Our last few days in Bangkok were bittersweet. Over our two week stay, my heart was once again enamoured by Thailand’s culture and diversity. The ferry back from Koh Samui towards two final days in Bangkok was heart-wrenching enough.
As the video suggests, we spent a decent amount of time binging on food and fashion before saying our final goodbyes. We hit up Siam Square, MBK, Siam Paragon (with a special stop for some of the best superfood wraps on the planet at Tossed), Platinum (with a special stop at their spicy-ass food courts), Pratunam, the Thai Food Festival, a bevy of neighbourhood walks around Sala Daeng, and a final stop for kawaii-style nail art at a local street stall.
A booking with GrabTaxi later and it was off to Suvarnabhumi to await the inception of post-holiday stress syndrome.
I have trouble being a ‘typical holidaygoer’. I find it very hard to ‘chill out’, as they say. While many people will rip through hazy romance novels in sun liungers, I read a book while jogging around the shallow end of a pool (I have the wet books to prove it). While even more people can casually wander in and out of the ocean between naps, I have to frolic in the sand with a camera in hand (I’ve done the blogs to prove it).
That is my issue. I cannot wholly ‘relax’ without something to keep my brain and body active.
Knowing the impossible would be expected of me on a remote beach holiday, I balanced the unfamiliar chil out by booking The Manfriend and I an adventure tour on our final day.
If there was one thing I was excited to bring my Canon* along for, this was it.
The Adventure Tour
Starting at the crack of dawn, we were welcomed into the day with a bit of an elephant mingle (where my poor Manfriend was volunteered by someone – ahem – to receive a sexy elephant massage). We then carried on to marvel at the insane intelligence of a few friendly weightlifting acrobat monkeys before heading a short walk away to watch a Thai boxing match.
For a break, our guide – Bo – took us to his outdoor kitchen to teach us how to make traditional som tam (papaya salad); praise the foodie heavens. It might be the best Thai dish there is (can anyone else smell a recipe blog?).
Before heading out of the area, we went for a short elephant ride with our lady elephant’s carer – a very sweet older man who made us jewellery from bamboo leaves and helped us feed the little (‘little’) lady from our bag of bananas.
As midday crept towards us, we jumped in a 4×4 and headed off for Na Muang waterfall. Avoiding the tourist traps and easier, paid routes, we took to the rocky descent like Mr and Mrs Tomb Raider, trekking to the cool waterfall like islanders. Then realising we were absolutely starving.
Hopping not into the 4×4 but now on top of the 4×4, we were hurdled towards the top of a jungled mountain (Pom Mountain) – stopping only for coconuts and congee – before safely placing our feet back on the ground above the Secret Buddha Garden.
The Garden – also known as Magic Garden – is a private Buddhist shrine and a magical combination of art, faith and nature.
Last stop? Koh Tan. Heading back towards Taling Ngam (where our hotel was situated), we stopped off at a nearby beach to board a long tail boat and zip over the the equally barren and beautiful island for a spot of snorkelling.
Major Ariel vibes. A Disney perfect day, altogether.
Watch it all in its full travel vlog glory, above!
It all started – in their gorgeous and expansive lobby – with the incredibly kind staff (the concierge assisted us in every aspect of our upcoming VIP bus bookings to Koh Samui, meaning all we had to worry about was exchanging baht for tickets).
Then, with the room. Though The Manfriend and I were booked in the most affordable room choice – The ‘Vista’ – the quality didn’t wane for a second. The large, contemporary, and Thai-influenced Vista had bottles of water tucked in every corner (a Thai essential), a King-sized bed of clouds, a decadent marble bathroom with an oversized tub and separate rain shower, a large closet (with all the amenities), a work-space, and a sofa that backed on to floor-to-ceiling windows which overlooked the city.
If we hadn’t already made dinner plans, I would have holed myself away for a good 24 hours.
After a fun night across the city – through Patpong and home again – we awoke to a doorbell ring the following morning. Ahhhh…food!
Donning robes and happy yawns, we opened the door to our cheerful breakfast delivery man and the feast he carted towards us. Between us, we managed to fill the entire tablecloth (and the heated drawer below it) with bacon, scrambled egg, hash browns, little strips of French toast, salmon, more eggs, cinnamon rolls, sausage, charcuterie, cheese, fresh fruit, coffee, juice, sparkling wine, and…I think that’s it?
We made it last through lunch.
I did order room service under the impression it was part and parcel of our ‘free breakfast’ (it wasn’t) but c’est la vie – it was absolutely worth a few extra pounds.
With a few hours to kill between checking out and setting off for Koh Samui, the hotel kindly guarded our bags and let us enjoy the gym, spa, and showers until we were ready to leave. I couldn’t have hoped for an easier or more hospitable hotel experience.
(There is quite a bit of Le Meridien featured in my first Bangkok vlog, so be sure to click the play button at the bottom of this post if you have yet to do so!)
First? A quick catch-up for the noobs: having lived in Thailand during 2011, I have spent almost four years itching to return. The itch was forcibly scratched a few short months ago on a flight binge to accomodate two weeks in Bangkok and Koh Samui.
Now, back to Bangkok.
After a day or so of travelling and enjoying the greatest pictures of the Fifties aboard Qatar Airways, The Manfriend and I arrived at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport with time to kill before check in.
No place seemed as fitting an introduction as Siam.
Siam – in its simplest description – is the shopping centre of Bangkok. Everything is conveniently connected to the BTS (Bangkok’s overground Subway/Underground system) and serves up a wide range of wanton goodies – from high fashion to market stalls.
A Quick Shopping Guide to Siam
– MBK: Eight floors and over 2,000 shops with its fair share of food options. A one-stop-shop for mobile phones, handbags, luggage, electronics, fashion, and more.
– Siam Square: The partially-enclosed outdoor market between the BTS and MBK. The stalls on the outer edge tend to overcharge for tourists, but great deals can be bartered on the inside. Especially for petite women.
– Siam Paragon: A mecca of luxury. From Ferraris, to Chanel, to Samsung; Paragon is a hub for the discerning shopper. They even have a digitally-run Fitness First (displaying trainer choices on LCD screens) and a basement floor full of the best national and international foods.
After a celebratory dish of tom yum goong and a sleepy shoparound, we capped our afternoon off at Paragon’s Gourmet Market for some breakfast nibbles before crashing out in our Airbnb.
But more on that later…
* All photos taken with the Canon Powershot SX60, especially for this trip! Review coming very soon.
The Summer of 2011 marked the end of an eight month stint living in Thailand for The Manfriend and I. Our decision to move there stemmed from a frustrating day of flat hunting in Chelsea, and – in retrospect – I couldn’t be happier that I was so…deliriously…frustrated.
I love Thailand. I am itching to leave the familiarity of these London streets behind once again to dive into the wild and charming culture of Bangkok and beyond. I am having a barbaric Asian love affair via memories.
Time for blog therapy! Though I wrote my book and continued to build my business while living in Bangkok, I certainly didn’t take advantage of LelaLondon.com to document my Southeast Asian adventures. Click below for eights months of life highlights in photography. View Post