Ethiopian Airlines – Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur

Ethiopian Airlines
Flight ET 618
Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur
Departs: 2:20 PM, Arrives 5:45 PM

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Check-In

Upon entering the Hong Kong International Airport, I checked and found out that the Ethiopian Airlines check-in counter was in “Row U”.

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Premium Lane

Upon checking in, I was given a Premium Lane certificate to go through the immigration line.

Security wasn’t too bad, and the Premium Lane certificate wasn’t really needed as immigration lines were pretty short.

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Departure Gate

After leaving the Thai Royal Silk Lounge, it was a quick walk to the D3 gate, where my flight to Kuala Lumpur was departing. This is a somewhat cool flight, as it is a “Fifth Freedom” route for Ethiopian Airlines.

When booking the Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur flight, all of the options were fairly expensive which I found somewhat odd as intra-Asia flights are generally pretty cheap. I continued to monitor fares for a few weeks but there was no change in rates. I ultimately booked this flight for a couple of reasons, those included not seeing too many reviews of Ethiopian Airlines, along with this being a fairly new 787 as this route has been operating with this plane since approximately May.

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Ethiopian 787

Shortly after arriving at the airport, it had started to rain intermittently. Ultimately, the flight arrived late at the gate. Although passengers departing from Addis Ababa do not depart the plane if going onto Kuala Lumpur, the plane was delayed arriving and while on the ground.

Upon boarding, the cabin was already ~60% full. The striking green and gold color scheme stood out.

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Economy Seat

Waiting at my seat was a small pillow.

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Leg Room

Fortunately, I had the whole row to myself for the short flight. Legroom wasn’t too bad in economy, especially having an empty seat next to me.

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Foot Rest

Each seat has a footrest, which I hardly ever use.

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USB Port & IFE

There is an IFE on the back of each seat, as well as a USB port at every seat.

The entertainment choices were rather limited. You would have a hard time finding things to watch on a long haul flight.

I was surprised that a full meal was served on such a short flight.

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Chicken Entree

There was a salad with Italian dressing. The entrée was chicken with mushroom, potato au grating, and vegetables. The chicken wasn’t too bad, but could have used some salt. Dessert was an Asian style mocha cake with raspberry sauce.

Alcohol was served in economy during meal service.

The service was professional but not too friendly.

Due to the weather and late departure, we were placed in a hold pattern for nearly an hour.  Once the plane landed in Kuala Lumpur, the flight was nearly two hours late in relation to the estimated arrival time.  Since I had the first flight out the following morning, I didn’t have as much time in the city as I would have like.

Although Ethiopian wasn’t too bad on this short flight, I’m not sure I would want to fly them long haul given the limited entertainment choices.

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The Erawan Museum – Bangkok

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Erawan Museum

The distinguishing feature of the Erawan Museum stands above its surroundings in imposing fashion. The 3-headed elephant can be seen from far away.

Unfortunately, getting there from the Courtyard by Marriott Bangkok turned out to be quite the challenge. When looking at Google Maps, Uber, or Grab Car it seemed to be an easy 30-minute drive at a cost of ~$10.

It was slightly drizzling, so the normal horrible Bangkok traffic was that much worse. Taxi drivers did not want to drive that far, and the couple that were willing to drive there were charging three times the normal fare. Of course I declined. I ended up taking the BTS from the Chit Lom Station to the end of the line at the Bearing Station. From there, it was easy to catch a taxi or Uber to the Erawan station. This option cost $5 and dealing with traffic was mostly non-existent due to using the BTS.

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Online Booking

While doing my planning, I found out that tickets can be purchased online and at a discount of ฿100, so instead of paying ฿400, tickets were ฿300. The date is set to the current date, and is somewhat small.

Once entering the date and number of tickets, you will be taken to a couple of confirmation pages.

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Map

Once I arrived at the museum, I arrived at a side entrance. I showed them the confirmation email, and after some discussion between the employees, I was escorted to the customer service desk. For some reason it took a long time before I was admitted. I had to show the confirmation email again, then they had to check my name against a list of advanced purchased tickets that had been made online. After 10 minutes or so, I was finally admitted.

The grounds have a nice little garden that surrounds most of the main structure. Due to the weather and early arrival, there were not many people visiting.

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Prayer Area

There is also a small prayer area in front.

The main structure, the one with the 3-headed elephant, is a multi-story structure.

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Basement Level Exhibit

There is a basement level which house a lot of artifacts and is temperature controlled. As the day was kind of muggy, being in a nice air conditioned environment felt great. No pictures were allowed on that floor.

The crowning glory of the Erawan Museum is the 3-headed elephant structure. Rather than try to describe the contents of the museum, I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. I know Bangkok has a lot to see and do, but I do think the Erawan Museum is worth a visit.

The complex also contains an Ancient City, which appears massive when looking at the website, but I did not have time to visit on this trip.

Papaya Salad – Or Tor Kor Market – Bangkok

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Or Tor Kor Market

Or Tor Kor Market seems to be somewhat overlooked when visiting Bangkok. Sure, Chatuchak Weekend Market is much larger and is the bigger attraction. Or Tor Kor Market is basically across the street from Chatuchak, and is well worth a visit.

