Thai Temples

Trip Start Jan 20, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Much better day - completely out of yesterdays funk. We slept in today and woke up with a new sense of adventure. I think the amount of people warning us and the amount of bad press we had read about this place really sunk in and yesterday we just did not want to be here and saw everything in a sinister paranoid light. We took a new attitude this morning, and had an awesome day. This place is interesting if you get out and about, keep your wits about you and don't really talk to anyone! Which is a shame because I have found most Thai people to be very friendly so far.
We got the sky train and changed at Siam, getting off at Saphan Taskin where we paid 120 Baht each for an afternoons boat pass. We jumped on at central pier and watched all the long boats and tug boats and trawlers go by down the Chao Phraya River. There is a clear divide here, and it was clear to see from the river. There are many slums which look so dilapidated it is a wonder people can live in them, with the roofs practically caving in on themselves and their wooden fronts rotten and falling apart. Next door would be a million dollar hotel of which there are many - the Shang-ri-la, the peninsula, the Hilton etc. Each of these hotels look onto the shacks mockingly with a sparkling corporate belly laugh. Each hotel also boasts their own piers and private boats for dining and boat taxis for taking all their western guests up the river. As luxurious as they are, it is also quite sickening and I'm glad we are staying in our modest and yet beautiful wee hostel.
We got off and wandered though, would you believe it, more dried fish markets!!! Eek! And they were well stinkier being in the sun!! There was also souvenir stalls and more food markets where Andy bought a coconut with a straw in it which I think looked better than it was but he enjoyed it. We also bought a wee fat Buddha souvenir to remind us of this day.
We turned around a corner and wow, there was this huge elaborate beautiful place! Wat Phra Kaew - where the large golden recling emerald Buddha lies. We took off our shoes and I had to cover my shoulders inside the temple. There was pretty enchanting sound of pennies dropping into a long line of pots which is for luck I think. We wandered around the rest of the temple and gardens awed by the intricacy of the buildings and peacefulness of the gardens considering its tourist magnetism.
Starving, we decided to go to a café shack at the side of the river we had seen as we passed on the boat. It didn't disappoint. Oodles of noodles and rice again which is cooked in so many ways with so much flavours and spices just keeps getting better. Thai food is served up with a spoon and fork which you are supposed to spear the meat with and scoop it onto your spoon. Shoving a fork in your mouth over here is as bad manners as eating with a knife back home, or so I read.
It was lovely sitting by the river having a meal and looking out at the Wat Arun (temple of the dawn) where we were headed to next as it sat in a Bangkok sunset haze across the river with yellow flowers everywhere.
Across the way, we climbed up cliff like stairs to negotiate our way around the building which again were elaborately decorated. Monks in orange robes milled about among the usual old men and young thai women below. We had to end the trip with the buying of tat. So to celebrate, we purchased a cute little Buddha from one of the stalls and got the boat and sky train back to the hostel.
It was nice to get back to Sukhumvit and feel more comfortable wandering around freely after a wobbly day yesterday of being slightly terrified at the least now we are rested because we have a big trip tomorrow.
We capped our last night off in Bangkok with a meal of Panang curry (like red thai curry) and got a couple of sky wine coolers and Singah beers and sat on the roof of the hostel which was a complete hippy dream with a million fans and beds and guitars and quirky wee ornaments I wished I could take home with me.
As a lasting reminder of Bangkok, we are taking away with us, legs full of mosquito bites - last count 19 on one leg. Guess this travel malark isn't all bumming around drinking beer and relaxing...there are a couple of drawbacks :P
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