Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Suvarnabhumi Airport: Thailand's mega-structure

The main air gateway of Bangkok and Thailand is Suvarnabhumi Airport. With 96 airlines operating hundreds of flights to and from the terminal, the airport is one of the busiest airport hubs in the world. But do not be deceive by its name as it spelled.  It is pronounce as “su-wan-na-pum” meaning “Golden Land”.  

Gate areas of Thailand's mega-structure - Suvarnabhumi Airport.
The airport is located in Racha Thewa in Bang Phli district, Samut Prakan Province, about 25 kilometres east of downtown Bangkok. The name Suvarnabhumi was chosen by King Bhumibol Adulyadej and refers to the golden kingdom hypothesised to have been located somewhere in Southeast Asia. Suvarnabhumi is the sixth busiest airport in Asia, and the busiest in the country, having handled 47.9 million passengers in 2011, and is also a major air cargo hub, with a total of 96 airlines. On social networks, Suvarnabhumi is the world's second most popular place where Instagram photographs were taken in 2011. The airport inherited the airport code, BKK, from Don Mueang after the older airport ceased international commercial flights. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suvarnabhumi_Airport)

Welcome to Suvarnabhumi Airport!
Thai Airways hub.
A very warm welcome...
Building and Facility
The building was designed by Helmut Jahn of Murphy / Jahn Architects. It was constructed primarily by ITO JV. The airport has the world's tallest free-standing control tower (132.2 metres / 434 feet), and the world's fourth largest single-building airport terminal (563,000 square metres / 6,060,000 square feet). (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suvarnabhumi_Airport).

The building is mostly build of steels and huge panels of glasses. The glasses made it feel modern in design but the steel designs made it feel very “industrial” and only evokes a very “construction” feel to it because of the dull color of the grey steels especially the ceilings in the arrival area. Though, looking at the structures will make you amaze at this architectural wonder and mega-structure of the country. I also think that the glass design of the airport is one of those new airports that join in the modern trend of “all-glass designed airport” like Incheon International Airport, Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Beijing Capital International Airport Terminal 3 and Hong Kong International Airport.    

Information board - so many flight!
Check-in counter area at departure level.
Its main terminal is one long building with satellite buildings for gates shaped like a huge letter H.  The left area is mostly occupied by Thai Airways International (Suvarnabhumi’s home-based airline) while the middle and right H-arm of the terminal is dominated by foreign airlines.  The airport is complete with main amenities of international airports like day rooms, shower rooms, transit facility, lounges, transportation facility to downtown and numerous duty-free shops.

Arrival is a just a breeze and quick but maybe because our plane parked at the gate that is directly linked to the main terminal building. It is because the terminal has a letter H style satellite. What if the plane parked on the edge of the H satellite? It would be a nightmare walk to the Arrival Immigration and Baggage Carousel Claim since both are located in the main terminal. Yes, there’s a lot of walkalator to aid but it still a long walk to the main terminal. I’m not sure but I hope they have an in-terminal shuttle service because the arrival pathway from far located gates is not friendly for those traveling elderly and family with infants and small kids.

Looking for transportation options are the arrival terminal is very tourist friendly. It’s easy to locate where to take a taxi, bus or train to the city. Plus loads of very helpful tourist pamphlets available that will help you on exploring Bangkok and Thailand for the first time!

Sawasdee ka...
Thai relics at the arrival concourse area.
If the arrival area has a very impressive architectural design, the departure area won’t be a disappointment in impressive structural design as well. The departure area has more natural lighting effect from the outside because of the ceiling design. And the ambiance here has more light and space but the “construction and industrial feel” is still there since it is the dominant concept design of the terminal. The huge glass panel designs we all a breeze of air inside the structure of the departure terminal. The main departure area of check-in counters is literally huge that’s why be careful to get lost inside while looking for your airline counters.

