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The Scam, Bangkok style November 3, 2013

Posted by hslu in Travel.
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“You have to watch out because there are many pickpockets here.”

That’s how the conversation got started. It was also the beginning of the scam, Bangkok style.

Here is my advice to you: Read this post before you visit the Grand Palace in Bangkok.

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We just got off from a water taxi and were on our way to the Grand Palace in Bangkok. We actually didn’t know where the entrance of the Palace was but someone had pointed to the right hand side at the end of the open market and that was where we were headed to.

The sky was very cloudy; a light shower was coming down but it wasn’t too bad. We heard that the Grand Palace is the most beautiful palace in Bangkok. We were excited.

I turned my head to the voice and saw a middle-aged guy walking a couple of steps behind me. I didn’t notice where he came from but I subconsciously touched my wallet in my pants’ back pocket.

Yeah, it was still there.

This guy was nice, I thought, to remind me. Maybe I should put my wallet in my pants’ front pocket because the Grand Palace was a very busy tourist spot in Bangkok.

The guy looked like a business man: well dressed in a tan-colored uniform of some sort. He was well groomed compared to many other Thai people. His skin color wasn’t very dark and I knew he was part Chinese and part Thai.

I turned to my wife and wanted to walk away from him. He took out a small decal and said he worked for the police department: He was a tourist police. He then showed me a badge in his wallet which looked like a police badge.

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I kind of let my guard down somewhat because he didn’t look like a crook.

He then said: “Are you going to the Grand Palace?”

I said: “Yes. But we don’t know exactly where the entrance is.”

Of course, we were actually heading in the wrong direction but we didn’t know that. 

He then said that the Grand Palace was closed now and it won’t open until 2:30 this afternoon. He explained that some dignitaries were visiting the Palace so that it would not open to the public now.

It was a lie but we believed him. That was our second mistake.

The first mistake was that we thought he worked for the police department and he was trying to help us.

Hmmm.., what should we do?

It was about 12:30 PM and we’d have about two hours to kill. Maybe we could get something to eat first, I thought.

He then suggested that we could get a taxi for 50 Baht to see the Big Buddha that’s covered in gold. He said the taxi driver could then take us to the Royal Cemetery. Although the cemetery was only for the royal family, it was open to the public today: only one day every year and today was the day. He said that we were lucky.

Well, since the Grand Palace was closed now and there were two hours to kill, we could take his advice, see the Big Buddha, tour the Royal Cemetery and come back later to visit the Palace. 50 Baht was just $1.50 US. $1.50 US to see two more places sounded like a good deal.

We agreed to his offer and he got us a tricycle taxi. He then reminded us that only gave him 50 Baht after we arrived at the cemetery. He’d wait for us at the Big Buddha.

That was our third mistake.

Off we went to the Big Buddha which was about 10 minutes away.

Light rain continued but it didn’t bother us too much. We had an umbrella if the rain got heavier.

I  actually didn’t know how tall or how big the Buddha was but I decided that: let’s go and take a look. The worst of the deal was it was a small and unimpressive Buddha. 既来之则安之。大不了,菩萨不大可总是个菩萨吧!看看无妨!

Sure enough, the Buddha was a big one and it was covered in gold. Impressive but the Buddha wasn’t a nice looking one; I said to myself.

The Buddha is big. About 60' tall. It is called Luang Phor To. The name of the temple is Wat Intharavihan.

The Buddha is big:about 60′ tall. It is called Luang Phor To. The name of the temple is Wat Intharavihan.

Well, we finished our tour in less than 10 minutes and our taxi driver was waiting for us.

The Royal Cemetery was another 10 minutes away. When we got there, we asked the driver to wait for us so he could take us back to the Grand Palace. He said he couldn’t park his taxi here. He had to leave.

We gave him 50 Baht and walked into the Cemetery.

It was a quiet and secluded place. It housed the tombs of past kings and other royal family members.

A few people were there sweeping the ground to clean the falling leaves.

We walked around and saw a sign which explained to us what we were seeing here.

