Friday, September 30, 2005
Last sunday after weeks of intricate planning, Nuch and I walked up the steps of the Landmark Hotel in Bangkok. Waiting for us where Alan and Jackie Burns. As most of you probaly know I used to work with Alan when I worked at reckitt Benckiser in Hull. This trip I felt slightly responsible for, I used to come back from my visits to Thailand and tell him how good it was, so when he said he was forgoing his annual holiday to Malta to visit Thailand I was apprehensive.
The good news was that they at least liked the Hotel (See Landmark Hotel Blog).
I also met Jackies cousin Graham and his mate, Michael. So off we trotted on the Skytrain to Chatuchak Weekend Market, I think taking them there was a bit of a culture shock, it is rammed with people, a huge market and very hot. We introduced them to Thai food which did not go down to well, altough the Singha beer went down a treat. So I tried to recover from the the dissapointment of the market and took them back on the Skytrain to the Emporium Shopping Centre in Bangkok. If your a Thai, This is the most expensive Mall in Thailand. The Burns loved it, the prices I guess are cheap compared to the UK. In the evening we took them to a local thai restaurant called the Banya, it's one of my favourites. Alas I found out that maybe Thai food was not for my guests.
That night I took them to Patpong, which is one of three Red light areas in Bangkok, nowadays its very tame and more famous for its Night Bizaar. As you walk around the edge of the Market you are hassled by people wanting you to go and see a "Ping Pong" Show, you ocassionally see behind the curtains of the Go-Go bars and see the semi naked girls dancing around, all very tame. A single blokes paradise! I dont think Alan and Jackie were to impressed with this part, although the market and some of its shops were a huge hit.
The following day turned into a eight hour shopping marathon, We went to a high class Mall called Gaysorn then down to the wholesale district where Jackie was measured up at a Tailors that I recommended. Alan stopped off for a quick cream cake in the Indra Regent Hotel. From Pratunam I then took them to MBK. MBK is a huge shopping centre, about ten floors like Meadowhall. We found a shop selling Cheap Diesel jeans which more than pleased Jackie. I managed to stagger back to Phil's Condo where I met Nuch and went back around to the Landmark to meet up for dinner. We took them to the Hard Rock Cafe, I fairly sure that they enjoyed it, the food was good and the band excellent as usual. I was dead on my feet and left at 10.30pm, the Burns party stayed till gone 1am.
On the wednesday, you guessed it, we started off at the Emporium, then a quick trip to Siam Square and on agian to Pratunam to pick up Jackies Suits. Jackie really liked them, which is always good when you recommend someone. In the evening we went to a Indian restaurant across from the Landmark, a very good meal it was too. After the meal it was back to Patpong for some last minute shopping.
I must say a big thank you to Alan, Jackie, Graham and Michael for buying me and Nuch's meals in the evening, it always good to see people from the UK. I hope they have a good time in Phucket and come back next year. Hopefully i'll get a chance to show them some of the tourist sights of Bangkok.
Thursday, September 29, 2005
This weeks report is one day late, due in main to my showing Alan and Jackie Burns around Bangkok, I will cover the trip in a future blog.
One of the perenial questions i'm asked about Thailand, and the Burnsy were no exception is "What is the McdonaldsLike". I can honestly say that on the whole it is exactly the same, any of the chicken products dont seem to taste as nice, but for the rest their fine. There is the same items on the menu, also something called a Samuri Pork Burger, which i've not tried and very unlikely to. None of the burgers come in boxes, they all come wrapped in paper, with the Big Mac, to help keep the Mac looking like it should, they put a cardboard tube around it, its great! Not the usual slide alround the box, looking like you've been sick. The price is around three times cheaper than the UK, so a Big Mac is around 60p, a happy meal about £1. Bearing in mind though, thats the cost of living is around three times cheaper, the same as wages, the price of Mcdonalds is the same for Thai's as it is for people back in the UK.
While trawling round Patpong Night Market I came across this "Magic Wallet". Its very impressive. You put a folded bank note on one of the inner sides, close the walllet and then open from the other end. Magically, the bank note is affixed under one set of the ribbons, keeping your notes safe. You can do it as many times as you like, they will always end up fixed un the straps. If you would like one, let me know.
