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Bangkok 2013 Day 5: Siam Ocean World, Baan Silapan & Patpong Night Market

Monday is Day 5, its also a public holiday, the Queen’s birthday. It’s also Mother’s Day in Thailand. I thought it would mean the malls would be packed, but it was no different from any other day during our trip here. Which was good for us.

I had booked discount tickets to Siam Ocean World via Hotels2Thailand, they offered really cheap tickets compared to the counter price. If you buy the tickets from the counter, there are two prices, one for Thais (or at least those who can read Thai) and one for foreigners. This is actually quite common here in Malaysia too, they usually call it Mykad price. Anyway, of all the attractions in BKK, why did we choose Siam Ocean World? Well, my family really likes sea creatures, so we try visit them as much as we can.

Siam Ocean World in located on the basement of Siam Paragon, long been one of BKK’s best malls. We reached Paragon just before opening time via the BTS station, and there was quite a crowd waiting for the security guards to open the roller shutters, unzip the velvet barriers, remove the crowd barricade… a gwailo even offered to help to slightly paunchy guards, but they politely waved him back… meanwhile everyone was waiting… waiting…

waiting

And it was open! Everyone filed in orderly, we immediately took the escalator downstairs. The view outside was fabulous, why can’t local malls be this cool?

siam paragon

Siam Ocean World (SOW) pretty empty when we got there, but their counter staff was horrendous. There was only one person ahead of me in the online ticket redemption line, but the counter girl took more than 20 minutes to settle his tickets. Next to me, there was a large European family group buying retail tickets, they were also having problems. Very poor first impression.

smiley
(Someone’s chippy today)

SOW is pleasant place to visit, but rather small. They have a few extra attractions like glass bottom boat ride, back of house tour, 5D cinema (whatever that means), but they all cost extra. We took the basic-basic package, so 2 hours is more than enough to spend here, even if you take picture of every exhibit.

strange fish
(not sure what this is called, but I’m pretty sure it’s not edible)

nautilius
(First time seeing a nautilius)

One of the more popular tanks is the penguins. Very playful and friendly.

penguin

IMG_2730
(clothes matches the sofa)

At the end of the path, you’ll go through the Perspex tunnel as with any aquarium in the world. Lots of sharks and turtles.

tunnel
(shark with delicious fins)

There’s gift shop outside. Some of the stuff they sold were cheaper than at Chatuchak. Anyway, we didn’t buy anything.

shark hat
(A shark bit my head)

If you are going to SOW, go early. Coz when we got out just after 12pm, the line to the counter stretched to the escalator. Not helped by the inefficient staff, I reckon.

long line to sow

We went back upstairs to Siam Paragon for lunch. The foodcourt, as expected, was great.

The highlight was the good pad thai and or chien.

more pad thai

or chien

After lunch we had to across town before 2pm. Where to? The Artist’s House, Baan Silapan. It was BTS to Wong Wian Yai again, then a short cab ride. If you want to go to Baan Silapan, make sure you have the name and address printed on a paper for directions. Most Thais won’t know about this place, even fewer can point to it. Anyway, at the end of a very long, nondescript road, that’s where the taxi can take you and its on foot from here. There is a wooden jetty that leads to a bridge across a khlong.

khlong
(Very beautiful photo spot)

Walking this short distance, you can see the traditional Thai riverside way of life, wooden houses on stilts and small shops serving the local community.

Across the river, its a short walk.

walking the khlongs

Lady making pad thai. Apparently, a few of these shops sprouted up due to Baan Silapan’s popularity.

khlong pad thai

rolly dog
(local version of daschund)

IMG_2817
(fancy a cheap haircut?)

Right near Baan Silapan, we stopped for Coke and coffee.

coffee stop

Next to Baan Silapan, there’s a house / toy museum that has lots of interesting stuff from our childhood.

IMG_2825

Baan Silapan is where artist congregate to paint, carve and sculpt. Entrance is free, but donations are encouraged. Or you can buy any of their affordable art pieces. But the highlight of the place is the daily puppet show at 2pm. This traditional puppet show is the direct descendent of the Joe Louis theatre, which is supposed to be re-established in Asiatique soon. But right now, this is probably the only place in BKK to see this dying art.

When we got there, two of the performers were conducting lively banter with the small crowd. Unfortunately, everything was in Thai. Some parts involved this adorable little boy, something to do with training him to perform the arts.

lil kid performing

At 2pm, they brought out the two puppets plus a picture of the king for prayers.

prayers

And then the show started.

hanuman

There are only two scenes portrayed, interspersed by more lively banter and using the puppet to interact with the crowd. Basically it portrays 2 scenes from the Thai Ramayana. The first one is basically just Hanuman performing, then the second involves Suvannamaccha (I had to google her name up).

fish

hanuman greeting
(Legendary Hanuman reduced to soliciting donations)

Although the interval chit chat and donation-soliciting were a little cheesy, the performance was immaculate. After the performance i had to see up close the puppet to see how they managed to make it soo flexible.

Hannah and suvannamaccha
(photo op for everyone! Donations welcome! I’m surprised how the mermaid princess could keep her deadpan face for so long.)

If you take a canal tour in BKK, you’d most likely see this red guy sitting outside the Artist’s House.

red guy
(He is extremely embarassed)

After browsing around the shops nearby, we went back to the main road. Some ladies told us to get onto a songthaew (first time on one of those) for the ride to the main road, cost us a very cheap THB5 per pax. From there it was a cab to BTS, and home to Sukhumvit.

In the evening, we decided to visit Silom night market, also known as Patpong. We decided to take a river boat, the one transport we haven’t tried in BKK. The ‘bus-stop’ is just next to our hotel, below a bridge.

waiting for river taxi

Unfortunately, the conductor on the boat going the opposite direction told us that the last boat going into the city had already passed, so no more boats that evening. We took the MRT instead.

On the way to the night market, saw a group of people standing outside a mall holding candles. Presumably it was to celebrate Mother’s Day, but they could be protesting something.

moms day

Silom market runs along the go-go bars, but there’s nothing really to shop there.

souvenirs

patpong night market

Behind the market we found some stalls, so we had our last pad thai meal in BKK.

frying guy

pad thai

So in the end, we went to Silom Complex shopping mall since it was still early. This is a large but quite mall just next to the BTS Station.

BTS

So it was an end to Day 6.

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