3 days in Bangkok: A walking tour isn’t what you think!

Don't look if you're squeamish. These pig heads are real. In Bangkok, Thailand.

Don’t look if you’re squeamish. These pig heads are real. In Bangkok, Thailand.

Asia was great!

Exactly a week ago, we returned from our one month trip in Asia. One of the first places we went to was Thailand and to be honest, there’s no point in going to Thailand if you don’t spend at least a day or two in Bangkok.

We spent 3.

As I told you at the beginning of the week, our holiday was independently organised by myself and that included where we were going to stay and what we were going to do.

The front of pretty Lamphu Tree House Boutique Hotel in Bangkok.

The front of pretty Lamphu Tree House Boutique Hotel in Bangkok.

I decided to reserve a boutique hotel in the suburbs of Bangkok.

I’m sorry, but this being Bangkok, I wanted to ensure that we would be in a “family-friendly” hotel as much as possible.

As some of you might be aware, Bangkok has an unfortunate reputation of being slightly seedy and indeed, I did note one of the like, but only one. In that wise, we went to the Lamphu Tree House Boutique Hotel which is situated near the river district of Phranakom.

Our superior room which included a divan, perfect for a young family or a few friends. In Bangkok!

Our superior room which included a divan, perfect for a young family or a few friends. In Bangkok!

The hotel was 30 minutes from the bridge and bordered the Chao Phraya river. I was enormously pleased with the quality and standard of our hotel as I requested a superior room in the original building. It had a double bed, a divan, a private bathroom with running water, a private balcony and AC, as well as a breakfast buffet. The hotel also had quite a charming swimming pool and was enormously clean, and decorated with Thai paintings and antiques.

Our lovely swimming poo in Bangkok. Not too big, not too small, perfect for those first sticky, humid nights!

Our lovely swimming poo in Bangkok. Not too big, not too small, perfect for those first sticky, humid nights!

Just what I wanted!

At the beginning of the week, I mentioned that we spent our first day in Bangkok, just relaxing and walking around. I mean, we’ve just spent 13 hours in the air and spent another 4.5 hours in both the Berlin and Qatar airports, so I guess we were allowed to while away the time.

But not all of the time.

Insects on food! Photo@ blogspot.com

Insects on food!
Photo@ blogspot.com

People have so many opinions about Bangkok. Some people hate it.

Thailand. We loooooooove you!

Thailand. We loooooooove you!

Some people love it.

Whatever the case, you’re going to have an opinion.

In fact, when I first (1st) visited Bangkok, back in 1999, I didn’t like Bangkok either. It was my first time to go to Asia, I was travelling solo, it was August, and it was hot. I hadn’t a clue what I was doing and where I was going. It was just dusty and hot, And I couldn’t read the writing as it was in Thai Sanscrit in those days, but I was fascinated because that was the first time I saw a “real” elephant roaming the streets and blocking up traffic!

The last time I was in Asia, 7 long years ago!

The last time I was in Asia, 7 long years ago!

The second (2nd) time I went to Bangkok was in 2007, after almost a month in the Mekong valleys and jungles of Vietnam. This time I was intrigued to go to Bangkok. I loved it. We went to a few shows and had lots of sushi. The highlight of that trip was when a tuk-tuk driver took me to a go-go bar instead of the Thai dance performance venue that I had actually requested. It was only when a couple of men started fighting in front of a steel iron door, and I happened to be the only dressed woman around, that I thought to leg it out of there!

Inside Bangkok!

Inside Bangkok!

Seven (7) years later, I returned again. With family in tow.

I wanted my family to have a fascinating first-time approach to Bangkok so I contacted a company called Bangkok Vanguards. I found out about them from the post of Maria Wulff Hauglan a Norwegian blogger: Nerd Nomads.

I saw her post and I thought, yes. This looks good. A guided walking tour, but a walking tour with a difference and not only that, but an owner who not only happens to be half-Thai, but he also happens to be half-German. A match made in heaven!

You all know how I love walking tours. Remember, when I went to Scotland and took the Edinburgh walking tour, and then I went to London in January and went on a walking tour in London too. Do you know that even though I am The British Berliner and that I’ve lived in Berlin forever, I still felt it useful to go on an alternative walking tour in Berlin. So of course, I’m going to do the same in Bangkok.

And Then We Were Four. Make that Five: The Music Producer, "The Tall Young Gentleman," Michael, Cherie, and myself as the photographer, On the river in Bangkok, Thailand.

And Then We Were Four. Make that Five: The Music Producer, “The Tall Young Gentleman,” Michael, Cherie, and myself as the photographer, On the river in Bangkok, Thailand.

Anyway, I contacted the Managing Director of Bangkok Vanguards: Michael Biedassek, and he was really nice and friendly. He was so nice that I couldn’t believe it when the next day the person leading our walking tour was Michael himself, and his assistant Cherie! An honour indeed.

Let me tell you, you haven’t seen Bangkok until you have seen Bangkok around the clock and in every corner of that most intriguing city. The tour that we went on was called: Bangkok Three Sixty.

The Bangkok Three Sixty is a private tour so Michael and Cherie came to our hotel and picked us up, and since it was only The Music Producer, “The Small Young Gentleman,” and myself, the tour started immediately. This tour is a walking tour and so the walking started as soon as we set foot outside the hotel!

Some of the local people in Bangkok, Thailand.

Some of the local people in Bangkok, Thailand.

We walked through our suburban neighbourhood and then took an express boat across the river. At first, we were a little nervous of walking literally through people’s front door but that was what the tour was about. Getting your hands dirty and seeing Bangkok through the eyes and feet of locals. Once we gained some confidence, while Michael chatted to the residents, we smiled and attempted some basic Thai small-talk!