Last weekend Nuch's two brothers came round to the Condo, they bought there two sons and one of their cousins for a swim in the pool. The youngest lad who is not very well, he as a liver problem had never swam in a pool before. Like the little daredevil he is, he just ran and jumped! For saying he isn't very well, hes into everthing, and because of his little angelic face, he gets away with anything.
Nuch made a lovely dineer of fresh crab, prawns and noodles.
I'm going back to bed know, try and recover from the visit by the Burns! Just how much shopping can be done in four days? A. I'll let you know when the swelling in my feet as gone down.
Monday, September 26, 2005
Just when you think its safe to drink anything in Thailand, they bring out a even stronger form of Red Bull.
Red Bull Iced Coffee is three times stonger than normal Thai Red Bull, which means its probaly six times stronger than european Red Bull. I must admit the taste is not the greatest i've come across, but the effects are very good.
It is recommended for people who undertake long drives, it does however say drink no more than two cans in every 24 hours.
No! I'm not going to try three of them for scientific reasons. Your stomach feels dodgy after just one.
Anyone who wants a tin, its cost is about 20p per can and about £4 for the postage.
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Most of you that know me, know i've always been into bikes. Whether its riding, racing or tinkering with them. When I moved to Thailand I knew I would have to buy one.
Although i've not ridden much in the last three years, I have always had a bike lurking in the background to remind me what I did in the past. I bought the above bike in the first month I was over here, its a Trek 4300 Mountain Bike, its OK, maybe not as good as the bikes i've had in the past, but I dont need much for now. Whilst i'm a long way from being fit, I still enjoy riding as though I was still taking it serious. The route I take is only about 15KM, but when you think of the heat and humidity in Bangkok, its like riding 50KM.
Also as some of you know, especially the guys at AMS, I love to draw maps, not just quick squiggles, but quite intricate maps to get people from A to B. So i've put my topography skills to use and drawn a map of the route I take.
After getting the bike down to the ground level, and riding past the bemused Security Guard at the Condo, its a quick right down my local Soi! Bear in mind, that all you learnt about the highway code counts for nothing in Thailand, as I expalined in a previous post,"Its the law of Size" Buses are King, cyclist are only slightly better than shitty pedestrians.
I soon come upon the first hazard, Ferrell Soi Dogs are a complete menace, they will chase you, and they will bite you if they catch you, there are three very bad places I have to get speed up for. The attacks fo the Soi Dogs are nothing compared to the other hazards. Firstly, the pollution is so bad that you feel like you are chewing it, you can see like a yellow mist in the air, how good this cycling is for me is debatable. Secondly, Thai drivers will knock you off if they think they could get away with. This would go some way to prove just what a hard bloke they are, as for the women, well!
(Click on map to enlarge)
A couple of the stretches on the route are down right dangerous, you must get the picture, as you ride along, you'll look up and there will be a moped deciding to take a short cut on my side of the road going the wrong way. It happened last week, I looked up with just enough time to take evasive action. Taxi drivers love to nudge your back wheel while you wait at red lights. Red lights are weird, if the light is red, but there is no traffic coming the other way you can go! However if the law see's you do this, then he'll pull you over for a Tea Fund contribution. I've seen this happen to a taxi, when Plod saw me looking at what was going on, he made the driver pull up 100M up the road, so he could take the bribe in private.
Anyway, when I move, i'm hoping to be nearer the open countryside. Which will mean i'll be able to get more riding in.
Sunday, September 25, 2005
The Landmark Hotel
Located on Sukhumvit Road, right in the main tourist area, The Landmark is an hotel offering five-star facilities and services for both leisure and business travellers. With a station of the Skytrain located in front of the hotel, The Landmark Bangkok is conveniently linked to the city's main commercial district and many of its leading tourist attractions. It also enjoys easy access to Bangkok's major conferences centres, the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center (QSNCC) and Bangkok International Trade and Exhibition Centre (BITEC). Nearby is the expressway to the domestic and international airports. Your perfect address in Bangkok.
At The Landmark, we have a choice of accommodation to suit your style and personality. From beautifully furnished superior rooms and newly created Junior Suites to the Superior rooms of our exclusive Landmark club, complete with its private lounge and Boardroom. All of our guestrooms and Suites now offer broadband internet access.