A person walked toward us and said that this place was usually closed to the public. Very few tourists knew this place. How did we got here?

I told him about the tourist police, the temporary closing of the Grand Palace and our taxi ride to see the Big Buddha. I said that this was our second stop.

He then said that a prince was actually visiting the Grand Palace this morning and the Palace would re-open at 2:30 this afternoon.

He then said that he was responsible for the upkeep of the Cemetery. He said that he worked for the Royal family and has been at this position for ten years.

He said that he had 10 workers working for him and all the guys we saw here worked for him. They swept the ground once every hour, maintained all the buildings in the cemetery and there were enough work to keep them busy for ten years. He said that the main temple was closed right now because several monks were still chanting inside but they should finish in 10 to 15 minutes.

Initially I didn’t feel comfortable with talking to him but after he talked about his believe in Chinese culture and how he grew up being part Chinese and part Thai in Thailand; his Mom is Chinese and his Dad is Thai, I slowly let my guard down because he seemed sincere and personal.

That was our fourth mistake.

He gave us a personal tour of the cemetery and the main temple and showed us the tomb for King Mongkutthe king profiled in the movie “The King and I.” Our conversation later went back to growing up being a Chinese in Thailand. He said that many Chinese people in Thailand worked very hard all their lives and saved as much as they could. His Mom also saved a lot of money and used that money to buy jewelries such as ruby and emerald because these precious stones appreciated in value over time. He showed us his huge ruby ring which was given to him by his grandfather.

As he showed us around, he continued to emphasize that his ruby ring has gone up in value many times and his wife wanted to do the same but he won’t let her buy jewelries from Chinatown because he could buy it from a wholesale dealer at 30% less.

In fact, she went to this wholesale jewelry store this morning and got a ruby ring and a matching earrings because this place, usually closed to the public, was open today. His wife was happy and he was happy because she got them at a wonderful price.

He suggested that we shouldn’t miss this once in a life time opportunity. The place would not open to the tourists tomorrow. 

My wife was excited and wanted to check the place out and the guy got us a taxi and we were on our way to the wholesale jewelry store. 

That was our fifth mistake.

When we arrived at the store, Royal Lapidary on Sawankhalok Road, the place was open and was busy with many tourists. A Chinese-speaking lady walked up to us and greeted us warmly. She said that she could take us to see what they have in the store.

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Lotus flower bulbs are used as offering to the Buddha..

Lotus flower bulbs are used as offering to the Buddha..

Inside of the royal cemetery.

Inside of the Royal Cemetery.

Impressive interior of the Royal temple.

Impressive interior of the Royal temple.

How would you like this for your front door to your house? Thailand's king really lived like a king.

How would you like this as the front doors to your house? Thailand’s king really lived like a king.

He was the one who talked us to buy the ruby ring. Very slick talker. Walk away from him.

He was the one who talked us to buy the ruby ring. Very slick talker. Walk away from him.

The front door of the Royal Lapidary on Sawankhalok Road, Bangkok.

The front door of Royal Lapidary on Sawankhalok Road, Bangkok.

Royal Lapidary business card.

Royal Lapidary business card.

The ring.

The ring. The real thing looks a lot better than this. The person who posted on the internet said that the stone is real but it was at least 30% over-priced.

Receipt.

The receipt.

Display inside the Royal Lapidary.

Display inside Royal Lapidary.

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20130912_14400920130912_144248As we walked around she said the merchandise on the first floor were cheaper compared to what they have on the second floor. My wife saw a few ruby rings and she decided to go to the second floor.

That was our sixth mistake.

She compared several rings and decided on one which had a large ruby stone with bright and shinning diamonds around it. I asked for a magnifying glass but couldn’t tell whether it was worth the price she quoted to my wife: 127,000 Baht. The original list price was 137,500 Baht; a 7% discount.

The ruby diamond ring looked very beautiful and my wife loved it. Our sales lady said that the company is a reputable company and the ring comes with certificate and guarantee.

