Saturday, December 17, 2022

Back in Bangkok

Bangkok, or as it’s known officially in Thai, Krung Theo Mahab Nakhon, is the capital of Thailand and by far its largest city, with an estimated population of 10 1/2 million people.

We’ve almost lost track of the number of times we’ve visited, and we never tire of the views of the Chao Phraya River from the Millennium Hilton, especially outside on the rooftop Executive Lounge.

We planned this to be a low key visit, having had only three days at home from a previous trip that included a few days in Italy followed by a 23-day cruise that ended in Miami. So it has been.

We enjoyed our breakfasts in the Hilton’s ground floor Flow Restaurant. Soup ranks highly among Kathy’s Asian breakfast choices.

Soup is her favorite, despite the wide range of well-prepared dishes, and she habitually returns for seconds.

We ate dinner twice at Be My Guest, the cheap and tasty little restaurant just steps away from the Hilton on its own riverfront property.

We took the Hilton boat across the river one morning, sailing by the huge new IconSiam Mall

We found ourselves a boat but hadn’t gone far when something literally came back to bite Kathy.

That innocuous looking little red pepper, served as part of an amuse bouche for Hilton Diamond members, was the spiciest food she has tasted in years. She admits her mistake was not spitting it out immediately.

It was time to push the panic button, although not the one we’d spied just previously at the Hilton dock.

It was back to the hotel and our stash of Tums. Her stomach gradually recovered as the day progressed.

The next day we walked over to IconSiam to complete some last-minute Christmas shopping for grandchildren. Shh…

We were also taken by the photo of this restaurant chef, not just any chef but the “Head Chef Chicken Rice Deoartment.”

Now that’s a job title!

All too soon, it was time to check out of the Hilton and check in at the Conrad Bangkok, which is located in an important area near the American Embassy, among others.

The Friday afternoon seven-kilometer taxi ride took nearly an hour and a half. We took pity on the friendly young driver (and conversed a bit using the translator apps on our phones) and paid him substantially more than the 300 Baht (about $8.50) he’d quoted for the trip.

We eventually reached the Conrad and checked in, finding ourselves in a nicely appointed Executive room on the 27th floor, two floors below the Executive Lounge.

Fortunately, we can lower a bathroom curtain .

The elegant Executive Lounge offered more elaborate and varied appetizers than those offered at the Hilton, including duck rolled up in Peking-style pancakes.

We’d walked through the adjacent mall earlier, and almost against our better judgment went for a pizza atvan Italian restaurant mentioned in the Michelin Guide. Not bad and a change for a reasonable price…

This morning we were awakened by a phone call call from our younger daughter, first saying “Riley’s okay,” before telling us our precious youngest granddaughter had been hit by a pickup truck while in a crosswalk with the WALK signal on near her high school.

As the next couple of hours went by, we were tremendously happy to learn she was basically okay, although she may require surgery for a broken bone in her wrist. We were able to talk briefly to her and her mother after they returned home. Yes, the hospital found it unnecessary to keep her overnight  for observation, a tremendous relief to two anxious grandparents.

The rest of the day has been anti-climactic, but not unpleasantly so.The breakfast buffet at the Conrad was an overcrowded zoo, and frankly inferior to the Hilton’s Flow. Tomorrow we eat in the lounge, where we retreated for a Cappuccino while our room was being cleaned. 

Speaking of the lounge, there we spotted this dude in his jammies, or perhaps he’d describe it as lounge wear.

When people say “It takes all kinds,” sometimes we ask ourselves “But why?”

A little later we walked the half mile or so down Wireless Avenue past the American and Czech embassies to the large Lumphini Park.

There was some sort of major event occurring, featuring displays by companies and governments agencies like the post office, but nothing to entice us in the 89 degree F (31.7 C) heat.

We sat down on a bench to relax, when Kathy spied what she first thought was an alligator.

No, it proved to be a darned big Monitor Lizard.

Lumphini Park is known for them.

After that bit of wildlife spotting, we trudged back to the Conrad and rewarded ourselves with a couple of mocha Frappuccinos at the Starbucks in the adjacent mall.

While the Conrad is a fine hotel with more bells and whistles  than the Millennium Hilton, the latter remains our sentimental favorite. They are both excellent properties with friendly and helpful employees.

In perspective, the highlight of our trip is learning that our granddaughter is okay and already back home after the accident. We’re hoping she can make next week’s planned pre-Christmas family gathering at our house. That would be an extra special occasion.


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