A Travellerspoint blog

March 2013

The MBK Center and Siam Central

Shopping on Heat!

sunny 35 °C
View 2013 Round the World Trip on FrancisRTW's travel map.

One thing I did not realise when I booked a hotel next door to the National Stadium Skytrain Station in Bangkok was that I would be next door to the most expansive shopping mall I had ever seen. I had heard of the MBK Center but until I experienced it I did not appreciate how unbelievably immense with an unexhaustable range of small stalls and shops it was. There are 7 floors and each floor seems to go on for ever, each time you think you have reached the end another bazaar of stalls and shops seems to open up before you.

The entrance to the MBK Center at night

The entrance to the MBK Center at night


Skytrains on multiple levels above the street outside the Siam Paragon

Skytrains on multiple levels above the street outside the Siam Paragon


Inside the MBK Center, escalators everywhere and you can not see all the floors!

Inside the MBK Center, escalators everywhere and you can not see all the floors!


The escalators to the lower floors of the MBK Center

The escalators to the lower floors of the MBK Center

You can buy just about anything you can think of in the MBK Center, the free directory of shops is 20 pages long! I wanted an off the shelf pair of specs to replace my tatty 2nd pair and instead ended up with my old pair fixed up as good as new for next to nothing while I waited; a concave piece of glass to my prescription was lazer cut and fitted to my frames right there in front of me. I never appreciated before how complex the process was - facinating! Thai Street Food is rightly famed across the world but for the mega lazy there is an international food hall at the MBK Center where you take a ticket, get anything you want to eat from the stalls - Greek, Japanese etc. as well as the more usual Thai and Chinese and then present your ticket to pay when you leave.

Crowds shopping in the MBK Center

Crowds shopping in the MBK Center


Shops and stalls as far as the eye can see (and further) in the MBK Center

Shops and stalls as far as the eye can see (and further) in the MBK Center


Descending down onto the Ground Floor of the MBK Center

Descending down onto the Ground Floor of the MBK Center

Anyhow enough with shopping! Equally interesting was how all the shopping centres competed with each other to attract shoppers. On my first night I stumbled on a Thai Boxing Tournament outside the MBK Center, not something on my list but a spectacle none the less.

Thai Boxing underway outside the MBK Center

Thai Boxing underway outside the MBK Center


One of the boxers is floored during a Thai Boxing Bout

One of the boxers is floored during a Thai Boxing Bout


The final Thai Boxing bout of the night was Female

The final Thai Boxing bout of the night was Female

Meanwhile the large more convential shopping centres next door had a free fashion show for a new product launch while another had a pop concert being broadcast live on radio.

The Entrance to the Siam Paragon Shopping Mall

The Entrance to the Siam Paragon Shopping Mall


Fashion Show at the Siam Center

Fashion Show at the Siam Center


Fashion Show at the Siam Center Shopping Mall

Fashion Show at the Siam Center Shopping Mall


Free Concert underway by the dancing fountains between the Siam Center and Siam Paragon Shopping Malls

Free Concert underway by the dancing fountains between the Siam Center and Siam Paragon Shopping Malls

Posted by FrancisRTW 02:00 Archived in Thailand Tagged buildings markets sport city videos solo Comments (0)

Khao Yai National Park

Elephants and other animals

sunny 35 °C
View 2013 Round the World Trip on FrancisRTW's travel map.

I had 2 things on my must do list for the few days I had in Bangkok; see the iconic buddhist temples and to go for a ride on an elephant. I had done the temples, now it was time to travel 3 hours north of Bangkok out into the countryside to see the elephants at the Khao Yai National Park.

First stop about an hour into our trip was the local market at Nakhorn Nayok. I had concerns that this was going to be a hard sell gem store and souvenir hard sell tourists are warned about but I needn't have worried. It wasn't that sort of market, instead it was filled with fresh local produce (much of which was still moving!) and they were buying our lunch.

Jack Fruit being prepared at Nakhorn Na Yok Market

Jack Fruit being prepared at Nakhorn Na Yok Market


Fresh Shellfish on sale at Nakhon Na Yok Market

Fresh Shellfish on sale at Nakhon Na Yok Market


As on other stalls the fish in these buckets moved and were very much still alive!

As on other stalls the fish in these buckets moved and were very much still alive!


Yes I think that is Frogs on sale at the front!

Yes I think that is Frogs on sale at the front!


Hot spices anyone?

Hot spices anyone?

After an educational and entertaining wander around the market we went to a local farm for a ride in an ox cart. It was a sedantry bone shaking ride and we had to wear thai farmer straw hats similar to those I had seen in the Siam Museum in Bangkok the previous day.

Me on the back of the Ox Cart - in my Thai Farmer's Straw Hat!

Me on the back of the Ox Cart - in my Thai Farmer's Straw Hat!


View riding an Ox Cart

View riding an Ox Cart

We than continued on our way towards Khao Yai National Park passing through small villages on the way. Going through one village we had to wait while a local farmer unloaded his Rice Harvester into an adjacent paddy field while in another we stopped and watched a couple of races at the sports day of the local school.

A local farmer unloading a rice harvester into his paddy fields

A local farmer unloading a rice harvester into his paddy fields

Water Buffalo grazing beside the road

Water Buffalo grazing beside the road


Sports Day at a local Thai Village School

Sports Day at a local Thai Village School


The race for the finishing line!

The race for the finishing line!

We then reached the entrance to the Khao Yai National Park and made our way to the famous waterfall at Haew Narok. It was not as spectacular as it can be when full of water but impressive and an idyllic spot none the less.