We paid for the ring with our credit card and walked out of the jewelry store. The sales lady also offered us a ride on company van to the place we wanted to go. Since it was too late to go back to the Grand Palace, we decided to go to Central World.

Shortly after we walked out of the store, my wife felt unease because everything came together so smoothly: Grand Palace closed for 2 hours, the guy at the Royal Cemetery, the rise of ruby’s value, the usually closed jewelry store, the Chinese speaking sales lady and the 127,000 Baht purchase.

I kept saying to my wife that there was no way they were all in it to scam us. I might not believe the tourist police but I trusted the guy at the cemetery. He was so much into the Chinese culture that he won’t cheat us. We went to Central World, had dinner and went back to the hotel.

Once we got back to our room, my wife googled Lapidary Bangkok. Sure enough, someone wrote a story that sounded just like what we just went through. The person in the story ended us losing some money because she already came back to the US after the purchase.

For the entire evening, my wife couldn’t sleep and regretted her impulse purchase. Early next morning we had our breakfast at the hotel and went to the front desk for help.

The guy at the front desk said that we had three options: 1) negotiate a new price, 2) return the merchandise and pay a penalty, usually around 20%, or 3) exchange for something different. My wife didn’t like any of the options and said that she wanted a full refund. The guy explained our situation to the hotel manager and the manager agreed to help us. The hotel manager called the company and asked to talk to the owner of Royal Lapidary. The owner promised to give our money back and offered to send company’s van to pick us up.

At that point, I decided to hold off my phone call to Visa and see what we could get from the jewel store. We got all our documents ready and went to the store. Our Chinese speaking lady was waiting for us. She apologized for the hassle we had to go through and took us to a conference room upstairs and credited the full amount of the purchase back to our credit card.

She gave us another set of documents which spelled out that Royal Lapidary has agreed to return the full amount back to us. There was even a signed letter and a credit card refund receipt.

She repeatedly apologized to us and said that the owner of the company kept reminding those people not to lure customers to their stores.

She then offered to take us to where we wanted to go using the company van. We decided to go to a subway station because we wanted to visit the Grand Palace.

Once we got off the water taxi, we traced the same route we took yesterday because I wanted to see if I could catch that tourist police in action again.

Lo and behold, I saw that guy again. He recognized me immediately and started walking away from me. I did get a glimpse of him.

We then found the entrance to the Grand Palace and the first thing we saw was the sign that says” OPEN EVERYDAY.”

Wow, what an experience in Bangkok. Fortunately for us, we got all our money back. Although we were disguised by the scam, we liked the way Lapidary handled the entire situation.

Here is the moral of the story: Don’t talk to strangers in Bangkok unless you initiate the conversation.

The sign reads "Open Everyday."

The sign inside the Grand Palace”

The tourist police was the guy in the middle of the picture.

The tourist police is the guy in the middle of the picture.

Tapas Y Vino, Bangkok, Thailand November 1, 2013

Posted by hslu in Food, Restaurants, Travel.
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We had planned to have a quick lunch near our hotel before heading out to the airport on the day we flew out of Bangkok. Since we didn’t stay too long at the weekend market, we had almost 2 hours for lunch.

We decided to try a tapas place just off the Sukhumvit subway station about 10 minutes walk from our hotel. The restaurant was located on the second floor of the Grand Millennium Hotel.

It was Saturday morning around 11:30 when we got there. We were the only two customers the entire time and we felt relaxed and took time to enjoy our meal.

We ordered the set lunch at 400 Baht per person so that we could have a variety of dishes to try. We each had a glass of Spain’s red wine: 2006 Promesa Reserva at 470 Baht which were great with the food we had. I just wished we had a full glass instead of just a quarter or so.

Our waitress was a good looking Thai girl and our chef was a young man who was in his early 30’s at most. The open kitchen was just on the other side of the narrow and long dinning room. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a picture of him and his kitchen because the camera was lost.

It took us almost 2 hours to finish six tapas. We didn’t order Gazpacho because we just fought tour way through a down pour and wanted some thing not cold.