Orchid Garden at the departure area.
Departure area of Suvarnabhumi Airport.
Buddha Urn Reliquary at the center of departure area.
Overlooking at the planes in its huge glass panel design.
At the transit and duty-free area.
Butterfly orchids at the airport's departure area - they are attention drawing among passengers.
Though the terminal has this “construction” ambiance, it didn’t fail to put markings and relics of Thai culture to have the terminal a touch of Thailand, like having a Reliquary urn of Buddha ornamented with many Thai orchids and lined statues of Yakshas (demon guards in Thai) at the departure area of the airport. In the transit area and meeting points of the gate satellites, passengers will find numerous historical and cultural Thai relics that made the terminal define to be an “airport in Thailand.” Be ready for another dose of shopping as Suvarnabhumi Airport has so many duty-free shops to choose from that you’ll be literally tired if you explored them one by one!

I like the idea of how the gate area was put to concept at Suvarnabhumi Airport. Each gate per plane is separated solely from the waiting area of the other gates with full contained divider – making it easy for airline employees to locate missing passengers. And each gate has restrooms so no need for passengers to go up or go to other areas where there’s a restroom if he or she needs too. A huge Samsung flat screen TV in front of the gate waiting area is there to keep the passengers entertained while waiting for departure.

PR731 to Manila at Gate D3.
Airy and spacious Gate D3  while waiting for departure.
Suvarnabhumi Airport is one of the biggest airport I have been in my whole travel life, that’s why it makes me think that Suvarnabhumi Airport is also Thailand’s megastructure. Imagine, three buildings of SM Mall of Asia together just composed the main building of the airport. Satellite airside gates are not yet included. How big that is!?

Final Call already?!
I tried to stroll the whole airport just to savor how mega structure it is. I had a good sense of wonderment at first but it only gave me a tiring last hour stay in Bangkok’s main air gateway. It is really huge but the structural design of the whole was astonishing and amazing! For me plus points for the huge modern glass panel designs, they are always delight to my eyes. Minus points for me the steel, lifeless, construction/industrial feel design part of the airport because I feel nothing when I see them like lifeless and it seems to be an unfinished building.

Numerous airlines flies to Suvarnabhumi Airport. This is the main terminal building with gates.
Just one arm of the H-style satellite gates of Suvarbhumi Airport.
 The idea of a huge airport is nice to accommodate more flights and passengers but I’m not pro for huge airport that is so huge enough that it is not passenger friendly anymore. And Suvarnabhumi Airport hit some of those like getting into long walks both at the arrival and departure area especially in the arrival area going to the immigration counter and baggage claim carousel coming far edge gates of the terminal. This factor is not friendly for visitors who are elderly, senior citizens, and passengers traveling with infants and small kids.  There are walkalators but then again longs walks and pathways are still ahead. I’m not sure if there’s a shuttle service here.

Suvarnabhumi Airport is a hub airport in South East Asia region that’s why many airlines fly to this airport that some are not flying to Manila. It’s location in Bangkok is a nice option to get various connecting flights to other cities around the world especially bound to Europe. That makes the airport an ideal transit hub for passengers with connecting flights not just for tourists and visitors but also for seman crew and overseas workers.

Bangkok in the air!
Overall, Suvarbhumi Airport really gave me an impression of what and how a mega-structure airport is. Ideal as well, because it the complete amenities of an airport especially its function as a hub airport for transiting passengers going to other destinations. There maybe downside aspects to its huge structure but its design were really impressive – I’m amazed and stunned to it.   

Suvarnabhumi Airport: Thailand's mega-structure is part of my Thailand's Amazing Smiles series where I share my wonderful trip to the land of amazing smiles last October 25-28, 2011. For a helpful trip to Bangkok visit Bangkok for Visitors website for more information. You might also like the other parts of the series:  

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Bangkok Accommodation: Juldis Mansion Room Rentals

We accidentally discovered Juldis Mansion Room Rentals when we’re lost in the streets of Pratunam during our first day in Bangkok. Actually we were referred to this accommodation when we stumbled upon a Filipino restaurant in Pratunam where fellow Filipinos help us finding this affordable accommodation in Bangkok. And truly, it is cheaper than the hotels around the area. For 900 Thai Baht per night, visitors will enjoy a private room condominium rental stay at the city with complete amenities of fridge, aircon, bathroom, food utensils, mineral water and free wi-fi!

