Bangkok

Trip Start Jan 19, 2013
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Trip End Feb 02, 2013


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Where I stayed
Suk 11

Flag of Thailand  , Bangkok,
Monday, January 21, 2013

 Carlo and I had a late night flight from Seoul into Bangkok that would land us on the ground shortly before midnight.  We were lucky enough that Carlo's friend Dave offered to send a car for us that would meet us at the airport.  Once we got there it took a little bit of searching, and sweating, to find our ride, but once we did we were both surprised to see Dave had joined us at the airport. Fantastic!  We headed out to the car and Dave’s driver brought us to our hostel, Suk 11, where we dropped our bags and then headed out into the midnight Bangkok streets. 


            Dave was familiar enough with the area that he was able to show us around a bit and led us through the busy and lively streets. Even though it was Sunday night there was plenty of drinking and partying going on.  We walked down the sidewalks that were crowded with tables serving food and vendors slinging wares.  Among all of it girls lounged on street corners with impossibly tall shoes and ridiculously short skirts… I’m not sure why they were out so late, but they were more than friendly. 

Finally we settled for a drink at a group of tables that had been set up on a street corner in front of a white pick-up truck that had been converted into a mobile bar.  We settled in to sip our cocktails and discuss our travels, while a friendly but persistent young lady hovered around us, focusing her attention on Dave who had thoughtfully left his wife at home.  We were drinking our drinks and enjoying the humid night air, but soon realized that we were running out of night time and soon it would be morning… and we had things to do in the morning. 

Dave helped us find our hostel again and bid us good night.  We would be seeing him again in just a few short hours to go on a tour of Bangkok to see the sites.  We only had one full day to see what we wanted to see before moving on to our next destination.

Morning came too soon and Carlo and I were blinking the sleep away as we went out into the streets of Bangkok once again.  The mobile bar trucks had all packed up and moved away, but the streets were no less bustling than they had been the night before.  Dave showed up just a minute or two late (which is early if you are going by Thai time) and he had his lovely daughter Annabelle in tow.  Dave gathered us up with our tour guide, Sam, to bring us out to see Bangkok.  We had a stretch van all to ourselves and I can say that the air conditioning was much appreciated.

Our first stop was the Grand Palace and we wove through the massive grounds, snapping pictures and circling around the dozens of buildings.  Most of what we saw went by in a bit of a blur.  The grounds were simply huge and the sun was blazing down on us relentlessly.  The buildings were beautifully gaudy, each one more impressive than the next.  Various statues flanked doorways and stood between pillars.  Sam babbled on at us, pulling us here and there, pointing out the ideal photo opportunities.  Eventually his voice became more of a drone in the background, like the buzz of a fly that won’t shoo.

Our next stop was the Temple of Dawn, which we came to later in the day to avoid the majority of the crowds.  We came in from the back, sneaking up on the massive temple from the West instead of the East.  Sam told us about the view at the top and we blinked up towards the sun, trying to shield our eyes from the glare of the colored tiles that decorated every inch of the temple.  We started up the stairs, quickly realizing that they were significantly steeper and narrower than we had previously thought… but in for a penny, in for a pound, so we carried on.  The view from the top was rather impressive, and we circled around the top of the temple a few times, trying to ignore the fact that eventually we would have to come down.  But eventually we recognized we couldn’t avoid the situation any longer and, clinging to the handrail with both hands, we slowly made our descent.

After the Temple of Dawn we took a brief boat ride to the other side of the river to go to the Reclining Buddha.  I have to say that of all the places that we went to on this tour, the Reclining Buddha was, by far, my favorite.  We got there and took our shoes off to go into the building that houses the massive gold Buddha.  You enter near the Buddha’s head and it is difficult at first to take in the scale of the situation.  You crane your head up, realizing that you are gazing up at a massive gold forehead of a Buddha statue that is lying casually on its side.  As you walk through you pass the face, torso, and legs of the Buddha until you come to his protruding feet.  As you round the corner you find that the bottoms of the Buddha’s feet are decorated with mother of pearl.  Each toe has a lovely swirl and the soles have a series of images that are worked in fine and minute detail.

As we walked through the room it was impossible to miss an arrhythmic metallic clinking sound that echoed in the vaulted ceilings.  It didn’t sound quite like wind chimes, but it had a similar mood that I just couldn’t place in my mind.  As we rounded the heel of the Buddha to walk the length of his body from behind my question was answered.  A small woman was changing money into half pennies to donate to the Buddha.  A row of bowls stretched the entire length of the Buddha and people had formed a line to drop a single coin into every bowl.  The result was the gentle metal "plink" sound as each coin met other coins in the deep copper bowls. 

Once we had circled the Reclining Buddha we were all more than ready for lunch.  Sam loaded us up in the van and, with a little bit of discussion, brought us to the restaurant that Dave requested instead of the regular buffet fare.  We dined on delicious Thai food and enjoyed the moment to relax and cool down after spending so much time in the glaring sun.  There may have been more stops on the tour, but after we had all eaten we were well past done with running around.  We made a plan that we would rest and shower before meeting Dave again for dinner and drinks.

After a well-deserved nap and shower we were back into the streets of Bangkok as the night got started.  We began our adventures at Cheapie Charlie’s for a couple of drinks before hopping on the Sky Train to get to another part of town.  We took Carlo on his obligatory tuk-tuk ride to get to our final destination... which I can’t remember the name of.  We had a couple of drinks while people discussed things that I couldn’t quite here.  Unfortunately the street corner that we were on had competing musicians vying for the attention of the patrons and it meant that I couldn’t really hear any of what was being said.

Eventually we became bored with our situation and decided to take to the streets to find something to eat.  Dave had seen some king prawn being grilled on a nearby street and we decided to check it out.  We sat on a little deck near the sidewalk as we ordered our food and continued to drink.  The king prawn arrived and looked absolutely amazing… and more than a little bit terrifying.  Dave showed me how to crack them open and peel away the parts that you don’t eat.  With only a moment’s hesitation I dug in was soon slurping away at the massive water bugs with delight.  We also dined on curry, greens, and pad thai, but somehow that is less interesting than the plate of massive shrimp.

After eating we were once again overwhelmed with exhaustion and realized that we didn’t have much time to get back to our hostel before the Sky Train shut down for the night.  We waved a cheery goodbye to Dave and hopped on the train.  We had a big day again in the morning heading to Koh Samui and Koh Pangan.
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Comments

Mom on

"One night in Bangkok and the world's your oyster..." Thanks so much for sharing what you experienced in this amazing and unique city. You'll never forget it!!

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