Unbelievably, Hanoi is even drearier and more socked-in this morning than it has been. They are in desperate need of a cold front or something to break up the weather pattern. We can barely see the Opera House across the way when we open the drapes. We are up early today, as our car to the airport will leave at 8:00AM. After breakfast and checkout, we are off on the 40 minute run to the airport through the mad house of rush hour traffic. There simply are no traffic rules that they obey.
We arrive at the airport, unload our luggage and bid the two young men with us goodbye. They have escorted us both to and from the airport and Dick’s tips the $10.00US each and receives effusive thanks and big smiles in return. We are flying Business Class on Thai Airways and check in goes smoothly and we get lounge passes hank heavens as the airport is hot and muggy. Next, we endure the immigration process again as the People’s Republic of Vietnam makes sure that we are who they let in and that we are leaving. I can assure them that I have no desire to immigrate! Carolyn spends the last of the $60US that we got when we arrived at the airport shop while we wait. The flight leaves on time at 10:40AM.
The plane is a large Airbus and is less than 1/3 full. They serve a light snack and the two-hour flight passes quickly. After completing the formalities of arriving in Thailand, we find the Peninsula Hotel’s representative waiting for us as we emerge from customs. Within a few minutes, we are in the car heading into Bangkok. We arrive at their new airport and the expressway into the city is not nearly as crowded as we remember the one to the old airport. The drive is approximately 30-minutes and the staff at the Peninsula meets us like returning royalty. A beautiful young lady escorts us directly to our suite and we complete check-in formalities in our room!! The room or almost suite is wonderful. There is a large entry with large bath and separate nice dressing room with a vanity off one side and a very tasteful bed sitting room off the other side. The room has three large windows with a view of the river on two sides. We are at the end of the building looking up river toward the Grand Palace! Nice!!
After some organization and thought, we purchase two sky-train passes from the concierge and take the hotel ferry to the sky-train station across the river. The sky-train is an aerial tram and, this time, we find it delightfully cool. Last time, as far as we remember, it was not air-conditioned.
Carolyn is on a shopping hunt and after two hours and checking out the shops in the Intercontinental, Central World and Aramin,, fails to find her quarry. She does purchase an item destined as gift. On the way back to catch the skytain we stop to watch an interesting celebration at the Erawan Shrine.The street leading up to the shrine is full of women making and selling the red, white and yellow flower offerings to people visiting the shrine.After going up and down many steps, we return to the hotel, foot sore, hot and tired . So what else is new?!!! We are hungry and tired, as stated, and can’t seem to get organized so it is nearly 8:00PM before we emerge to look for dinner. There are multiple dining venues in the hotel and we select the River Terrace for tonight. They do a spectacular buffet each evening for 1,500BAHT or $42US per person. However, tonight we are too tired to do it justice and will save that pleasure for another night or two. After all, we will be here for four more nights before we leave for Africa. Carolyn has some French onion soup and Dick has a Caesar salad and a serving of fried rice with chicken accompanied by a hot sauce that is HOT but GOOD! It has little rounds of Thai peppers floating in an almost clear broth and it adds immeasurably to the fried rice’s flavor.
We have one quick observation before stopping for the day. The Thai people, especially the ones we interact with in the hotel and the shops are wonderfully friendly and polite. They cannot seem to do enough for you and their custom of putting their hands together and bowing is both quaint and delightful. We liked Bangkok and Thailand when we were here in 2004 and we like it very much this time.