Friday, February 29, 2008

One night (or three) in Bangkok

One of the things I like best about Hong Kong is that it's easy to get from here to there. Just a few hours by plane can take you to some exotic places. Take for instance, our weekend excursion ...

Three short hours and we were out of the gloom of winter and beside the pool of The Four Seasons in Bangkok. While The Four Seasons is usually a splurge, this location is surprisingly affordable and comes with the five-star service that earned the hotel its reputation.

When we got the urge to journey away from our lounge chairs, here's where we went:

Manohra Cruise -- Brian audiably moaned when I told him that I reserved a dinner cruise, but it turned out to be a great way to orientate ourselves with the city. The cruise is aboard a huge, teak, rice boat where a five-course meal of traditional Thai dishes is served. Along the way, you'll wind past famous sites like the Royal Palace, Wat Arun and even the Boathouse of the Royal barges. Dozens of similar dinner boats troll the river at night, but none are as nice. The Manohra sets a romantic stage with tables spaced far apart, dim candle lighting a served meal, not a buffet.

Ayutthaya -- When I heard Ayutthaya was a World Heritage site, I had to go. The city, which was the Thai capital for hundreds of years, features dozens of wat temples that were once covered in gold before the Burmese ransacked the capital.

Ayutthaya is a good hour from Bangkok, but it's easy find tour companies for the trip. Most will first bus you to the Royal Palace at Bang Pa-in, and then on to Ayutthaya. Our tour took us back to Bangkok via a leisurly river cruise and included lunch (a buffet).

Faces -- Modern meets traditional in this trendy restaurant/lounge/spa. In both the Indian and Thai restaurants, much time was paid to each detail in the room. Take for instance the large buddha in La Na Thai. It isn't cheap for Bangkok, but it is chic and tasty.

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