Thursday, September 06, 2012

Our family vacation to Bangkok, Thailand

Branden and Noah outside of the Holiday Inn Bangkok. We had woke up at 6:30am Bangkok time because to us and our internal clocks it felt like.... it was 2 hours later. We got ourselves all dressed and teeth all brushed. And we went right across the street to Mc Donald's. We wanted to try local foods and boy did we enjoy it during our trip. But, for right then...considering it was morning we wanted to get the boys fed before we started exploring. Walking, train taking etc. So this was just convenient and easier for us. Also important to note is where our hotel was located was so convenient to everything we wanted to be.
I am purposely not locking 90% of the pictures that way you can double click any of them if you want to. Not sure if you can see this unless you double click this but literally right across the street is a Boots (pharmacy), Starbucks to the right of Boots pharmacy. And to the right of Starbucks is Mc D's. And literally 5 steps away from Boots pharmacy is a Watson's pharmacy also.  So everything you could need or want is literally right at your finger tips right from Holiday Inn Bangkok. And the selling food stalls etc are right up the street but to the right, about a 4 minute walk *if* that.
Literally right across the street from the hotel.
Shrines are plentiful and this was the Holiday Inn's. You can see the Holiday Inn flag to the right and left, it's in the property. And people are very respectful of these and we really dug that a lot.
Do you see those stairs? On the opposite side of the road, the Boots... McD's side? And the bridge on our side? Well you don't even have to worry about crossing through traffic with kids. There are stairs on our side and we literally walked right up our side of the stairs to the opposite side to get to Boots, Starbucks and Mc D's. And that is also where to catch the trains etc just up those stairs. So it was totally 100% convenient, couldn't possibly be any closer to the train station unless you were sleeping on the tracks ; ).  Before we went to breakfast Noboru wanted to walk around the mall where Boots and Mc D's were and you know we were on vacation had no place to go so why not, I said for sure, let's go!Think more along the lines of a small shopping complex then full fledged mall. But super nice to be right across the street.
They had Auntie Anne's homemade pretzels. Yummm. Delicious lemonade. Again right across the street from the Holiday Inn Bangkok.  They also had a nice looking and fair price mani pedi and also foot massage place in there that I am kicking myself for.... not trying out. : ) Ah well next time...next time.  
Ronald Mc Donald in Thailand. That's right almost forgot if you see the window this is 24 hours open. Next time we go to Thailand we will definitely be staying at the same hotel it's just a perfect location for us and easy to get to many places we wanted to get to. So we ate and then caught the train.
Noboru's friend had suggested we check out this mall and we went inside but we didn't eat there, we looked around though. Interesting thing though it was Japan month or something. What luck. : ) And we saw such a big good luck kitty. So we had to let the boys pose near it.
We decided to head to MBK next but we stopped off at the hotel before heading there. So everyone could freshen up first. Another shrine area for lack of better words. But I really loved how everyone were very respectful of these shrines/prayer areas.  They sell day passes to ride the train so we could ride all day. It was very affordable that pass. A few dollars.
Noboru had been gearing up for MBK for a month. I was also gearing up for MBK also. I had seen many pictures of this, first time to see it in person. Read up on this a lot. They have all the cheap clothes stalls. Knock offs. Electronics, Noboru was looking for something in the eletronics area. But wow were we ready. Also this is all cool and air conditioned inside so it's nicer to shop here then outdoors in the heat. Though we didn't mind that too much either. MBK was one of my favorite shopping areas.
Kids clothes. Many American cartoon characters. Lots of Ben 10 for some reason. : ) Suitcases. And the most I saw were....fake/designer knock offs of Ralph Lauren boys and girls polo type tops and Polo men's and ladies. They were everywhere here at MBK. I noticed some had nicer quality then other shops. Noah happened to be wearing a real Polo top that day just coincidence. But it helped because I would compare and look....at Noah's top and look at the one for sale. So check for quality not all the Polo's looked as good as some others. We went down aisle by aisle floor by floor. We felt we had been in there for days. Some floors we skipped because there was just too much to see. Which is a good thing.
And then....in the distance we saw the queen. Dairy Queen. Oh DQ, how I heart you. We had to go.