Fence to stop the Elephants getting through on the way to the Harew Narok Waterfall

Fence to stop the Elephants getting through on the way to the Harew Narok Waterfall


The steps down to the Waterfall

The steps down to the Waterfall


Haew Narok Waterfall

Haew Narok Waterfall


Me by the Haew Narok Waterfall

Me by the Haew Narok Waterfall


Chamelon on a tree on the way back from the Waterfall

Chamelon on a tree on the way back from the Waterfall

We then moved deeper into the National Park heading towards a viewpoint over the Forest and soon began to encounter gibbon monkeys along the road.

Our first sight of a Gibbon at the side of the road

Our first sight of a Gibbon at the side of the road


The Gibbon seemed unsure if he was happy to see us!

The Gibbon seemed unsure if he was happy to see us!


We then encountered a whole troop of Gibbons including some young

We then encountered a whole troop of Gibbons including some young


A view of the Forest at the Khao Yai National Park

A view of the Forest at the Khao Yai National Park


At the viewpoint a few Gibbons took a particular interest in a pair of mopeds

At the viewpoint a few Gibbons took a particular interest in a pair of mopeds

However the highlight and main purpose of the day was to ride an elephant and after a stop for lunch (much of which had been bought earlier in the day by our guide while we were at Nakhorn Nayok Market) we were introduced to a large elephant called Cherry. I was sharing her with a mother and daughter from upstate New York and I initially sat on Cherry's neck, it was a long way down! We then spent three quarters of an hour lumbering through some woods, ducking branches and walking down streams; great fun and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The mahout gets out of the way as we set off through the forest on Cherry the Elephant

The mahout gets out of the way as we set off through the forest on Cherry the Elephant


Yep, they initially put me in the driving seat on the back of the elephants head

Yep, they initially put me in the driving seat on the back of the elephants head


The elephant sprayed us with a bit of water as we walked through a small stream

The elephant sprayed us with a bit of water as we walked through a small stream


Me feeling cool on the back of Cherry the Elephant

Me feeling cool on the back of Cherry the Elephant


Our final view of our two elephants before we began our long drive back to Bangkok

Our final view of our two elephants before we began our long drive back to Bangkok

Posted by FrancisRTW 03:00 Archived in Thailand Tagged waterfalls trees animals food markets tour videos solo Comments (0)

Wat Phra Kaew and the Grand Palace

The one that nearly got away

overcast 32 °C
View 2013 Round the World Trip on FrancisRTW's travel map.

I was so impressed by the spendour and extent of Wat Pho when I visited it on my first day in Bangkok that I assumed incorrectly that I had covered off Wat Phra Kaew and the Grand Palace (the number 1 tourist sight in Bangkok) next door as well. Having realised my mistake I realised I could just about fit them in on the morning of my departure.

I took my by now well trodden path of the Skytrain to the central pier at Saphan Taksin (the Skytrain is a couple of railway lines built on elevated trackway along major streets in the centre of Bangkok) and then the ferry up the river to the Chang Pier (Pier No. 9) where I negotiated my way through the street market to the entrance to the Grand Palace Complex.

Skytrain at the National Stadium Station

Skytrain at the National Stadium Station


Skytrain tracks at multiple levels outside the MBK Center

Skytrain tracks at multiple levels outside the MBK Center


View from aboard a ferry on the Phraya River

View from aboard a ferry on the Phraya River


Getting off the ferry at Saphran Taksin

Getting off the ferry at Saphran Taksin


Street Market by the Chang Pier on the way to the Grand Palace

Street Market by the Chang Pier on the way to the Grand Palace

Once I got to the Grand Palace it was overrun with tourists, especially the older initial Phraw Kaew that houses the Emerald Buddha. The Emerald Buddha itself is tiny when compared with others I have seen - only 66cm tall - but the spendour of the gilded temple that houses it you would hardly notice. Dress code was particularly enforced at the Emerald Buddha and many of the ladies ended up wearing borrowed sarongs and no photographs are allowed inside so the picture I have got was taken using zoom.

Wat Phra Kaew viewed from the outside

Wat Phra Kaew viewed from the outside


Giant guarding the entrance to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha

Giant guarding the entrance to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha


The Emerald Buddha

The Emerald Buddha


Me by the Temple to the Emerald Buddha

Me by the Temple to the Emerald Buddha


The upper terrace at the Grand Palace, including the Golden Chedi, Phra Mondop and the Royal Pantheon

The upper terrace at the Grand Palace, including the Golden Chedi, Phra Mondop and the Royal Pantheon


Detail from around one of the spires outside the Royal Pantheon

Detail from around one of the spires outside the Royal Pantheon

Next door to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha Complex is the Grand Palace itself. This is a much newer and contains buildings that are still used for state occasions and also is guarded by ceremonial guards. Just like in London the guards constantly had tourists jumping beside them to have their photo taken!

The Grand Palace

The Grand Palace


Changing the Guard outside the Grand Palace

Changing the Guard outside the Grand Palace


Me outside the Chakri Maha Prasat and Dusit Maha Prasat Hall at the Grand Palace Complex in Bangkok

Me outside the Chakri Maha Prasat and Dusit Maha Prasat Hall at the Grand Palace Complex in Bangkok


The Dusit Maha Prasit Hall next to the Grand Palace

The Dusit Maha Prasit Hall next to the Grand Palace

Posted by FrancisRTW 02:00 Archived in Thailand Tagged trains temples markets boat city palaces buddha monorail solo Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 3 of 12) Page [1] 2 3 4 » Next