Bangkok 1.0

Trip Start Aug 15, 2007
Trip End Apr 15, 2008

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Friday, December 14, 2007

Or Krungthep as the locals call it, Bangkok is an amazing place and we were lucky to be able to spend nearly 2 weeks there. Most visitors only hang around for a couple of days on their way to something else. We had the chance to really explore it. But even more importantly, we spent a lot of time with our friends MG and Damon and their son Will who live there full time. We are now on the other side of the earth, just like them I guess, but they made us feel at home in their beautiful apartment. They also gave us a crash course in Thai customs and taught us a  few very rudimentary phrases to get us through our days. They are the best of friends and hosts and we cannot thank them enough for their generosity and guidance.

"Long live the king!" In Thailand the people love their king, his image is everywhere. It's on the money, in homes and restaurants, and on enormous billboards. It's not part of some brainwashing exercise, they just really love their king. It was interesting to experience. In fact, the entire city wears yellow (the king's royal color) every Monday. And twice a day, 9am and 5pm, all of Bangkok stops what there doing - they literally stop and stand perfectly still -  for the King's song, which plays for 30 seconds from loudspeakers in public areas. It caught us by surprise the first time it happened.

In Bangkok, like I said, we did so much. We visited so many Wats (Buddhist temples). One of our favorites was Wat Arun, or Temple of the Dawn. We climbed up the steepest steps (we weren't desecrating it, you're supposed to climb it) and looked down on the river below and skyscrapers in the distance (got some cool pics). The Grand Palace was opulent and it's scale is incredible, the whole experience of exploring the grounds was really cool.

We spent a day walking around Khao San Road and Chinatown. Khao San was tourist saturated but Chinatown was great. It is about 8X the size of it's sister in NYC, so we lazily walked and got lost in all of the craziness. It was a great afternoon of eating street food and haggling with the tauts.

Damon, the awesome friend that he is, knows my love for golf. He insisted that he take me out for a round while I was there. How could I say no? So, he found a great club about 30 minutes from central Bangkok. We both had to rent all of the gear but it was really affordable. Everyone is required to play with a caddy here (they are all women (little women)), this was not a luxury either of us would afford ourselves back home, so we laughed the whole round- so did the girls. It was priceless.

While Joel and Damon golfed, Des shopped. And there is so much of it to enjoy in Bangkok. My favorite shopping experience was the Chatachuk Market, which I believe is the biggest outdoor weekend market in all of Thailand (maybe Asia). They sell everything there, literally. Some of it is knock-off crap, while the booth next door sells original, cool Thai art and handicrafts. Throw in a bunch of food stalls serving up spicy snacks and fresh fruit juices and it is the perfect day in Bangkok.

More shopping. The Night Bazaar was also pretty cool, mainly because it sits next to a huge Thai Beer Garden. It's like no place I've ever seen. There's a pretty major stage set up where people sing and dance to really bad American music. The "beer girls" walk around pushing their respective labels on you. And more delicious food!

Another incredible treat we enjoyed in Bangkok was the world-famous Thai massage. And at $7 for a one-hour session we were having one almost daily. You would have done it too.

We could go on and on, but how much can we expect you to read? So we'll cut it here and see you in Koh Samui.

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