When we disembarked from our Auckland to Singapore flight in December 2019, there was no way we could have predicted that a global pandemic would turn the world topsy-turvy and we would not see the inside of Changi Airport for another 2.5 years.
As COVID-19 made its way round the world and borders stayed shut, we continued to accumulate miles steadily through credit card points. In April 2022, I finally decided it was time to use part of my stash of miles to bring some joy to our lives.
We made a plan to have a reunion with my Melbourne-based sister and her family in December 2022, but Business Saver tickets to and from New Zealand on Singapore Airlines (SQ) were hard to come by during the year-end school holidays. Eventually, I bit the bullet and redeemed Business Advantage tickets from Bangkok to Christchurch with a stopover in Singapore for 90,000 miles each, as well as Auckland to Bali with a stopover in Singapore for 90,000 miles each. With these redemptions, we had 3 trips to look forward to - Bangkok in June 2022, New Zealand in December 2022 and Bali in 2023.
Less than 2 months after the redemptions, SQ announced that they were devaluing Krisflyer miles and putting an end to the stopover trick. By a sheer stroke of good luck, we were able to avoid the mad stampede for flights and secure our tickets before the unfavourable changes kicked in.
With our SQ flights from Bangkok to Singapore successfully redeemed, I booked ourselves on Scoot for our flight from Singapore to Bangkok. The one-way tickets cost S$98.00 each, with a 10-kg cabin bag allowance.
During our last trip to Bangkok in June 2019, we stayed at 2 outstanding hotels - Avani Riverside and Amara Bangkok. This time though, Pullman Bangkok King Power (Pullman) presented a deal so incredible that I just couldn't pass up on it. By using a combination of cashback from Shopback with promo codes in Trip.com, a deluxe room at Pullman with welcome drink and buffet breakfast for 2, as well as complimentary mini-bar cost an unbelievable S$78.00 per night! The hotel usually charges S$27.00 (THB700) per adult for buffet breakfast, so it was almost like paying for 2 buffet breakfasts and getting a free stay at this luxurious 5-star hotel...
The buffet breakfast at Pullman was phenomenal. The spread was extensive, with Thai, Chinese, Indian, Japanese and Western favourites. We stayed 4 nights and there was something new to look forward to each morning, as they changed the menu regularly. There was a good selection of healthy, freshly squeezed juices, and a barista on hand to prepare your made-to-order dose of caffeine. My eyes sparkled when I discovered the homemade ice-cream at their pancake and waffle station. Wish I could eat ice-cream for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and not worry about the calories though!
We had stayed at Pullman when it first opened its doors in 2007, so this was our second time there. The hotel may not be new, but it was refurbished in 2017 and is very well maintained. The deluxe rooms were modern, clean and comfortable. I especially liked that one could reach for items in the wardrobe directly from the bathroom due to their clever design.
Pullman may not have a roof-top infinity pool with impressive views like Avani Riverside and Amara Bangkok, but it has Bangkok's largest outdoor infinity pool. It was a lovely heated pool, with a cosy jacuzzi corner. To work off my guilt from breakfast, I swam laps and worked out at the hotel's gym daily. Both facilities were not busy at all during our stay in June 2022.
Location-wise, Pullman is between Victory Monument and Phaya Thai Stations. Ordinarily, the hotel provides a free tuk tuk shuttle service to Victory Monument Station, but this was suspended during our stay. Without the free shuttle, we explored Victory Monument and Phaya Thai on foot and uncovered some off-the-beaten-track gems.
On our first day in Bangkok, we went in search of Doy Kuay Teow Reua in Victory Monument. This popular boat noodle joint was recommended by Mark Wiens, an American foodie based in Thailand whose YouTube channel I enjoy watching. We had to walk past Victory Monument and enter a labyrinth of alleyways before finding the eatery.
Each small bowl of beef or pork noodles cost THB15.00 (S$0.60). We ordered 9 bowls of noodles, packets of pork crackling and crispy wanton skin, a plate of pork ball skewers, steamed coconut dessert, Thai iced tea and Cokes. The meal for the 6 of us cost a grand total of S$12.00. It was the first time any of us had a satisfying 3-course lunch for S$2.00 each!
Phaya Thai was closer to Pathumwan shopping district than Victory Monument. Pathumwan is home to well-known shopping malls like MBK Center, Siam Discovery, Siam Paragon and Centralworld. On our second day in Bangkok, we walked along Phaya Thai Road till we reached Pathumwan. Enroute, we stopped at Chaloemla Park, a colourful urban park where street artists honed their spray-painting skills, and Chaloemla 56 Bridge, a bridge built in 1909 to commemorate the 56th birthday of King Rama V. During his reign, he had 4 albino elephants, hence the 4 white elephants in the monument at the bridge.
After a day of shopping at Pathumwan, we returned to the hotel by walking through Pratunam Market and crossing the railroad tracks at Phaya Thai. There was a brief moment of excitement when the freight train driver sounded his horn as we were crossing the tracks. Pullman may be a little further away from the main shopping belt of Bangkok, but its location certainly wasn't inconvenient, and in fact had its own charm.
When it was time to fly home, I felt like that little kid who refuses to leave the playground. This was my first trip since my retirement in December 2020. If not for the kids having to return to this annoying thing called "school", I would have moved into the Pullman permanently! Oh that breakfast! The jacuzzi! The massage...