Monthly Archives: February 2017

48 Hours in Bangkok

Bangkok Thailand city skyline with skyscrapers at night from the top of Zoom rooftop sky bar.

When we finally landed in Bangkok over 17 hours late, exhausted and minus one missing suitcase, all we could think about was crawling into bed. Our original plan had been to arrive on New Years Eve at 6pm, throw our things into our room and head straight out to celebrate. Instead, we ended up spending the first few moments of 2017 queuing to board our flight from Beijing after a sleepless night. As if that wasn’t enough bad luck for one holiday, once we finally arrived in Bangkok we then found that Nat’s suitcase had gone missing! After a teary chat at the lost baggage desk we had no choice but to head to the hotel and hope that they might call us.

We pulled up to the hotel just after 6am, and as we finally sat our weary bodies down on the bed in our room, we were greeted with a beautiful hazy sunrise over the city from our balcony window. After a huge breakfast, many cups of coffee and a much needed shower, we were about to set off to a mall to buy Nat some clothes and toiletries, when we got the news that the case might have been found! Resting our hopes on this, we spent the day lazing around the pool, napping and nervously waiting. Thankfully, by that evening the suitcase had been found and was on its way to the hotel. Things were starting to look up, and so we decided that to make up for the two days that had been lost, we were going to make the most of the 48 hours we had left.

If I’m being completely honest, Bangkok was the place I was least looking forward to visiting on our trip. I’d heard such mixed things from others who I’d spoken to, and many said it was dirty, horribly humid, far too busy and that they couldn’t wait to leave. We went with the lowest of expectations, but both came away saying how much we’d enjoyed it. Yes it was busy, yes it was a little dirty, but there was also so much to see and do. We could have happily spent many more nights here, and I would definitely recommend visiting.

With only two days left, we had to cut a lot of the things that were on our list of must sees. We didn’t get to party on Khao San Road, we missed the floating markets and we didn’t get chance to visit some of the smaller temples. However, the things we did do gave us a really good taste of Bangkok and the variety of sights and experiences it has to offer.

 

Take a ferry down the Chao Phraya River

Bangkok Thailand dock pier on the Chao Phraya River. Bangkok Thailand Chao Phraya River riverfront apartments and balconies with colourful washing hanging up. Bangkok Thailand Buddhist monk in sunglasses standing on the dock on the Chao Phraya River. Bangkok Thailand Chao Phraya River ferry, brightly coloured wooden riverside homes on the water. Bangkok Thailand boats Khlongs on the Chao Phraya River. Bangkok Thailand wooden house on the Chao Phraya River. Bangkok Thailand little boy looking out onto the Chao Phraya River from the ferry boat.

This was very much a happy accident, but something I would really recommend, especially if you’re short on time like we were. After a morning of walking around we found ourselves near to a ferry port and thought we’d fit in a little ride on the river to take us a few stops down to Chinatown to get lunch. It was another thing we could tick off that we’d done, and we’d get to where we were going quicker too, perfect! We were a little confused by the map, but decided to get the orange ferry instead of one of the more comfortable looking tourist boats. We brought our tickets (25p!) and piled on, along with what seemed to be far too many other people. After around 5 stops though, it suddenly dawned on us that we were going in the opposite direction to where we wanted to go!

Nat persuaded me that we may as well stay on now and just get off at the stop we wanted on the way back down. I have to admit, I wasn’t very keen on this idea at first. I just wanted to get lunch and explore as much as possible, I didn’t want to be sat on a boat for an hour! We stayed on and rode all the way to the top until Pak Kret Pier, then made our way back down finally getting off at the correct stop around an hour and a half or so later. It turns out it was actually an excellent way to see a lot of the city in a very short space of time. We went past temples, monuments, cute little restaurants, riverside homes and got to people watch to our hearts content as people went about their everyday lives.

 

Explore the neighbourhood

Bangkok Thailand Chinatown city streets with motorbikes, engines, spare parts and machinery. Bangkok Thailand Chinatown view of the Chao Phraya River from river front restaurant. Bangkok Thailand Chinatown city streets with street sign. Bangkok Thailand Chinatown city streets. Bangkok Thailand food. Curry, rice, papaya salad. Bangkok Thailand view of Wat Arun and tourist boat on the Chao Phraya River.

Sometimes it’s nicest just to have a wander around when you’re in a new city. It’s the best way to get a feel for a place and you’ll always uncover some hidden gems you’d never have otherwise come across.

On our last night, we stumbled upon the Bitter Deck after getting the ferry back across the river from Wat Arun. It has a wonderful wooden deck, decorated with fairy lights and the most beautiful views of Wat Arun. Sadly the Wat was undergoing renovations, so we didn’t get to see it all lit up, but it was still a pretty magical sight. The food and service was incredible too, everything was so full of flavour and our waiter went out of his way to make one of the dishes vegetarian for me. It was one of the nicest meals we had in Bangkok, and that’s saying something, as everything we ate in Thailand was delicious!