The above is what The Landmark says about itself, the location of the Hotel is perfect, as you can see from one of my pictures, its right next to the Skytrain and only one stop from the Subway.
Unfortunately the cheapest room is around $60 a night, which while cheap in the UK, is expensive when considering the competition in Bangkok. The rooms are OK, very clean and functional, not the biggest i've stayed in, but fine. Breakfast is extra, and at $11 per head is very expensive, you get what you pay for. This is the best breakfast in Bangkok, real sausage and real bacon, plus baked beans.
Underneath The Landmark is the Huntsman Bar, a british style pub, that always as a group on in the evening, and many ex-pats in there, again its amongst the most expensive bars in Bangkok.
The pool is alright, but the pool area is a small. The large Jacuzzi is very good, you can also use the Fitness First Gym on the fourth floor.
My rating for The Landmark is 6/10, dont get me wrong, its a very nice Hotel, but your probaly paying double what you you pay for a comparable Hotel only a few hundred metre away.
Tha Landmarks Pool
Saturday, September 24, 2005
I came across this bar whilst visiting Pattaya, at first I thought it was just a quirky name, maybe the Thai owners hadn't known of the english twist!
On closer inspection, and you must remember this was done only to bring you the information. I discovered the ground floor was a bar full of skimperly dressed young ladies with a sign at the back pointing to "The Bedrooms"
What can I say? The Bar does exactly what it says on the sign. No trade description problems here.
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Thursday, September 22, 2005
Any of you who have flown in to Bangkok will know the first thing you see is the Golf Course next to the runway. This is the Karentat Golf Course, formally the Royal thai Airforce Golf Course. For a while now i've been trying to play it. The day got off very bizarrely, your taxi cannot not go to the clubhouse because the course is on military land. This was also the first golf course i've played where the sucurity carries an M-16. So after a few minutes waiting, this young girl turns up on a chicken chaser moped to take me and my clubs to the club house. I just closed my eyes, I only opened them once as we actually rode over the runway! Mad!
There I met with my playing partner Kim, this was my birthday present. We were very suprised how cheap the round was, two people, two caddies and a buggy, only £19. On the first tee I took the above photo as this Malaysia Airline took off. You know how you get put off by cars at Breadsall Priory, imagine this thing taking off about 100M away, Mega!
You then look round and a 747 Jumbo will be landing, very insane. Never the less, we had a pretty good rounds, although like every time you play golf in Thailand, sunburn was a menace.
Then came the the 10th, a nice 112 yard par 3 over water, however the backdrop was a Turkish Airways Airbus, so I just used it as target, amazingly, I parred the hole. From the 10th you then have to wait for planes crossing the runway, on the way back we had to wait for this Cathay Pacific 767 to cross in front of us, as we crossed the runway we got the full force of the jetwash as it taxied to its gate.
I'm glad I finally played the course, and anyone who comes to Thailand and plays golf, they should try it, if you want a good score, then this is not the course to come too.
Soi 4 Pattaya Beach Road
The main part of Pattaya is split between two roads, which operate a one way system, between these two roads which are about 200M apart are what are called Soi's (street). During the day these look like any other street in Thailand, but at night they become lit up with neon signs, Girls outside bars promising you the world to get you in the bars and loads of Restaurants.
I'm not going to beat around the bush in this blog, any guide book you read about Thailand will only devote a paragraph to this side of Thailand, it is however part of the tourist scene and I think its best people know about it. So if your easily offended dont read any more of this post.
Most bars around this area are what are called "Girl Bars", basically they are open air bars that on the face of it are full of Girls, if you want to just have a drink and a bite to eat, No problem, if however your looking for a companion for the night. The girls in the bar are more than happy to oblige for a fee. They are a good laugh, and should you just want to have a chat, find out about the nightlife or anything about Thai life, for the price of a drink you'll get all the info you need. Some places have closed doors, with Hawkers outside trying to get you in, these places are more like Lap Dancing Bars, they put on the famous Ping Pong and Banana shows you hear about, whilst most are up front, you need to find out the price of entry and the price of the drinks before you enter. Some offer free entry and cheap drinks, unfortunately you have to buy a $100 bottle of Champagne before you can start on the beer. Usually inside the girls dance around a central stage, they all have numbers on them, This is so you can identify them if you would like to meet them later, they have numbers because they dont like being pointed at. Should you want a girl for the company then you have to pay what is called a bar fine, a charge to the owner, because you take the girl away from the bar. I've obviously only been told about this, i've never been in any of these establishments!
