Floating Markets, Temples and Crazy Driving
Trip Start Jun 15, 2011
84Trip End Jun 01, 2012
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Where I stayed
D&D Inn Bangkok
Read my review - 3/5 stars
Read my review - 3/5 stars
The minibus collected us from the hotel and we joined a full group which took us up to see the floating market in Dumnoen Saduak
The taxi drivers are renowned for their scary driving so we expected them to be fairly aggressive drivers but what surprised me was the lack of road safety in general. Not just that you don't have seat belts (Even in South Africa lots of people won't wear seat belts), on the motorway we saw a man on a 50cc scooter with 3 enormous gasoline barrels strapped to the back of him and just 20 metres ahead of him a full family on a similar scooter. Mother and father sat one behind the other, and a really young girl (maybe 6 years old) standing at the front and holding onto the handle bars above her head, none of them wearing helmets whilst it was hammering down with rain. At the same time, our minibus is flying down the motorway, undertaking cars and ducking and diving into the smallest spaces imaginable. About 20 minutes later I saw a lady sat on the back of a scooter fast asleep with no helmet on... mental is the only word to describe it. I found the best thing was just to go to sleep then I could be blissfully unaware of any dangers.
The floating market was odd to say the least, apparently it's the oldest floating market in Thailand and clearly bus loads of us tourists had been ushered in
Sunday is the day we leave Bangkok so we got up just in time for breakfast and then packed up our room so that we could check out. We left our bags at the hotel and set off on a walk to see Wat Pho which is about a 15 minute death-defying stroll from Khao San road, and Wat Arun which is just across the river maybe another 15 minutes from Wat Pho
To get to Wat Pho we walked past the Grand Palace again, this time not dressed with long trousers and covered shoes because we hadn't intended on going inside any of the temples and it was the hottest day we have had yet so didn't fancy wearing extra hot clothes. This was of great "concern" to all of the market stall owners and Tuk Tuk drivers and we had several people chasing us down the street: "Sir, long pants, LONG PANTS". Basically the store owners wanted us to rent their long skirt things and the Tuk Tuk drivers wanted to take us to some other delightful tourist attractions where long pants were not a necessity - no doubt their mate's suit shop. Wat Pho was beautiful even though a large portion of it was being renovated, the detail on all the buildings was incredible and the buildings were enormous. A group of Thai girls from a nearby school asked to interview us for their school project and just asked a few simple questions in English. "Sorry sir, but what is your name?, Sorry sir, but where are you from?" etc
We left Wat Pho and then walked over to the port and crossed the river to see Wat Arun which is particularly impressive. From the river it towers above the other buildings and reminds me of Angkor Wat (from what I've seen in photos). We climbed the steps up to about half way and took advantage of the fantastic views over Bangkok. Again, the split between rich and poor was very clear to see as you tend to see either shiny new buildings or shacks. As it was about to rain we decided to head back down and catch a taxi back to Khao San road. The steps on Wat Arun are pretty treacherous and more like a ladder than a set of steps and as Katy had to wear a sarong to cover her offensive ankles it made the climb up and down particularly dodgy for her. I'm happy to report that my ankles are not offensive! Yes!
I have realised that the few days we have spent in Bangkok has completely changed my opinion of the value of money. The river crossing on the boat was 3 baht each (6p), a main course in a restaurant is about 80 baht (£1.60), and I realised that this had changed me when getting our taxi back. The fair was 45 baht and I gave the guy 100, he gave me 40 back and then paused a moment before giving me the 10 (expecting a 15 baht tip), that's over 30% tip...unbelievable, the greedy bugger! I felt perfectly within my rights to give him a very generous 5 baht tip which is more than 10%............but that's about 10p oops - I'm clearly my granddads grandson - tight (I won't say which granddad to avoid getting in trouble)!
Anyway, enough of my ramblings. We are now sat on a sleeper train heading for Chiang Mai looking forward to some trekking, elephants and hopefully exciting times. We are sharing our carriage with an old Australian man and his wife - pretty sure it's one of those Thai bride situations. Bangkok has been a weird experience, it's chaotic and dirty but also exciting, vibrant and beautiful. We're looking forward to seeing what the rest of Thailand has to offer.