Through the back streets of Chinatown in Bangkok, Thailand.

Through the back streets of Chinatown in Bangkok, Thailand.

Our first stop was.

Chinatown!

I’ve been to Bangkok a few times but I’d never been to Chinatown. In fact, I hadn’t even been to that most famous of places, Khao San Road. Until the day before.

We had lunch.

And bought a couple of T-shirts that cost 170 Baht or $5.00 each!

Birds in Chinatown, Bangkok, Thailand.  I can't remember why they were in the temple area. Does anyone have any idea?

Birds in Chinatown, Bangkok, Thailand.
I can’t remember why they were in the temple area. Does anyone have any idea?

Chinatown was fascinating. We went to the temples. We saw the food that was distributed to the poor, needy, and religious. We got up close to monks and respectfully observed the drumming and chanting. We met an ex-Muay Thai boxer who showed “The Tall Young Gentleman” some of his boxing tricks, and also how his teeth could be knocked out whenever he wanted to! Our boy was delighted to see THAT trick!

Young teenage monks going to school in Bangkok, Thailand.

Young teenage monks going to school in Bangkok, Thailand.

We went through the river community and stopped to see some sort of huge water-snake-lizard-thing in the river. It was so large, that I thought that they were crocodiles. There were two of them.

We went to Indiatown. In fact I didn’t even know that was an Indian community at all. We decided to drop into a Sikh temple and we were enormously lucky to find a Sikh scholar who was willing to take us around the school and temple. Completely off the chart, as this wasn’t actually part of the tour, but you know what? That’s what it’s all about. Keeping it authentic, real, and Bangkok style!

The Music Producer and "The Tall Young Gentleman" donning bright yellow scarves at the Sikh temple in Bangkok, Thailand.

The Music Producer and “The Tall Young Gentleman” donning bright yellow scarves at the Sikh temple in Bangkok, Thailand.

It was so authentic that we all had to wear scarves on our heads, and that included the boys too!

Sticky rice wrapped in banana leaf - Bangkok, Thailand.

Sticky rice wrapped in banana leaf – Bangkok, Thailand.

We went through the market where we saw and tasted exotic fruit, vegetables, and sticky rice wrapped in a banana leaf. Since we were still in Indiatown, we had our first taste of market street food: samosas that were spicy, sharp and enormously tasty. We also had lunch at a local Indian restaurant. Why not?

We each made an order and then shared the food in the middle of the table. And then I went to the bathroom.

And stayed there for some time.

Quite a while in fact.

My husband was worried.

The restaurant staff were worried.

After 20 minutes, although it felt like 20 hours. I re-appeared slightly pale, but alive and well, and ready to sample more delights!

Cherie with those beautiful flowers at the temple in Bangkok, Thailand.

Cherie with those beautiful flowers at the temple in Bangkok, Thailand.

We visited the Wat Suthat, a first grade Buddhist monastery which contains the Buddist image, otherwise known as Phra Si Sakkayamuni. Michael showed us how Buddhists perform the ceremony of folding a flower, and lighting incense sticks and making a wish of desire. We also learnt how to sit in a temple (with feet tucked in or to the side), and how to observe the custom of not rising higher than senior citizens who were praying, but bowing and bending the knee, whilst walking past.

Drinking through a plastic bag and a straw in Bangkok, Thailand. Our faces were scrunched up 'cos the crushed ice was bloody freeeeezing cold!

Drinking through a plastic bag and a straw in Bangkok, Thailand. Our faces were scrunched up ‘cos the crushed ice was bloody freeeeezing cold!

We went to the park and observed locals and expats working out. We went to other temples, we went through the back streets, and drank coca-cola and sprite through plastic bags and a straw. We squeezed all five (5) of us into the back seat of a tuk-tuk, and then jumped onto a local rickety bus. We basically had to leap into it, as the bus was surrounded by commuters going home or coming from work and the fact that you don’t know what you’re doing is not really an option, so off we went!

Fantastic views of everyday life on the riverbanks in Bangkok, Thailand.

Fantastic views of everyday life on the riverbanks in Bangkok, Thailand.

We had a Ruea Hang Yao or a long-tail boat, waiting for us. It was chartered specifically for us so that we could stretch out, relax, take as many photographs as we like, and er, sleep!

Don’t judge me!

Falling asleep on the gentle river in Bangkok, Thailand. Look how sleepy I look!

Falling asleep on the gentle river in Bangkok, Thailand. Look how sleepy I look!

I can’t help it if the combination of wind, sunshine, and the gentle swaying of the long-tail boat, eventually contributed to pretty much all of us taking thirty winks, along the way!

By the way, our boat was fully equipped with safety equipment and life-vests, and our captain navigated extremely well.

Children playing on the banks of the river in Bangkok, Thailand.

Children playing on the banks of the river in Bangkok, Thailand.

On the river, we saw another part of Bangkok. A different world to the parts that we had preciously seen. And then we landed at The Artists’ House or Baan Silapin. The Artist’s House is located on the old Chao Phraya River outlet which is also known as Bangkok Noi Canal or sometimes refered to as Klong Bangluang.

At The Artist's House on the banks of the river in Bangkok, Thailand.

At The Artist’s House on the banks of the river in Bangkok, Thailand.

This place is amazing! It’s a row of traditional Thai wooden houses which have been restored to their former glory, and more than two hundred (200) years old. There are weird life-size statues of people dotted about. They’re so large and strangely located that I thought they were actually real people rather than objects! Local crafts shops, organic eateries, a temple, a puppet troupe, and some sort of Thai martial art school for local children.

We met and chatted to some of the teenagers on the upper floor who seemed impressed by “The Tall Young Gentleman,” and the fact that he was only 12 years old. Some of the teenage girls got a little flirty.

