It’s been a while since I had an out-of-the-country trip. That is why, I was filled with much excitement when we finally went to Thailand last week. Together with my family and some of my cousins, we left Manila last Wednesday, May 4. In all fairness, NAIA 2 didn’t disappoint me. Airport officials were efficient and facilities were adequate. Terminal 2 is much better than NAIA 1, which constantly receives flak due to ageing and poorly-maintained facilities. However, I can’t wait till the time when the government will finally develop Clark and groom it as the country’s main international gateway.
And if that moment really comes, it would be a good idea to set Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport as a peg. This airport is relatively new and was opened last 2006. It is a perfect example of how an international airport should be: vast, modern, passenger-friendly, comfortable, WiFi access, etc. It even resembles a high-end mall due to the immense number of designer shops and restaurants located inside!
We stayed at Baiyoke Suites. It is located at the heart of Pratunam, one of Bangkok’s major shopping districts. So imagine, lots of shops selling a variety of merchandise will greet you once you step out of the hotel. The area is comparable to that of the markets of Baclaran and Divisoria in the Philippines. The only thing I hate about staying in this place is that the way leading to the main road is blocked by sellers, thus, it would take a lot of time (and battling your way through a barage of people) before you finally get out. Also, the hotel is quite far from a Skytrain station. This is a hassle for me since I used the train a lot during my stay to go to various shopping destinations. (We tend to go separate ways when we go shopping.)
We spent our first day relaxing and acquainting ourselves with the area. We also explored potential places where to shop. (I’ll write a separate post on Bangkok shopping and fashion).
On our second day, we had a city tour which was included in the package that we got. We visited famous temples, as well as a jewelry factory and a leather goods factory – two industries which Bangkok excels in. With Buddhism as the country’s main religion, it wouldn’t be surprising to find out that there are almost 40,000 temples in Thailand, with over 4,000 of those located in Bangkok alone.
The city tour lasted only half-day. We shopped in the afternoon and come night time, we watched the Siam Niramit cultural show. And no joke, it was perhaps the best theater production I have ever seen. Boasting of the world’s largest theater stage, over 150 actors in 500 costume changes and extravagant set design, the show is comparable to some of the best Broadway productions. The premise of the show revolves around Thailand’s early history, with a special focus on the evolution of its culture and heritage. So if you happen to visit Bangkok and you want to know more about the Thai people’s history in a fun, engaging and unique way, I highly suggest that you watch this spectacular show. Visit their website here.
On our third day, we got a whole day package tour to Ayutthaya province. Almost an hour’s ride from Bangkok, the city of Ayutthaya was once considered as Thailand’s capital and it is home to a variety of temples, Buddha statues and palaces. We were able to visit the past home of Thailand’s royal family, as well as temples considered as UNESCO heritage sites like the Wat Chaiwatthanaram and the gigantic statue of the reclining Buddha.
On the way back to Bangkok, we rode a ferry on a cruise along the historic Chao Phraya river. Aside from the good food, we enjoyed the view of various temples and buildings – whether Thai-inspired or modern masterpieces – located along the banks of the river.
Finally, our fourth day was solely dedicated to the thing that I really love the most: shopping!! 😀 Watch out for my separate post about that which includes some of the stuff I bought. 😉
Our journey back to Manila was a midnight flight. Thankfully, Suvarnabhumi Airport has lots of comfortable spaces meant for resting and sleeping for exhausted tourists like me. Almost all of us were catching some zzzzzz while waiting for our flight. Hahaha!
No matter how tired I was, I can say that I really enjoyed this trip. The way Thailand has coped up with modernity without losing its touch on its culture and heritage should be something that the Philippines must take into account. After all, the Philippines is very much like Thailand (oh, but Thailand has worse traffic and weather conditions. Haha!). The thing that made it for them is perhaps the willpower of the authorities and officials, including their king. If our own government is really bent on uplifting the status of our country, then learning from the Thai experience is one good way to start. We still have a long way to go; but with optimism and determination, it is certain that we would eventually get there.
Till my next destination! 🙂