Bangkok stories

Wait, what? No, you didn’t fall asleep and miss Summer. Sometimes the evening light up here is so brilliant, it lights up the hills to a bright orange hue. It’s stunning for just a few magic moments.

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So when I left you yesterday, my friend and I were on our way to Bangkok, to a hotel called The Princess. Mum and I had stayed there often and I wrote to them, as one did, “in the old days”, to book a room for Sheila and I. Very obliging they were about it all too.

This is not The Princess Hotel .

So proud, I was, to have had the knowledge and insight to book ahead. Yes, well…

The journey into Bangkok from the old airport, Don Muang added a good 90 minutes to our journey, but from Hong Kong it was only a four hour flight, so we were sufficiently composmentis to realise, to our dismay (mine in particular!), that The Princess had suffered a severe change in status since I had last sought accommodation under her roof.

I’ll be kind and say it was scruffy. Loud Thai pop music was blaring from an adjacent room and water was seeping under our door. A quick glance at the bedding convinced me we should not sleep there.

But we were nice, polite young ladies and the receptionist had been so sweet. How to get out of this mess? “Oh,” said Sheila, “we just got a telegram from our office. We have to leave right away.”

And we did. Leave right away, though I am not sure how the receptionist imagined we had received said telegram in the five minutes since she had checked us in. I felt awful because the hotel even sent me a refund for the unused accommodation.

We fled to the British Airways office and they steered us to a Japanese-run establishment that provided a lovely clean room at a nice discounted price.

I never thought about it before, but I daresay that by changing hotels, I may have avoided another of uncle’s unwelcome telephone calls. Surprisingly he didn’t send out the Thai police to search for us.

It was the kind of thing he was apt to do but there were some limits to his deviousness.

These two pictures that I found belong to a different story. On that occasion, we had prearranged hotel rooms at The Bangkok Intercontinental, and after roughing it slightly for a week in Burma, we were looking forward to a bit of comparative luxury.

Hotels in Bangkok always seemed very customer-oriented and as we awaited our luggage in Customs, a message was delivered to us. Words to the effect : “Welcome to Bangkok. We are very sorry but due to heavy bookings, we have had to give away your rooms.” We were using an airline rate, of course, and that is the kind of thing you could expect, but we were crushed.

Tim doesn’t give up easily, though. We took a taxi to the Intercontinental and presented ourselves at reception, looking very forlorn and slightly crumpled. Whereupon we were told that if we didn’t mind sharing (there were four of us), they did have one room, if we would like to inspect it…..which is how we ended up in the Presidential Suite, two nights all for the equivalent of one night’s stay USD40.

We did not suffer. The suite had two large bathrooms, including sauna and Jacuzzi, a “dressing room” and two super king-sized beds. The room was dressed in silk and lacquer and plush carpet.

Each time we passed by reception, someone would apologize to us again for our “inconvenience”. As I said, in Thailand they know about customer service!

It is many years now since I was last in Thailand, but I always loved going there……

….

Back in 1970, now established in survivable lodgings, Sheila and I went for a bit more shopping…oh they do have some very lovely things in Thailand. We spent hours looking at trays of jewelry and both bought Thai “princess” rings. A dome shape, inset with gemstones.

These came in so many varieties! Thailand was a great place to obtain gemstones. There were streets dedicated just to jewelry.

Lacquer ware and bronze were also very popular, not to mention art.

I already had more temple rubbings than I knew what to do with….

These were actually done by my mother



At Jim Thompson’s, we saw silk to die for, in every weight and more colours than you ever imagined. You could buy yourself a length of silk and pop round the corner to a tailor who would run you up a beautiful dress in a matter of hours.

Jim Thompson was an American who had been in Thailand since WW2. He founded his amazing silk industry in 1948 and then became something of a legend. He disappeared in 1967 while visiting friends in the Cameron Highlands of Malaysia. Theories abound about what happened to him.

Before Sheila bankrupted herself, we found ourselves space on a Pan American flight bound for Sydney where we planned to turn around and head for home.

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