Buddha's, Tuk-Tuks, and motorbikes.............

Trip Start May 16, 2006
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Trip End Aug 15, 2006


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Flag of Thailand  ,
Monday, July 10, 2006

What a city! Bangkok(BKK) is BIG and Confusing. Thank goodness there are cheap taxis, mass transit, and tuk-tuks(motorized tricycles). One glance at the map and if appears things are fairly close. Reality is another thing. I gave up on the walking tours and relied on wheels for transport. BKK is also lacking in street signs, those help a lot when trying to get around. BKK is so dense and flat, you can't spot landmarks for your bearings.

I did manage to see most of BKK's major attractions. I've seen more Buddah's the past 5 days than I've ever seen in my life! There are Wats(Temples) everywhere. I saw Standing Buddahs(very tall), a reclining Buddah(very long) & various other Buddahs. I wish I knew more about the Buddhist religion so I could better understand what I was seeing. My time in BKK was during Buddhist Lent. The Wats were very active during my visits. There were lots of Thais at the Wats making offerings of money and flowers, lighting incense and candles. Commercialism is alive and well as the Wats. Almost all of them had gift shop where you could buy amulets, mini-buddahs, T-shirts, flowers and incense for offerings etc.

The King of Thailand is held in almost the same regard as Buddah himself. My guide said that The King was sent from God and the Buddhist Monks were the earth bound representatives of Buddah. That was a bit confusing for me as I did not think Buddhist believed in God, but that is what she said. Perhaps i missed the context of her remarks. It is possible to find a statue of the King at a Wat. In addition there are homages to the King everywhere. Along roads, in front of buildings, on sign posts, and billboards. Funny though, the Queen is very much in the background. She definitely takes a back seat to the King. Evidently yellow is the official color of the Royal Family. It is amazing how many Thais have on yellow shirts. There is an inscription on most of the shirts. When I inquired I was told the inscription meant "We Love our King"! And that the do.

The Grand Palace in BKK is something to behold. It is 60 acres. Several Kings lived there and made additions to the complex over the years. Everywhere you looked was a feast for the eyes. I do not have access to a DSL line for the next few day so I will not be able to upload pics. There were several Wats at the complex of various architectural styles. The buildings, shrines, and decoration were adorned with gold gilt, and lots of shiny bling. Quite the sight. The Grand Palace is the home of the famous Emerald Buddah. Who is actually Jade.

BKK shopping. There is an opportunity to buy something at literally every corner. Saturday I went to the weekend market. I was there for 6 hours. The market is huge and the prices were so cheap! I found a similar one, same brand, for $120 less than I paid. : ( I was looking for briefcase type day pack, as I have worn out my second day pack. I found one I liked at a good price. Of course I had to find one better/cheaper. No luck. I walked for an hour trying to find the stall that was selling the bag I wanted. No luck!. I did find a suitable alternative fot $8.75. I had to restrain myself so many times. In the end I made a plan. On my way to Australia I will stop over in Bkk for the weekend and then I will shop until I drop. Luggage like everything else is so cheap. I am going to buy a bag and fill it up. When I arrive in Sydney I will just leave the bag at a baggage check and retrieve it when I fly out.

Food! What can be said about the food other than good 'n cheap. The most expensive meal so far was, sushi, salad, 2 7-ups for $10.00 and that is about twice the price of my average meal here. I am used to ordering off a menu that has the English spelling of the Thai dish. Here in Thailand I have yet to see the that. I have been able to order some of my favorites. I wish the menus had the English/Thai names as I cant remeber all the names of the dishes I like and I want to try them all before I leave.

Another food phenomena here in Thailand is that anyone can set up a food cart and serve food. There are food carts everywhere. Many of the carts have a small grill for BBQing. Some carts have woks for stir fry. The dishes are washed in plastic tubs that sit on the ground. I can see some of you now.........ughhhhhhh. I have eaten from the carts a few times as it is very cheap. A skewer of chicken on the grill, .50 cents. They are great for snack to carry me over to the next meal. There are carts that sell beverages from open buckets. The beverage is usually served in a plastic bag with a straw. The fruit carts are the best. Your choice of various fruits: watermelon, pineapple, cantelope and exotics. Some of the fruit here looks like it came from another planet.

Modes of transportation: The motorbike rules here. Ive seen as many as 5 people on a motorbike! Motorbikes are the best way to get in and out of BKK traffic. If you are on a motorbike you can just zip to the front when there is a red light. The bikes are also great for squeezing between cars when things start to get clogged. Also making a turn from the outside lane is the norm. Its amazing there is no road rage. They drive like fools! The only thing you get is the beep-beep of a horn and thats usually when traffic is stalled. Traffic is almost like controlled kaos.
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