The bus thankfully arrived without incident at Khao San Road by 530 AM. Anyone who has been to Bangkok before probably knows that this is the backpackers district, perfect for traversing the Chao Phraya River just a few minutes walk from it. Unfortunately, it’s also a part of the city that is not connected to the BTS/MRT system of trains. Since my hostel was in Lumphini (Etzzz Hostel), I had to find my way to that area either through bus or ferry. I was informed by a 7/11 staff that the ferry service would only begin at 7 AM (which I later found out was incorrect) but he suggested that I take a bus (53) to Hua Lamphong Station. This is the main railway station in Bangkok and it also connects with the MRT.
So I waited for Bus 53, which passed by eventually. This was the first time I tried riding the bus here in Bangkok and I was not familiar with their system. As I entered the bus, I noticed that there was no conductor present to collect the payment. Not knowing when and how much to pay, I waited for other passengers to act so I could copy them. None of them paid and the driver didn’t seem to mind. Awesome! Free bus! So I buzzed when I was near my stop and got off. I asked my cousin who had lived in Bangkok for several years if the bus system was really free and he said it wasn’t. Great! I just committed estafa!
I wanted to take a break from seeing temples for the day so I went and indulged in a modern convenience: watching movies. Before that I wanted to see the Grand Palace since I had never been there on my previous visits to Bangkok (some 8 or 9 years ago). So off I went on the Chao Phraya Express Ferry (40 THB trip, doesn’t matter where you go down; 150 THB for a whole day pass) to enjoy the river cruise towards Tha Chang Pier where the entrance to the Grand Palace is closest. It was there that I realized I did not have enough THB in my budget for the entrance fee (500 THB). Oh well, it gives me another reason to come back. I had some lunch in the nearby market and went back to Central Pier (Sathorn/Taksin Pier), which is nearest the BTS line.
I visited some old haunts, Siam Paragon (Siam BTS) and MBK Center (National Stadium BTS) and enjoyed the nostalgic feeling of going around the familiar environment. The former is great for movies, if a bit expensive. It caters more towards the high end brands unlike MBK, which is similar to Greenhills V-Mall back home. Great place to buy cheap clothes, gadgets, souvenirs, etc. I spent the rest of the day here, watched Gravity (awesome movie BTW) and did some window shopping. Tomorrow I go back to Singapore!