Comfy beds.
The room provided to us contains a complete amenity of a condominium room since Juldis Mansion is a condominium. It has one queen size and a single bed that can accommodate at least 5 people maximum. It is perfect for family or friends on vacation. Everyday we got bottled free mineral water and coffee, thought there are water dispenser and coffee maker in the room’s mini kitchen free of use to guests. Food utensils like plates, spoons and forks are also available for use. Bathroom towels are also provided for free. That’s it you feel at home as you stay in Juldis Mansion because you seemed to own everything.

What is also nice about this accommodation is its location right in the center of Pratunam Market! So doing a flea market shopping is just around the corner. Actually, if just go downstairs; there are stall markets already to shop. If you need money exchange, there’s one near the building’s street. If you prefer mall shopping – Indira Square and City Complex are just nearby and it is walking distance by 10 minutes. So it’s not a problem too to have last minute souvenir shopping in Bangkok as every market has various things to offer.

Home sweet home in Bangkok.
The commercial ground of Juldis Mansion just downstairs.
The location is also a perfect place for Thai food hunt. Since it is in the heart of Pratunam Market, there are numerous food stalls around the corner for visitors to sample Thai street food especially the famed Phad Thai. And since it is a market, convenience stores are everywhere like 711 for quick bites, drinks and amenities. Actually, Pratunam looks like a commercial and flea market place in one. It is like Thai version of our Baclaran and Divisoria, only cleaner and more tourists roaming around.

One of the best amenities of Juldis Mansion is the free wi-fi internet access with a very fast connection. So making a shout or tweet of your whereabouts in Thailand will always be up to date. I don’t mind having a long and confusing password to access the wifi. At least it has a very strong connection. Plus the owner, Ms. Gemma offers affordable tour packages too like Bangkok city tour which we avail for 50 Thai baht! You can suggest your own itinerary and places to visit and all of the entrance fees are shouldered by the clients. Ms. Gemma knows a local tour guide, Dalin who uses his Tuktuk in Bangkok city tour. She arranged a scheduled tour with us and I never thought that touring Bangkok via Tuktuk is one amazing experience. We also availed a tour to Ratchaburi Floating Market and Samphran Elephant Ground Zoo through her. 

Exploring Bangkok via Tuktuk.
If Ms. Gemma’s room rentals are not available, she can refer you to other neighbor room rentals that also offer the same rate. The only difference is your preferred style and setting of the room. But nonetheless I say, a stay in Juldis Mansion Room Rentals is worth your travel budget because of its location, complete amenities and cheap room rate.

Gemma Parocho’s Juldis Mansion Room Rentals
Address: Room 19/27 Juldis Mansion., Petchburi Soi 19, Petchburi, Ratjevee Bangkok, Thailand, 10400
Contact Numbers: +66835463667/+639495861188
Email: parocho_gemma@yahoo.com.ph
*This is not a paid article promotion.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

360 degree of Bangkok from the Sky

At night, when the sky is dark and the air is cool, Bangkok is brightly lit with sparkling lights of the city and skyscrapers. Towering buildings of varied heights and shapes flashes attention-seeking lights that are too hard to be miss. Curves and twirls of mega-structure roads of the city will catch your eye glimpse. Even billboards bombarding in every city skyline hungers for your eyesight! It was a sight that is too much amazing to forget.

How about seeing Bangkok that way from the highest view deck of the city?   How about seeing Bangkok from a bird’s eye view like having a view over the city? Or how much more when you can have a 360 degree view of Bangkok while enjoying music and chilled piña colada? Spectacular sight and amazing experience, isn’t it? That is what you will just experience when you reached the 360 degree revolving view deck of Baiyoke Sky Hotel towering over the city of Bangkok!

360 degree of Bangkok from the Sky...
Baiyoke Sky Hotel dubs itself as Thailand’s tallest tower is located at the center of Ratchathewi, one of Bangkok’s busiest and tourist center district. The hotel is also located within the area of Pratunam Market making it one of the must-visit spot in the area for Bangkok visitors. It boasts 658 rooms including suites that promise each room in its three zones will have a magnificent panoramic view over the Bangkok skyline.  The Standard Zone (22nd - 45th floors) guarantees a wonderful Bangkok in a glimpse of sunny dazzling city by day and a glittering city lights at night. The Sky Zone (46th – 63rd floors) promises to provide an incredible view of City of Angels while being in spacious and comfortable rooms from magical sunrise to lingering sunset of indefinable aura of the graceful city. The last zone is Space Zone (64th – 74th floors) where the highest and most spectacular rooms are located as guests will have an experience of being in the “top of the capital” because of the magnificence of the glamorous view of the kingdom and its gorgeous skyline.  I’m sure any zone of Baiyoke Sky Hotel that guests will choose to stay will definitely have a luxurious experience because of this magnificent panoramic view of Bangkok.