At the Artist's House witha ferret-like creature in Bangkok, Thailand.

At the Artist’s House with a ferret-like creature in Bangkok, Thailand.

They also had a ferret-like creature which they let him play with, and we let them hang out a little while we had cups of tea and bought some postcards, and hand-made writing paper.

Eating together. Working together. Living together. In Bangkok, Thailand.

Eating together. Working together. Living together. In Bangkok, Thailand.

We spent a little time here then we went back to town. Back into Chinatown where we were submerged into the market scene, and where people were cooking with huge pots of food on the street, and people were living from shoulder to shoulder, as close communities. Eating together. Working together. Living together.

The gallery at the Chumbhot-Pantip Foundation in Bangkok, Thailand.

The gallery at the Chumbhot-Pantip Foundation in Bangkok, Thailand.

We then visited a local charity foundation in the heart of Chinatown called the Chumbhot-Pantip Foundation. They are a charity interested in preserving the history of the Chinese descended people in the area, the buildings, the culture, and language. The building was actually closed, but one of the locals ran around the neighbourhood and very nicely fetched the key, so that we could look around the gallery.

Living history all around us in Bangkok, Thailand.

Living history all around us in Bangkok, Thailand.

Even though we visited the gallery quite frankly, the history of Chinatown was all around us, but perhaps not for long as history has taught us that some of these immigrant areas soon become prime estate. Bangkok is no different. Side by side the cooking pots and the children skipping on the streets, was an underground station being built.

The boat conductors on the longtail boats!

The boat conductors on the longtail boats!

It was soon time for us to take a longtail boat again, but this time the commuter boat. It was about 17:00 and it was pretty crowded. The boat would come around and it would stop for about 10 seconds. 10 seconds in which you either jumped into the boat or you fell into the river. Michael was extremely attentive and held my hand so that we could leap into the boat together LOL! Once in the boat, the boat cover would go up so that you couldn’t fall into the river, and off they went. The conductors would collect the fares by standing and walking on the edge of the boat!

The modern city of Bangkok, Thailand.

The modern city of Bangkok, Thailand.

At 17:30, the Bangkok walking tour was officially over, but we were all having so much fun that Michael, the Managing Director decided to invite us to meet his girlfriend: Gift, and then a friendship began. We turned from clients to friends. He did call his lovely girlfriend and then we went into the center of the city and walked through the shopping district. My goodness. Bangkok is fantastically modern.

I don't know what it is. Is it some sort of elephant? But I want to take it hooooome!

I don’t know what it is. Is it some sort of elephant? But I want to take it hooooome!

I couldn’t believe how clean and organised those shopping centres were. The bathrooms were amazing. With toilet paper. And ladies, there were at least 30 cubicles on EACH FLOOR so that you didn’t need to queue! And they were completely and utterly free of charge. Wow! I mean, even Germany can’t beat that. In Berlin, our shopping centres have about 8 cubicles AND you have to pay 50 cents for them too!

In the shopping malls were Thai young people everywhere. There was even some concert going on, so we stayed, and watched for a while. It was amazing and lovely to meet real Thai people. I hardly saw any foreigners. Isn’t that funny?

Spicy chicken and pork in Bangkok for 80 cents a piece is an absolute bargain. And at a shopping mall too!

Spicy chicken and pork in Bangkok for 80 cents a piece is an absolute bargain. And at a shopping mall too!

Anyway, we hung around a little and went and had some snacks. In the shopping malls, you have food halls just as you have in Europe, and the food variety there was pretty huge, and most importantly, cheap. Yep! You heard me. The food in the halls were cheap! 15 baht or 45 cents for a stick of grilled pork, 25 baht or 80 cents for spicy chicken, and lots of strange stuff.

Michael also took us to a local restaurant frequented by students called Inter Restaurant. It’s in the Siam district area across from the shopping mall in Siam Square, and is fairly easy to find. It serves authentic Thai food at prices ranging from 65 baht or $2.00 to 120 baht or $3.80.

Delicious, yummy, spicy Tom Yum Goong soup in Bangkok, Thailand.

Delicious, yummy, spicy Tom Yum Goong soup in Bangkok, Thailand.

We had a variety of meals which we shared together and even though we were stuffed to the brim, we didn’t reject the idea of going to a bar.

A sky bar.

In Bangkok.

Using the Bangkok Sky Train.

Using the Bangkok Sky Train.

And so we took the Bangkok BTS Sky train. The BTS Sky Train runs through all the important downtown districts and major transport hubs in Bangkok. As it’s described, it zooms above Bangkok traffic at sky level and is connected at various places, in the city. Pretty neat.

Inside the Bangkok Sky Train.

Inside the Bangkok Sky Train.

This was our first time to go on the Sky Train and again, it’s clean, organised and efficient. No problem at all. Tickets are fantastically cheap and once children are above 160 metres, age isn’t a factor, but height. In this case, “The Tall Young Gentleman” was a full-grown adult LOL! Single tickets are between 15-20 baht or 45 to 60 cents, and a one day pass would be 120 baht or $3.80.

A breath-taking panaromic view of Bangkok at Night at Cloud 47 sky bar.

A breath-taking panoramic view of Bangkok at Night at Cloud 47 sky bar.

As I said earlier, our last stop was a sky bar. In this case on the top floor of the United Center office tower, and is pretty chilled out. The sky bar was called: Cloud 47.

There was no cover and you didn’t have to dress up. This was a godsend as we were still wearing our shorts and trainers, with bottles of water sticking out of our city backpacks.

Not exactly the image you want to convey.

But the staff ignored our dusty outfits and were professional and friendly all the same. Phew!

Cocktails at the rooftop bar of Cloud 47.

