Bangkok Fever

Trip Start Jan 01, 2011
Trip End Mar 21, 2011

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Saturday, February 5, 2011

On Wednesday morning we started our journey back to Bangkok. At 6:45am, we boarded our boat back to the mainland and then drove straight back to Pakse and to the Laos/Thailand border. Once through checking out of Laos and checking back into Thailand, we met our driver and drove to Ubon Ratchani where we were catching the overnight train back to Bangkok. We had about 6 hours to kill before our train, but there was absolutely nothing to do. We couldn't even find internet, so we went back to the train station and just read books.

Around 7:30pm, we departed. The train was decent enough and having the upper sleeper bunks definitely was a bonus. However, I didn't sleep too well as the young child in the bunk below was acting up from midnight until 3 am.

We arrived in Bangkok on time at 7:30am on Thursday and then made our way to our hotel. Unfortunately, we were not able to check in until the afternoon, so we went and had breakfast on Rambruttri Street which is a 15 minute walk away.

We finally checked in around noon, showered and then met up with one of our fellow travelers and headed over to Chinatown as today was Chinese New Year. We ended up taking the public ferries, which were jam packed but very efficient and cheap (less than $0.50 each). We arrived in Chinatown and wandered around and took in the atmosphere. There was lots of sidewalk food stalls and stores to look at. Along the way, we came upon a crowd that was waiting for something, so we just waited with them. Eventually (after 30 minutes), a group of cars drove by. Someone told us that it was the princess who had driven by in her Mini Cooper. Then the crowd moved along a different street and she drove by again. She was driving herself and seemed disinterested in the crowds. We were a little disappointed after waiting. Luckily, on the way back, we got to see the famous Chinese dragons moving to the drums, so this made up for it. The real parade was happening at 6:30pm, but we had to be back at our hotel as Jeff's sister and her husband were coming to meet up with us.

Early Friday morning (around 3:30am), I woke up with a fever. In the morning, with my fever still going, we headed off to the Grand Palace and the Wat with the Emerald Buddha. I was not going to let a fever make me miss this. Last year, the protests had prevented us from going. Good thing we were there early as the day got really hot. The Grand Palace and all of its wats were impressive and I'm glad we went. As we were walking around the grounds, we each got stopped by Thai students to answer questionnaires so that they could practice their English. They were so adorable and polite!

Eventually, the heat started becoming too much for me, so we got back on the ferry (which I must say is the way to travel around Bangkok) and headed back to the hotel. I went to bed and the others went and had lunch. They also went to see the Democracy monument and watched the sun set over the Temple of the Dawn. Meanwhile, I was baking in the hotel room with the A/C running. When they got back, Jeff decided that my fever had to be broken, so he spent the evening running cool clothes over me. It eventually worked and by the morning, I was tired and a bit weak, but was feeling much better. I figure that I must have had some heat/sun stroke/exhaustion as Bangkok is a lot hotter than Laos and we were out in the midday sun for over 4 hours with very little to drink in the afternoon.

Good thing that I got better as on Saturday, we took a half day tour to Thailand's largest floating market. We drove for 1.5 hours and then had to take a speed longtail boat to the market. I could have done without the longtail ride - it was a bit unsteady for my liking. Once at the market, we boarded paddle boats and were taken around to different market stalls that line the canals. The market wasn't quite what we expected. You always see images of boats filled with produce cramming the canals, but it was mostly boats filled with tourists filling the canal. There were a couple boats with fruit and other food, but they were lined along where you could walk. I'm glad we went to see the market, but don't think we will be back.

After lunch and a nap, we hopped on the river ferry again and went to the Temple of the Dawn and to Wat Po to see the giant reclining buddha. At the ferry for the Temple of the Dawn, someone was saying that it was closed, which is a common scam in Bangkok. They tell you the attraction is closed and then try to take you to a silk/tailor/etc shop. The Temple of the Dawn was quite impressive. From the river, it appears to be grey stone, but up close it is detailed and colourful. We climbed the steep steps and had a great view. Next we headed back across the river to visit Wat Po. We saw 2 signs outside with different closing times - the one inside said 9pm - 3 hours later than the ones outside. The main sight at Wat Po is its buddha, which was absolutely huge. It was much bigger than the one at the Buddha Park outside of Vientiane. After the Wat, we went for dinner along the river and then headed back to the hotel.
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