The City of Angels by morning.
Bangkok before it all burst in light at night time.
In reaching the tower you have to take a long ride up to the 77th floor of the tower to buy ticket first at the reception area. Upon entering the 77th floor area, you’ll be greeted with wide wall-like windows of the floor where you’ll have a wide view of the city of Bangkok! The flashing lights of the city’s skyscrapers, highways, commercial billboards and street lights is bombarding to my eyesight! I don’t know what window I will look upon first as all the views around the viewing deck is a stunning sight of Bangkok at night! And though I had difficulty of taking photos because of the glass cover, it did not stop me to appreciate the beauty the view that I am seeing in front of my eyes. Everything is flashing in light, colors and shapes of Bangkok at night! 

A "Welcome" landmark ay Observation Deck of 77th Floor.
 The Observation Deck of 77th floor also has nook areas where you can sit and stop for a while to admire the stunning view of Bangkok. While I roam around, I also noticed that there are numerous memorabilia of Thai culture and heritage like the traditional masks used in puppet shows and vintage photographs of Thai history. I also saw models of Thai public transportations like the Tuktuk where you can have souvenir photographs. The observation deck is not just a great way to appreciate the views of the city but also a learning opportunity to know more about Thailand and Bangkok.

Stunning and sparkling lights of the City of Angels!
While some find that seeing the view of Bangkok’s skyscrapers is enough. Others enjoyed it the most while having dinner or lunch with family and friends. This is what visitor’s should not miss in Bangkok Sky Restaurant located at 76th and 78th Floor of the tower. Diners will definitely have an awesome experience while having a buffet dining of various cuisines amidst a panoramic view of Bangkok from the wide windows. Visitors who choose to eat in the restaurant will have complimentary access to the Observation and Revolving view decks of Baiyoke Sky Hotel.

Traditional Thai mask used in theater plays on display.
Private nook section at 77th floor for reflective viewing of the city.
Locating the skyscrapers you are seeing...
Bangkok's most symbolic public transportation - Tuktuk!
 I know that my viewing of the city doesn’t end up in Observation Deck of 77th floor, so together with my companions we headed to the most exciting section of the tower included in the ticket, the Revolving View Deck at 84th floor. The view deck boast a 360 degree view of Bangkok in open air while on the revolving platform that slowly moves you around to let you savour the experience of having a sky view of the city.

In this view deck, I got a view of Bangkok without glass barriers like in the other view decks of the tower except from the steel barricades that surround the whole platform for safety precautions as someone might fall there by accident or jump there to commit suicide. The revolving view deck is the best spot of the tower to fully appreciate a 360 degree view of Bangkok. It is not only fresh air that I breathe and the cool breeze of air that I feel in the Revolving View Deck but I see the an amazing sight of Bangkok brightly lit with sparkling lights of the city and bombarded with flashes of lights from the towering skyscrapers, huge billboards and curving twirl of highways that are all too hard to miss. 

It's time to see Bangkok from the sky!
Lights of the city...
Color wheel tower - lights are changing colors time to time.
Everything is glittering, flashing and sparkling.
A graceful aura of the kingdom from the sky...
The slow movement of the revolving platform let me enjoy the experience of viewing a 360 degree panorama view of Bangkok from the sky.  The sight of Bangkok from the view deck literally made me feel what it is to be on the “top of the capital.” Everything is glittering, flashing and sparkling. It was a sight that is too much amazing to forget. I bet this magnificent view from the deck is also best viewed during sunset time. This is definitely one activity that visitors should not miss when in Bangkok!