Cocktails at the rooftop bar of Cloud 47.

We had a couple of cocktails and the prices were reasonable. More Berlin than London! We took a lot of photos, clicked glasses, marvelled at the view, and sighed and reflected at the beauty of Bangkok.

We had a marvellous day.

In fact, we had been with Michael and his Bangkok Three-Sixty crew for 16.5 hours! They were great and really showed, and introduced us to the real Bangkok.

We’ll be back.

Sa-wat-dee Kaaaaaah! Photo@ Bangkok Vanguards.

Sa-wat-dee Kaaaaaah! Photo@ Bangkok Vanguards.

Thank you Bangkok Vanguards.

Here’s the info:

WHO ARE THE BANGKOK VANGUARDS?

The Bangkok Vanguards are a dynamic team of die-hard Thailand fans who strive to connect people, through their passion for exploring the streets, cycling, conservation, street art, and education, about Thailand’s local, indigenous, communities.

WHAT IS THE BANGKOK THREE-SIXTY WALKING TOUR ABOUT?

The Bangkok Three-Sixty is about an intense, exciting, fun, alternative way of exploring the city of Bangkok, by moving away from the ordinary tourist trail, and travelling on a route that takes you on foot, and using all forms of available public transportation, to see Bangkok through the eyes of locals living there.

Phew!

The Bangkok Vanguards Team. Photo@ Bangkok Vanguards

The Bangkok Vanguards Team.
Photo@ Bangkok Vanguards

DO I NEED TO UNDERSTAND THAI?

Nope!

These tours are available in either English, German, or Thai!

WHAT DO I NEED?

A pair of comfortable shoes (no flip-flops due to the intense walk), cultural-sensitive clothes that reach to at least knee level and elbow length (as the walk is through the local community, in temples and personal homes), spare batteries, a pair of sunglasses, a hat, a huge bottle of water, a few basic words of Thai, and an enormous smile!

Laughing and smiling in Bangkok. Photo@ Bangkok Vanguards

Laughing and smiling in Bangkok.
Photo@ Bangkok Vanguards

ANYTHING ELSE?

Yes, this tour cost $90 or 2,950 Baht per person, for a PRIVATE tour, and was incredibly worth the price.

This trip includes: The VEO (Vanguard Experience Officer or tour guide), a private boat tour, a wide range of transport that includes a local bus, a motorcycle taxi, a Khlong tour, an express bus, a tuk-tuk, a canal boat, breakfast, lunch, various snacks, support for Bangkok’s cultural heritage and art projects, and a pick up at your hotel.

The trip excludes: Personal Insurance, happy hour drinks, personal expenses, and a tip for the guide.

Approximate walking time: 9 hours.

Time: 09:00 – 18:00.

Meeting place: They will pick you up at your hotel if you’re staying within the Central Business District.

Participants: Minimum 2, maximum 8. It is possible to have a private tour for one person but only after an enquiry.

The Bangkok Skyline at Cloud 47.

The Bangkok Skyline at Cloud 47.

The Bangkok Three-Sixty is a full-day tour so don’t make an important appointment immediately after. You might want to hang-out with the tour-guide and other members of your group, over a cocktail or two!

If you’re feeling particularly energetic, there’s a Bangkok by Night tour for 1,300 Baht (group) or 1,600 Baht (private), a cycling tour for 2,500 Baht (group), or 2,950 (private), a first-time in Bangkok highlight tour for 2,500 Baht (group) or 2,950 (private), and of course, you can also organise a customised tour to your own taste to be shorter or  longer!

The Beauty of Culture in Bangkok. Photo@ Tourism Authority of Thailand

The Beauty of Culture in Bangkok.
Photo@ Tourism Authority of Thailand

MY VERDICT:

I absolutely loved it.

The idea of a walking tour around a city is enormously appealing, and something that everyone should do. At least once. It also gives you confidence to move around on your own as you now know what to do, where to go, and how to get there.

Highly recommended.

For more information about this walking tour, please contact: Bangkok Three-Sixty.

For more information about alternative ways of exploring Bangkok, please contact: Bangkok Vanguards.

WHAT IF A WALKING TOUR ISN’T MY CUP OF TEA?

Keep reading my blog. There’s more to come!

Me. Myself & I.  Summer In Berlin.

Me. Myself & I.
Summer In Berlin.

This article is not sponsored and even though I received a discount, all opinions and the delicious cocktails that I heartily quaffed, are my very own!

I have so much to share with you so for the rest of August and the month of September only, I will be writing about our adventures in Thailand, Indonesia, and Qatar and at the same time, keeping you posted as to the fantastic things going on in my wonderful city of Berlin.

Berlin Music Week is going to take place from 03.09.14 – 07.09.14. Berlin is going to show it’s unique mix of music and technology, festivals and club events on a world stage, with two core events: the WORD! conference for business and SOUND! for live events.

STRICTLY STAND UP – The English Comedy Night is going to take place on 10.09.14 at the Quatsch Comedy Club in Berlin.

November 9th, 2014, marks the 25th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. Events are taking place all over the city until then.

September is going to be a beautiful month.

Watch this space!
Thanks very much Bangkok Vanguards. Photo@ Bangkok Vanguards.

Thanks very much Bangkok Vanguards.
Photo@ Bangkok Vanguards.

Have you been on a walking tour? Have you been on a tuk-tuk? What are your top tips for visiting Bangkok?

See you in Berlin.

If you like this post,

Share it! Tweet it! Like it!

How to go to Bangkok on the superior cheap, and take the family with you!

A beautiful temple in Thailand so, where are you?

A beautiful temple in Thailand so, where are you?

Last week, I wrote that I couldn’t join in the Commonwealth Games because I had other plans…!