Or Tor Kor is divided into several different areas under one roof. There is a wet market with loads of seafood. There are different food stalls serving different types of cuisine, from noodles, roasted meats, Thai food, drinks and desserts. Part of the market is dedicated to vendors selling, clothes, toys, housewares, and fabric. The center part of the market is devoted mostly to upscale fruit vendors, who devote much care and attention to mangoes, durian, mangosteens, and a host of other tropical fruit.

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Papaya Salad Food Stall

After eating at Din Pao Cuisine, I wasn’t very hungry but wanted to try the papaya salad at Or Tor Kor Market that seemed to be one of the better vendors. Unfortunately the name of the food stall is not written in English.

The papaya salad is made to order right in front of you.

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Papaya Salad

The salad hit all of the taste sensations one associates with Thai cuisine. The dressing was salty, fishy, sweet, sour and hot. The papaya and green beans were nice and crunchy. The tomatoes added a little bit of a cooling effect from the chiles, while the fried shallots added a little bit of extra texture and sweetness.

The papaya salad was solid here. They also sell chicken, which looked really good, but I was totally stuffed at this point.

Din Pao Cuisine – Bangkok

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Chatuchak Weekend Market

Din Pao Cuisine is a much talked about Vietnamese restaurant located within the Chatuchak Market.

It is located within the market rather than being more visible when walking on the perimeter of the market.

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Look for Nana

If you use Google maps, you should find it pretty easily, however if you look for the “Nana” sign/store, just go into the opening back as far as you can and it should be easily located from there.

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Din Pao Cuisine

You will see a small dining room with several tables under the sign.

There is a grill located in this dining room, with the rest of the “kitchen” located behind that.

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Cafe Su Da

I ordered a Café Su Da (Iced Coffee), which was strong, and not too sweet. Drinks are provided by a different vendor, so you will need to pay them separately and they only take cash.

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Spring Rolls

The Spring Rolls come three to an order. Each one is cut in half then placed into its own serving dish. The wrappers are nice and chewy, the lettuce and carrots fresh and crunchy. The herbs are also fresh. The shrimp are on the smaller side.

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Sugar Cane Shrimp

The Sugar Cane Shrimp was actually shrimp paste formed around sugar cane stalks then deep fried.  The shrimp paste was tender, but not too fishy.  It was cooked to a nice golden brown, and was crisp on the outside.  It was served with a small side dish of noodles topped with fried shallots, a sweet peanut sauce, and a slightly spicy fish sauce.

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Barbecue Pork

The Barbecue Pork was a decent sized portion served with rice noodles and deep fried shallots. It was served with a some cucumbers, garlic and Thai chilis.  The pork was tender and flavorful, while the cucumber acted as a cooling agent for the chilis.

The food at Din Pao Cuisine is pretty solid, however  I don’t understand all of the glowing reviews on Trip Advisor.  Many tout this as the best, or one of the best Vietnamese restaurants they have ever been to, but I am not in this camp.  Although good, I don’t think it is worth the effort to make a special trip to eat here.  As many people come to Chatuchak Market as part of their itinerary on a trip to Bangkok Din Pao would be a good option.

 

Bumrungrad International Hospital – Bangkok

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Bumrungrad International Hospital

After seeing Bumrungrad International Hospital featured on an episode of Inside Man by Morgan Spurlock on medical tourism, I figured I would take a look since I was staying fairly close to the hospital.

Bumrungrad is very impressive, with over 500,000 people coming here a year outside of Thailand for medical treatment, and seeing over 1.1 million people a year overall.

Given the number of patients seen per year, Bumrungrad Hospital is like a small city.

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Lobby

I only entered one of the buildings. The lobby is fairly big with very high ceilings. Seating is plentiful.

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Wellness Center

There is Wellness Center, most likely for post-operative patients, as well doubling as a gym for locals.

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Starbuck’s

There is a Starbuck’s on the ground floor.

On the second floor is a food court and cafeteria along with shopping.

There is a McDonald’s, au bon pain bakery which also sold Baskin Robbins Ice Cream, a Japanese restaurant, and the cafeteria.

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Directory

I didn’t check out the retail shops or the other buildings since I wasn’t actually having any procedures or treatment done.

If you are looking quality medical care at an affordable price and willing to travel, Bumrungrad might be an option.

Their website even provides estimates for medical procedures.

Courtyard by Marriott Bangkok

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Courtyard by Marriott Bangkok

The Marriott Courtyard Bangkok is located between the Grand Hyatt Bangkok and the St. Regis Bangkok down a small street near the Erawan Shrine.

You have to go through security before entering the hotel. Once through security, the front desk is located to the right.

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Garden

There is a little garden to the right of the hotel entrance.

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Lobby

The lobby is bright and spacious with several seating areas.

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Front Desk

The front desk has a library theme, with books behind the front desk.

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Corner King

I was upgraded to a Corner King Room.

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Closet

Upon entering the room, the closet is right next to the front door. Robes and slippers were provided, along with an iron, ironing board, and safe.

