With two bags in tow once again, it was off to our apartment in Bangkok. And by now we had the system down pat: we had directions to the apartment, a phone number and SIM card to call, if necessary, as well as the downloaded map so we could follow the route the driver took – just in case. I had booked this apartment on airbnb as well. I never say much to the rest of the family about what our accommodations might look like because we have learned that it’s best not to have our expectations too high! Our hope is always that the place is clean & safe. Anything beyond that is icing on the cake! This apartment was supposed to have a pool, which we had found to be a huge help in the extreme heat and humidity of Thailand.
As we drove to the apartment, Caleb would point to a few run-down, grotty looking places, and say, “I’m hoping ours is just a little nicer than that, but we’ve managed in places like that before.” I was quite pleased that both boys were beginning to appreciate the privilege of staying in “nicer” places. We have had our share of pretty run-down spots, although I have to say that so far we have managed to fulfill the “safe” qualification for each of them. We have never felt that we were in an unsafe area. We always lock up one of our bags with any valuables, whenever we leave the room, but only has a precaution.
Our taxi started to make its way down a narrow street with several food stalls set up down each side. “We must be getting close,” said Connor. We passed a couple of very nice apartment complexes. “I don’t think we’ll be staying in one of those!” remarked Caleb. “They look really nice!” And then we pulled in……Here we were at our building and it was beautiful. There was a gate with a friendly security guard, a glassed-in foyer at the front of the building, a quiet reading area when you entered, a roof top pool, and we were greeted by a friendly Romanian woman who took us up to our apartment and explained everything we needed to know about the local area.
The apartment was very tiny – but we’re used to tiny! There was a bed, a pullout couch at the end of it, and a very small kitchenette area. It was spotlessly clean and we had the most amazing view of the roof top pool from our window. The boys were thrilled and so was I. Another airbnb winner!!
Our apartment had only been available for 4 nights so I had booked it for that. From the reading I had done a lot of people suggested not staying very long in Bangkok because it was such a busy, crowded city and time was better spent elsewhere. I’m not sure if it was because we had already spent a fair amount of time in extremely crowded places in China, or if it was because we were in such a central location, or maybe just because it was such a change from the places we’d recently visited, but we really enjoyed Bangkok. The people were so friendly, the public transit was easy to navigate, and you could escape the heat in a variety of air conditioned buildings. While there, people kept suggesting we visit the “Old Town” but we used our 4 days just to do some fun things with the boys. It was less about learning about the history of Bangkok and more about doing some neat things that we couldn’t do at home.
After checking out the local markets, figuring out the subway system, and getting a few groceries, we walked to the Bangkok Snake Farm at the Red Cross Institute, beside the hospital. I was interested in visiting this, since they showed you how snake venom is extracted for the use of anti-venom serum. The anti-venom serum is used in hospitals across Thailand. At the snake farm there is an area where you can see many of Thailand’s different venomous and non venomous snakes and there is also a theatre where they do a demonstration of venom extraction. It was very interesting, although somewhat difficult to understand. Fortunately the man spoke both Thai and English, however, he spoke so quickly and with such a strong accent that it was a real challenge to decipher him! There was also an exhibit hall which had been designed to educate the public about snakes. I thought it was extremely well done. We watched a couple of videos about the kinds of snakes, learned what happens if the venom gets into your system (not for the faint of heart!), the anatomy of a snake, snake reproduction, and so much more. A very educational stop. Highly recommend.