OK guys. Surrrrrprise!

We went to Bangkok.

And Chiang Mai.

And Bali.

I’m sorry, but we also spent a night in Doha, Qatar.

For free!

Yep! Yep! Yep!!

But how did this happen, you might ask? She didn’t even mention it!

A lovely blue tuk-tuk in a residential area in Bangkok.

A lovely blue tuk-tuk in a residential area in Bangkok.

Well, if you have been reading my blog you would know that I would be going to Asia for some part of the summer, I just didn’t say when. You know. Insurance n’ all that. And as much as it was a surprise for you, it was also a surprise for The Music Producer, and “The Tall Young Gentleman,” as they had never been to Asia before.

Ever.

Oh, but I lie. They’ve been to Turkey of course, but it’s not the same. I mean the Asian subcontinent.

"The Tall Young Gentleman" having fun in Bangkok.

“The Tall Young Gentleman” having fun in Bangkok.

They both loved it and had a fantastic time.

We didn’t get scammed.

Well, just on the last day.

We didn’t get robbed.

Well, except for the price of wine. Daylight robbery!

We didn’t have Delhi Belly except that I had Bangkok Belly on the second (2nd) day, and Bali Belly, on the last day, oh, and The Music Producer became ill. More about that in a later post……!

Bangkok - a complicated, tangled city!

Bangkok – a complicated, tangled city!

Considering that we were on the other side of the world, we had hardly any trouble at all because:

  1. This trip was organised by a more experienced person – ME!
  2. I put in a lot of time in order to maximise and enhance the Asian experience.
  3. They went in with pure open minds.
  4. They weren’t afraid to ask questions.
  5. They tried to taste everything. At least once!

Now don’t get me wrong. My family travel, but they are not like me. And that’s OK.

The Asian lifestyle with a Buddhist monk in Bangkok! Can you see what's different?

The Asian lifestyle with a Buddhist monk in Bangkok! Can you see what’s different?

I’ve been to Asia many times, practically most of Western Europe (except for Greece), parts of North Africa, West Africa, and South Africa, the USA, one (1) Caribbean island, and I used to live in Eastern Europe.

By the time our son was 5 years old, he had already been to twenty-three (23) countries. None of them in Asia. Then international school beckoned which meant running around with skiing, music, theatre, martial arts, Boy Scouts, a stint of modelling, and so many life changes.

Stability was going to France or Scotland! My husband preferred Italy and the opera, but I have a great husband, and whenever I needed to “take off,” I would go to Asia. So every couple of years, with the help of the German grandparents, I would go on a solo adventure to satisfy my soul. This time, I decided to take my family with me.

Taking the family with me to Bangkok, in Thailand!

Taking the family with me to Bangkok, in Thailand!

It. Was. Time.

Time to share why I love Asia so much.

At first, I thought, let’s go to India. That’ll be exciting!! Yeah, but that’s also selfish since I wanted to go to India.

Again.

So I back-tracked and decided to think of my boys, instead of myself. Yes, I can be selfish. And yes, I had the opportunity to open their eyes to the world of colours, tastes, smells, and unpredictability.

Oh, I forgot to tell you. My husband otherwise known as The Music Producer, is German, and he isn’t 25 years old anymore.

I love my husband and want him to have a good time and be comfortable doing so, so I decided to choose the middle road.

A loving husband, in Thailand!

A loving husband, in Thailand!

CHOOSING THE MIDDLE ROAD.

I’ve slept in a mixed hostel in Prague for $3.00 per night, a hostel on the Isle of Skye for $21.00 per night. I’ve slept in a “deluxe” hotel in Delhi for $19.00 per night, and a hotel in Africa for $6.00 per night. Hell, I’ve even slept in a casino ‘cos all the hostels were booked up on the 30th of December….!

I know the meaning of cheap.

But I didn’t want to do cheap. I also didn’t want to do exquisite luxury as this was a family holiday, and not a couples romantic weekend, where I’m willing to pay much, much, more, for that extra splurge. Say hello Milan, London, and New York!!

So the idea of what I coin “the superior cheap,” came into play.

Our last night in Bangkok, hotel - The 5 - star Amari Watergate Hotel, Bangkok. 'Such a shame that we only had 1 day and half a night to spend in it. Sigh!

Our last night in Bangkok, hotel – The 5 – star Amari Watergate Hotel, Bangkok. ‘Such a shame that we only had 1 day and half a night to spend in it. Sigh!

HOW TO GO TO BANGKOK ON THE SUPERIOR CHEAP.

  • Use a travel agency: What? It contradicts everything you’ve been working for re-cheap. But hear me out, and think again. We wanted to go from Berlin – Bangkok – Bali – Berlin. In August. If you check the prices of Berlin – Bali – Berlin, it’s outrageous. Yes, Bangkok is much cheaper, but I wanted to move around. We were thus able to get our return flights for just a little over €800 or $1100 via STA – the Student Travel Agency in Berlin. I’ve been booking with them since 2005, and they’ve always come up trumps.
Keep Calm and visit Thailand, whichever way you go!

Keep Calm and visit Thailand, whichever way you go!

  • Use a scheduled airline: We booked with Qatar Airways, and the flight schedule changed. The airline with the help of STA, organised a hotel, transfer, food, etc. for FREE! We didn’t have to do a thing.
  • Make the hotel bookings yourself: I did a lot of research and read posts by other bloggers who were either in the country or region that I wanted to go to, or had just left. I contacted the hotels and home-stays concerned, and told them where, and how I had found them. It inspires confidence that the writings of bloggers work. Real people who could become potential customers, read them.
Thai pickles - Don't pack them too full!

Thai pickles – Don’t pack them too full!