 

See the temples

Bangkok Thailand temples, The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew. Bangkok Thailand temples, The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew.

You can’t come to Bangkok and not visit at least one of the city’s spectacular temples. Seriously. There were originally a few smaller and less touristy temples on our list alongside the big ones, but with our limited time we thought it made most sense to see the main three – The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Pho and Wat Arun. I was prepared to be awed, but honestly they were even more grand than I could have ever imagined. The beautiful architecture, glittering gold and intricate detailing decorating every square inch completely took my breath away.

If you can only fit one in, I’d recommend The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew, both are within the same complex. We did this one first and it remained our favourite of the three, even despite it also being the busiest.

You can see more of the temples in my Temples of Bangkok post. They really deserved their own post, and I took far too many photos to include here!

 

Jump in a Tuk Tuk

Bangkok Thailand Tuk Tuk traffic.

Tuk Tuks are one of the quickest and easiest ways to get around in Thailand and they’re rediculously good fun too, especially in Bangkok’s crazy traffic! They can be a little more expensive than a standard taxi, especially if you don’t haggle with them over the price, but there’s nothing like zooming through Bangkok’s busy streets in the back of one.

 

Watch Muay Thai at Rajadamnern Stadium

Bangkok Thailand Muay Thai fight in the ring at Rajadamnern Stadium. Bangkok Thailand Muay Thai fight knock down in the ring at Rajadamnern Stadium.

This is going to be the kind of thing you either love or hate, but for us it was something we were definitely not going to miss whilst we were here. We saw many ‘fight nights’ advertised, but we wanted to make sure we saw the real thing and not a staged show so we headed to Rajadamnern Stadium. It’s one of the two main stadiums for modern Muay Thai and it hosts fights four nights a week, running Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday from 6pm.

Each night there are 9 fights, with a mixture of relative beginners and seasoned pros competing. The atmosphere was electric, a live band played rhythmic traditional Thai music throughout the matches to help the fighters keep their rhythm and the crowd shouted and cheered with almost every hit.

I won’t lie, it was brutal, especially the matches with guys in the heavier weights. Blood and sweat were flying, and we saw one guy knocked clean out by a kick to the chest who had to be stretchered out of the ring. Of course, Muay Thai is about much more than just this though. Many of these fighters have spent years honing their craft, perfecting their physical skills as well as sharpening their minds. Winning is as much about tactics as it is about physical strength. It was one of my highlights of the whole trip.

My biggest tip if you want to catch a few matches yourself – Don’t pay extra for the ‘VIP front row’ seats, even if the ticket sellers try to tell you it’s the only tier with seating. It’s not. The view is better from the 2nd tier, as you’re not looking up at the ring and it’s much cheaper too.

 

Take in the skyline from a rooftop bar

Bangkok Thailand city skyline with skyscrapers at night from the top of Zoom rooftop sky bar.

We were lucky enough to be staying at a hotel with its own sky bar, Zoom, so this was a no-brainer. The panoramic views of the city at night were spectacular, and there’s nothing like drinking an ice cold beer with a view.

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Easygoing

I always find myself feeling super casual at this time of year. I’m not sure if it’s the fact January and February are always miserable, freezing and grey or if it’s the come down from all the festivities. Either way, I seem to spend my days in trainers and swathes of cosy layers, always choosing comfort first.

I’m not usually a fan of trainers for women, I tend to prefer unisex or men’s styles. The ones aimed specifically at women are often a bit more colourful and have busy prints or unecessary extra details. As you know I’m more of a paired back kind of girl, especially with trainers. Nike have completly won me over with their Air Max Thea though. The shape is a little sleeker, more refined and feminine, but other than that it’s very subtle. I already have a pair in triple black, but these Ultra SE’s, with their mix of black on black suede and snake textured fabric might have to be my next addition. This is adding print and extra detail done right.

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Trinkets

FAIIINT jewellery picked up from travelling Thailand, Cambodia and China. Pale blue topaz druzy silver necklace, black rainbow pearls, milky white and orange quartz handmade wrapped raw crystal. FAIIINT jewellery picked up from travelling Thailand, Cambodia and China. Pale blue topaz druzy silver necklace, black rainbow pearls, milky white and orange quartz handmade wrapped raw crystal. FAIIINT jewellery picked up from travelling Thailand, Cambodia and China. Pale blue topaz druzy silver necklace, black rainbow pearls, milky white and orange quartz handmade wrapped raw crystal.