Branden and Noah got a small white cone dipped in chocolate rolled in sprinkles.
I had this. Yumm.
We left MBK. And we started walking towards Pratunam. We saw this boat along the way. Also important to note. While we for the most part felt Bangkok was very modern we also saw a lot of poverty also. We saw quite a bit of people begging along the streets. On the walk ways near the trains, a blind man. And also another man had no arms, they all had cups so you could toss some money in if you wanted. The children tugged on my heart strings the most. The reason I mention this here is because as we crossed this bridge where this boat was riding under, we saw a mother with a little 1 year old baby in her arms. A cup was near so you could throw some money in. And about 5 feet away a little girl maybe 2-3 years old also had a cup. Branden and Noah and I had a talk before heading to Bangkok about this very topic but I think for them to see it with their own eyes. They just felt really bad. What I told the boys before heading to Bangkok was...."you know not everyone in the world is as fortunate as you. Not everyone is blessed with their own private bedrooms, live in a big house, with nice yard and a good set of parents. And get to do things you get to do. Now as long as you always appreciate what you have, respect that. And never ever ever take it for granted......" You couldn't help to who you were born to anymore then those kids. Do you understand what I'm saying?" I did say it gently but they understood totally. So anyway.... yeah we had a little talk beforehand but I think them seeing it with their own eyes first hand. Made them appreciate us and their life a little more probably. Not that they have ever been ungrateful beforehand but you know what I mean, I hope. : )  And yes, I had to throw in some money in the kids cups. I may be naive but I just slept better knowing I at least tried. : (
Shopping at Pratunam. They had so many stalls. Polo tops of course. Character backpacks. Bags/purses. I don't mind buying a knock off polo top for the boys because it's just a top and kids in general grow so quickly. Or a pair of sunglasses for myself because sunglasses get lost a lot so it's practical. but for me, However....I prefer real bags/purses. I don't get to buy them all too often but when I do, I want a real one. No judgements if you all don't mind a knock off bag at all. It's just my personal choice though.  So, I didn't buy any fake bags or even look. I did however look for sunglasses. They had.... Chloe, Prada, Gucci, Chanel, Ray Ban for 100 baht about 250 yen a pair! What a steal. I bought 2 pair and next time I go back I'll buy a few extra pairs.  My real Gucci pair I bought before we became parents were about $200 US. So yeah 250 yen a pair umm yes please! : )
We ate so much fresh fruit. We had about 4 bags of fresh pineapple each day. And a bag or two of watermelon daily also. The fresh fruit bags were 20 baht, 50 yen a bag for the freshest sweetest fruit you ever tasted!
What a full first day. We went to breakfast. Mc D's. We hit the MBK, we hit Pratunam shopping area. We feasted on fresh fruit and cart stall food for lunch. The boys and I had chicken on a stick/satay and Noboru had crab fried rice for his lunch and we all had fresh fruit after our chicken satay and his crab fried rice. We calculated we walked about 5 full hours that day no joke! This pic was taken near our hotel. This grocery store was called Big C. Look at the traffic below. Wow. We walked the foot ped paths on top. We walked to Big C then walked forward for about 3 minutes later turned left and our hotel was right there.
Huge mall at the right and across the street is the grocery store. So this was all right near our hotel also. Also you can walk to Pratanum from our hotel also. Not too far of a walk. And see the street stalls below. We now went to the hotel and decided to eat at the Holiday Inn hotel buffet (called Cafe G) for supper that evening.  So Mc D's for breakfast, stall food and fresh fruit for lunch. And then buffet at the Holiday Inn for dinner our first real night in Bangkok. But technically 2nd night sleeping there.
They had a huge roasted ham. Noah loves ham and here is Branden trimming the fat off for Noah and slicing up his meat. I asked Noah do you want me to cut it for you? Branden said, "I like to help him" They are really close. They had curry, Thai curry. A pasta station they make the sauce for you and you can choose from 4 different pastas. I had pasta with a fresh tomato and garlic sauce.
Fresh fruit again for like the 100th time. Not complaining because we love fresh fruit.