The garlic shrimp was great! Perfectly done! It looked good and every one of them was tender and juicy. There wasn’t too much butter either. Just a great dish.

We also order a plate of Cinco Jotas (5J) Spanish Acorn-fed Iberian Bellota ham (black Iberian pig) at 650 Baht per 20 grams. It was not cheap but it was worth the price. Great with the wine we ordered. I should have ordered some cheese as well but we simply had too much to eat. By the time we got to the last tapas , chicken wings, we simply couldn’t eat anymore. Well, we actually didn’t like chicken wing that much anyway.

Dessert was Santiago almond cake. Great finish.

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Black Iberian pig: 5 slices. About $4 US per slice. I need another glass of wine, please!

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5J.

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Another restaurant at the grand Millennium Hotel Bangkok.

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Our waitress prepared wine for us.

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Regular menu

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鼎泰丰,曼谷 November 1, 2013

Posted by hslu in Chinese Food, Food, Travel.
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Bangkok World Center is an Upper scale shopping center where every Bangkok tourist have to go. My wife went there to 逛街. I went there to have a nice dinner.

There were many restaurants there and majority of them were Japanese. There were only one Chinese restaurant there and it was 鼎泰丰。I actually didn’t want 鼎泰丰 because I could have 小笼包 in Taipei but decided to compare it with ones in Taipei.

We’d have something else like a buffet tomorrow night.

Well, all I could say was Bangkok’s 鼎泰丰 wasn’t as good as the ones we usually go in Taipei: 鼎泰丰 SOGO 忠孝复习 and 鼎泰丰 the original store.

 

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These were fake But looked like the real thing。

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$13 US. All you can. Very cheap.

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I have never liked Thai food served in the US. Many were actually Chinese dishes in disguise with the addition of Thai peppers, lemon grass, basil and other spices. In general, most dishes were too sweet for my taste.

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Beautiful cup cakes. Very popular in the States. Some cupcake places can have a line of 10 to 15 people waiting to get in once it was promoted by some one on Yelp. We avoid them because they simply have too much sugar and butter for anyone, young or old, who remotely care about their health,

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Not the best presentation I have seen.

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Not as tasty as the ones we had in Taipei. Needed a little more soup inside too. The skin was good.

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Very fresh. Very crispy. Light yet refreshing.

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牛肉面 was a disappointment. it wasn’t as good as some we had at Taipei’s night markets. The taste was too simple and the meat was over cooked.

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Steamed vegetarian dumplings. This one got an A and they were very authentic too.

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very cute. As long as you are alive and healthy, you can have 小笼包 at 鼎泰丰。

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Simple setting。

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Food total was 1195 Baht. Added 10% service charge and 7% VAT. Total came to 1407 Baht; about $47 US.

Food total was 1195 Baht. Added 10% service charge and 7% VAT. Total came to 1407 Baht; about $47 US.

 

Chatuchak Weekend Market, Bangkok October 28, 2013

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Our flight out of Bangkok back to Taipei on Saturday was at 5 PM. We have to be at the airport by 3 PM. We decided to check out the Chatuchak Weekend Market (乍都乍周末市场)in the morning, have a quick lunch at noon, go back to our hotel before 1:30, get our luggage and be at the subway station by 2 PM. With our luggage packed and stored at the front desk, we had our breakfast buffet and headed out at 8:30 AM. We planed to be back at 12 noon and have a quick lunch near by.

The Chatuchak Market is one of the most popular shopping destinations in Bangkok. It is huge and has hundreds of shops in several sections. If you like to shop or if you just enjoy 逛逛 and see other people spending their money buying things they probably don’t need, you just have to check out Chatuchak. It is one of the kind shopping experience. For us, it certainly was.

The weather was nice. It was clear and there was no sign of shower or rain. I took a lot of pictures but most of them were gone with the lost camera.

We took the subway to the market on the other side of the city center. We got there rather quickly because it wan’t a workday.