  • Don’t pack the days too full: We all know how tiring it can be when we pack our day full as if there’s no tomorrow, and we also all know the end result: tiredness, frustration, and tears! We decided to take things easy when we initially arrived as it’s good for your budget, and it’s good for you. The day after we landed, we walked around our Bangkok neighbourhood, and then we went swimming. That’s all we did for that day!
  • Have a budget, but be flexible: We decided on a budget of €100 or $132 per day all in. It could be a little less or it could be a little more, and that’s perfectly alright. We’re on holiday and life is for living, and not denying yourself because it’s too expensive. I mean, when are you going to do or buy that “thing”? If it’s your dream, go ahead and do it. You can cut something out somewhere else.
See how beautiful she is. She packed her stuff smartly. No worries at all!

See how beautiful she is. She packed her stuff smartly. No worries at all!

  • Pack smartly: We had a 30 kilo allocation. Thank you Qatar Airways, but we were still flying within Thailand with budget airlines Nok Air from Bangkok to Chiang Mai on 15 kilos and from Thailand to Bali with budget airline AirAsia, for 20 kilos. Packing smartly made sense. I’m not the best packer. I’m usually the girl with 4 pairs of shoes, and a pair of boots. Just in case! This time though, I was strict – three (3) lots of trousers, shorts, summer dresses, “nice” dresses, T-shirts, underwear, and sigh. Three (3) lots of shoes!
  • Buy toiletries in your home-country: I know that Asia is cheap, that’s true, but if you have kids, I’d recommend getting toiletries in your home-country BEFORE you leave. Things such as tissue paper, disinfectant, detergent, sun-cream, cleansers, wipes, insect repellent, moisturisers, shower gel, shampoo, plasters, etc. are superior, and don’t have extra chemical agents included, and they’re certainly much cheaper! We tried to buy a nasal spray that usually costs $4.00 in Germany, but shockingly cost $26.00 in Indonesia!
Stuffed sticky rice wrapped up in a banana leaf in Bangkok. Go on. Try it!

Stuffed sticky rice wrapped up in a banana leaf in Bangkok. Go on. Try it!

  • Eat everything, everywhere: If you’re travelling to a developing country for the first time, you might be shocked by how disorganised things seem to be. Don’t worry about it, and don’t look too deeply. Try not to criticise. It’s another culture. Take it all in. Breathe. Go to that dusty stall on the side of the street. Sit down. Eat and Drink. You won’t die. You might get an upset tummy the first few days, but you won’t die. You might even like it!
Check the weather if it's important to you. Waterlilies in peak season in Bali, Indonesia.

Check the weather if it’s important to you.
Waterlilies in peak season in Bali, Indonesia.

  • Try to go off-season: That wasn’t an option for us as we have a pre-teenager and Germany frowns on taking kids out during the academic year. Even though it was the summer holidays, “The Tall Young Gentleman” was given school work to do during the holiday in order to “improve certain weaknesses.” He wasn’t happy about it, but we did it anyway. August in Thailand is monsoon season. Surprisingly, it wasn’t very busy. In Indonesia, it’s peak season, in my eyes, it wasn’t as busy as I expected it to be either. In fact, at one point in Bali, we went to the beach, and it was pretty empty of an afternoon!
This smiling couple is everywhere in Thailand! Ah well, you can always come back. You're welcome!

This smiling couple is everywhere in Thailand! Ah well, you can always come back.
You’re welcome!

  • Don’t worry: If you run out of time, don’t worry, you can always come back. I like going back to places. I don’t subscribe to the “I’m-never-going-to-go-back-there-again-because-I’ve-already-been” school of thought. If I like the place, I go back again, and again, and again: cue Italy, the Czech Republic, Poland, Scotland, the Isle of Wight, Denmark, Egypt, France, Spain, Thailand, Indonesia, America, etc. I can’t count how many times I’ve been to the above countries. I’ve included America here even though I’ve been only once as we plan to go to America in 2015 AND 2016!
  • Have fun: Don’t forget to enjoy yourself. You’re on holiday or on a break in the Land of Smiles, surrounded by beautiful, attractive people, and gorgeous weather. Smile, and Relax.
"The Tall Young Gentleman" living the good life and relaxing by the pool in Bali, Indonesia.

“The Tall Young Gentleman” living the good life and relaxing by the pool in Bali, Indonesia.

This article is not sponsored and all opinions, are my very own!

I have so much to share with you so for the rest of August, and the month of September only, I will be writing about our adventures in Thailand, Indonesia, and Qatar and at the same time, keeping you posted as to the fantastic things going on in the wonderful city of Berlin.

Berlin Music Week is going to take place from 03.09.14 – 07.09.14. Berlin is going to show it’s unique mix of music and technology, festivals and club events on a world stage with two core events: the WORD! conference for business and SOUND! for live events.

STRICTLY STAND UP – The English Comedy Night is going to take place on 10.09.14 at the Quatsch Comedy Club in Berlin.

November 9th, 2014, marks the 25th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. Events are taking place all over the city until then.

September is going to be a beautiful month.

Watch this space!
 
Thai kids playing football.

Thai kids playing football.

Choosing the Middle Road on The Superior Cheap. What do you think? Would you like to go to Asia?

Are you coming for the autumn?

See you in Berlin.

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Go North my son to Glasgow n’all that : 10 things you didn’t know!

The amazing Red Hot Chilli pipers doing their stuff in Glasgow. Photo@ Chris James.

The amazing Red Hot Chilli pipers doing their stuff in Glasgow but who can tell me what is under their kilts?! Photo@ Chris James.

As you know the recent Commonwealth Games took place in Glasgow. For those who don’t know. It’s in Scotland laddie!