I had salad and dinner rolls and finished off with fresh made ice cream mochacino, Noboru had coconut ice cream, which then I had to get a tiny scoop afterwards, both Branden and Noah had 2 scoops of coconut ice cream each, it was just so fresh and delicious.  After dinner, The boys got showered and into their beds and I heard them watching Hop until they fell asleep. Noboru and I watched Vampires Suck. It was a long day and a fun day. I logged a ton of fitness minutes for this trip with all the walking I did. : )
The next morning we wanted to have breakfast on the street. Fried chicken breasts. And rice with spicy sauce for the chicken.
The boys ready to try!
Don't ask me how we could breakfast Branden, Noah and I for about 200 yen for breakfast but we were stuffed. It included rice also.
This was so good.
Noboru had been dying to have this, he had been watching the youtube videos of this restaurant with the waitresses with the pink shirts. The menu said for over 50 years! Noboru ordered a #4 and it was only 30 baht. Chicken breast meat over white rice. And came with a soup, Noboru has been raving about this soup ever since, he loved this soup.
Our family of 4 ate so cheaply. Our meal at the stall along the road and Noboru eating this.
The famous pink shirts! Noboru loved this restaurant so much.
We walked around this wholesale type place. See all the shorts on the left. You wouldn't believe the prices.
We now were going to head to the museum. Noboru had really wanted to see this particular museum. Think more along the lines of like "Ripley's Believe it or Not" type museum. It is technically a forensics museum and on the grounds of a hospital but a lot of Japanese tourists were here as well as foreign tourists, so lots of people liked this place and we did too. But before hopping the train and then boat we had a nice cold drink. Lime refreshers from Starbucks, before our journey to get to the forensics museum.
About to catch the train.
About to take a boat ride. 
Branden and Noah in conversation talking a mile a minute about something.
Branden and Noah learn so much about the world, the more they travel. They see and get the chance to interact with folks from all over the world and I think that's pretty important. To be respectful of every one's culture and beliefs. A smile works even across language barriers. : )
Two houses.
Noah enjoying the boat ride!
There were many points of interest and the lady would mention each one as we were approaching and tell us what to look for.
This was pretty cool!
We got off the boat and made our way to the museum. No pictures are allowed in the museum so no pics from that. Sorry. We enjoyed this museum a lot we were in there for about an hour maybe a bit over an hour. And then before we caught the boat back we decided to cool off with some ice cream.
Swensen's icecream is all over Bangkok. It's delicious and very affordable. Down right cheap in price honestly. Noboru couldn't believe the price we paid for all four of our ice creams. Branden had a hot fudge sundae. With cherry on top and everything. Noboru had a strawberry sundae.
Noah loves chocolate so he wanted just a simple scoop of chocolate with sprinkles.
Noboru's sundae. And he was using my ipod touch and using my money converter ap and that's when he said wow I can't believe how cheap our ice creams are. LOL.
Noboru said, someone get a waffle or crepe. I honestly wanted a sundae also. But I was talked into getting this, it was absolutely delicious. But, they had to help me eat it, it was just too big, banana caramel crepe chocolate covered cherry (to die for!!!!)
If you are American you might already know this ice cream shop but yeah they are all over Bangkok. There's one of these right in the Big C shopping complex right near our hotel also.
Yumm so filled with ice cream. Now we are at the boat pick up right now. See the flags, we were looking for a yellow or orange flag.
Nope not this one, close....but no cigar! : )
This particular boat the locals rode. We wanted to ride the one the locals did, but they kept pointing us towards the tourist boat. @_@ Which is why we rode that one but it was only like 10 baht different so not too much of a difference and plus we had nice sit down seats so that's why we stayed with the tourist boat. I think you can see the school uniforms. We saw many school kids in uniform. That was really cute.
Side view of a local boat.
More houses.
The only advice I would say and I'm not really an advice giver. But don't sit at the first 5 rows of the boat. And the reason is because water from the river sprayed them all in the kisser (face) and the water is seriously really dirty. Like you could see trash and trash bags under folks houses and businesses and it was just floating in the water. Like if water got in your mouth you could wind up seriously sick. So, I had us sit at like row 8 or 10 so the water (sorry to say) sprayed all the folks at the front of the boat and we weren't sprayed by water at all. Anyway that would be my only tidbit of info I would like to pass along.