In Pattaya, there is a large gay scene, with parts of the beach dedicated to men only, as usual these are the smartest parts of the beach. In the town, rather than be hassled by some of the loutier tourist there is "Boys Town". Again this is a really smart and cleaner part of town.
The main steamy part of town is called "Walking Street". Along this 500M street there are more bars and Go Go bars, there are bars with Thai Boxing going on, if your drunk enough you can have ago, Don't! These guys are as hard as nails, they might only be just over five foot tall, but they will kick your ass. All night Nuch had been in a bad mood because she was missing her favourite program. The Thai version of Fame Acadamy, thank God we found a small bar on Walking Street that was showing it, I got bored with this, so went across the road to the bar in the picture and watched the Chelsea/Charlton match on ESPN, I had several girls come over to me, but I was able to say that I was married. This did not put the girls off until I pointed Nuch out about 20M away. Although Nuch did not care, her program was much more interesting.
The last picture is of one of the girls who try to get you in a bar, she told me to say to all my english friends "I will love you and your wallet for long time"
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
We got back from Pattaya on sunday, as I looked out from the balcony, I noticed that a piece of waste ground had been cleared, not in itself a problem. Except that this piece of ground had my local coke and fried chicken joint on it, so now when I finish my bike rides i'm going to have to find a new place to get my ice cold coke.
We also added to our collection of orchids, I haven't a clue what variety they are, but at only 65p each i'm going to buy quite a few more.
Every so often Nuch buys a Thai newspaper, these are great! On the front cover there are always lurid pictures of bloody crime scenes and road accidents, on the font page of this one there is a picture of a fleash covered knife pulled out of one of four schoolgirls attacked by a real mental case, it turns out the 35 year old woman had a thing against Indian and Chinese people, shame all the victims were Thai. Other pictures include Tata Young who is bigger than Madonna in Thailand, a fake jeans factory bust and a dead deer. Not sure about the deer story. "Its all Thai to me".
(Click on picture to enlarge)
Not heard about when I will start my new job yet, so i'm making the most of my time, when you read this I will probaly be playing golf again.
Lastly, many thanks to Emma for sending me over a food parcel from england, very much appreciated, the last picture is the parcel I will be sending back, it includes:
1 can Beer chang
1 bottle Thai Red Bull
1 can Ice Coffee 1 carton Green Tea
1 jar Thai Chilli Paste (very spicy)
1 jar Fish Oil (use like salt)
1 pkt Super Noodles
1 pkt Green Curry Mix
1 pkt Dried Squid Snacks
1 pkt Seaweed Snacks
1 pkt Dried Fruit Sweets
1 pkt Thai Sweets
On its way to you Emma.
Monday, September 19, 2005
Our Condo Complex.
I was really pleased with Pattaya, I had been previously, but got the wrong idea completely. The nightlife is very steamy and if you are of a delicate disposition, you might take offence. This is only a small part of Pattaya.
For the most part, pattaya is a large, busy seaside resort. From what I saw of the accomodation, its all first class, the Condo we stayed in had tennis courts, a 25M pool and lovely gardens. The Jontiam Beach we went to was fairly clean and not very busy. if your into watersports, there are loads to choose from and very cheap. 20 minutes on a Jet ski costs around £5, and great fun too. The nightlife I will go into in another post, but the Restaurants are all very good, they specialise in seafood, on sunday afternoon we found our way to a Thai Seafood restaurant right at the other end of the beach. it was right on the front and you had to choose the fish or prawn you wanted. Nuch had the prawns in the picture. these suckers were huge, I wouldn't have wanted to put my hand in the tank to get them out. I was walking past the snapper tank, when one of them looked at me a bit funny, that made my mind up. I had him charcoal grilled and covered in vegatables and sweet and sour sauce. The moral of the story is, dont give me that look, OK!
We were tucking into our food, an Aussie called Jim who we met on the Taxi joined us for lunch, I think he was glad to talk english with me! All of a sudden out of the corner of my eye I spyed something trying to nick the bread off the table. I looked round and there was this bloody great big Elephant! On its way back from working on a building site, it was peckish so decided it wanted my snap. You dont argue with a ton and a half of elephant. Its Maumoot said it would be best to give her our bread. I passed it to its trunk, the power in the trunk was incredible and its small eye's took everything in. you dont get this happen at the Continental Food Bar back in Belper.
