I had three Thai visas, one is business, one is pass through and the third is tourist visa, all in the same year.

Songkran Festival

The first time I went to Thailand is for the Songkran Festival, it is also the New Year Festival of Thailand. For 2003, the New Year started at April 12. I arrived at the New Year Eve; it didn’t have any ceremony at the midnight of the new year. Songkran Festival is famous of the water playing and fighting. The official date for the water playing is the second day to forth day of the new year, i.e. April 13 to 15. It looks that the Khao San Road is the center of the water playing, all the drivers were afraid to go there since the traffic getting worse about five kilometers away to the Khao San Road.

The water playing event starts around 3:00 pm to midnight every day in the period.

Viengtai Hotel

I already book the hotel through Internet in advance. The hotel which I selected is the most famous hotel around Khao San Road , it is also the oldest around that area. I learnt this hotel from the LonelyPlanet guide and good a price of 1, 195 Baht ($30) from Thailand Hotel. Later on, I learnt some other website offers better price but I can’t find it until now. The name of the hotel is Viengtai Hotel; I guess the name is a Chinese word because the Thai pronunciation of the word “Viengtai” is almost exactly the same as Chinese “Yuan Da (greatly huge)”.

This hotel is just behind the Khao San Road and has restaurant, tailor shop, and bookstore (I never see that store is open). Also, there are five or six tourist agencies attached with the hotel. Some such tourist agencies have the line connected to the Thai Airway server can do book and confirm directly.

I went Viengtai Hotel from Bangkok Airport by Limousine taxi, and cost me 1,500 Baht for single trip. Later on, I learnt that the normal taxi is around 300 Baht. Even worse, I bought return ticket for the Limousine together with the ongoing ticket for totally 2,700 Baht.

Kha0 San Road

Busy day and night, this backpacker haven has shed its down-and-dirty image, evolving into a major wholesale silver market and trendy hangout for young Thais in recent years. By day, it’s about cheap internet, cheap travel, used books and souvenirs. By night, try the fried insects, cheap eats, dreadlocks, henna tattoos, 50 Baht cocktails and great art cafes…also pubs and clubs of all sizes. — Nancy Chandler

There are two Khao San Road , the difference is like day and night, heaven and hell, good and evil, domestic and international. Khao San Road locates at the central of Bangkok , the capital of Thailand , it is one of the most crowded and interesting area in Thailand and even Far East .

Khao San Road is a real short and narrow road; it is less than 1.5 kilometers and only allows two cars go through parallel. Khao San Road is crowded of bars, coffee shops, restaurants, street food booths, inns, hotels, photo develop shops, tourists, Seven Eleven and travel mafias.

When you go there before 9 a.m., the road is so clean and quite, the entire road is still sleeping, it will wake up around 11 a.m. The shops are going to open, the restaurants are going to invite visitors and the tourists are coming. More and more travelers come around 4-5 p.m., the street food booths come and the bars are moving the seat to outside, the night life is coming. The real night life is coming later, around 9 p.m. when the sun is fully set.

9 p.m., thousands of tourists in the Khao San Road , more are coming. You can get a cup of fresh beer with 50 Baht and buy some snack at the street food booths, fruit booths or even from Seven Eleven. You can see any color of the skin, eyes and hair over the road, also you can hear any language even English is the 搊fficial?language here.

The pair was taking their wedding photos at the Khao San Road, photo by Yule Show

Even broke her leg, she was still visiting Khao San Road, photo by Yule Show.

Wat Phra Kaew, Grand Palace and Wat Pho

Wat, in Thai, mean temple. Thai is a Buddhism country, I was told that every boy has to be a monk and serve the temple for two years as well as the selective military service in other countries. Wat Phra Kaew is the most imPhortant and famous temple in Thailand. Wat Pho is the royal temple and attached with the Grand Palace, the ticket office is inside the Grand Palace. The admission is 200 Baht include the royal garden which is 6 kilometers away. When I visited there first time, I just stood beside the admission office and was hesitantly thinking do I need go into the template. Because the Grand Palace was already impressed me, I wondered is that worse to visit the Wat Phra Kaew also. Suddenly, a Chinese tourist guide ran to me and gave me a ticket for free. She said that she miscounted the number of group members. I used that ticket to visit the great temple, and the visit made me went their again by purchasing admission.

If you wear short pan or t-shirt without shoulders, you have to borrow some cloth at the gate of the Grand Palace. The thing is easy, you pledge 200 Baht there, and get a square cloth. You can roll that cloth on your waist; actually it is some kind of skirt. I saw a lot of men wear that skirt in Wat Phra Kaew. This temple is famous of the Emerald Buddha (made of jasper, Jade Buddha in Chinese meaning), there are three ceremonies for changing Buddha’s wearing every year by the princess of the Thailand.

Wat Pho is just beside the Wat Phra Kaew, it has more than 200 years history and is famous of massage and Reclining Buddha. Wat Pho is the biggest and oldest temple in Thailand, the admission in only 20 Baht and I never paid it because that I couldn’t find the ticket office every time when I went into the temple.

WARNING: When you are walking beside the wall around that area, some very KIND persons will tell you that “Sir, the Grand Palace is closed and it will be opened after 2:30 pm” or “Today is a Buddhism festival, the temple is reserved only for Thai, all foreigners are not allowed.” DON’T BELIEVE THEM AND DON’T EVEN SAY THANKS, JUST KEEP WALKING. Otherwise you will be convinced to go somewhere else by just LITTLE money, but eventually you will pay a HUGE amount of money. Once you follow them, they will bring you to some luxury shop, close the door and force you BUY the things. Once the door is closed, you scare and buy the thing with very expensive price, it is not considered as ROB by Thai law.

WARNING: Especially in the festival season, when you take Tut-tut to the these area, the driver will tell you that the temples are reserved for Thai people, he will BORROW your map and show a route he suggests, the entire route will cost 6 hours with 20 view points and he only want 50 Baht. But if you insist go directly to the temple no matter it closed or not. Now, the driver will charge you 200 Baht or more, even the trip is only 10 minutes.

Food in Wat Po

(To be continued)

Related links:
Khao San Road
Viengtai Hotel, on the Khao San Road website
Official website of the Viengtai Hotel
Thailand Hotel
Sawadee, also a good tourist information website, recommended by Tina Zhou
A very good, even more than very good, map resource of Thailand.
Nancy Chandler’s Unique Thai Maps, Cards and Gifts.

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