FRIDAY, MARCH 20, 2009 – 71/73 – BANGKOK, THAILAND
As usual, Dick is up by 6:30AM. Since we have free, high-speed internet, he checks the markets and email before heading downstairs to explore a little and to enjoy the early morning by the Chau Praya River. Later after Carolyn gets up, we go down to the lobby restaurant for breakfast about 10:00AM. Tomorrow, we will try the buffet at the River Terrace.
We decide to try to change our flight reservation from Bangkok to Siem Reap, Cambodia and go earlier in the day. The concierge obliges us by making the call and we are now leaving on the 3:10PM flight #PG913 of Bangkok Air tomorrow instead of one that leaves at 6:45PM. We also arrange for a hotel car to take us to the airport. We will store most of our luggage and only take minimal clothing and gear with us to Cambodia, as we will be there less than 48 hours.
SJ International Jewelers sends a car to pick us up at 12:15PM so you know what Carolyn is planning for the afternoon! Right on time, off we go to SJ through the horrible traffic of Bangkok. We probably go five miles in a straight line but it takes us the better part of 40 minutes to get there. SJ is a mini fortress near the royal palace. Once through the sliding gates and past the guardhouse, our escort shows us into the building. All the doors are one way in. To get out, the door must be released by one of the attendants. Carolyn asks for Lilly, to whom she was referred for custom jewelry design, and we are then escorted to a counter where Carolyn lays out her loot.
Carolyn has been collecting precious and semiprecious stones during our travels for the last few years and today she wants to get them set. She has an idea of what she wants for each piece drawn out on paper and she and Lilly proceed to reduce her ideas to practical instructions for the artisan who will do the work. At one point, there are two SJ consultants, the artisan and Carolyn pouring over the stones and drawings. Finally, specifications are decided and a price quoted. While not cheap, since gold is $1,000US an ounce, the proposal is still a good one and we leave the stones and get a color photo copy of the stones and the design sheet. They will send a car for us next Wednesday at 1:00PM so we can pick up the finished work.
The SJ driver then takes us, through ever-increasing traffic, to the Landmark Hotel, which is near Raja Fashions,the tailor Dick used last time we were here. This time, helped by the sister and daughter of the two owners, Dick buys eight pair of custom-made dress slacks and twelve custom made shirts for less than $900US. Dick needs to go back next Monday evening for a fitting and the tailor will mail the whole order to Texas for us. While Dick gets a new retirement wardrobe, Carolyn explores the street venders’ food stalls outside the store. Heading to the nearest sky train station (Nana, if you care) it is about to rain and the street vendors are frantically covering their wares. As the rain begins, we step into Majestic Tailors as Carolyn has spotted some colorful Thai silk in the back of the store. She quickly orders four blouses made from four different colorful Thai silks. She too will have a fitting next Monday evening.
By the time Carolyn is finished, the rain in nearly over and we head for Nana Station and catch the sky train back to the river where we board the shuttle boat to the Peninsula Hotel. It is just after 5:00PM and the buffet opens at 6:00PM. We are going to dinner early this evening!
Well maybe…as we are walking through the lobby, unbelievably, Dick points out the Hotel arcade and suggests we walk through the shops. Near the end is a JimThompson shop. Jim Thompson is known for its silk. Carolyn wants to go the Jim Thompson House to look at the silk items. Dick suggests that she shop here and save him a trip. OK, Carolyn takes him at his word and goes in to shop! Dick goes back to the room and Carolyn buys some really beautiful silk pieces for the house!
Tonight we enjoy the buffet offered at the River Terrace dining venue. It really is something to see and costs 1,500BAHT or $42.00US per person plus a hefty tax of nearly 20%. Anyway, for 4,300BHT, a very nice meal plus two drinks costs $122; roughly half what we are paying for our room per night. The Peninsula Hotel is not cheap! On the other hand, the service is excellent, the food was delightful and the view of the river from the dining venue is unique.