03 – 06 JUNE 2015:
After a month in Manila, I decided to go back to England to visit my family for a few weeks. However after a mere two weeks I was weirdly starting to feel a bit unsettled so I impulsively decided to jump on a plane and visit my friend Paul in Bangkok. This was my third visit but there was still so much I hadn’t seen so I enjoyed this visit to Bangkok the most, even though it was a little too short.
My first impressions were not great though – I was very tired after my flight and wanted to get to the hotel asap so I was willing to get ripped off by using one of the airport tour taxis at three times the price! My driver could barely speak English, only enough to keep pointing out the ‘adult’ areas on the way to my hotel and saying ‘fuck, fuck, bang, bang!’ Nice way to make a young(ish) female who is alone in a foreign country feel very uncomfortable! He probably gets commission for bringing people to certain bars and was trying to ascertain if I would be up for it – which I wasn’t!
IN RESIDENCE BANGKOK SUKHUMVIT
The room was a bit dark but it was so big and comfortable that a bit of low lighting didn’t bother me much.
Besides some drilling happening on the floor above one morning which lasted several hours, I really enjoyed my stay there.
ROCKET COFFEE BAR
My friend Paul suggested that I meet him here as it’s his personal hotspot for breakfast. I managed to wolf down some Eggs Benedict and wasn’t disappointed at all! Nice, clean looking coffee bar with a good menu selection – what more do you need!
After breakfast we decided to jump on the back of a couple of motorbikes, as a taxi would have taken too long in Bangkok traffic. We wanted to head to the nearest BTS station (London underground equivalent) so we could go and visit some of the famous shrines in Bangkok.
TRIMURTI SHRINE (known as the Lover’s Shrine)
Apparently on Thursday evenings at 21:30, singles will visit this shrine whilst wearing red clothes, with offerings of red roses for the God of Love (Trimurti), all in the hope of meeting their eternal sweetheart.
‘The deity is a gold statue of a human body with two heads and four arms. The heads are one on top of the other, and the lower head has four faces. Built in 1989, the Trimurti Shrine is on a raised platform, sheltered by a dome on four pillars with elaborately carved gables at the four sides. There’s an open area around the shrine with a ring of seats for worshippers to sit and reflect. Crafted in classical Indian sculpture with a Thai touch, the statue is a replica of the original from Ayutthaya.’
Coincidentally I was actually wearing red and it was also a Thursday. However we went much earlier in the day so there weren’t as many people as I imagine there would be in the evening. They had incense sticks that you could purchase by giving a donation. There was a plaque advising how to pray so I followed the instructions by burning my incense and repeating the words. So far my love life is the same car crash it has always been but it’s only been a week since I was there so I will give it some more time before I comment on my prayer’s effectiveness…
- Opening Hours: 24 hours
- Closest BTS: Chidlom or Siam
- Address: 999/9 Rajdamri Road, in front of CentralWorld
PHALLIC SHRINE (Shrine of Goddess Tubtim)
This shrine was a little awkward to find as it’s located on the grounds of a hotel. It was also not as big as I imagined. It is quite interesting though as there are lots of small wooden carvings and big stone sculptures of penises that stand ten feet tall and are decorated with ribbons – makes this shrine quite unique. It honours Chao Mae Tubtim, a female fertility spirit. Women visit this shrine when they are trying to conceive, leaving offerings of lotus and jasmine. And if rumours can be believed, the shrine has a good success rate. Women will return if their wish is fulfilled, and place yet another phallus at the shrine in thanks.
I obviously did visit the shrine; however I didn’t pray or do any offerings as I am not quite ready for little rugrats yet…
- Location: Grounds of the Swissotel Nai Lert Hotel, Chidlom-Ploenchit
- BTS: Chitlom
Paul then took me to some very nice shopping centres for a wander around. We went to CentralWorld as we were already in that area visiting the Trimurti Shrine. We then went to MBK shopping mall, also known as Mahboonkrong. At eight stories high, the centre contains around 2,000 shops, restaurants and service outlets. A whole floor is dedicated to mobile phones and accessories – I was like a pig in muck! My wallet was definitely much lighter when I left there.
