Back to Bangkok
Trip Start Jun 10, 2010
19Trip End Jul 31, 2010
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There are two things that the Thais really, really like: their King and their Buddhas. Both totally understandable. Everywhere you go in Thailand, there are pictures of the King. What I think is cool is that many of them are candid or unassuming. One he'll be reading a book, another just in thought. There are pictures of him as a child, as a young man, as a newlywed, and as an older man (he's 82 now). There are plenty of him in his fancy robes and sword, but just as many of him with his wife and kids or just standing around talking to people. They really make you feel like you know him personally and are part of his family
Continuing on our latest tuk-tuk adventure, we traversed the city and found some of the other thing the Thais love: Buddhas. Really Big Buddhas. I can't say I blame them. They're awesome. The first one we saw was the famous reclining Buddha at Wat Pho (pr. Po). This thing was huge. When I say huge, I mean "I'm in a giant temple looking at a giant man lying down, I can't fit him all in one picture or see all of him at once, and I'm the size of his toe." That's big. The temple itself was pretty amazing too. There was a whole complex with all sorts of cool Buddhas. Believe me, there is no such thing as too many Buddhas.
Next was the Golden Buddha. It is the largest solid gold statue in the world, at about 10 feet tall! It was made probably in the 13th century, and then later was covered in plaster to hide it from the Burmese during a seige of the capital Sukhothai. In 1955, they moved the statue for some repairs of the minor temple it was in, and discovered accidentally that it was just a plaster covering
Another comment about Bangkok: there is a lot of sleaze. Corruption, sex, and greed of all kinds is rampant. Vendors and hawkers lie to you and cheat you at every turn. I'll quote a Brit I heard exclaim the following in the street: "They're all F*&^%n Liars!" (It sounds better in an angry British Accent). Some Canadians we met said they "Screw you with a smile". Everywhere you go, you're beckoned by someone for a Go Go Bar or Lady Massage or Ping Pong show. I'll let you use your imagination on those, though you probably can't imagine. They can be very persistent and sometimes a little pushy as they lie to your face, but it's not threatening at all, which seems odd as I write it. We've learned that the way to do things is to decide what you want and go to the source. If it's a hotel room, you go to the hotel and see the room first. Then start bargaining at about half to two-thirds of what they quote you. We were told it would be 400 baht to get to a ferry port with a taxi. We walked away and said we could get a bus for 150. The guy came running after us going "OK! 150! OK!" It gets pretty fun once you know how to play the game. Anything that is offered to you, no matter how legit it seems, is probably taking you for a ride somehow. All in all, the corruption, sex, lying, and hawking kind of adds a unique character to the city which is oddly charming in its own way, but it can get really annoying having people constantly bothering you and it all gets old rather quickly.
I will reiterate, however, that all of the people that didn't have an ulterior motive to try and sell us something, have been really wonderful. Which kind of person you get ultimately depends on where you are and what you're doing. It's truly hit or miss.
This round of Bangkok was short-lived and we were happy to be moving on. Next Stop, Ko Samui!