On a first trip to Thailand, it seemed wrong not to visit the capital, even if we did feel we were channeling Murray Head's 1984 classic. Clearly in the '80s the world was your oyster.
We accidentally landed at rush hour, which was a terrible idea. It took two hours to get from the airport to the hotel, although given the £8 cab ride, it was only our time that was wasted.
But once we arrived via the high-tech highways and low-tech streets, we were enveloped by the legendary luxury of The Oriental (the first of the Mandarin Oriental hotels). Inexplicably upgraded to a suite, we decided to stay in and order room service, watching the boats criss-cross the Chao Phraya River. (All we were missing was a walk around Patpong, but having spent seven hours with a lady-boy on a day-trip, we felt educated enough on that front.)
The next morning we had breakfast at the hotel restaurant on the banks of the river before taking a longboat from the hotel through the canals and finally to Wat Pho, the most famous of the temples.
From Wat Pho, we took a 'Taxi-Meter' (who refused to turn on his meter, since traffic was so bad) to The Jim Thompson House (lack of possessive charmingly noted), the former home of an American serviceman who revitalised the Thai silk industry.
We took the tour, did a bit of shopping, then hopped on the Sky Train back to the hotel. Ah, the Sky Train. It doesn't go many places, but it's a welcome escape from Bangkok's insane traffic.
The Oriental proved to be the perfect base for our short visit. We'd left our room at noon but hadn't checked out, so we grabbed one of our bags and went across the river to The Oriental Spa for massages. It was, undoubtedly, the best spa experience we've ever had. Our suite was self-contained - in the one luxurious room we showered, received our treatments, showered again, and changed.
By then, it was time for dinner, again on the veranda, and back in a taxi to the airport for our 12:30 a.m. flight back to London.
This time, it only took 20 minutes, and we were clean, fed, relaxed and refreshed.
But we still can't understand where in Bangkok the middle class lives, so if you have any ideas, please let me know.