Entry Info

Niras Bankoc-Boutique Hostel&CoffeeFor finishing off the Bangkok series, I’d like to introduce a hostel which I stayed at for a week. Using, I found Niras Bankoc-Boutique Hostel&Coffee which had got very high ratings from the user reviews. Besides, the fact that it had few bad reviews gave me an even better impression of them. And in reality, it was so comfortable to stay there and I would definitely come back if I had the chance to go to Bangkok again.

The hostel is located at the old city area which is surrounded by many temples and it took about 20 minutes to Khao San Street on foot. Actually there are a lot of hostels near Khao San but the area is very noisy as Khao San is a very busy street. On the other hand, Niras Bankoc is situated at a quiet local area and we wouldn’t be bothered by any noises. However, the location could be only one minor point as well because so local is the hostel situated that no taxi drivers are able to find there. I suppose taxi drivers in Bangkok don't know about the roads well but anyway you must keep a guide map to the hostel which is provided at the reception.

I always use to find hostels because it's actually not really popular in Japan. In other words few Japanese would stay at hostels from the site. As I expected, Niras Bankoc had visitors mainly from Europe and I rarely saw Asians there. This made me feel like I was in a foreign country. However, very surprisingly the owner of the hostel can speak Japanese reasonably well. According to him, he used live in Japan as an exchange student for a year. He said to me that he would like to have more Japanese visitors there.

In terms of the quality of the rooms, I totally agreed with the reviews. I stayed in a 4 bed dorm room which was not really big but I was sure the room was absolutely safe and clean. I guess most of the visitors, who prefer staying in a rather quiet hostel, are actually polite and friendly. And the building was spotlessly clean. In Thailand, where the idea of sanitation doesn't really exist, the cleanness of the hostel was notable.

I must also mention the café on the first floor.. The photo on the top of this entry is there and it has a very modern Asian style. On the hot days I stayed in Bangkok, I always ordered big green tea frappe and sat on the chair for long time. Besides there is free Wi-Fi available for the hostel's visitors and you can use the Internet as much as you want if you have your own laptop. Actually, I wrote a lot of this blog there.

The price tag of 500 baht approx. is quite expensive compared with the Bangkok's market price. However, Niras Bankoc, which refers to itself as a Boutique Hostel and receives many good reviews, was absolutely accommodating and worth the extra cost. Highly recommended.

Entry Info

16th (Sat)
Jan 2010

[day5] Bangkok Temple Tour

Bangkok Temple TourAs I thought 'maybe I should go more sightseeing.', I decided walking around the famous temples nearby. There are plenty of view spots around my accommodation and I took a full day private walking tour for old temples.

Grand Palace

Bangkok Temple TourI firstly visited the Grand Palace since it looked like the most famous one. Although one strange guy said to me, 'Grand Palace not opened! From 13:00!' when the view of the building appeared in front of my sight, I simply ignored him. Actually, it was opene indeed. You must not believe strangers even if someone talks to you on a street. The entrance fee for the palace was 350 baht. Considering one full meal would cost 100 baht only, this is quite a nice deal but I had to admit that it was a tourist spot and paid it. Incidentally, they have a strict dress code at the Buddhist temples in Thailand. You won't be allowed to enter the site and have to rent a special costume if you expose your knees or shoulders. It should be safe to wear clothes which cover a reasonable area of your skin even if it's too hot outside.

Bangkok Temple TourThe Grand Palace was a classic tourist spot. Although the actual site was quite large, there were too many tourists, including myself, to observe the buildings and statues. Maybe I should have learnt more Thai history but honestly I couldn't really enjoy it there. Well, one interesting thing was a group of local girl students who talked to me in English. In Japan we have a custom like this. When you are on a school trip, you have to challenge your English by talking to foreigners to ask for a photo shoot with them. It was a funny moment as I didn't know this custom exists apart from Japan and I also asked to take a photo of them.

Wat Pho

Bangkok Temple TourAfter the Grand Palace, I went to Wat Pho which is famous for the big Reclining Buddha. The entrance fee was a humble 50 baht. There were not many tourists except for around the Reclining Buddha, and I could look around the area with calm. Typically, the arrays of golden Buddha statues along the walls were absolutely magnificent. I was totally captivated with the mysterious view of the Buddha statues repeated again and again on the dark corridors. I'd prefer here to the Grand Palace as it's nicely quiet and many spots to see.

Wat Arun

Bangkok Temple TourThe next was Wat Arun which is famous for its steeple located on the other side of the river. You could use a tourist ship for some hundred baht but the owner of my accommodation recommended me using a local ferry which cost only 3 baht for a single trip. The information from honest local people is always appreciated. I could climb up to the steeple there but the steps were incredibly steep. I had to grip the handle very tightly and in fact found a sense of vertigo. Nevertheless, the view of the Bangkok old city from the middle of the steeple was spectacular and worth trying to climb up.

Bangkok Temple TourWell, I travelled through the main sightseeing spots in Bangkok pretty much in a day. But I had ample days in Thailand and I started considering going to Ayutthaya when I was eating dinner of Thai fried rice and fruit shake.

Entry Info

13th (Wed)
Jan 2010

[day3] Shopping in Bangkok

Shopping in BangkokAlthough I made a big blunder on the first day, I must not be depressed for long because of such a stupid fraud. I should enjoy this dream trip. However, I in fact have no plans about what to do at each destination although I fixed the route of the whole trip already.

I asked the owner of the accommodation which places I should go in Bangkok and he told me the weekend market can be one. Besides, many local people would use the market as well as some foreigners and it should be different from Khao San where only backpackers come. Therefore, I decided to go to Chatuchak Weekend Market which is one of the biggest markets in Bangkok.

Concentrated Market

Shopping in BangkokI was a bit afraid of the location because I heard it would be 10 minutes walking from the station to the market but once I arrived at the station, there were so many people around the area and they were walking to the same direction. I couldn’t possibly lose my way if I just followed the crowd. The market that finally appeared in front of me was absolutely gigantic. From furniture to foods, lingerie to pets, there are literally all kinds of consumer goods available on the market which consisted of a bunch of narrow alleys and those alleys made the market like a huge maze. Although there were the ceilings overhead, I found beads of sweat forming on my back and forehead.

Price tags meant nothing at the market. Although they were already much cheaper compared to the ones in Japan and the other advanced countries, getting discounts from this stage is the real game. Negotiations were held in every place. I saw some foreigners who looked like buyers or similar sort of people were purchasing a lot of accessories from the stores. I also bought a pair of sandals which I'd forgotten to get in Japan. I think it would be a nice idea to get a complete set of items for the round the world trip in Bangkok unless you are particular about brands and quality.

Well Polished City

Shopping in BangkokAs I had enough walking around the market, I changed my way to the Bangkok central area which is indeed a big city. There are a lot of huge shopping malls. The ads of luxury hotels and brands indicated a certain number of wealthy people in the area. It was actually comfortable at the air conditioned shopping mall and totally different from the suffocating market where I'd been before. Looking at beautiful products displayed in spotlessly polished show windows, only Thai language letters proved that I was in the country at the moment.

And of course, there are many local people enjoying their shopping. Though a 100,000 baht Cartier watch didn't seem to be popular, a lot of home electrical appliances, which were actually more expensive than the ones in Japan due to the currency rate, sold well there.

While some people are trying to sell tiny 10 baht ornaments at crude hats, some others are purchasing 10,000 baht products at shining buildings. Although I don't believe in human rights of complete equality, I was forced to consider what the richness for people is during the way to the accommodation, after I actually saw the disparity.

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