Play of lights at the Revolving View Deck of Baiyoke Sky Hotel.
A ticket to the observation decks of Baiyoke Sky Hotel comes with a complimentary drink to Roof Top Bar and Music on 83rd floor. So we proceeded to the bar after the revolving view deck from 84th floor to chill and relax before going back to our accommodation. The Roof Top Bar and Music is the night life spot in Baiyoke Sky Hotel. There are daily live band that croons popular songs to entertain its visitors and patrons while still having a magnificent view of the city. What I like in the bar is that whatever seat you took, you will always have a glimpse of the sparkling city at night because of its wall height glass windows that surrounds the bar. During my visit, there are no live bands but they were playing mellow songs that are just perfect for me to chat with my travel mates and just relax after a tiring day tour to Ratchaburi and Samphran. Choices of complimentary drinks from the ticket are both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.  I choose a piña colada for me. 

The view of Bangkok from my eyesight as I relax and listen to the crooning music of Roof Top Bar and Music.
Spending last night in Bangkok with a piña colada...
The view decks of Baiyoke Sky Hotel should not be missed when in Bangkok. The 360 degree magnificent panoramic view of Bangkok is such an amazing sight that I won’t forget! It literally gave me a view of Bangkok from the sky - on the top of the capital and over the gorgeous skyline of the kingdom! My last night in Bangkok is best spent here – viewing the stunning and sparkling lights of the City of Angels and relaxing on the crooning music while sipping a piña colada.

360 degree of Bangkok from the Sky is part of my Thailand's Amazing Smiles series where I share my wonderful trip to the land of amazing smiles last October 25-28, 2011. For a helpful trip to Bangkok visit Bangkok for Visitors website for more information. You might also like the other parts of the series:  
Baiyoke Sky Hotel
222 Soi Ratchaprarop 3, Ratchaprarop Road, Ratchathewi, Bangkok, Thailand, 10400
Contacts: +66.2656.3456/+66.2656.3555 (Fax)
*This is not a paid article.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Going 4!

I still can’t believe that I have reached the 4th year of my travel blog! It was 4 years of great journey about travels, places, discoveries and experiences. I experienced a lot – places, sights, cultural learning and one-of-a-kind adventures that I will treasure for the rest of my life. With that, I can say that in the last four years of my travels and sharing my stories in this blog, I continually did my goal of sharing the best travel experiences in each destination I went through by writing a tell-all adventure stories.

I have also continually to improve my writing as I share my travel stories. And I can see the improvements that I made over the last years of blogging here in Going Places.  It was nice and heart-warming to read the inspiring and good feedbacks and comments made by you, of course! Thank you so much for those comments that you continually pour into this travel blog!

4 years of travel, places, discovery and experiences! Clockwise from top left: Agho Island in Concepcion, Iloilo, Wangfujing in Beijing , China, Mines View Park in Baguio and Miag-ao Church in Iloilo.
I hope that I encouraged and continually to encourage my readers and other “travel addicts” not only to travel and go places but visit and explore the beauty of our country. This is one of the goals of Going Places that still continues. We know that everything is “more fun” in the Philippines! Right?

There is so much to improve I know. At least my follower increases =) and I hope a lot more followers in the future – much more, more readers in the future! I am also launching my travel blog’s official Facebook page – Going Places Facebook Page – to reach out more people in the social media world. People who liked the page will get travel stories updates posted in the blog. Maybe the next project is getting my own domain name, we’ll see…

Future travel stories to be feartured in Going Places. Clockwise from top left: Sweet escape to the islands of Guimaras, I survive Sagada's Sumaguing Cave, Banaue's magnificent stairway to heaven and The Imperial Gardens of Beijing.
Now in its 4th year, the blog will continue sharing the beautiful places that I went about along with my travel experiences and discoveries that I encountered.  Travel is a learning experience and discovery. Though, it’s quite tiring for some and needs enough money funding to take a trip, it’s still one of the best activities to learn and create beautiful memories. Traveling is fulfilling. You don’t just get to learn or discover but also enriches you as a person through experiences that the travellers encounter. 

So, I will continue to encourage everyone to travel – as base on my experience, you get “experiences of a lifetime!”  Expect more exciting travel stories in the future here in Going Places as we en route to Going 5! Cheers!
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