When I started unpacking, I noticed that by complete accident I had come home with a piece of jewellery from each of the countries we had visited on our trip. A silver and blue topaz crystal necklace from Chiang Mai in Thailand, a milky quartz pendent from the Siem Reap night market in Cambodia and a string of black pearls from Beijing in China. I love collecting jewellery, but I wasn’t really looking out for pieces or souvenirs whilst I was away. I just kind of stumbled upon each of these and knew immediately that I needed them.

The first was the quartz shard. We were wandering through the night market in Siem Reap on our way to dinner when I saw a wooden cart all decked out in fairy lights, smelling of incense and essential oils. As I got closer I saw that it was draped in crystal jewellery. The pieces were beautiful, but none of them really felt like me. I was about to walk away, when the lady who owned the stall asked if I needed any help. As we got talking we learned that she was British, and that she had been a nurse back home but had moved to live with a Hill Tribe in Chiang Mai after her kids had grown up. She now sells these handmade pieces along with teas and oils, and comes to Siem Reap with her husband every few years to sell at the market. We couldn’t help but feel a bit envious, but also quite inspired by her adventurous spirit. She pointed me to a little basket of crystals on the shelf, and told me to see if anything caught my eye. I poured through, and suddenly found myself drawn to this pointed, white fragment. Nat said it reminded her of a tooth, and that was that. I handed it over and when I returned a little while later it had been hand knotted into the perfect necklace.

Next came the silver and topaz necklace. On our second day in Chiang Mai, I spent the afternoon wandering around the old city, drifting in and out of shops and sampling the street food. Chiang Mai is full of wonderful little independent boutiques selling handmade pieces and I was really glad I’d had the chance to look around properly. My heart skipped when I saw this necklace in the window of The Silver Cafe, and then again when I noticed the price. I couldn’t afford it. I stared longingly at it for a while before forcing myself to keep walking, but I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. Walking back to the hotel a few hours later I passed the store again and decided to go in. I looked in every case, and though there were many beautiful things none of them were the necklace. I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t buy it, so I decided to see if I could put the haggling skills I’d honed in Siem Reap to good use. It didn’t look like the kind of place that would entertain offers, so I was amazed when I managed to get it down to a price I could afford. It was still a little more than I should have spent, but it’s something I’ll treasure and to me that makes it worth it.

Lastly, the black pearls from Hongqiao Pearl Market. When we arrived I was pretty underwhelmed by the silk scarves and knockoff fake leather bags on the lower floors, but then we reached the 3rd floor and saw the pearls. String and strings of them! Personally I don’t like the perfectly round, uniform kind so I was much more taken by the cheaper, imperfect sets. The prices seemed too good to be true, but we gave them all the tooth and scrape test, and they were infect real. When I brought these black ones I thought I was buying them on a string and that I would have to make them into a necklace myself. I hadn’t even haggled with her on the price as they were already so cheap (£7!), so I was speechless when she whipped out some silk thread and a clasp from under the counter and started knotting them into a necklace.

There’s something so special and even a little magical about jewellery. It seems to capture memories and moments in time so effortlessly. Each piece developing its own story and history that can be passed down and built upon over the years. I never intended to pick up a piece from each place, but I’m going to try to carry this on and bring a home a new piece from each country I visit from now on.

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Best Outfits of 2016

Fashion blogger Stephanie of FAIIINT all black everything dark street style goth best outfits of 2016 compilation.

Between holiday packing and Christmas festivities I didn’t get chance to look back over the last year and put together my usual roundup before I left. I do enjoy looking back though, and I find it’s pretty useful in helping develop my style further and also to avoid becoming lazy, or stuck in a rut with it. So, a very belated compilation of my favourite outfits from 2016!

One of the main things I noticed whilst trying to pick favourites this year, is that I actually really liked almost all of them. I had quite a hard time narrowing them down, whereas in previous years I’ve had clear favourites and plenty that I shot, but then realised I really didn’t like. It’s funny how unforgiving the camera can be sometimes! I’m not sure if this is a good thing, in that I’m developing and standards have gotten higher, or a bad thing, maybe they’ve been a little safe and there’s been less experimenting?

The big experiment of the year was the black and white striped sundress. I was so unsure about this dress when I first got it, it’s quite bold with the huge blocky stripes and I really didn’t know if I could pull it off. I’m a little surprised that even now, looking back on it, I still really love it! It’s striking and very unusual for me, but I still think it fits with my aesthetic and works. I’m looking forward to hopefully getting to wear it to a few weddings or events this summer to give it a proper outing.

My favourite buy of the year was the Rick Owens leather jacket. I only posted two outfits including it, but I think both of those outfits are easily in my top 5. I could wear just a simple black dress with this and it would still be a killer outfit, it’s such a great statement making piece it really doesn’t need anything else.

Also, check out all the previous years compilations of you haven’t already. It’s starting to look more like a little style journey now there’s a few years worth – 2015, 2014, 2013 and 2012.

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