streets, was the one that was required. Some back and forth with bags followed along with some encountering of dead ends. Bangkok was not so very far north of Cambodia and although it was late it was not cool, it was not cool at all.

The Hotel had one of those trip of your tongue names designed to automatically entice any traveller – a biscuit oasis of a house among the forest of sky scrapper and other, tall enough to obscure neighbouring views, buildings.

“Top High Airport Link Hotel” – booked via one of booking.com’s sister companies agoda.com

Hotel On TripAdvisor

Once discovered pocking out among the building there remained the still the matter of fencing, walls and a route to it.  This though was a significant improvement on the wondering about, pondering on the direction taken and whether this was a direction that ran close to being on track.  It was night and despite a fair bit of human lighting about, things always seem that bit trickier in the partial dark.  Actually locating a route didn’t take so very long from that point with a gap and walk way appearing that worked out rather well.

The reception area was open and it was really notably abundant with air conditioning power, it was a fridge and no meek fridge, this was where dead things went to hang up and be accosted by local boxers given an improbable shot at the world title, just because.

Both of these things were in no small way – most welcome.

The reception area was also glaringly white with a splash of shimmery things and streaks of black and grey – someone had unleashed the 80s and sprinkled it with some early 2000s egg pod chairs – but that was ok, they were open, they had our reservation and it was so refreshingly cool.  No one was insisting that we grow out and forge a mullet with our he or insisting on a shoulder pad infused dress code, feeling like an extra in Beverly Hills Cop was small price to pay for coolness and the promise of a room to enjoy that coolness through the medium of sleep.