I’m from Manchester in the North-West of England but I do love Scotland. I’ve been many times and in fact, I was in Scotland only last October where I introduced you to picking a budget hotel in Edinburgh, The Bloody Streets of Scotland, Haggis, Tatties & Neeps, Whisky Tasting in the Highlands, Fishing in Inverness, and Cruising on a search for Loch Ness!

I would have loved to join in the Commonwealth Games but I had other plans….!

People make Glasgow real!

People make Glasgow real. At niiiiight!

Anyway, Glasgow.

Glasgow had a reputation of being enormously gritty, industrial, poor, and grey, but in the last 10 years has really cleaned up its act as in 2012, Glasgow was named one of Britain’s cities “on the rise.”

In 2013, Glasgow was also named one of the top UK destinations in the 2013 Travellers’ Choice Destination Awards, and is now one of Europe’s most vibrant, dynamic, and stylish cities.

Can you believe that this is Glasgow? How quaint!

Can you believe that this is Glasgow?
How quaint!

I’m not even going to ask but if you’re ever going to Glasgow, you’ve got to watch the brilliant cult film Trainspotting directed by Danny Boyle and that put Ewan McGregor (He is perhaps best known for his roles as heroin addict Mark Renton in the drama Trainspotting (1996), Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars prequel trilogy (1999–2005), and the poet Christian in the musical film Moulin Rouge! (2001). The film that also put Johnny. L. Miller who played Simon Williamson in Trainspotting (1996), was in Mansfield Park (1999) among other excellent productions, and is now making waves across the pond as Sherlock Holmes in the American CBS crime drama Elementary. I’ve seen it and for what it is, it isn’t bad.

Also starring the magnificent dramatist, Robert Carlyle in Trainspotting (1996), The Full Monty (1997), The World Is Not Enough (1999), Angela’s Ashes (1999), The 51st State (2001), and 28 Weeks Later (2007), and also the lovely Kelly Macdonald known for her role in the independent film Trainspotting and mainstream releases such as Nanny McPhee, Gosford Park, Intermission, No Country for Old Men, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 and Brave. On television, she is known for her roles in Boardwalk Empire.

Trainspotting: the cult movie by Danny Boyle.

Trainspotting: the cult movie by Danny Boyle.

10 THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW!

  • Despite being set in Edinburgh, almost all of the independent cult film Trainspotting, was shot in Glasgow, apart from the opening scenes, which were shot in Edinburgh, and the final scenes which were shot in London.
  • Glasgow is Scotland’s largest city with a population of around 600,000 people.
  • The name ‘Glasgow’ is derived from a Gaelic phrase meaning ‘green valley’ or ‘dear green place’.
  • Glasgow, was founded in the 6th century and has a history stretching back to earliest times in which Celtic druids were among the first identifiable religious tribes to inhabit the area.
  • January 13th is the feast day of St Mungo, the founder and patron saint of Glasgow who, died roughly 1,400 years ago.
  • Football legend Sir Alex Ferguson, Comedian Billy Connolly, Midge Ure, the bands: Primal Scream, Texas, Simple Minds, Travis, Wet Wet Wet, John Barrowman (Torchwood), Gerald Butler (300), Robert Carlyle (Trainspotting), Robbie Coltrane (Cracker & Hagrid in Harry Potter), James McAvoy (The Last King of Scotland), John Logie Baird (inventor of the television), Sir Thomas Lipton (tea), Jim Dunlop (Dunlop), Scrooge McDuck (Disney), and Merlin (of King Arthur), were all born in Glasgow.
  • The phrase ‘Glasgow kiss’ is given in the Oxford Dictionary to mean a headbutt, and was first used in 1982…..
  • Glasgow’s underground railway system is the only one in Scotland, and the 3rd oldest in the world! It is sometimes nicknamed Clockwork Orange, because of the colour of the trains.
  • There are over 20 towns named Glasgow in the US, as well as several in Canada, including New Glasgow. Glasgow is also twinned with several cities, including Jerusalem, Marseilles and Havana.
  •  Johnny. L. Miller, is the ex and first husband of Angelina Jolie (cheeky fellow, but phwrooah. She’s one hot sexy babe)?!
Athletes at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, running for their country.

Athletes at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, running for their country.

In 2014, Scotland will welcome the world with three (3) fantastic events: Glasgow 2014 via the Commonwealth Games, the year-long Home-Coming celebrations, and the Ryder Cup.

The Commonwealth Games will be the biggest sporting occasion in Scottish history, taking place in Glasgow but placing Scotland on a global stage, on not only about sport, but even whether the Scottish people choose to remain in the United Kingdom of four (4) nations rather than of three (3), by way of referendum.

WHAT IS THE COMMONWEALTH?

Well, The Commonwealth is a collection of ex-British colonies and protectorates consisting of a unique family of developed and developing nations, a voluntary association of independent sovereign states spread from Africa to Asia, from the Pacific shores to the Caribbean. Members of the Commonwealth family make up to 2 billion people, which is 30% of the world’s population, and consist of many faiths, races, languages and cultures.

The Commonwealth Festival Logo.

The Commonwealth Festival Logo.

WHAT ARE THE COMMONWEALTH GAMES?

The Commonwealth Games is a unique, international, multi-sport event, which takes place every four (4) years.

In 2014, the Commonwealth Games took place between July 23rd to August 3rd, and as the XX Commonwealth Games involved:

71 teams of athletes.

17 sport events.

11 days.

250 medal events.

4,500 athletes.

And sold over 1,000,000 tickets

HOW MANY COMMONWEALTH COUNTRIES CAN TAKE PART IN THE GAMES?

