Without a plan in the Land of Smiles

Trip Start Aug 04, 2011
Trip End Jan 04, 2012

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Flag of Thailand  ,
Friday, September 23, 2011

Its not a problem, but not having a plan does make your time less efficient. It's the first place since we started travelling that we have turned up with little idea of what we wanted to do and if we wanted to do anything at all. I had aspirations of visiting the Bridge on the River Kwai which sadly due to the exceptionally high prices we will have to give a miss and we intend to pop into a ladyboy show before leaving the countries capital. Other than that, considering we have 4 nights in Bangkok, its a little bit of a relief not to have a big plan. We took to the streets with no plan and no real idea of where we were going. The colourful map we picked up suggested that if we headed towards the river we could jump on one of the express boats to the touristy region with some of the temples and what not. This seemed like as good an idea as any, so using the metro we plotted a course for the river and got off at the end of the line and had to start walking. As soon as I took the map out to try and gauge some idea of where we had to go, someone was offering to help us. He suggested places to visit and pointed us in the direction of the river. He also pointed out that because we were wearing less than acceptable clothing, we wouldn't be able to visit the Grand Palace. It was disappointing, but it just reduced the amount of things we had to consider doing.
We strolled down some back streets with locals plying their trades. One smog filled street seemed to be filled with mechanics with each mechanic having a store of car parts piled a storey high outside their front door. They all smiled as we passed and gave us little bother. Past the edge of Chinatown a Tuk Tuk driver asked us where we wanted to go. Insisting we didn't need any help as because we didn't really know where we were going and just walking, having a Tuk Tuk wouldn't help us, he offered us a little itinerary of where we should go. He didn't try and sell a ride on his Tuk Tuk as he suggested using the boats and he said "Welcome to Bangkok, welcome to Thailand" as we walked away from him; his grin left me with a feeling of guilt. We had got so used to people trying to get money out of us left right and centre, it was odd when people just wanted to be helpful. Our reactions up to this point had always had an edge of hostility, trying to prevent ourselves from the inevitable Tea Scam. We have to chill out a bit.

On the express boat and we jump off across the river from Wat Arun Temple. A small ferry costing 6pence each equivalent then shuttled us across the river to the temple for us to peruse. Very impressive, not sure what it was for but we liked walking around it and taking pictures. It looked important and that's all I really wanted to know about it. We were at input overload and with the amount of information taken in in Vietnam, Thailand's history just doesn't seem as impressive.

From the temple we pop across back to the Grand Palace side and walk past as we won't be able to get in. We take a walk through a street market selling all sorts of bits and pieces. It looks like a pickpockets salesroom. Merchants with a few items on the floor spread out over a cloth; Wallets, watches, mobile phones....Slightly shady here. Really good though. Every street has more bits and pieces and nobody bothers us to buy their stuff. A man in a 'Tourist Police' jacket comes up to us and asks us if we're OK. He walks with us for a bit and asks about where we are travelling from and to, what our plans are after Bangkok, if we're enjoying it etc. He was excellent. He pointed out some places on our map that we could visit if we had time and scribbled the location of the tourist information booth where we could get cheaper train tickets etc if we needed them (we had already bought our tickets, but to be polite I just nodded and accepted his help). When he left us, he just turned round and hooked onto some other tourists - it was a great service to have and made us feel very welcome.

We made a little mistake here by going to another museum. After 10 minutes we were shattered and needed a break. The history of Thailand has got loads of Kings and they are proud of all of them. It's a long and complicated history or fighting over spits of land here and there and I just couldn't take it in. I was flagging seriously and this was early in the day, 2pm. A coffee and some ice cream cake and we decided to persevere with the museum on a 'look only, don't get involved' basis and then to head home sharpish and utilise some of the hotels facilities. We then enjoyed some of the museum including some excellent art pieces, artistic ivory carvings and a temple like room where we had to take our shoes of to enter. Because we had a plan, we seemed to be more focused and back with it. Our plan was to do as little as possible. To get back to the hotel, have some dinner (Kate cooked a magnificent tomato soup starter, followed by microwave Thai meals). We went to use the Gym (Proper exercise), had a sauna (men separate to women - I had to share with a big fella that insisted on sitting on the bench legs akimbo letting it all swing loose), a swim and then used the hotels massage centre to have an hours aromatherapy massage. We paid over the odds for the massage as it was in the hotel, but it came to approximately 30 quid for the both of us - still much much less than you would pay in the UK. We enjoyed it, I had to wear some funny little string pants, and the lady couldn't help but giggle when she was massaging my stomach and it was making all kinds of gurgling noises. The massage was not too much of an assault until she started cracking my toes individually as if torturing me and then elbowing me in the back with the force of a ninja assassin. The worst thing about massages is when they find a tight point (which inevitably hurts), they work it with double force repeatedly (which then inevitably hurts much more) making the pleasurable experience just a little bit of stressful. The massages ended at about 11pm, and we went back to the room properly chilled out. Should do the massage thing more often. A mixed day, which ended with us doing quite a lot.
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