Another gorgeous place of interest! The boat was excellent because we got to see lots of touristy places and plus riding the boat was fun for the boys and plus our feet got a rest.
Walking the halls of our hotel. We got off the boats and then took the train and in no time at all we were back in our neck of the woods, meaning our hotel and we all went and freshened up before heading right back out again.  We stayed very active this trip we wanted to see as much as we could during our stay.
Walking through the hotel area again.
We went to Siam Paragon mall that night. This is probably the most shockingly great food court ever in our lives! The biggest food court you can even imagine or contemplate. If you think BKK airport is huge...you'll think this food court is gigantic...you can't even see the entire thing with one look! It's just *that* seriously big!  And the selection something for everyone!!! Everything a Japanese husband would want and everything an American mommy would want. Anyone and everyone could find something they surely loved from this particular food court. 
Krispy Kreme.
Double click this one. Subway, another Auntie Anne's Haagen Daz.
I mean this mall had everything. And though this obviously isn't food....but I mean who doesn't love Crabtree and Evelyn.
Noboru said....Mos Burger. : ) Ha ha ha.  And then we saw Coco Ichi curry. Noboru sounded even happier he said...curry!
We ate local food stall stuff for breakfast and for lunch our second day we had food court the last night for supper. That way everyone gets what they want. Noah picked mashed potatoes and gravy and chicken strips. Noboru told me, I can't believe how cheap Noah's meal was! He used my converter ap after paying yet again. Ha ha ha.
Branden had an Italian BMT and then a pretzel from Auntie Anne's afterwards.
I had a foot long veggie and cheese sandwich no chips no fries. Nothing but a veggie and cheese sandwich. And I had a large lemonade and the boys shared a large lemonade thanks to Auntie Anne's.
Noboru wanted to eat Thai food again. We all had Thai food for breakfast and also lunch. But the boys and I had western for dinner and Noboru had Thai food for supper also. And I think that's awesome. We also fresh fruited it all day long also.
We then decided to walk home via the ped paths since it had begin to rain and the trains were packed even though we had those day passes plus we were so close to this mall from the Holiday Inn the walk was just 1 train station away. On the way home Noboru wanted to check the mall across the street from Big C. I said sure. So we walked in and had a look. Uniqlo. Yep this pic was NOT taken in Japan but in Bangkok.
Dorothy Perkins anyone? I think a British person living in Bangkok would not have too much trouble adjusting living in Bangkok they have many things available. There's a famous bra shop that's there also from the UK, the name escapes me now but they have it in Bangkok. They also have a ton of things that would/could make Americans also quite comfortable and there are enough Japanese restaurants, Japanese fast foods and grocery stores for anyone from Japan to also feel completely comfortable. And I must say, English works everywhere. Granted we didn't head to the inaka/countryside. But it amazed us what fantastic English skills they have. They're also not all shy or embarrassed to try to speak English at all which was a great relief and fun while out and about during our stay we could chat, meet people and all that. The folks from Thailand are also so warm so nice and friendly. I tried to speak Thai via an ap on my ipod touch. But they would just speak to me in English. : ) So I did try. Noboru told me wow...they speak English way more in Bangkok then in Japan. I had to agree.  The impression we left with about Bangkok Thailand. All very positive. While there are some very rich and also some very poor. For the most part, Bangkok is a very modern city. They have a strong western influence in some aspects but they also have their own beautiful and amazing culture, one they respect as we noticed with their deep respect of the shrines and things. It just might surprise you how many American restaurants and things available that there are. Very warm people. The local food and fruit is delicious. We just left with a huge massive respect for this amazing country. Would we ever want to come back to Bangkok Thailand? Absolutely!!! Can't wait!
At 2 am the front desk called us giving us our wake up call. The car would be picking us up and taking us to the airport at 3am. I went in the bathroom brushed my teeth washed my face. Put on some mac concealer and some mac studio fix powder foundation. That's it, it was way too early for anything more then that. I brushed my hair. Put on my black fitted top with  3/4 sleeves boat neck. Army green/olive green shorts from Gap and black ballet shoes. Went and woke up the boys. They didn't want to wake up at first....I got that....I didn't want to wake up either. : ) They woke up though brushed their teeth washed their faces and got dressed. We were leaving our room before we knew it and to the lobby we went, the car was already there waiting for us.  This picture...these windows are at the airport...it says...."Long Live the King"...we heard the Queen is/was ill and in the hospital during our stay? I sincerely hope she recovers soon.
