As the sun rose over the Chao Phraya river – I felt the breeze ripple across the water. I thought about our tumultuous end to 2022. The death of my husband’s father and the relocation of his wife back to her natural homeland of Thailand with family. We were both exhausted. Yet the sun, always a giver of life, allowed the developing heat of the morning to warm my face & heart gently as I sat, legs dangling over river wall, at the bottom of the hotel garden. Quietly observing Bangkok come to life.
We were going to visit Kanchanaburi – Hellfire Pass, The Death Museum and River Kwai. A trip which had been postponed and replaced with Los Angeles in 2020 to see our son perform for Cirque Du Soleil. The next with Mexico. Thailand shutting its list on this occasion – the cause of our pivot. So I’d positioned us well in the cheap and cheerful Ibis Bangkok Riverside. Situated on the west bank and closer to Thonburi Railway station. This my 6th trip to Bangkok and for what we needed, the location turned out to be ideal-easy access to the train.
The Ibis isn’t a glamorous hotel – well, maybe that’s unfair. It is little in comparison to the high rises around it, yet nestled in greenery and by the riverside which is what makes it lovely. The rooms functional and clean. We’d asked for a pool view and from our room, looked out over the glistening cool water. Catching glimpses of the river. Frangipani trees brought fragrance to the garden. There weren’t many sun loungers and umbrellas but plenty of tree shade and some handy outdoor seating close to the hotel restaurant. For us, it turned out to be a fabulous location we were happy with.
We stayed two nights to ensure jet lag had a chance to dissipate. On the advice of the hotel, our taxi took us the short ride to the local train station. Where we would pay 100 baht. The tourist price for the train which would eventually take us to Num Tok and Hellfire Pass. 3rd class carriages with fan only. If you want to arrive refreshed, hire a taxi or go in a mini bus.
We had both decided what we wanted to achieve out of this trip. The intentions had been set during conversations had before stepping on the shore of Thailand. The pandemic a personal challenge with a complete psychological shift forced where work was concerned – to adapt to the closure of the world. Covid pneumonia, ICU, broken bones and multiple deaths in 2022 meant that since 2019, emotionally, physically, spiritually, mentally and psychologically, life had been hard. My parasympathetic nervous system needing conscious activation to allow for deep relaxation. I was going to allow myself to shut down. Disconnect. Just for a short while. Repair was needed.
So we’d decided on our World War 2 experience which connected both of us with our parents. A lazy holiday on the island of Koh Chang; home of my former work place and a personal enjoyment of being river side for two parts of our trip (the other at The Royal River View in Kanchanaburi) and a reminding that depending on your location. Life can look very different. Staying in this part of Bangkok was freeing – especially from the smog hanging over the Thong Lor area which we also bedded down in for two nights, when we met with a work friend from Koh Chang. There is something lovely about having friends around the world. On the 48th floor of the Marriott Hotel. The Octave Lounge & Bar. The last time I’d visited, I hadn’t seen the sun go down over Bangkok and this was still something I wanted to experience and it didn’t disappoint. The Thong Lor region easy to visit from Charoen on the BTS and crossing the river on the locals daily ferry, simply 10 minutes walk from the hotel. 5 baht per person. A hidden gem for us tourists. It was fun, connected us with local life and dropped us off right at the escalator. A great location to stay. Bangkok then easy to navigate by river and BTS.
Still. It was not yet time to switch our brains off. They very much needed to be on. We had the freedom to personalise our own adventure, as we began our journey through the heat, humidity & tiredness. We were excited. Time to enjoy our long time coming trip to the bridge over the river kwai, via the clackety and traditional thai railway. Our kind of fun had already raised its glass and we were intending to drink the whole bottle!