Today was a good day. We started by checking out of Lebua Hotel and into our new one: Dream Hotel. Much more our style - small, boutique vs. glitzy Ritz Carlton. Lebua was super nice, don't get me wrong...it was almost too nice. At breakfast this morning, the wait staff were filling up Andi's tea glass before he even got it to his mouth. There's something uncomfortable about being waited on too much. We started to wonder what it'd be like to go home in a few days and have to pour our own coffee ...
So, the Dream Hotel is nice. It's in another neighborhood but still in downtown Bangkok. Here's a few snapshots of our new place:
Outside Entrance (a spinning disco cube with spotlights - very clubby)
The main lobbyOur room
We didn't have anything planned today so we decided to lay by the pool for a while and then went to a movie. One of our favorite things to do when visiting a new city is to go where the locals go - grocery stores, movie theaters, etc. While we were in Phuket last week, we went to Tesco Lotus - the Thailand equivalent of Wal-Mart. It was super interesting to see the way items are merchandised; the prices for things. Cheap, cheap.
This afternoon, we went to the movies. First, we looked in the local newspaper to see what was playing then took a cab to the movie theater - Paragon. When we arrived, we walked into the biggest shopping center I'd ever seen. It was Mall of America big. Eight levels at least. Car dealerships inside, an entire IT floor and cinema/IMAX on the top level.
So, the theater ...
Most of the movies were American / Hollywood movies - which is strange because we haven't seen any Americans ANYWHERE on this trip. We stood in the ticket line and choose a movie - Public Enemy. Andi paid the lady 250B (or about $4 US dollars each) for tickets. She didn't speak the best English and she must have asked him if he wanted the special movie package. She handed us our seat tickets and another one for a GI Joe bucket of popcorn and collector's cup. I felt pretty cool walking around with it :)
The movie theater was a cultural experience in a couple of ways:
a) The popcorn was burnt. And it was all like that. I guess this is how Thais like their popcorn? And there was no condiment stand to add more salt and butter. WTF? Everyone knows, I like my butter.
b) The theater / shopping center was PACKED on a Wednesday afternoon at 4pm. Thai's must really love their movies / shopping. And don't they work?
c) We had assigned seating in the theater. Each ticket was printed with a seat row/number and an attendant helped you to your seat. No good because our entire row was full but there were plenty of open seats toward the front of the theater. There was a guy that sat next to me that appeared to be homeless, except he had on a Rolex and brand new sneakers. Hmm...
d) The previews started like any movie. First they were ones for Hollywood movies. Then the previews switched to Thai advertisements for what looked like Ramen Noodles and cans of tuna. All in Thai so we couldn't understand what they were saying. Then what seemed like a PSA announcement came on and everyone rose to their feet. Andi and I were trying so hard not to laugh - we weren't sure what was going on, so we stood up too. It was a commercial for the royal family. At the end, everyone said in unison "all hail to the king and queen," then sat back down. Weird.
e) And ... if you're wondering, Public Enemy was really good. Johnny Depp was delightfully yummy.
Inside the movie theaterAfter the movies, we took a cab to the Lumpini Night Bazaar. There are 2 open-air night markets in downtown Bangkok where everything and anything is for sale. We walked around the market aisles which were sweltering with heat. It was much safer and cleaner than I expected. I thought I'd see chickens hanging by their feet and big ladies cooking Thai food ... but they were actually mainly clothes and household goods. Everything was cheap and all prices were negotiable. The worker typed in the price into a giant calculator. You haggle down the price. And then walk away with your merchandise. Fun. We picked up a few things to take home with us too.
Here's a few photos of the night market:
Baby sleeping on the floor of one of the shopsAndi shopping for T-shirts
View of a night market hallway
Check out these photos of downtown Bangkok - Andi snapped these last night from our hotel room balcony. Pretty amazing, huh?