The huge market was just outside of the subway station and there were a lot of tourists helping with local economy already. My wife did some shopping and even got us a pair of matching Thai shirts. Well, no more than 40 minutes after we got there it started to rain. It was steady to begin with and soon it started pouring and pouring with no sign of stopping anytime soon.

The narrow walkway inside the market started to accumulate water and soon it was flooded. We basically got stuck became the pathway became impassible without getting our shoes wet. I noticed that basically the floors of almost all shops were raised by about 6″ from the ground. They have been very used to the rain and were well prepared for it. At first, we took it easy and thought the rain will stop soon. We stopped by a cafe which was soon filled with many people like us who got no other place to go.

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All entrances were flooded badly.

We finished our drinks and started to get edgy because we still have a flight to catch. But we couldn’t go anywhere.

Rain showed no sign to stop. We didn’t bring our umbrella. We didn’t have sandals on. The entrance to many sections of the market was flooded and was crowded with people who tried to make a dash toward the subway station.

We finally decided to make a go for it: we took off our shoes and socks. Bought a pair of flip flops for each of us. Found a shop that was doing a great business of selling cheap, transparent, plastic poncho like raincoats.

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With shoes in hand, we needed something to cover our bodies.

Make sure you are prepared when you visit the weekend market. Rain could come at anytime.

Make sure you are prepared when you visit the weekend market. Rain could come at anytime.

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Time to say goodbye to Chatuchak Weekend Market. Time to say goodbye to the Chatuchak Weekend Market. It was fun!

Now that we were properly equipped, we braved the still very heavy rain and ankle-high water on the street and walked slowly towards the subway station.

We finally made it to the station and managed to change back to our regular dress.

What an experience!

Now that we had more time on our hands because we didn’t stay as long as we first planned, we could spend more time to have a decent lunch.

And that’s what we did. We took the subway back to the Asok Station and walked a few block to try tapas at Tapas Y Vino at the Grand Millennium Hotel in Sukhumvit, Bangkok.

Calypso Cabaret, Bangkok October 27, 2013

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Calypso Cabaret is located at Asiatique Waterfront Market on the left bank of the Chao Phraya River. The ticket is not cheap: 1,000 Baht each but we liked the show because, other than the stunning transsexuals, the stage show revolved around several national scenes: Korean, Japan, China, Western and Thailand. The colorful costumes, energetic performance, beautiful songs, pretty faces and parade of performers after the show made the experience very memorable.

The show was completely sold out on the day we were there (Wednesday) and people continued to walked in after the stage show got started. We had a good seats and a good view of the stage from the front row of the second floor.

We were allowed to take pictures but we couldn’t use flash.

A promotion poster in front of the theater.

A promotion poster in front of the theater.
This stage show was about to end when we walked into the theater. There was a cafe downstairs and these girls (I thought they were the real thing) were performing for customers at the open seating area there.

This stage show was about to end when we walked into the theater. There was a cafe downstairs and these girls (I thought they were the real thing) were performing for customers at the open seating area there.

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This was our ticket.

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The stage

The stage

Drinks menu. Our drinks were included in the price of our tickets.

Drinks menu. Our drinks were included in the price of our tickets.

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These performers were very talented. They all did a great job on stage. I couldn’t tell that they were transsexuals from a distance.

A stunning face and a attractive body afforded her a prominent role on stage. I wondered how long their professional life could last like this.

A stunning face and a attractive body afforded her a prominent role on stage. I wondered how long their professional life could last like this.

They worked really hard on stage.

They worked really hard on stage.

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it was hard to hide the male body frame no matter how hard he tried.

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I thought it was hard to hide his male body frame no matter how hard he tried.

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A scene from the Japanese cultural related show.

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Asiatique Riverfront Market, Chao Phraya River, Bangkok October 26, 2013

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Bangkok‘s Asiatique Riverfront Market is a very popular and trendy tourist spot along the Chao Phraya River 湄南河. There are many shops and restaurants here and is a good place to spend an evening here. Eat, drink, play and be happy with the one you love on your side.