It was soon back to Bangkok, I enjoyed Pattaya, so did Nuch, we will be back again!
At the Condo we stayed in during our stay in Pattaya, I was just about to get in the lift when I saw the sign above.
Surely they couldn't mean me! with my bronzed Adonis body, I know all the ladies love to see me in my tight fitting Speedo's as I get out of the pool.
It was obviously an old sign that they had forgotton to take down before I arrived.
Sunday, September 18, 2005
This weekend Nuch, through one of her friends at work, we got us the use of a Condo at the coastal resort of Pattaya.
Pattaya is around 110km east of Bangkok, we caught the 18.30 coach from Bangkok (See "Thai Coach Network" post), it takes about two hours to get there, we arrived on time, but had to wait for a Taxi. I use the phrase Taxi in its loosest form, basically its a pick up with two rows of seats in the back and a cover to keep out the wet, we were jammed 14 people in the back. The picture of Nuch in the back was taken the following evening when there was only us two in a taxi. Anyway, too cut a long story short, we where dumped about 500M from the Condo, walked all the way down to it, only to discover we were to late to check in, thankfully the guards let us dump our stuff in the room. So at around 21.45 we had to find a Hotel, so a 500M walk back up to road and another pick up ride to a Hotel called Jontiam Beach Resort. This did not look a cheap Hotel, but we were knackered and needed somewhere to sleep. We had to pay only 2400bht (£32), this was for a night stay at a four star Hotel and a buffet breakfast thrown in. We couldn't be bothered to find a restaurant, so we had room service, I will do a post later about the Jontiam later.
After breakfast in the morning we caught the taxi back to the end of the condo road and walked 500M again. The wait was worth it, the Condo was very nice, only 200M from the beach. We went straight down to beach which was also called Jontiam Beach. The main beach in Pattaya is called Pattaya Beach, this is were most foreign tourists end up, just over a mile away, the Jontiam is a nicer beach and because mostly Thai's use it, the prices for food and stuff is alot cheaper.
Whilst on the beach we bought these King Prawns, cooked for us right where we sat, they were fantastic and only cost £1.40. You could have a massage, your nails done and any amount of different food from the Hawkers who come round selling their wears. One Guy tried to sell me a copy of "The Sun" for £7, when I said "Righty oh! I'll have a dozen of them" in my best sarcastic voice, he procceded to get the papers ready. It was then I discovered the Thai's have yet to use the complexity of english sarcasim in there everyday life, he went away with a pissed off look on his face.
For lunch I decided to eat something foreign, so I had Beef Strogenoff at a restaurant attached to the Hotel we stayed in the night before. Very nice. After a few more hours on the beach we went back to the Condo before we hit Pattaya's famous nightlife. I will tell you all about it in Pattaya part 2.
Sunset on Pattaya Beach
The other night we went to a Thai Style BBQ restaurant about half a mile from the Condo, there are many of these in Bangkok, they all have a huge flourescent sign outside with a pigs head, the poor pig as chopsticks through its nose.
These are big Restaurants that seat several hundred people, there is one set charge, roughly £2.oo per head. On your table there are electric burners that are plugged in to some dodgy looking electrics. The waiter plugs the burner in and while you wait for it to warm up you go and grab your food.
You can choose as much food as you like from the buffet, all the meat is uncooked and you have to put it on the BBQ when you get back to your table.
I was worried about cross contamination of the meat! No one else seemed to worried so I tucked in.
As with any BBQ, anywhere in the world! You guessed it, it pissed it down the second we sat down, so we had to find a table undercover and move everything.
Meats included marinated chickens, beef, crab and Tripe. Now i've never eaten tripe before, so I was apprehensive, Nuch loved tripe, but she wasn't sure which part of the cow tripe came from. Who am I to tell her.
Sorry about the quality of the pictures, they were taken with my mobile.
Friday, September 16, 2005
You know when you've had one. You know when you're going to have one. You know how important it is to be prepared.
That's why Rough Night™ is here. Rough Night™ gets you ready for what's coming, and helps you keep it together before, during, and after.