The blue lights....when we first arrived Bangkok as we left the airport we saw the airport had beautiful blue lights. And as we were leaving and heading back to the airport we again saw the beautiful blue lights from far away in the distance. The beautiful blue illuminating BKK airport is what I'll also remember.
There were about 5 different security checks when you leave Bangkok. I have never been through so many security checks in 1 fell swoop for just 1 flight... in my life. After we left the check in counter, we went through a TSA type screening. Nothing out of the norm. And then we went downstairs and they looked over our passports again even though they did at check in. And then we walked to our gate. However before getting to our gate  there was even a pre-gate area where we had to show our passport yet again and our boarding pass and they went through every ones purse and cary-on's, they went through my Prada messenger bag, carry-on, they did this to every single person. I think they were super nice to me though and it didn't last but a minute. But still.... wow. And then we went downstairs but before we could sit down near the gate we had to show our boarding passes all over again and give her our Delta sticker everyone had to wear on their bodies. if you double click this pic you will see a Delta sticker on Branden and also Noah. Everyone had to wear one. And they were then taken off before you headed into the final security check. I can't even recall how many checks we had. But this is where a sense of humor is a positive. We understood the reasons for it. And we just obliged. Our airplane back to Narita left Bangkok at 6am. we had omelets and potatoes, grilled ham (which Noah loved) yogurt, fresh fruit and breakfast pastries coffee and juice on our flight and a sliced chicken sandwich on panini before we landed in Narita. We watched a ton of movies. I personally watched the Hunger Games! Loved this so much, I can see why it was all the talk after the book and when the movie first came out. I liked this movie so much I'd like to own the dvd actually. Lovedlovedloved the Hunger Games! I also watched A Thousand Words with Eddie Murphy, I found myself laughing a few times. This Mean War with Reese Witherspoon. I  also watched 2 episodes of Dexter, yay! : )  Also watched the Five Year Engagement with Jason Segel (love him.... he's so freaking hilarious especially in the movie "I Love You Man" and I also like him in "How I Met Your Mother") these are the ones I watched to Bangkok and back to Japan. They're not in any particular order... just the ones I watched. I think I'm actually leaving a movie out, if it comes to me later I'll come back and add it here.
What did we bring back? Not a whole lot. It was our first time to Bangkok and so we didn't bring any huge empty suitcases or anything. We just had 2 empty carry ons and that was plenty enough room for what we bought actually. We brought back coconut flavored coated peanuts these were delicious. We bought them at Big C supermarket and they were like 50 yen for both.
 
These are my meds for my skin/face from the US. Retin-A, I started using this in uni, don't have zits or anything. But when my derm told me I had rosacea. this is something people with very fair skin often have. I flush/get red cheeks very easily also. But anyway my derm told me to use Retin-A every other night the nights when I'm not using the Metro-gel (I alternate these 2 creams/gels basically, 1 one night the other the next night and so on). My derm said these would give me smooth even texture skin. And she was right, these 2 have kept my skin clear, even textured. And get this.... now days they say Retin-A keeps wrinkles at bay and it must because I have zero. So I continue to use these because my derm rec's these for me and my skin. However living in Japan I don't have US insurance anymore since we live here and can't get these on the cheap. However I heard in Bangkok you can gets meds like this over the counter with no prescription and for super cheap. And they were right!
Metrogel is the name brand name but metronidazole is the generic name. Made by Galderma.
They had the generic of this also made by Galderma! And you know me, I really don't mind generic brands at all especially since it's still made by Galderma and it saves us money! I think we paid like 300 yen a tube for this, I'd have to recheck my receipt and converter. It was super cheap. Same strength and everything. Bought this right across the street from our hotel at Boots. The Bangkok forum I read said, know the name brand name and also know the generic name before coming to Thailand that way you have an alternative and I was sure glad I also brought my tubes of what I had with me also because it helped! I just brought out my meds in the ziplock and said, "do you happen to have this?" and she checked and sure enough they did!