Evening is a good time to visit here. It could get very hot and messy in the day when temperature could go up to the 90's. A cool breeze in the air makes it a very comfortable evening here.

Evening is a good time to visit here. It could get very hot and messy in the day when temperature could go up to the 90’s. A cool breeze in the air makes it a very comfortable evening here.

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Expensive hotels and high end condos on the right bank of the river.

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Oh, did I mention that you can watch stage show made famous by Thailand’s transsexuals too?

We came here around 4 PM and our tour guide helped us bought two tickets to see the stage show at Calypso Cabaret: a popular musical show performed by stunning transsexuals and transvestites. Each ticket cost us 1,000 Baht which was more than similar shows elsewhere in Bangkok. We also got a drink with each of our ticket though. Our tour guide told us that he could get better seats for us and we didn’t have to wait for the box office to open at 6 PM. He also said that we could get in there about half an hour earlier and watch the performers too.

He also said that we were allowed to take pictures but can’t use flash. He said that in general these transsexuals and transvestites lived a difficult live because they weren’t looked upon favorable by the general public. They got sick easily and they had to take drugs all their lives to suppress their male identities. The drug caused complications all the time but they had no choice if they wanted to stay that way. Illegal drugs were another problem for them and their stage lives were short because they got old easily. On top of all that, they don’t normally live a long life. Well, beneath the pretty faces, I now realized that there were a lot of untold sad stories and many sorrows for people like them.

We then said goodbye to our tour guide and our driver which was the end of our 2-day tour. 

Sunset along the Chao Phraya River was gorgeous and watching boats going up and down the river was a good way to kill some time before the show too.

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There were some street performers trying to get people’s attention but all that got cut short because of light shower before the show got started.

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There were hundreds of shops spreading out in multiple sections. Many upscale restaurants were open along the river front. Wide selections of cuisine were available too: Irish, American, seafood, India, Thai, Japanese, Vietnamese and Chinese too. There was also a amusement park but we didn’t check it out because we were interested in rides or games.

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Studying tonight's menu before the crowd arrived.

Studying tonight’s menu before the crowd arrived.

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I liked to see a little more tourists here. Well, it was a weeknight.

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Nice color.

Nice color.

The make up was great! They were actually alive. See the Live Statue sign there?

The make up was great! They were actually alive. See the Live Statue sign there?

From 6 pm to 7 pm, Monday to Thursday you could eat as much as you could for 599 Baht: about $20 US.

From 6 pm to 7 pm, Monday to Thursday you could eat as much as you could for 599 Baht: about $20 US.

Live fish skin treatment. Smooths out your skin.

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Pants only.

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You could find many international cuisines well represented here.

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Owned by a Japanese or the ice cream came from Japan, I suppose.

By the time we got out of the show, it was almost 10 PM. Rain came down very hard. We had a simple dinner with a bento box and ramen.

By the time we got out of the show, it was almost 10 PM. Rain came down very hard. We had a simple dinner with a bento box and a bowl of steaming ramen.

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曼谷街头 – 2 October 24, 2013

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A few more interesting scenes we saw in Bangkok while we were there。

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Taking water taxi up and down the Chao Phraya River 湄南河 was very convenient.

Taking water taxi up and down the Chao Phraya River 湄南河 was very convenient.

Street food。We didn't try any of them. Some of them looked very spicy. We also didn't know what they were either.

Street food。We didn’t try any of them. Some of them looked very spicy. We also didn’t know what they were either.

Open markets are everywhere in Bangkok. They were usually crowded and not very clean.

Open markets are everywhere in Bangkok. They were usually crowded and not very clean.

Night market along a major street in downtown Bangkok.

Night market along a major street in downtown Bangkok.

Performer at the night market in Bangkok.

Performer at the night market in Bangkok.

Another food vendor we came across at night market. Very busy with locals.

Another food vendor we came across at night market. Very busy with locals.

Great mango! Among the best we have tried.

Great mango! Among the best we have tried.