MBK Address: 444 Phayathai Rd, Bangkok, Pathumwan 10330, Thailand
Next stop was a meditation session at AriyasomVilla. AriyasomVilla hosts regular and ad hoc meditation courses with an interesting mixture of Thai and Western monks.
Paul goes weekly so I was happy to tag along, although I have never tried meditation before. The monk that performs the Thursday night sessions is actually a British monk. He spoke for the first 10 minutes or so and then we all sat there quietly for the remainder of the hour session. It was an interesting experience and was very calming, although I may need to practice the whole meditation thing a little more before I can appreciate any benefits.
ACE AND CUPS WITCHCRAFT CAFE
I was interested in getting a tarot card reading to help me reach a few life decisions. I am not saying I am a massive believer but I thought it wouldn’t hurt and at the very least it might help me figure out what it is that I truly desire. Paul knew someone who might be able to help so we went to a cafe called Ace and Cups Witchcraft Cafe which is based in Bangkok.
The lower floor of the café sells food and drinks along with witchcraft tools like crystals and wands, but the real spectacle is upstairs, where the supernatural services take place. From love-spells to hexes, the café offers a medley of supernatural spells-including the darkest of all, exorcisms.
Firstly the food there was amazing – case in point my friend finished two full meals all to himself so it must have been good. I got a tarot card reading (for free as he was a friend of Paul’s). I asked some of the questions I needed answered and had some interesting cards come up. It’s a bit early to tell whether anything will come true but we’ll see…
Address: Nak Niwat Rd, Lat Phrao, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10230, Thailand
Tel: +66 2 932 5128
LUMPHINI PARK – Pathum Wan, Bangkok
Lumphini Park is a huge park in Bangkok. It offers lots of open public space, trees and playgrounds and contains an artificial lake where visitors can rent a variety of boats. This place is perfect for a romantic date (and free to enter too). There were people practicing yoga on the grass, people running, cycling and also some aerobics being done outside in the park. They also have an actual outdoor gym in the park! There was so much atmosphere here, definitely one of the highlights of Bangkok.
I’ve had a Thai massage before, but not for about 7 years so had to make sure I squeezed one in during my visit. There was a place near Lumphini Park that I went to. In fact there was several places on that one street to choose from so I picked the one that looked the cleanest and friendliest. After putting on the loose clothing, I had my massage in a dark room with a lady masseuse. It was kind of painful but good at the same time. I didn’t want it to end so that’s was a good sign!
Paul mentioned Above Eleven as one of the best places to visit for drinks. It’s a roof top restaurant / bar on the 33rd floor of the Fraser Suites Sukhumvit in Soi 11.
‘Above Eleven is the first Peruvian Japanese restaurant in South East Asia in a rooftop venue inspired by the experience of being in one of the great urban parks of the world. Key features include custom-designed structural trees, a maze in the entrance era and bathrooms serving as observatories of Bangkok’s skyline.’
We just had drinks so I can’t comment on the food. However I must say the view is literally amazing! Lots of foreigners there and I imagine it’s a popular hangout place to go for after work drinks.
I loved this place, mainly because it had so much character. It’s a magical underground cabaret full of mystery, romance, and jazz, which is reminiscent of Shanghai 1930. There are women sitting on the piano and on swings in the middle of the room, all very stylised.
There was a jazz band playing and we were lucky enough to get front row seats. They have a casual restaurant section which serves Chinese food although we only went for drinks.
The bar also has a lot of great history, so if you’re interested you can read up on it here:
Address: 320 Silom Road, Bangrak, Bangkok, Thailand 10500
I must thank Paul for being an excellent tour guide and dropping everything to spend two full days with me. He opened my eyes to many of the great sites that Bangkok has to offer. I am more in love with the city than than ever before. I’m already planning my 4th visit!