We’ve been at the Chatrium Riverside for 3 nights now and there’s some good news and some bad.
We were originally booked for 6 nights but due to problems getting out of Chiang Mai we had to book an extra night.
So we arrived and were shown to our to our room which was lovely, very large with a kitchen, a dining area, lounge with TV, great balcony over looking the building site….
Re run that.
Overlooking the building site where they are sinking piles to support a new multi story hotel being built next door. There is a pile driver hammering the piles into the ground and the sound of grinders and machinery all day from 0700 till about 1600, however we didn’t hear the noise when we checked in and the view across the site could be tolerated as long as we left one set of curtains drawn.
But on the first morning the din started and we decided to ask for a move.
The staff were very understanding and moved us to the 22nd floor on the other side of the building, the room wasn’t quite as nice but it was still very comfortable. Well except that the air conditioning control for the bedroom was broken and the safe was locked so we had to carry our valuables with us all day. Once we reported these issue though they were resolved straight away.
Moving rooms though was a pain. We had to repack the suitcases then wait till our new room had been cleaned. When we moved in we forgot all our booze was still in the fridge of the old room and we never got our shampoo and conditioner back which we left in the bathroom. Also, I just couldn’t cope with the change of rooms and often found myself on the wrong floor or trying to get into the wrong room.
On our first morning we swanned into breakfast and were half way through a green Thai curry and rice with grilled bacon and toast when we were advised our booking was room only and the breakfast would be 600 Baht each, which was fine for me as I had pigged out but Jaki was still feeling poorly so had only eaten one piece of toast and a cup of tea.
Well, it is a 5 star hotel!
That evening we ate in the restaurant and Jaki ordered poached fish with potato cake, as she was still struggling. When it came it was cold and had to go back. Then when it arrived having presumably been microwaved, it was minus the potato cake.
Well it is a 5 star hotel.
To be fare when we raised this with the restaurant manager he discounted us one breakfast as compensation.
Steve and Cathy arrived on the 8th and having been traveling for 24 hours they were tired but still up for a drink and some exploring.
We caught the river Ferry to Asiatique http://www.thaiasiatique.com which has only been open for a few months and is a Mecca for young western Thai’s but was a nightmare for us. If it was the UK there would be a Bottolino’s, a Jamie Oliver restaurant, Marco Pierre White, a Gap shop and a TK Max. We quickly left the scene .
We went out onto the road and walked back toward the Hotel. We stopped at a small road side restaurant. A few plastic tables and chairs, some improvised lighting and a cart to cook on, where we had traditional Thai food and some beers before hailing two Tuktuk’s and then we encouraged the drivers to race each other back to the Hotel. Very grown up!
The next morning, Steve and Cathy confidently went to breakfast in the Hotel whilst Jaki and I slunk off to Starbucks ( sorry all you right on socialists but needs must) . When we met up again Steve and Cathy had fallen for the same ruse as us, their booking didn’t include Brekkie!
This wouldn’t be an issue if there were any other option. The rooms come with an oven a grill, a microwave and two electric rings. All you need to make your own breakfast, except there aren’t any pans, cooking utensils are facilities to wash and dry things afterwards.
We caught the river ferry (express) up to pier 8 to see the reclining Budha which is spectacular.
Catching the right Ferry is an art not a science and the instructions of a guy with a megaphone are of little use as they are in Thai. There is a booth offering unlimited use day passes at 160 Baht but you would have to spend a lifetime on the water to get any value for money when a ticket is 15 baht one way, any distance. There are also 4 different Ferry lines each identified by a coloured flag on the boat and on each pier at which they stop. All this is clear
Y marked on the notice boards except that most of the instructions are in Thai, they have faded to invisible due to the Sun and they have been a magnet for Banksy impersonators. Completely illegible.
There are also different piers for different routes and on each pier there are at least two different queues but we still haven’t worked out which queue we should be in. In the end we just got in a queue and waited, which takes some nerve as our queue didn’t move as fast as others and the temptation was to run and buy a ticket, but these are a bit of a con as they charge extra to tourists.
In the past, we’ve bought tickets then got on the wrong boat and had to pay again. On one occasion we were sold tickets that were apparently dated the day before so weren’t valid and we had to buy tickets again.
My advice, get on a boat going either up or down river (depending which direction you want to go) and pay on board, then get off when you come to your stop.
We spent an hour or so walking around the grounds of Wat Pho after seeing the reclining Budha. Be aware that women need to cover their shoulders and any other exposed flesh before entering bare foot. They do offer a gown for those (like Jaki) who didn’t have anything to cover their modesty. This is worth a trip and I would advise paying one of the guides to take you round as they have a wealth of information that puts this experience into context at 200 Baht. Money well spent.
Eventually though the heat takes it’s toll at even the best Temple and we sauntered off to find a beer. We settled at a table in amongst the street stalls, ate deep fried sausage on a stick and pork kebabs with a Leo beer. On the way back to the Ferry we walked through a small flea market where people had laid out a mat on the floor and were selling anything they could to make a Baht. Cheap plastic crap dominated but there were also medals, old clothes, Buddhist charm necklaces, sunglasses of all shapes and sizes and some rather fetching wooden dildo’s that Jaki suggested were far too small to be of use. He puffs his chest out proudly at this point.
Back at the ranch, we spent the afternoon led on a sun bed till it got dark, when the call off the street became unbearable.
But you will have to wait for that as it’s time for me to stretch out in the Sun for an hour.