Bangkok a go-go

Trip Start Oct 24, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Thailand  ,
Sunday, February 6, 2005

Well, here we are sitting in Bangkok ' The City of Angels ', a vast metropolis of over 8 million, although we feel about 4 million of those must be tuk-tuk drivers. We forgot just how much we loved this place with its heady mix of chaos and refinement. It is such a contrasting city with spiked high rise offices sitting next to glittering temple spires, and shaven-headed, orange-robed monks walking barefoot along the street beneath neon billboards. Enlightenment in Bangkok cannot be easy at first glance, but once you explore you find some of the most wonderful and holiest Buddhist sites in the country. If you time it correctly, you can miss the tour bus masses and find yourself sitting in meditation directly with the monks, under the watch of a great golden Buddha.

If you allow Bangkok to cast its magick, it transports you on a visual and audio journey through waterways, frenetic markets, coronary-inducing tuk-tuk rides, hushed golden temples to the lifeless sensuality of the go-go bars of Patpong.

We settled in easily as the city cast its spell, indulging in some of the most wonderful thai cusine we have probably ever eaten. This initial easy pace was due to the fact we were waiting for the arrival of 'oor hen fae the east' Alan Mckissock. In true style and after a 6 hr flight from Japan he arrives with a big cheery ' hello hens i'm here '. Hazel and I had a feeling our preparatory lazy days we were about to change into some oriental decadence.

Next morning we introduced Alan to some of the local haunts and enjoyed wonderful street food at ' The tranny van' . I must point out that this has nothing to do with the vehicle by Ford , but ran by a colony of colourful lady boys. These girls knew how to cook and were producing some of the finest thai food we have ever eaten and all out of a converted VW combi!. I'm sure i saw one winking at Alan, but he said it must have been me as i was acting very camp with my chopsticks.

By evening time we were zooming down the Mae Nam Chao Phraya on a river taxi, which is a wonderful way to travel as the banks are lined with decorative Wats bathed in a glorious twilight. Jumping off, we boarded the skytrain and headed out to the neon lights of Patpong, where erotica is accessable as a bowl of soup noodles or a fake designer watch welcome to sin city!. After a great meal of sushi, we head into the abyss. 'Alan you go first hen' , i shout, as prospective clients cajole us in front of the go-go bars, 'nae danger' he replies, as he pulls up his fishermans pants and strides into unknown territory. Using Alan as our navigational aid we are consumed by flesh, flashing lights and pulsating rhythms, there is no problem with a dress code as there isn't any, i mean clothes that is!...ooer.

Over the next few days we head to Wat Pho, with its wonderful 46m long and 15m high reclining Buddha. This Wat is the oldest in Bangkok, dating back to the 16th century and set in wonderful gardens. As we visited late in the day we had the opportunity to join the monks in meditation. This experience was exceptional as there were only a few other travellers present. Closing our eyes we let the mantras energy fill our minds removing ourselves from time and space, only the end bell brought us round and we definately left peaceful in contemplation.. Just one tip, don't take a tuk-tuk just after meditation, its murder polis, hen .

The Grand Palace was the next on our list, with its 2km complex the holiest in thai Buddhism. With its precarious harmony, it is a feast for the senses as it surrounds you with beautiful colour and textures. The internal walls have over 1km of of murals, depicting Ramayana, the ancient story of the triumph of good over evil.

After giving puja , we head to the Emerald Buddha. Set on a 9m high pedestal this jadeite image draws pilgrims from all over the country. We sit with our feet pointing away , as a sign of respect and enjoy the Wats ambience.

The next day something special happened. Hazel and I got married!, with alan as 'oor maid of honour'. It was a very special day for us, with our wedding photos taken in the beautiful gardens at Wat Pho. The nice simple ceremony was what we wanted, and we ate and drank Thai style in the evening to finish off a glorious day. Alan was dressed in white and caught the bouquet flowers as Hazel tossed them in the air, so watch out, hen.

This week in Thailand has been so wonderful for us, and many thanks to Alan for his company and friendship over the last few days. My new wife and I will travel to the islands for a few weeks R&R and then head off to start our 9 month honeymoon,hehe. Sometimes life is perfect and we intend to embrace it for all it has to offer, and continue or journey into the unknown.
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