Try a one-ounce jar of our exclusive Butt Cream™ for just 25 cents (plus S&H). Our regular price is $3.50. This isn't a lube, but you and your buddies will be glad you have some afterward!
Whether you're a rider who just can't stop, or a horse who doesn't know what whoa means, the restorative power of Butt Cream™ will keep you coming back for more.Check out the
rest of the Rough Night™ stuff, too.-->
We've got you covered!
This should come in handy for Robbo and the Judge if they share a room again, for Simon if he as a super hot curry and for Mick if he gets drunk and meets that Geordie Welsh bird again in the Funky Munky.
Hope you have a good time lads, stuff Rocbore! and send me loads of Photos. (I promise I wont print them) Not.
AMS Majorca Golf Tour 2005
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
I've seen the future, and its not Garlic Bread!
Recently, we went to a restaurant by the river, the food was very good and highly recommended! But what attracted my attention the most was this novel idea for the beer drinkers. Rather than have to keep annoying the waiting staff to fuel you alchohol addiction, just order this four litre monster.
It costs around 500bht (£7.50) and as its own tap. You just pour as required, its a hard Oiltown Blokes dream come true, some of the Yorkie boys who read this blog could share one if they liked.
Do you remember the picture of the beautiful blue sky in Bangkok Life part 14, as you would expect, ever since that photo was taken it as lashed it down for what seems for ever. the photo at the side was taken exactly a week later, one good benefit is the temperature as crept below 30C. I cant believe I thought it was cold when it slipped down to 27C, I'm going to have to choose my visits back to the UK very carefully, anytime between september and may is out!
Thanks to those who have offered to send me a food parcel to satisfy my craving for UK food, anyone who sends me a parcel I will recipricate with a Thai food parcel back.
We've almost stopped cooking at home now, its so much cheaper to eat at the local restaurants or buy from one of the many food carts that line the street. In the evening in nearly all of Bangkok, every single metre of pavement is covered with people hawking food, you can buy everything from BBQ'd squid, salad, fruit and these amazing tasty sausages. One problem that sometimes as you walk past, the cook will have just thrown a load of spices into the hot oil and you get a full face waft of this, you go past coughing and sneezing. I'm sure they wait for the big Farang's like me, just for a laugh. What is a joke is the cost, from this guy I bought a bag of spicy Papya salad and three Chicken satay breasts with peanut sauce for 30baht (45p). They taste so good when you compare them against the puny ones from a Supermaket Deli.
This weekend Nuch and I are going to Pattaya, its a coastal resort about 120km from Bangkok. This place gained fame during the 60's and 70's. Whilst the GI's were fighting the Vietnam war they were given one week rest and recuporation (R&R). Most of these were shipped out of the warzone and went to a small resort called Pattaya, it soon filled with Go-Go bars, working girls and hotels. After the war its fame spread and tourists from all round the world came to see this wild place. Loads of Brits live there because it is cheaper than Bangkok. Pattaya as a split personality, one part you would take your family for the perfect beach holiday, whilst the other part makes Amsterdam and Prague look like Convents. I will try to get some photos of the seedier parts of town.
Below find a photo I took of myself the other day. This reflects my daily exercise regime. its a shame that my new job will spoil this.
Monday, September 12, 2005
The Baiyoke Sky Tower is the largest building in Thailand. The Baiyoke Tower was opened in 1998. This building is 309 metres tall or about the height of 182 people standing one on top of the other. There are 1,740 windowpanes in the building. About the same number of windowpanes can be used for over 200 townhouses. The area inside this building is about 30 football fields.
There are altogether 2,060 steps from the bottom to the top. It takes more than one hour to reach the top. The piling runs 60 metres deep underground or about the height of a 22 storey building. There is a really good good buffet lunch, the buffet costs 320 baht for adults and half price for children. The 84th floor as a revolving deck. It takes about 5 minutes to do a complete rotation. If you dont want to eat, it costs 120 baht to go to the top.
The Sky Tower is a very good Hotel with prices starting at on £28 per room per night, it is in the Pratunam business part of Town, not too close to any tourist sites but top for shopping. The entrance to the Hotel is a real let down, the first 11 floors are shops, so you have to get a lift to the lobby.
When you head into town you cant help but see the Baiyoke, if you have time visit it.