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Luggage Rack

The hallway extends further down where there is a luggage rack.

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Mini Bar

Next to the luggage rack is the coffee maker, mini bar and complimentary bottles of water.

Past the mini-bar, is the bathroom.

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Peek-a-Boo

There is a window looking out to the bedroom. Luckily there is a shade that you can pull down for privacy.

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Sink

There is a single sink with an ample amount of counter space.

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Nervae Produces

Nirvae amenities were provided, which weren’t half bad and had a nice citrus scent.

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Shower
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Bench

There is only a shower, which was pretty spacious. Water pressure could have been better but the temperature remained steady. There is also a bench in the shower.

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Toilet

The toilet was located in the corner.

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Desk

On the other side of the bathroom window sits the desk. The desk is slightly on the smaller side, but had enough working space for me. Outlets were conveniently placed next to the desk with one outlet that could be used without the need for an adapter. Next to the desk was the TV.

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Chair & Ottoman

In the corner of the room was a chair with ottoman, small coffee table and lamp.

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Bed

The bed was slightly on the firmer side with plenty space of walk around on each side. A nightstand was on both sides of the bed. Unfortunately, there were no outlets next to the bed.

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Welcome Amenity

Waiting in my room was a welcome amenity of a small chocolate cake, which was very rich and chocolatey.

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Trail Mix

On another day, I was given a small bag of trail mix, and sugared tamarind.

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Welcome Letter

I was given a welcome letter which outlined some of the benefits of the hotel. One of the unique features of the hotel is that it has a Club Lounge, a rarity for Courtyards.

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Merger Letter

I was also given a letter announcing the official merger with SPG.

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Business Lounge

The Business Lounge is located on the 15th floor.

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Lounge Entrance

The entrance had two glass doors. You had to scan your room key in order to enter the lounge.

There is a reception desk located to the left once you enter.

There is a front room with a few seats, but was mostly used to hold some of the food items.

Although I didn’t eat breakfast in the lounge, I did check it out one morning.

There was bacon, potatoes, eggs, beans, tomatoes, sausage, and condiments.  There was also a coffee maker and different varieties of tea.  There are also a couple of refrigerators with drinks including soft drinks, juice, yogurt, museli, milk, fruit, water and beer (evenings).

In the evening, there were salad fixings, bread, desserts, cheese, a selection of alcohol, and several hot offerings per night.

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Lounge Bathroom

The bathroom in the lounge is fairly spacious and was clean.

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Lounge Seating

The back room of the lounge has additional seating.

There is a balcony with additional seating, but it was raining during much of my stay.

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Lounge View

The view from the lounge is of the surrounding high rise buildings.

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Momo

Marriott/Ritz Carlton Gold and Platinum members get access to the lounge. I was given the option of having breakfast in their restaurant, Momo Cafe. You have access to the buffet.

There are a variety of juices, smoothies, fruit, Eastern and Western offerings.

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Laksa Station

There is even a Laksa station.

There is a signature egg dish offered during breakfast as well, which was a Chicken Panang Curry Egg Benedict, which was very good.

The gym is on the smaller side, but had enough equipment to get a decent work out. Bottled water, towels and a water dispenser if also provided.

The pool area is two stories to some extent.

There is a bar and outdoor shower by the pool.

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Pool

The pool itself is on the smaller side, but perfectly functional.

The top floor has a deck with a couple of lounge chairs and umbrellas.

The hotel also has a tuk tuk, which takes you to the Chit Lom BTS station. They depart every 30 minutes or so.

Although back from the main streets, the Marriott Courtyard Bangkok is an excellent choice, especially for Gold and Platinum members, due to the lounge and breakfast benefits.

Prices also seem pretty reasonable, as they seem to be under $100/night.

I wouldn’t hesitate to stay here again.  It’s a particularly good deal if you have status with Marriott/Ritz Carlton, and SPG once they get fully incorporated.

Mae Varee – Bangkok

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Mae Varee

Mae Varee Fruit Shop arguably has the best mango sticky rice in all of Bangkok. They do serve more than mango sticky rice, as they do sell other types of fruit and other fruit based products.

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Hanging Mango

Mae Varee is just steps away from the Thong Lo BTS station, but is somewhat hard to find unless you can read Thai, as the sign is actually very small. The identifying marker is the large mango hanging from the ceiling.

Although I am not a huge fan of mango sticky rice, I figured that I had to try it since I was in Bangkok and in the neighborhood.

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Mango Sticky Rice

The Mango Sticky Rice does look like a big portion of mango, but is somewhat misleading. You get a half mango stacked on top of the seed. The portion of rice is on the smaller side, but was more than enough for me. It come with a side of thin coconut sauce that was very plentiful. Also included were some crunchy bits which tasted familiar to me, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

The mango was sweet, but not overly so. Both the rice and coconut sauce were slightly salty, giving a good counterbalance to the mango.

I can see why Mae Varee is popular and highly regarded. The play on the sweet and salty combination of ingredients dances on your palate like a Beethoven symphony.

If you are a lover of mango sticky rice, then this is must on your list. If you happen to be in the area, I would also highly recommend it.