Grand Palace or bust

Trip Start Mar 13, 2008
Trip End Apr 03, 2008

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

When I woke up today, I had one goal: visit the Grand Palace. I'm happy to report that I accomplished my goal but the rest of the day was pretty much a bust!  Things just didn't work out for me today, whether it was the taxi driver who took me to the wrong boat dock or the tuk-tuk driver who abandoned me at Wat Ahro! But I was determined to make the best of it and surprisingly, I never really got upset about any of the stumbling blocks along the way.

I took a long tail book on the Chao Phraya River which was really interesting.  Because my taxi driver dropped me at the wrong dock, I missed out on the tourist book with the english speaking guide but it was fun nonetheless. The boat dropped me off at the dock nearest the Grand Palace which is HUGE.  Once inside, I paid the entry fee (less than $2 USD!) and procurred myself a guide.  My guide took me (and me alone) all through the Palace and explained the history of it along the way.  It was well worth the 250 Baht ($8 USD!).  I'd seen pictures of the reclining Buddha before but it doesn't compute until you see it in person - it's huge.  I forgot how long he said it was now, sorry.

It took almost 3 hours to go through all of the Grand Palace.  I was really tired from the heat afterwards (it reached 98 degrees today). I wanted to just take a taxi back to my guest house and relax for a minute but I'd spent all my money at the Grand Palace and the boat ride over.  So instead I headed out in search of an ATM, which are everywhere so I wasn't worried.  I found an ATM and was approached by a tuk-tuk driver which isn't unusual.  Until then, I had managed to forego the tuk-tuk's because all the guidebook say they are horrible, they overcharge farang (foreigners), they're dangerous, etc.  But, last night I met a woman from Virginia who had a GREAT experience with a tuk-tuk.  He took her anywhere she wanted for 70 Baht (just over $2 USD) an hour and she got to see all the wats (temples) in town and didn't have the blisters that I had from walking.  So, with this in mind I got in the tuk-tuk.  Of course, I ended up with the driver described in the guidebooks, the one who just wanted to scam me.  See, he said he'd take me wherever I wanted for 40 Baht (just over $1 USD) per hour.  I named some wats I wanted to see and he said "yeah, sure, ok".  Off we went and everything was fine at first.  He'd drop me off at the wat and be waiting for me when I came out.  But after the second wat, on the way to the third, he made an unannounced detour to a gem store.  MAJOR SCAM.  I wasn't pleased but he was pretty presistent so I went in simply because there were so many other farang in tuk-tuk's being shuttle inside too.  I knew I wasn't going to buy anything and I didn't.  I came back out and I asked him to take me to the Thailand Tourism Authority so I could book my train ticket to chaing mai tomorrow.  Instead, he took me to a travel agency, no doubt one which he had a deal with and they were really rude when I refused to book anything from them.  It all went down hill from there, he ended up dropping me off at Wat Ahro and when I came out, he was gone!  At first I was shocked because I hadn't paid him but then I realized he was mad because I wasn't falling for any of his scams.  Oh well, I got to see some wats for free!  I hopped into a taxi and went back to my guest house for a mid afternoon shower. I had lunch and decided to head out for a souvenior I saw yesterday but opted not to get at the time. 

I made my way to the skytrain and went back to the weekend market to get a souvenior for my mom.  Tomorrow I have to go to the post office and mail it to her, I hope it makes it in tact.

On the way home from the market, I had dinner and passed through the area where the Patpong Night Market was happening.  I really want to go, especially since I'm staying on the same street just 6 blocks away but my feet gave up hours ago!!!  

Everything is so different here but I'm really enjoying myself.  I'm deciding what I'm doing next for sure as I might change my iteniary a little... who knows, maybe I'll make it out to the Patpong Night Market afterall.  They say Bangkok doesn't sleep and so far I'd agree!  It's nuts! 

The last thing I'd like to mention is the state of my body.... I STINK.  I smell worse than I've ever smelled in my entire life.  I didn't know I could smell this bad.  Let me explain, it's the heat. I literally have sweat rolling off me as soon as I walk outside.  And what kills me is that the Thais don't sweat - ever!  They never sweat and they never stink!  And there I am, all red and sweaty and stinky!!!  Most people already know this but I'm not a fan of showers.  I mean, I don't take them excessively.  I take them when I go to work but on the weekends, I have to be going somewhere in order to take one!  The reason I mention this is because I took 3 showers today, yes 3.  One in the morning, one in the afternoon and one tonight.  This is a first for me.  Every shower I've taken in Bangkok has only consisted of cold water - by choice.  This evening, my cold only shower wasn't even cold enough!  Sometimes I think I'm going to pass out from the heat but then I think of Richard Simmons and how he always talks about "sweatin off the pounds" and I just keep on trugging along!  ha ha
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