Return to Bangkok

Trip Start Nov 24, 2009
1
5
Trip End Dec 14, 2009


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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Well, we have returned...who would've thought! - with so many countries not yet visited, so many places not yet seen, it was Thailand we chose to return to...



have I mentioned that it puts a spell on you? :)  

and then - 2 hours to Dallas plus almost 14 hours to Tokyo plus another almost 7 hours of the final leg of the trip seem not terribly much if at the end of this journey you find yourself in Bangkok...




there is something to be said about your second visit to a country...especially a far-away place like Thailand...on your second visit the need to see as much as you can because "who knows when I'll be back?" is gone...your pace becomes more leisurely...you feel more comfortable because the country is familiar, you know your way around...and - as a result - you enjoy yourself even more...





we came back during the same season - November/December is probably the best time to be in Thailand because the hot and the rainy seasons are over...








but we stayed at a different location now...last time it was in Shangri-La, overlooking the Chao Phraya river....beautiful and serene place...this time - it was just off the Sukhumvit Road - a bustling colorful vibrant area...still hard to say which I liked more...




we didn't go to the Grand Palace or Muay Thai boxing this time... nor to the Floating Market or Tiger Temple outside Bangkok... we did all that last time, but if it's your first time in Bangkok - I would recommend not to skip this...















the motto that we adopted for this trip was "not a day without a massage!", and we tried to live by it (successfully, I must say!)...


during our last visit to Thailand we took a 2 day (8 hour per day) foot massage class...it was quite rigorous, and we received official certificates (the disclosure of this fact is not an invitation to put your feet on my desk though!)...






 



it seemed like a cool thing at the time...but in the 2 years that followed we haven't practiced the newly acquired skills - not even once...so we decided that we probably make better "receivers" than "givers"...











and every single day we would go and get a massage, or two, or even three...massages in Thailand are good, inexpensive and omnipresent...from a healthy foot massage to relaxing oil massage to vigorous Thai massage to everything in between and beyond...make no mistake - whatever kind of a massage you are after - you'll easily find it here...


















so we established this leisurely pace...one evening we even took a dinner cruise along Chao Phraya river...this "Loy Nava" cruise  (http://www.loynava.com/ - for those who are interested) actually was very pleasant - beautiful views, great service and food, unobtrusive traditional entertainment...if you are booking this cruise - do as I did and request the front right-hand side table - that is the best place on the whole boat (although each table has a direct view of the river)...














we also made it this time to a well-known Bangkok landmark - Vertigo  (restaurant and bar) in the Banyan Tree Hotel...correct me if my information is not up to date, but I think it's still the highest open air restaurant in the world...only I don't remember if it was on the 61st or 64th floor...not that it terribly matters - the views of Bangkok from that height are stunning...






one night we went to a ladyboy show at "Calypso Cabaret"...it was fun, and some of these ladyboys are so beautiful that it was hard to believe they are actually men, at least genetically...some of them completed their "transformation", others - not quite (the skimpy costumes allowed to make such distinction), but they humored their differences and aspirations, and everything was light-hearted and fun...




speaking of the ladyboys...or - as they are called in Thailand - kathoeys...I am still not sure why there are sooooo many of them in Thailand...I asked our guide Tong, and she said it's because sexual reassignment surgery is widely available and inexpensive (I guess it is - only around US $1600 to change your sex completely!)...but it can't be the only reason...





some people say it's because kathoeys are much more socially acceptable in Thailand than in any other country...which is probably true despite the fact that they are not allowed to change their legal sex even after a complete sexual reassignment surgery...so if a kathoey who already looks, acts and even in certain ways functions like female gets to go to jail - "she" (or still "he"? - I am confused!!!) will be sent to an all-male prison...







I am not the only one confused...Buddhist monks - who are not allowed to touch a woman or even accept food directly from woman's hands - are no less confused about how to treat kathoeys...I would suggest they err on the side of caution - most of the kathoeys look really HOT! :)


and that's one of the things that makes Thailand what it is...






we also took a trip out of Bangkok with Tong (  http://www.tourwithtong.com/  ) 





during our last visit to Bangkok our guide was Nui, and we spent 2 days with her - one in Bangkok itself and another out of Bangkok - to visit the Floating Market, Tiger Temple, Kanchanaburi (the bridge over the river Kwai)...









this time we chose to go to a fishermen village instead...and our guide happened to be Tong herself...I heard a lot about her from fellow travelers and was so glad to meet her in person...she turned out to be fun, easy to laugh, pleasure to be around...

and the trip itself happened to be an interesting experience...

we saw how the fishermen grow oysters -  I even ate one, possibly the freshest oyster I ever had in my life! ...it was tasty, too, - plump and juicy...




we visited sea mussels farm (they say that sea mussels are the easiest to grow)...








 
 

we also saw various sea creatures that we've never seen before - water lizards so big that we thought they were crocodiles, jumping fish, weird looking crabs...

and in the mangrove we fed bananas to wild monkeys that live there...





















fishermen prepared some lunch for us, and then it was time to return to Bangkok...












once back in Bangkok, Tong took us to a Buddhist temple where we bought a coffin...
yes - a coffin!...and no - not for ourselves (I hope it's long before we need one!)...
the coffin was for an "unclaimed body"...as Tong explained, according to Buddhist belief - if a body is not properly buried, the soul cannot rest...and if there is no coffin, monks cannot administer the last rites, so to speak...but some families are too poor to afford a coffin...and some dead simply do not have any relatives who would give them the proper burial...so - buying a coffin for them is considered a great merit...and for only 500 baht (about US $15) we purchased a coffin...


 


that was probably one of the most unusual purchases we've ever made...but I think it's a good deed...









our 4  days in Bangkok were gone pretty fast even despite our slow pace there...it was time to leave...


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Comments

greekcypriot
greekcypriot on

You purchased a coffin? For whom?
And you sent it all the way to your country?
Very unusual, however the entry is very interesting and nice photos...
http://www.travelpod.com/members/greekcypriot

irenan
irenan on

thank you for checking out my blog! :)
as for the coffin - we didn't send it all the way home (thankfully we don't have anyone back home who needs one!!)...we just paid for it, and it remained at the temple, and the temple would give it free of charge to a poor family or to bury someone who doesn't have family that can pay for it...it's a donation of sorts, but with this specific purpose (especially since Buddhists believe it's extremely important to give a proper burial)...
thanks again for stopping by!!

david on

love the pictures and video (monkeys rock). the trip sounds amazing!

Isabelle on

Quelles MAGNIFIQUES photos!!! et quels merveilleux souvenirs... Grace a Ilya et toi je viens de faire un mini-voyage en thailande. Merci!
Bonne Annee!

DAW on

I can not imagine you using the term "hot" in any conversation but it must work with the boy-girls!

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