Trip Start Mar 02, 2009
121Trip End Jun 11, 2009
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We did the usual blogging and breakfast thing. I finally remembered to do some upper body exercises too. I have a feeling that my arms are going to be a bit flabby when we return (sorry Sheri, Jane and Chris), but my legs will be in good shape. Bill thinks we are walking 10 - 15 kms a day.
Bill was able to book our flights to Myanmar. We will leave early on Monday the 9th and return on Sunday the 22nd. We will spend another day in Bangkok before we head North.
We walked to Dusit Park and were not sure where the entrance was - I am very disappointed with our guide books this go around. Eyewitness has never let us down in the past, but they are WAY off-base this city. I think I need to help them edit the next edition! Hey - that sounds like career potential!
We finally arrived at the main gate for Dusit Park and purchased our tickets. The ticket lady advised me that I would need to cover my shoulders and I could get something at the information booth. Well, that was partly correct. I needed to get one at the Vimanmek Mansion info booth, not the general one. So, Bill and I put a deposit for a sarong and shirt for myself and some nice pants again for Bill. We also had to leave our things in a locker, go through security and take off our shoes before touring the mansion.
We had to wait 10 - 15 minutes for the next English tour. In the meantime, hundreds of Chinese tourists passed us by. We discovered that Vimanmek was built by King Rama V in 1900 - 1901 upon returning from Europe. The King lived in the mansion for 5 years before he moved to Amporn Satarn Villa until his death 4 years later. After 1910 the mansion was closed and it was only used for storage until 1982 when Queen Sirikit asked permission of King Rama IX to renovate the mansion for a museum.
The museam houses photographs, art, handicrafts, clocks, textiles, and carriages of the Royal family (most dating back to the period of King Rama V. Vimanmek Mansion itself is quite remarkable - the world's largest golden teak wood mansion and it was constructed without nails. It is beautifully decorated with period pieces, as the architecture, there is a great deal of Western influence. All of the outer rooms are filled with glass for view of the grounds, canal and to let light in. We had 3 different tour guides take us through the mansion. The 1st lady was very good and provided us with some interesting background on the Royal family and the decor. Our 2nd guide, a gentleman, was very animated. He was very excited to point out objects that were copies of European furniture, but were made in Thailand. He would point out tusks, chair seats from crocodile or turtles and emphasize "For Real"!
After the tour we had some lunch. I had Sukiyaki which was a soup with chicken, bok choy, other greens, egg and glass noodles. Bill had fried noodles with egg and chicken.
We toured the Throne room one our own. I had to cover my shoulders and bill was provided a wrap (skirt) for his legs. There was displays of handiwork - Neilloware, statues with metallic beattle wings, silver and gold ware, bamboo and fern vine baskets, silk cloth, buffalo skin art and wood carvings. They were all very beautiful particularly the Neilloware and metallic beattle wings.
We left Dusit Park and went to a Thai food market. There was a difference from the Chinese market, although many products were the same. The Thai people display everything so beautifully. On the other side of the Klong (canal) there was a flower market. This market had plants, bamboo, flowers, seeds, pots and garden decor.
We headed to Thewes Pier and saw people feeding fish with bread crusts. There were a lot of fish! We took the orange ferry down the river ($1.50 for both of us). We were able to sit up front and enjoy the nice cool breeze. There was less activity on the water than I expected. It was mostly ferries and tours, just some industrial use.
From the ferry stop we took a cab across to Wat Arun (pronounced Aroon, the cabbie did not know what we were saying at first). The driver took us back to the bridge we passed under instead of the one nearby, but the ride only cost $3, although the ferry ride back across was only 22 cents!
Wat Arun was named after the Indian god of dawn because in 1767, King Taksin arrived here at sunrise from the defeated capital Ayutthaya. The main prang that we were able to climb is 79m (260 ft) high. The style is mainly Khmer (Cambodian).
I only had to cover my shoulders this time, so that made it a bit cooler. Most of the buildings were covered with porcelain dontated by the people. We were able to climb to the 2nd level of the main Khmer style structure. The first set of stairs was normal, but the second was very narrow and you had to have hands on both rails. From the second level we have a view of the water and the city that goes on forever. While we are up there we saw a man leading a baby elephant around! As we decline a water bottle falls out of Bill's pack and hits an old Chinese lady. Good thing it was empty! This makes Bill wonder how many people fall down these stairs each year.
At the base of the stairs there were chicken statues. One head was broken, so Bill was able to stand in. It is a great pic! Some other statues that we saw were in the niches of the minor prangs , they were Nayu, the god of wind, on horseback. We also saw kinnari, mythological creatures (half bird, half human), on the second level of the main prang in small coves.
We found 40 bhat, so on the way out I gave it as a donation and was able to put some coins in a pot and make some intentions for our family and friends.
One the way out I saw a great sign "No smoking alcohol"! The translation is not always 100%.
After the ferry ride back we walked down by a market where we had been the first day. We bought a couple of mangosteens and some pork street meat. It was pretty good.
We walked by Sanam Luang Park (we now call it Pee Pee Park because of the smell) for the 100th time this week, on our way to the post office. We purchased a box so we can send a few things home tomorrow.
It was after 5 pm, so we picked up a couple of Chang beers, went for a dip in the pool and sipped our beers on the rooftop.
Later on we dropped off our laundry in a slum building (it would be a great spot for filming a movie). It was 30 bhat/kilo to do our laundry (total 180 bhat). We wandered down a new street and I found a new bikini. We ended the evening with dinner streetside at a restaurant and had a great time people watching - hippies, Chinese, Thai, Rastas...