I come from a family that habitually makes strange requests of their kin travelling abroad and if such a thing could be measured, has possibly the most eclectic baggage contents as far as I know.
No longer contented with just Duty Free liquor, my mom took the cake months ago when I first hinted at a trip to Bangkok with Boy Scout! When her eyes started to sparkle, mine rolled, in preparation for her request for unreasonable quantities of something edible. I wasn't completely off course of course, but this time her primary desire from Bangkok was something she saw but didn't dare buy last year when we went to Bangkok together for fear of trouble with customs.
Oh, right, so I get it, it's OK for Boy Scout and me to get slapped with a fine or jail term if worse came to worst, but it's not OK if it was her! Neat, what a great mom! ;-)
This said, I minded much less potential trouble with customs (she'd promised to pay the fine if there was one to be paid) than I minded the complications behind transporting AN ASSORTMENT OF CACTI, which is what my mom asked for from Chatuchak Market!
Boy Scout had seen a horizon-widening documentary on TV about Chatuchak and I was intending to show him the little I'd seen of it anyway, so for the last leg of our Bangkok trip, I chose a neat little hotel in the Sukhumvit area, by the name of Citi Chic, which pretty much looked like what it did in the photos on their site. Good start!
What a relief upon check-in to see that this wouldn't be a hotel I'd have to endure like the previous one! :) Furthermore, it was a scenic 10 minutes or so from the BTS line that would take us to Chatuchak and the famous MBK Center, so bye bye transport touts! :) It also had free internet that I never managed to use, not only because there were always other guests hogging both terminals, but also for one intimidating little detail:
Since there were only two room types - with or without terrace - I decided the 200-baht difference wasn't much to scrimp on, so we had a small cozy terrace that we found so conducive to relaxation we spontaneously reverted to our indolent ways and decided to order room service (which both previous hotels didn't have) practically as soon as our eyes fell on the room service menu, in part to satisfy a joint craving for something NOT Thai:
When we were done, we didn't know what to do with the tray, as leaving it outside our room would have meant our neighbour tripping over our dirty dishes, so when Boy Scout dutifully took the tray back to the restaurant, the hotel manager happened to be on duty and was so embarrassed his eyes nearly popped out, haha! It turned out we were supposed to call for someone to pick up the tray.. ;-)
It is easy to get accustomed to being on holiday, so when we finally found an iota of will to step outdoors, we failed to realise it would be rush hour for most other mortals, hee hee...
We'd only managed a tour of MBK Center, which was sufficiently fatiguing:
It wasn't only until the next day that we trudged to Chatuchak for the cacti, but with all the lanes looking alike and most of the shops closed, our tour didn't last long and it didn't quite fit what Boy Scout saw on TV:
Unbelievably, I found myself squatting compliantly before the various troughs in the plant section looking for species I'd expect my mom to nod at approvingly, and got pricked and shed a few drops of blood in the process.
Besides shopping, I'd circled a number of parks to visit on my maps, in particular Lumphini, but with the oppressive heat as an excuse, we never made it there... ;-) Due to Boy Scout's development of a strange unwavering dependence on Starbucks' iced caffe mocha, though, we found ourselves sipping in various parts of town.
When our time in Bangkok was up, I thought we'd successfully managed to escape getting ripped off this time around, but our final taxi ride to the airport made me question the real motives behind the "I love farang" stickers seen on taxi windows:
When we'd checked out, the sweet porter helped us get a "Taxi-Meter", which has to charge according to the meter, and indeed, the jerk of a driver had his meter running when the porter was with us. But the moment we were alone with him and turned the street corner, he claimed that his meter wasn't working properly and asked us what we'd intended to pay him.
Oh boy. I should have seen it coming! I was in an irritable mood and didn't want to miss our plane, so I asked the creep what he wanted. He said 400 baht, and I said no more than 300. He said OK, but 300 excluding toll charges. I knew that was still rather generous, but I quickly realised I could beat him at his game. ;-)
With a wink, I showed Boy Scout in the backseat a couple of bills that amounted to 250 baht that I'd give the driver (which I know is still more than what the meter would have displayed), and made him agree that if the driver made a fuss, we'd tell him that's all the baht we had left. :)
So when I slipped the driver the folded bills and he trustingly slipped them into his breast pocket without checking, I felt a minor pang of guilt, but well, if he'd just been honest in the first place, I'd have gladly given him what I really had left in baht! ;-)