Although there are 53 Commonwealth countries, there are 71 Commonwealth Games Associations (CGA),  that can enter a team in the Commonwealth Games. This is because some Commonwealth countries have more than one CGA. An example of this is Great Britain or in this case, the United Kingdom, which although a single Commonwealth country, has seven CGAs – England, Scotland, Wales, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey, and Northern Ireland,  all compete in the Games as separate nations.

The gorgeous John Barrowman aka Captain Jack Harkness of the fantastic BBC Dr. Who production - Torchwood.

The gorgeous John Barrowman aka Captain Jack Harkness of the fantastic BBC Dr. Who spin-off production – Torchwood, at the Commonwealth Opening Ceremony.

The Opening Ceremony for the XX Commonwealth Games also known as The Friendly Games, was a stomping, colourful, and joyous event, that kick-started the Games with energy characteristic of the host nation. It show-cased Scotland’s rich culture, and showed just why Glasgow is UNESCO City of Music with performances by Rod Stewart, John Barrowman, Susan Boyle, and hundreds of city singers and dancers.

Beginning with some showbiz sparkle from actor, singer and Broadway star John Barrowman, the Opening Ceremony was all about the kilts and tartan, with lots of handsome men sporting the traditional Scottish dress and even a giant kilt on stage!

The Highland Dancing Ceilidh competition with bright tartans, and hopping on one foot in Scotland!

The Highland Dancing Ceilidh competition with bright tartans, and hopping on one foot in Scotland!

You can’t have a Scottish party without bagpipes, and there were plenty of them at the ceremony! Glasgow is host to the World Pipe Band Championships in August which is a must-visit event for music-lovers.

Glasgow itself is a must-visit city for music-lovers, and was granted UNESCO status as a City of Music in recognition of this. If you’re in town in January, Celtic Connections is one of the biggest celebrations of folk music in the world, taking over iconic venues in the city for a month of musical collaborations between Scottish and international artists. 2100 artists, 300 events, and 20 venues, make it one of the biggest and best music events.

Small talk and playing the bagpipes at the Highland Games.

Small talk and playing the bagpipes at the Highland Games.

Nessie made a star appearance on the stage as well as the hundreds of (human) performers – and apparently, really is as big as is suspected!

To be in with a chance of seeing the famous monster for real, head to Loch Ness, in the Scottish Highlands, which guarantees beautiful views over the lake, or ‘loch’ and if you don’t get to see Nessie, you’ll see plenty of gorgeous Highland ‘coos’ (cows) instead!

Scottish ponies of Scotland!

Scottish ponies of Scotland! They aren’t Nessie but I thought they were cute anyway!

We went to see Nessie last year, and did we find her?

Of course we did!

The "queen" in Shanghai.

The “queen” in Shanghai.

Of course The Queen opened the Commonwealth Games, reading the message she placed inside the Baton before its epic world trip.

The Queen’s affinity and relationship to Scotland is well-known, as her favourite home Balmoral Castle, is where she traditionally spends her summer.

Visitors can now explore the castle gardens, open from April until the end of July, and even rent a holiday cottage on the grounds. Balmoral is in Aberdeenshire in North East Scotland, roughly 1 hour and 20 minutes’ drive from the city of Aberdeen.

When we went to Edinburgh last year, we also visited the Palace of Holyroodhouse which is The Queen’s official Scottish residence, and well worth a visit.

A beautiful Scottish Terrier that would break your heart!  Photo@ petguide.com

A beautiful Scottish Terrier that would break your heart!
Photo@ petguide.com

And finally, the Scottish Terrier lovingly known as a Scottie.

Who could resist its charm? So cute, so warm, so fluffy!!

There were 41 canine stars who led in the athletes’ teams, with thirty (30) getting two turns each in the spotlight.

Salt of the earth Scottish folk.

Salt of the earth Scottish folk.

The Scottish people are known as proud, warm-hearted, give-it-to-you-straight-no-messing-about type of people, and Scotland is known for breath-taking scenery, warm hospitality, wholesome food and drink, dramatic history, an inspiring destination, a vibrant, contemporary culture, and oh, yes. The best Indian curry outside of India!

So what are you waiting for?

“Come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take… OUR FREEDOM!

Talking of freedom, Thursday 18th September, 2014 sees a nation vote on Scottish Independence. In short, whether the Scottish people wish to stay a member of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

I love Scotland and as I’ve already told you above, I’ve been to many parts of Scotland, like the Highlands, the Isle of Skye, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Inverness, and Edinburgh of course.

I love Britain and I love England. England is my country but I still think that the Scottish people should do what’s right for them, as they do have a point. England is far away and England seems to be making all the decisions. Let’s not even talk about Wales! Since, we are a civilized nation and a democracy, the people. The Scottish people, have to make their own decisions.

To add to that, I think certain people in responsible, official positions, acted like spoilt children getting their toys taken away, when they threatened to take the pound away from Scotland, now making the issue of Independence more complicated than it should have been.

I don’t believe that the original intention was to abandon Britain altogether. I think the issue is that of self-governing, complete independence, and living their life, their way.

Time will tell. So enough of the politics!

Healthy outdoor Scots doing the Nokia Coast to Coast Scotland's latest multi-sport challenge.  Gosh! I'm tired just looking at 'em! Photos@ Rebecca Lee

Healthy outdoor Scots doing the Nokia Coast to Coast Scotland’s latest multi-sport challenge.
Gosh! I’m tired just looking at ‘em!
Photos@ Rebecca Lee

This article is not sponsored and all opinions are my very own!

Next week, some of my surprises will be revealed. Not all. I’ve got to keep the punters wanting more LOL!

Watch this space!

It's Me! Don't I look fabulous?

It’s Me! Don’t I look fabulous?

Have you been to Glasgow? Have you been to Scotland? Do you think Scotland should leave the United Kingdom?

See you in Berlin.

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