Day1: Bangkok – Hotel check-in and Siam ocean world
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We made it past visa and immigration by 9 am and considering that the check-in time at Citadines hotel was 2 pm we were unsure what to do next.
I had anticipated this and put in a request for early check-in, albeit it would be subject to availability. Exploring the terminal a bit, I found the metro express line to be right below the building and it also went pretty close to our hotel. In we jumped, and half an hour and a cab ride later, we were at the hotel.
The lady at the reception assured us she’d try her best to get us in soonest.
A bit groggy eyed and desperately in need of sleep, we were lucky to get a room without much waiting. After a quick shower and breakfast comprising theplas (yes, I carried them with me, true Gujarati that I am), all three of us dozed off for several hours. The evening plan was to go to Siam Ocean world and explore the neighboring malls.
Citadines is an apartment hotel in the commercial district of Sukhumvit and has modern rooms, though the one we got was a shade confined for two and half people. It has a mini kitchen – microwave, cutlery, electric cooking system, toaster, mini-refrigerator – and other standard amenities including an LCD TV which played atleast one channel from various countries, thoughtful I’d say.
Located on Soi Sukhumvit 23 (Soi refers to alley # and most side streets in Thailand are numbered for reference) and within walking distance from Asok skytrain station and BTS metro station which makes it easy to commute.
The hotel also provides free tuk-tuk service to these stations, that we availed on a daily basis. (See pic at right)
I have membership of Club Mahindra, which is an RCI affiliate and hence we usually stay at CM or RCI resorts. In Bangkok and Pattaya, CM has tied up with a couple of hotels which made them my default options of stay.
Bangkok has two main public train networks – the BTS skytrain – which runs on an elevated platform, and the Metro or MRT, which runs underground. Siam is the central skytrain station and also an interchange with another line. And its also a major commercial and entertainment district.
To imagine a complete underground ocean world in the middle of the city and the basement of a mall as its entrance is unthinkable.
Only when you see it do you realize the enormity of this feat. Aarav was already jumping around in excitement as we descended the escalator. I had booked our tickets online to avail a major discount but on reaching the counter came to know that various rides and tours are available only on purchase of a full ticket so I had to forgo the advance booking.
Fortunately I hadn’t made any online payment, it was only a confirmation number.
This place is pure entertainment for kids and adults alike. You come across an incredible variety of fishes and other sea creatures. A giant spider with its tentacles spread across several feet, sharks roaming furiously all around as you walk through the glass tunnel, enormous tortoises slowly making their way on the sea bed and corals of all shapes and colors.
You are also taken on a tour of the building from where the entire facility is run, explaining how the water is treated, all creatures monitored and research carried out. Very informative, if you can grasp the accent of the guide.
Next was the boat ride, which has a glass bottom and you are taken around a huge water tank with fishes and corals underneath.
If you are lucky, a big fish might decide to swim with you beneath
your boat. Below this tank is another section, so its like you are looking down and they are looking up at the same sea creatures.
We also got a fish massage, which comes with the full package. Its actually a micro-massage where small toothless fish gather around your feet and chip away at the dead cells, in the process
cleaning your skin. My only worry was how the fish would respond to my weary feet after I removed my shoes and socks. With this consideration in mind, all visitors are required to wash their feet first, good for the fish I’d say.
With kids in tow, this place can easily take several hours, especially with them demanding to do a recap of some fishes. Overall, this was a great start to our trip. By the time we were done, it was pouring outside grimly reminding me that July is a month of monsoon all over south-east Asia. We dined on chicken fried rice in the food court on the second floor and headed back to the hotel via the skytrain. In less than a day, we were traveling like locals.