3 Nights in Bangkok

Trip Start Sep 26, 2010
Trip End Jun 10, 2011

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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Someone had told us that Bangkok was an intense and chaotic city.  After India, words cannot describe how organized, clean, and deliciously sweet our introduction to Thailand was.  Customs was a breeze as we did not need a visa and we easily found our hotel after an exciting motorbike ride.  We quickly crashed into our bed with what had to be brand new sheets and a down comforter, cranked on the icy air conditioning, and celebrated the clean air, lack of sticky surfaces, and an in house laundry machine.  We were positively giddy to be here.

We immediately headed down the street to an outdoor restaurant and laughed as the menu was completely in Thai, a script that is very foreign to the 26 letter roman alphabet.  Set on eating and willing to just point and nod, a waiter gratefully brought an English menu and we feasted on steamed morning glory, whole fish steamed in coconut milk, and a spicy papaya salad.  By spicy, I mean burn your mouth and it does not fade for about five minutes spicy.  It is strange how something like that could be good, but it was.  Needless to say it was all delicious and we finished everything quaffing more than our limit of ice cold Thai beer.

We were in Thailand to recover from India by relaxing on the beach, participate in the Songkran water festival, see some temples and ruins, and possibly take a cooking class.  Our first outing was to a giant supermarket where we were in awe at the largeness and modernness of it all.  The Thai twist was also entertaining.  As an example, the bakery had krab stuffed donuts that were topped with sweetened condensed milk.  Who puts imitation crab into donuts?  We left sampling the many other donuts, ice cream, steam buns, sushi, and Thai noodles.

Our first cultural outing was to the giant outdoor market which required that we take the elevated rail, aka. the SkyTrain.  Maybe it was because we just spent two months in Nepal and India but this experience was clean, efficient, straight forward, and fast.  Oddly it seemed new and exotic.  It is interesting the things that you miss / take for granted.  That is one of the many wonders of travel.  In addition to abolishing prejudices by demonstrating time and time again that we are all the same, it resets your sense of normal and occasionally the normal is exotic.  The outdoor market was absolutely expansive and had food, wood carvings, miles of clothes, puppies, fish, lanterns, doors, weavings, etc.  It was if you gathered every craftman, merchant, or knick-knack salesperson in all of Bangkok into one place.  Adar replaced her flip flops and went gaga over the playful puppies, we got some lunch, and got lost several times and rather enjoyed the mayhem.

Next we walked to Wat (means temple) Po to admire a 200'+ long reclining golden Buddha and a Grand Palace that was so amazing ornate it was difficult to look at.  Every surface was covered in gold, a colored mirror, or a colorful piece of pottery.  There were 20' tall demon statues, golden bird women, stone lions, and life sized cement warriors everywhere you looked.  After seeing the tiny emerald Buddha (about 2' tall), a group of young monks came into the complex and added their bright orange robes to the already overwhelming colorful and bright surroundings.  Most impressive was the intricate mural that decorated the outside interior wall of the palace.  This mural was about 8' tall and extended for almost a mile.  For intricate, think of the "Where's Waldo?" pictures, with every square inch rich in fine detail.  It depicted daily life, historic battles, and lore filling the space with demons, countrysides, and palaces.

We also spent some time on the famous/infamous Khao San road.  This is the backpacker district that is jammed with bars, restaurants, cheap clothing shops and drunk tourists.  It's a lively place and has some good cheap food, but gets tiresome.  After a couple of days of exploring and listening to "One night in Bangkok" several times a night, we were ready to head south to the beaches to relax.
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