Indication, for the treatment of rosacea.
The Trip Advisor travel forum advised to check expiration dates and I did.
Also important to note every Boots was sold out of retin A, so many folks must be stocking up on this. However there are pharmacy's everywhere! Not to worry I actually stopped in a drugstore/pharmacy near the museum and they had it! They were smaller tubes 10grams. But the price was 120 baht each tube. Considering a tube of the normal sized of this without insurance in the US can cost $100 US. This was a steal.  And no I wasn't going to risk not buying the smaller tubes just to look for a big tube. Small tubes were absolutely fine.
The regular tube is 45 grams. We bought 10 tubes so actually got more then 2 normal tubes would have been. 100 grams of retin-a. Again a cost saver for us.
The chance to buy meds you may not otherwise be able to get your hands on. This was amazing! And honestly I'd go back to Bangkok just for the meds alone. : )
If I ever get a UTI or bladder infection....and it's Obon or New years and the doctor's/clinics are all closed. At least I'd have these. 10 tablets and after checking online for days! 5 days is what they usually give you so the 10 days is like having 2 UTI's without worry. And no I only get 1 once a year or so or 1 every 18 months. But at least this way....I won't have to worry. And I do have a good doctor in Japan. but this just is peace of mind knowing I have these. They also had Bactrim widely available in Bangkok at Boots etc, which is what most Americans gets prescribed for UTI's but...I am allergic to sulfa's. So I can't take that which is why I have to take one of the cillins. And this one is more resistant to your body getting used to it which is why this is a hybrid...Augmentin.....amoxycillin and another med mixed in.  So anyone allergic to sulfa's usually gets this med instead. Again wow...peace of mind knowing this stuff is available over there.  And GSK a very reputable company.
Coin purses pretty bright colors on this side and black on the other side, I liked these and will give these to friends.
I checked these shirts..checked the labels...checked the hems....
They were dead on perfect fakes. Again quality varies big time...check a few places before buying.
Noboru's coworker nicely trying to be helpful to us, warned Noboru he said the quality was bad on the polo he bought and his fake polo fell apart in the wash. @_@ perhaps he bought a crappy quality one is all we can figure. Because I was super picky when deciding where to buy inside the MBK. Also we did appreciate him trying to help because his words made me force myself to look closer and check for things I might not without his help/info. We bought Branden 1. We wanted to buy Branden 2, but they didn't have the color we were looking for in his size. However we didn't want to buy a ton in case they did fall apart. And wow the price....150 baht each again a steal if you've ever bought a real one. A real steal that price.
Noah's tops. Again, I wished to have bought them 5 each and we frankly could have with those deals. But again the warning of bad quality really stopped us. So 2 for Noah since they had his size in both colors. So both Branden and Noah got navy with red pony and Noah got yellow. I have since washed them and the boys wore them to school and I don't think they are bad quality at all and they haven't fallen apart at all either. I actually washed a real one (just coincidence) and these fakes ones side by side and I looked at the material in the sun...thinking...is this one thinner in material? No! The quality of the polos we bought were top quality and they are no different or less quality then the real ones. So what did I learn. Next time...we'll buy more of these! So maybe this is just a YMMV type of thing. Depends where you buy it...but again look it over, check it out. And haggle that price down! We did.
A short story. A French family was right next to me buying fake sunglasses also. They bought Chanel and other brands the wife did, the husband bought about 3 pair of Ray Ban, they bought about 10 pair in total. They had kids with them also. : ) Anyway, we smiled at each other while I shopped for sunglasses and we did also. I bought 2 pair of oversized black framed sunglasses both Chanel. 100 baht each...about 250 yen each pair! What a freaking awesome deal! Yeah next time I'll be buying more of these for gifts and for myself to stock up on.
They are both oversized and so cute and the basic black color means they can go with anything.
Big C's on one pair and little C's on the other pair. And the price...if they get lost I won't freak out so much! They had this amazing pair of Chloe ones that I am kicking myself for not buying! But I was trying to be conservative and thought 2 was enough yadayada. Oh well, live and learn.... Next time...5 pair at least. : ) Anyway that's our family's first trip to Bangkok, Thailand in a nutshell.