One thing I dare not to try. Many people like it and swear by it saying that it is the best fruit in the world.

One thing I dare not to try. Many people like it and swear by it saying that it is the best fruit in the world.

Roasted seafood.

Roasted seafood.

MBK is one of many Bangkok's legendary shopping malls. All malls were packed with tourists and locals alike. Many of them located at subway stations. very convenient to hop around. The tressts were packed with cars day and night non-stopped.

MBK is one of many Bangkok’s legendary shopping malls. All malls were packed with tourists and locals alike. Many of them located at subway stations. very convenient to hop around. The tressts were packed with cars day and night non-stopped.

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曼谷的四面佛:Erawan Shrine or Bangkok’s famous Four Face Buddha.

These Thai dances in traditional Thai costume will perform for you when you make a donation to the shrine.
These Thai dances in traditional Thai costume will perform for you when you make a donation to the shrine.

These pineapples probably have being kept there for a while.
These pineapples probably have being kept there for a while.

A typical open market at Bangkok's Ratchadamri Road.

A typical open market at Bangkok’s Ratchadamri Road.

 

 

 

 

曼谷机场 – Suvarnabhumi Airport October 24, 2013

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This is the departing area of Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport.It is vibrant and unique. It projects the mystic side of Thailand and its culture. The staff at Thai Airline ticket counter was courteous and amiable; a lot friendlier than the custom agent we met when we arrived at Thailand.

I guess that working for government has its drawbacks: boring job, unhappy life, mediocrity all his or her life and got stuck in a system, among others; comparable to what US federal government has demonstrated recently with Obamacare or Obamashame. A side note here: I have to give praise to the county office I went to in Taipei: Daan District Office (大安区公所.) People there always greeted us with a smile to begin with. They are polite and more than willing to help. Best of it all, they are efficient too. In short, doing business with 大安区公所 has been a pleasant experience.

Well, back to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport 曼谷蘇凡納布機場. In Thai, it means Golden Land or 黃金大地, The airport is not big even though it is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. Of course, we have only been to one of its terminals. 

Take a look of the brilliant display in the airport and you will be amazed at the images which made us wanted to find out more of the sculpture and the story behind it.

Unfortunately I lost a camera at Bangkok Airport right before boarding the Thai Airline back to Taipei. With it I lost a lot of pictures too. Too bad. Until today, I still couldn’t figure out how I lost that camera.

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Dream Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand October 23, 2013

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It is away from the most popular areas of Bangkok. It is also an older hotel. But I was told that it had been renovated recently. It was clean. The staff was polite and helpful. It was about 10 minutes from subway stations, Asok on BTS and Sukhumvit on RMT. You can ask the hotel to take you to the subway station using their tricycle shuttle. It cost us 50 Bhat. It took us about 50 minutes to ride the subway to airport. Very convenient. And it was only 10 to 20 minutes to many popular destinations in Bangkok. One complaint: it is tucked away from the major street. You have to remember where it is if you walk in the evening.

The breakfast buffet was excellent. We ate there four days straight. So much food. Fresh. Many varieties. Omelets were great too; light, fluffy and not greasy at all.

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Front door

 

Shuttle “bus”。 Easy to move in and out of Bangkok‘s terrible traffic。

Shuttle “bus”。 Easy to move in and out of Bangkok‘s terrible traffic。

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Second floor dining room.
好可爱!To me anyway!

好可爱!To me anyway!

 

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So many choices but so little capacity to eat them all.

So many choices but so little capacity to eat them all.

Mango is not as good as the ones in Cancun.

Mango is not as good as the ones in Cancun.

Cheese varieties and ham.

Cheese varieties and ham.

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He made omelets for us. Ate too many eggs these days. No wonder bad cholesterol went up for both of us. Has to cut it down at home。

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Bar wasn’t open in the morning。

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Fried rice and 手抓饼 are prepared for Chinese tourists.

Fried rice and 手抓饼 are prepared for Chinese tourists.

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For American travelers.

