review: centara grand at central world, bangkok

We were off to a slow start when our driver (after negotiating an hour’s worth of Bangkok traffic) dropped us at the wrong Centara. We were booked into the Centara Grand at Central World and not the Centara Grand Central Plaza. After a long flight we were weary and didn’t notice we were at the wrong hotel until well after the driver had gone, leaving us to schlepp across town to find the right hotel. When we reached our hotel, it’s fair to say we were glad we were booked at the Central World Centara and not the Central Plaza – the Central World just nails the wow factor as soon as you walk in. The check in staff were friendly and helpful.

It was so late by the time we reached our room that the restaurants were closed so room service it was; we promised ourselves this would be the one and only time we ordered pad thai on this trip (we wanted to sample more quirky local foods) but alas – the dish was disappointing and set in motion a ten-day quest for an authentic version.

As is often the case in Asia, the bed wasn’t particularly comfortable for my Aussie bottom and the room did have a couple of quirks; for example one of the lights in the room wouldn’t turn off which made for some restless nights but the room itself was lovely and spacious, very clean and the bathroom was excellent. What you want is a massive tub to soak in after a gruelling day shopping at one of Bangkok’s mega malls or markets and that’s exactly what this bathroom had.

There are some things you don’t really expect at a five-star hotel: the restaurant running out of spoons at breakfast, paying through the nose for internet, having to call up at 5pm because your room hasn’t been made up etc… but hey, it’s not like any of these things ruined our stay.

The hotel itself is in a decent location – in the high-end Western district of Pathumwan so it was nice and close to MBK and the Paragon mall but harder to get to Patpong night markets, Chatuchak etc. One night taxis and tuk tuks flat-out refused to take us to Patpong because of the traffic which was pretty disappointing.

The Red Sky bar on the 55th floor really was the highlight (and actually what drew me to this hotel in the first place) – amazing food (we had the squid), delicious cocktails and breathtaking views over the whole of Bangkok.

Overall would I stay there again? Absolutely, although I’d consider an alternative like the Banyan Tree which is a little closer to all the action.



thailand’s proposed tourist ID bracelets

Just over two weeks ago, two British tourists were murdered on Koh Tao, a picturesque island in the Gulf of Thailand. The (grisly) circumstances still remain something of a mystery which isn’t helped by accusations of local police bungling the investigation.

Coupled with ongoing protests throughout the country (but mainly centred in the capital, Bangkok), tourism numbers appear to be down. I’m waiting for cold, hard statistics to come through on this before I leap out of my chair and blame a particular issue for the decline but the Thai Government is obviously worried because they’ve come up with an idea:

ID bracelets for tourists.

That’s right: Thailand’s Minister for Tourism has proposed the use of ID bracelets with a traveller’s accommodation details and, eventually, some sort of electronic tracking device.

Granted, this isn’t his only idea – curfews and local “buddies” were also suggested – but I want to hear people’s thoughts on heading to an island like Koh Tao or Koh Phangan and being issued with an electronic ID bracelet to avoid getting into trouble. An extension of the type of paper bracelet one wears for admission to music festivals or a nod to Big Brother?

Share your opinions below!

grandma’s monkey business

We sat on the bus and thought about our trip so far.

“Are we boring?” Boyfriend asked me. I tried to answer diplomatically but the truth was… yes. We were both giant sticks-in-the-mud. We were two unimpressed old biddies out to see the world then criticise it. We had already had an altercation with a tour guide, complained about our local representative and lectured people about respecting important sites (namely, the ANZAC grave at River Kwai).

The day’s tour guide offered us the opportunity to get out and see a monkey show and, of course, we scoffed. Monkeys should only be in the wild; exploitation; can’t encourage this behaviour; yada yada yada. We weren’t paying for that!

Then came the dreaded question. “Honey, are we boring?” We compared ourselves to some of our friends. Would our friends see the monkey show? Yes. Did our friends usually seem to have a lot more fun than we did? Yes. So it was settled… We would see the damn monkey show.

We tried to enjoy it, we really did. We even had our photos taken with one of them. But we just couldn’t hack it and raced out of there as soon as it was over.

Outside, one of the girls on the tour asked if we’d been to see it and when we replied the affirmative and gave her our wrap up she said, “Yeah, I didn’t go. I don’t want to encourage that sort of behaviour.” We were put in our place!

So 400 Baht down, 30 minutes later we realised we might as well get back in the mud, because that’s where we belong.

a fun but terrible person

the getaway plan

We’d been counting down for months. We made lists. We made plans. We made more lists. What were we going to do? Where were we going to go? What were we going to buy? We were two more farangs in Bangkok and we were going to let loose.

Bangkok got us.

We’d had such a crazy month, working so hard and then both quitting our jobs (!) just before we left. We were so exhausted and stressed out – we just needed a holiday. And although we weren’t out and about every five seconds, I think this holiday was just what we needed.

The highlights:

  •   Bai Pai Cooking School in Bangkok. It’s an absolute must! We were taught by Chef Noi, a contender on Iron Chef Thailand (for realz!) and her stunning assistant Darin. Best moment: When we took a picture of Chef Noi and she declared “I’m a movie star!” before Darin’s comeback: “yeah, as a stand-in for Chewbacca!”
  •  The Floating Markets. The actual boat ride TO the markets is my actual highlight, but I had a great experience throughout. The fried banana chips are a real treat, and only 20Baht for a whole bag.
  •  Paying our respects to the ANZACs who died as POWs building the Burma Railway. The gardens they rest in are beautiful, too.  
  •        Hua Hin. We stayed at the Anantara Resort and Spa and it was such a lovely way to finish our holiday. Four nights wasn’t enough; I could have chilled out there for a month.

The low-lights:

  •         A couple of rude and dishonest tour guides/reps really let the team down. We are always told that Thailand is the Land of Smiles but maybe not for all! However, we were determined not to let them ruin our day and, funnily enough, once I told them what I do for a living they were nice as pie.
  •         The local kids on field trip running around and yelling in the cemetery, although I do understand that they have very different traditions when it comes to honouring the dead so they probably just thought it was a nice garden.

The neither-here-nor-there-lights:

  •   The Tiger Temple. Yes, the concept is cool, but once I had a good photo I didn’t need to take a million more. The whole idea of donating to take pictures didn’t really gel with me either; I would rather just have given them a donation because I wanted to support their work. The tour guide didn’t like this much.

Fly Girl Tip: do what you want to do. Bankgok’s a big place so take each second as it comes!

houses on the River Kwai, Kanchanaburi

thailand in pictures

FACT: my photographic skills are horrendous.
FACT: this will never, ever be a photography blog.
but here are some photos anyway…
Boyfriend, who can actually take a decent photo, unlike me, gives it a go on the River Kwai.
Bridge over River Kwai (Burmese Railway), Kanchanaburi
My new friend! Tiger Temple
Boat trippin’ through the canals to the Floating Markets
Our little boat
Sampling the local brew
Pretending for five minutes that we like monkeys (more on this later)
At Red Sky Bar on the top of our hotel (the Centara Grand at Central World)
Amazing nibbles at Red Sky Bar
How to handle an annoying Boyfriend
Boyfriend gets sophisticated at the pool bar