September 2015 notes from Bangkok

I’m just back from a week in Bangkok.  So much has been written about Bangkok, I will just make a few observations, rather than duplicate others’ efforts.

  • Last month, August, as you’d know a bomb killed a lot of people at a popular shrine in Bangkok.  We stayed away from major attractions.
  • But now there is airport-like security at all malls. You have to pass through one of those gates, and maybe they will search your bag, if you have one.  Mind you, they also often ignore it when it buzzes, and don’t bother searching your bag, too.
  • The BTS and MTR have the same type of security.
  • Strangely, Hua Lamphong Railway Station had no security. And the bomber allegedly passed through this station.
  • And the airport is less stringent than some malls.Mostly escalators ascended on the right and descended on the left.  Except at the MTR,which did a bit of both, sometimes the left ascended, and sometimes the right.  If you are standing on the escalator you should stand on the right.
  • Sometimes when you ride the BTS you spot someone who is not glued to their phone screen.  You can see whole rows of seated passengers using their mobiles.  Either with earphones and listening to something, or looking at or interacting with the screen, or both.
  • Many surfaces are tiled in malls and entrances.  Occasionally they are very slippery, especially if wet.
  • Mostly, in the trains and malls you see no old people – except for foreigners.
  • One trend for girls seems to be distressed jeans. In some cases, very distressed jeans.
  • Buying fresh fruit at a market can be one fifth the price of buying it in a supermarket.
  • A Tiger beer in a supermatrket costs around THB35 – in its home country, Malaysia, the same beer costs MYR8.50, or more than double the Thai price.
Emporium food court

Emporium food court

  • I particularly liked the food court on the 5th floor at Terminal 21, Asok.  And the  Emporium food court on the 4th floor Phrom Phong.  The latter is smaller, quieter, and feels more upmarket, but still very good value.
  • I don’t drink so much soft drink, but I did buy a can of Coke once.  It tasted a bit funny, and I didn’t feel so good after it.  But I couldn’t read the ingredients as the labelling was all in Thai. I suspect that instead of sugar they used high fructose corn syrup.  Which could also be GM.  Thereafter I only bought drinks where I could read the labelling and see if the sweetner was sugar. The juices and juice drinks seemed often to have English versions of their ingredients on them.
  • In the toilets in the malls they had proper hand towels to dry your hands.  In Malaysia they supply only toilet paper, which disintegrates and leaves tiny bits of paper on your hands – so then you have to wash your hands again to get it off. I don’t use air dryers as they can spread bacteria unless they have a filter.
  • I needed more research on ATM’s as the ones I used charged huge commissions for withdrawal, even though my bank doesn’t charge.
  • And I found the mobile phone deals confusing and kind of expensive. More research needed here, too.  The data speed in Bangkok, and even in the countryside was quite good, though.
  • A note of caution if you buy duty-free and fly out of Penang.  One of the receipts in the bag they give you has all your passport details.  I’d rip it up and throw different parts away in different bins. It’s very insecure to just throw it away when someone could possibly use those details.


  1. Regarding ATM fees in Bangkok. All ATM’s charge a 180 baht fee to withdraw money. The only way to avoid this fee is to have a bank card (or credit card) affiliated with one of the banks. For example, if you have a CITI Bank credit card, you can take money out of the CITI ATM’s without a fee. Otherwise, you have to expect to get hit with the fees, regardless of where you go.

    Came across your blog. I am not at the point of being ready to retire, but looking to the future and Penang is certainly on the list. THanks for all of the useful information.

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