29 March 2010
One of the many reasons why I wanted to go back to Bangkok is to set my foot once more in Lab d Bangkok Hostel in Silom Road. Yep, you got me right here, I wanted to go back in order to sleep in a hostel.
I have been here previously during a short backpacking trip with college buddies back in 2008 and I must say that I was really very impressed with our accommodation even if we were book then in the dormitory. Back then it was fairly new and as was expected of all new establishments, it was all neat and clean. When I stepped back inside this hostel (more than 2 years after the first visit), I was very amazed that it still looks very much as clean and neat as how I remembered it.
This relatively new hostel is supposedly designed by one of the most regarded designers in Thailand. Amongst the accommodations to choose from are eight-bed mixed dormitories, a ladies-only dormitory, and a private dormitory for 1-2 people (this means no attached bathroom). It would be good to note that the bathrooms are very clean (I reckon it is cleaned several times a day) and has separate ones for male and female. Of course apart from the dormitories, there are the normal double rooms with attached toilet; these are located in the 4th floor. Unfortunately there are no elevators going up, I suppose they did this purposely for guest to burn off calories coming in from the delicious food all over the city.
The lobby of this hostel is a great place to simply hang out and meet new friends. If you are not the sociable kind, there are several computers in the lobby for you to connect with friends back home and rave about the grasshopper you just ate at the end of Khao San Road. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that they have high speed internet access even in the rooms; when I say high speed, I mean high speed – enough for me to download a copy of The Beach overnight.
A library is also available at the lobby which contained several guidebooks for the countries in the Southeast Asian region as well as some reference on Thailand. The in-house travel agent is available if in case DIY tour is not your cup of tea. I have to commend the people manning the travel agents and the front desk as they are very helpful in all my questions regarding directions.
Location wise, I would say it is good since it is located in the quiet part of the city – Decho Road to be exact, just off Silom Road (which some people say it is the heart of Bangkok City). A 10-minute walk is all you need to be in the Chong Nonsee station of the BTS sky train, from there you will be connected to most of the major districts in Bangkok. Further down is the infamous Patpong area, home of the famous night market, the red light district and a whole bunch of kathoey.
Pricewise, I would have to be very honest though that it is a bit on the higher end of the scale for a budget traveler. The good thing though is that they have regular promotions every once in a while (like for us, we for buy 2 nights and get the 3rd night free), you just have to check regularly their website or HostelWorld for it.
One may wonder the meaning behind the name, I just learned that Lub D is a Thai word for “sleep well” – truly apt I should say, and that is one coming from a person who just slept most of the time for this particular Bangkok adventure. I heard from the manager, Piyawee, that they will be opening a new branch in Bangkok soon. Now this is something to look forward to and I hope it will already be open when I next visit the City of Angels.
21 March 2010
It was sometime during the latter part of last year that I finally got the chance to revisit Bangkok. My first time to be in that wonderful place was in 2008, that was the time when I went on a mini backpacking trip across Bangkok, Siem Reap and Vientianne with some college friends. Admittedly, our schedule (as well as budget) back then was a bit tight which was why I was really very keen on coming back even for just another short visit. An airline sale was all it took for me to revisit the City of Angels. This time, I would want it to be a more relaxed trip.
Just for a start, Bangkok is the capital of Thailand as well as its largest city. It has a population of more than 11 million people which is almost triple that of the Republic of Singapore. This place is certainly very well know around the world for being the mecca of backpackers (more on that later!) and its delicious food.
We left Singapore just before sunset taking a Jetstar flight that took just a little over 2 hours. Despite the fact that it was raining so hard when we landed in Bangkok, it was a fairly quiet flight and I just sat still on my seat for the whole time while reading a copy of the inflight magazine and Alex Garland’s The Beach.
Suvarnabhumi Airport is as stunning as how it was when I first visited. We passed by a lot of shops along the way since the docking bay for our flight was at the extreme end of the airport complex. It took more than five minutes of walking before reaching the immigration gate. As per previous experience, Bangkok immigration officials are not so quick in processing immigration formalities and true enough, it was still the same this time around.
Immediately after clearing Bangkok immigration, we headed to the nearest money changer inside the airport to get our SGDs converted to THBs. It is very important to know the current fx conversion so as to have an idea whether the exchange rates are favorable or not. I was correct in assuming that the rates were not good so I just exchanged enough THBs to cover the taxi fare going to the hostel.
In Bangkok (and maybe all over Thailand), one of the things I really don’t like is the language barrier. Most applicable especially on the taxi drivers, as they have a hard time in understanding or in speaking the English language. A good way of getting around this “Lost in Translation” scenario is to have the name and address of your destination printed out beforehand. Doing it this way should greatly reduce the chances of you being brought to another destination far from where you intent to go. Getting a taxi was not much of a problem, we just headed to the designated counter and paid the “booking fee” and immediately got ourselves a ride going to the city.
The ride going to Decho Road took more than 20 minutes, a very fast one that is since we were using the expressway. The taxi driver dopped us off at the lobby of Lub d Bangkok Hostel. This was also the same accommodation which I used back in 2008. We did a quick check-in (thanks to HostelWorld, we were able to book in advance and was able to avail of a stay 2 night and get the 3rd night free in their private double room) then immediately headed out to find something to eat as we were already starving at past ten in the everning. The initial plan to stay just within the Silom Road area for dinner did not materialize because we did not find any place interesting to eat. It was a weekday then, so I surmise the establishments around the area closed much earlier than their weekend schedule.
I hailed a cab and asked the driver to take up to a place with good food. No such luck as we were “Lost in Translation” – I then decided that we visit visit Khao San Road. There was no problem upon hearing the word Khao San Road, we got there in less than 15 minutes – the infamous traffic of Bangkok was practically none existent that night as it was quiet late already.
This short street in Central Bangkok is world famous and is considered as the gateway to Southeast Asia. It used to be a rice market; the past 20 years however saw it transformed to become a backpacker’s ghetto. Cheap accommodations, travel agencies, pubs, souvenir items, fake Lonely Planet books, cheap food – you name it and definitely you can see it in Khao San Road.
A Pad Thai Noodle stall in the street was too tempting for us and we each got ourselves one serving – at a ridiculously inexpensive price of just 25 Baht. It was prepared right before our very eye; preparation time was less than 2 minutes. Apart from being very cheap, it was simply the best Pad Thai Noodle that I have ever tasted. One thing that is really nice when you visit Bangkok is the plethora of affordable and delicious streetfood that can be found all over the city.
After finishing our food, we continued our stroll along Khao San Road. People from all walks of life were there; some were eating, some were drinking, and some were shopping. Yep, this is also a night market where you can get anything you want that can help you out in your travels – including fake identification cards.
An hour was enough for us to walk and feel the atmosphere of Khao San Road; not the cleanest place in Bangkok but definitely this place has its own charm which can keep you coming back for more. The reason perhaps is because I know for a fact that whenever I am in this area of the world, I am with kindred spirits – a lot of them!
We stopped by a 7-11 store to get some water and noodles (as breakfast is not included in our accommodation) before flagging a pink Toyota taxi that took us back to our hostel.