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Had to try everything at least once。

Shuttle bus schedule. The staff will take you to the subway station when it is available. We had to wait for about 10 minutes.

Shuttle bus schedule. The staff will take you to the subway station when it is available. We had to wait for about 10 minutes.

On the way to the subway station. Time to leave Bangkok. We will be back again. Date: TBD.

On the way to the subway station. Time to leave Bangkok. We will be back again. Date: TBD.

Thai Massage and Divana October 23, 2013

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We received two 1-hour massage treatments in Bangkok. Both were included  in the tour package with Lion Travel in Taipei.

The first one was done at a building inside the compound of the Reclining Buddha temple. There wasn’t any enjoyment per se; at least not to me. My body and my extremities got moved in ways not familiar to me; my muscles got stretched and kneaded back and forth like a piece of dough, my tendons and ligaments got twisted and manipulated and my back got pressed by knuckles and elbows at extremely intensive pressure. Some people called that relaxation. I called it the equivalent of 活受罪。The worst part was that I didn’t want to yell out like a cry baby whenever the pain on my body became unbearable. I wanted to pretend that I was a tough guy and not to be laughed at by others in the room. Yes, there were others and I didn’t mean my wife.

After we finished our tour of the Reclining Buddha, our tour guide took us to the back of the compound and left us with a middle-aged Thai woman who took us to the inside of a large room, not gold plated though. it had 30 beds; 15 on each side separated by a 3′ wide aisle in the middle. Each side had five sections; each with three single size beds side by side with no separation in between. There wasn’t any door or screen to separate me from the others either. It was a 大通舱。 At the far end of the room, there were two small enclosed spaces; each about 2′ wide by 3′ long, which we used to change into the rob that was offered to us. Our cloth and shoes were packed into a bag which got stashed under the bed.

Well at least my wife was in a bed next to mine but another guy was assigned to the bed on the other side. It was kind of wired to say the least. We then were greeted by two mid-aged Thai women and were instructed to lay on the bed face down. In the next 50 minutes or so, she worked on us and did a great job of making me hurt all over my body. It was massage, I kept telling me, and it was supposed to be good for me. I wasn’t sure how much was the massage because our contract didn’t say. I gave them 200 Baht each and left with a sense of accomplishment” I survive the Thai massage.

Hmm, I thought that my steps were actually a little lighter after the massage. Maybe the suffering was good for me.

Divana was the second place we went to for our second massage. It was very enjoyable and you’ll know why once you see these pictures.

Give it a try. It was enjoyable and much relaxed.

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Lobby. The massage parlor was staffed by four or five young Thai girls either in their teens or early 20's. They were all nicely dressed and treated us politely. There were several masseuse who usually stay inside away from the lobby area.

Lobby. The massage parlor was staffed by four or five young Thai girls either in their teens or early 20’s. They were all nicely dressed and treated us politely. There were several masseuse who usually stay inside away from the lobby area.

Another view of the lobby area.

Another view of the lobby area.

Very fragrant but not sure what kind of tea it was.

Very fragrant but not sure what kind of tea it was.

Three kinds of fragrant oil to choose from. We ended up chose the one in the middle independently.

Three kinds of fragrant oil to choose from. We ended up chose the one in the middle independently.

Our room. It comes with a shower, a toilet and a small jacuzzi.

Our room. It comes with a shower, a toilet and a small jacuzzi.

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We use the gong to call our when we finished changing into our robs. They were probably in their late teens. I am guessing that they came from village outside of Bangkok. They spoke very little English though. I told them not to use too much pressure and they seemed to understand what I was saying. The massage was very enjoyable. Relaxed and clean after a shower.

Silk rob. Very comfortable. Temperature can be adjusted if you are too cold.

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We use the gong to call our when we finished changing into our robs. They were probably in their late teens. I am guessing that they came from village outside of Bangkok. They spoke very little English though. I told them not to use too much pressure and they seemed to understand what I was saying. The massage was very enjoyable. Relaxed and clean after a shower.

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