NOTE: Found this unpublished post created in 2010. So I took liberty to publish it now. Info were correct at that time.
April 23-25, 2010:
Nobody thought about travelling to Bangkok, Thailand, during this period as red-shirts making headlines across the country. Nevertheless I took all calculated risks, ignoring various travel advisories and instead resorted to tripadvisor website to get the latest happening on the ground, thanks to dragonc and his team for latest updates on security assessment in BKK. Also to Cassandra from associatedcontent.com who provided info on finding ways to the public taxi counter from arrival hall at busy Suvarnabhumi airport, ignoring all taxi touts. I almost got conned by an old taxi driver who initially refused to use meter and instead offered a flat rate of 500 baht from the airport to our hotel at Khosan area. I insisted and threatened to get off and finally he agreed. It turned out to be a correct decision. The actual fare on the meter was about 230baht and after an airport surcharge of 50baht and toll charges of 25baht (first toll plaza) and 45baht (second toll plaza), the total fare was only 35obaht. So I saved 150baht. A small feat indeed and whats the big fuss, you may ask. At least I knew all the tips shared by fellow travelers online worked.
Since this is not a business trip — in fact I was en route RGN from KUL, after a short holiday in Malaysia — we stayed at less-star hotel New World City in Khosan area. At the rate of 1400baht per night (at bookings.com) including a breakfast for two, it is really a value for money, despite the breakfast is very basic. They had egg station in the open verandah overlooking the khlong, where you can order omelette of your choice. The room is big and clean. This is a moslem hotel which means all food served at Sara Restaurant are halal — probably the only halal restaurant in town.
The hotel goes well with the moslem travelers — salah schedule and prayers mat are available upon request. An arrow indicating the qiblah direction is fixed at the the ceiling in my room. The staff at the front desk are friendly, one of them is a pretty moslem woman donned with head scarve, greeting me in typical greeting of assalamualaikum which means peace be upon you. I was informed there is a mosque nearby — Jakapong mosque — which I did not manage to find it.
For security reasons and with two active kids tagging along, the main objective of this trip is no longer shopping. Forget MBK, Siam Square, Prathunam or other places along Sukhumvit. We headed straight to Safari Park some one-hour drive to the north, on the early morning of the second day. It was a huge park where you can drive with your own car inside to see animals of the wild roaming in the confined spaces. Tigers and lions are separated from not- so-wild ones by automatic gates, so high, even higher than the chained-link fencing surronding the tennis court in my apartment in Yangon. Feeding time for tigers was interesting. An open truck with a big cage and a female park attendant inside, served as a feeding station. A herd of Bengala tigers surrounded the cage immediately, hungry, some from sides and some from the top. The chick in the cage passed cut chickens in pieces to each through the cage openings to the hungry beasts outside. Two jeeps stood by near the feeding station, just in case something untoward happened. Moving on, we saw giraffe from a distance. Actually you can feed the giraffe from a terrace inside the marine park, not from your vehicle. You are not allowed to get off anytime in the safari park or feed the animals.
Entrance fee for both the safari park and the marine park is 800 baht. The woman over the ticket counter also handed over a booklet containing park info, a schedule of the animal show, a map and a pack of snack. Additional fee of 30 baht per pax if you use a coach provided by the park to tour the park, of which we did that.