Even Better Than The Real Thing
Trip Start Dec 15, 2009
92Trip End Aug 27, 2010
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On Thursday, to find something more kid-friendly, we trekked across the city to the Snake Farm; a division of the Red Cross of Thailand, originally established to milk snakes of their venom so that anti-venoms could be produced
We returned to our street with the nightly food market and had another wonderful dinner, before heading out in search of the massage centre that was recommended by the hostel we were staying in. We found it easily enough, though to our surprise we were tended to by a very accomplished band of completely bind masseurs. Initially we couldn’t see the point of blind masseurs (groan), but after an hour long foot massage, we realized that it actually seemed to enhance their sense of touch and skill level – wonderfully relaxing.
Still trying to find kid-friendly activities in Bangkok, we travelled to the far end of the sky-train line on Friday morning to the Children’s Discovery museum, an interactive facility targeted at 5-10 year olds. However, our research (which this time included internet research as well as our “trusty guidebook”) failed to yield the information that the museum was currently closed for renovationsL We took a taxi to Vimanek Mansion, an old teak mansion belonging to, and occasionally still used by, the Thai royal family. The guides there took a particular interest in our feet as they had never seen anything like Toe-shoes before and we were probably the only visitors ever allowed in without having to remove our footwear
After the tour of the mansion it was off to the Indian visa office to retrieve our passports. Thankfully everything went as planned so we can look forward to our visit to India in May.
After six days in Bangkok it was time to say farewell and head further north. We took a day train to a small town approximately two hours from Bangkok called Lopburi. This ancient town has been inhabited since the 6th century AD, however truth-be-told it was not really history that took us there. Lopburi is famous (or infamous depending on your point of view) for some more recent inhabitants… a certain renegade band of mischievous thieves who are lightning fast and will steal your food, drinks or anything else they can get their hands on. Now, for any regular blog followers, you might be thinking of our earlier mustard-mugging near miss in Ecuador and maybe wondering whether we are gluttons for punishment! Maybe, so when we inevitably had our water stolen, one of the bandits tried to steal Alex’s cap, and two of them jumped Derek at the same time, you’d confirm that we got what we deserved. Now these robbers might not be quite human, but at 99.7% shared DNA, we’re pretty sure that it’s not all survival and basic needs that drive their behavior
So, as expected the animal fun began not long after leaving the train station; as we approached the centre point of “monkeyville” where the ruin of an ancient Hindu-turned-Buddhist temple plays host to hundreds of monkeys we found them sitting on rooftops, running along power cables and simply monkeying around. Our first warning of trouble came as we strolled along the sidewalk and were watching one cute little guy trying to drink from a “Coke Zero” can (even better than the "Real Thing" don't you know); when from behind another monkey attacked Sarah and tore holes in the grocery bag she was carrying (which amongst other things contained a bottle of Coke Zero….what is it about that stuff?). The assailant was chased away empty handed by a local street sweeper.
In the grounds of the temple, the monkeys are rampant, though are not allowed inside the temple itself, which contains the remains of two headless Buddha’s. Back outside the temple, it won’t surprise you to learn (if you’ve been keeping track of earlier monkey encounters on this trip) that Lauren was attacked by a monkey
After the fun and games with the monkeys we wandered around Lopburi (Seven-11 surfing as usual for heat-relief) to investigate what else was on offer. Happening across the grand palace we discovered that we had lucked-out and arrived here on the weekend of a festival to celebrate the king. The palace was decorated with flowers and lights, there was a food bazaar, parades, musical and theatrical performances and nearly all of the locals were dressed in traditional (shiny silk) Thai clothing. We had a great time gorging and watching the festivities – a true unexpected bonus that is a real highlight of the trip so far.
After enjoying the festivities for a while we returned to the train station to catch our overnight train to Chaing Mai.