A tour of Bangkok courtesy of Tom

Trip Start Oct 28, 2004
Trip End Aug 08, 2005

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Flag of Thailand  ,
Wednesday, June 29, 2005

After a hellish twenty-two hours of traveling we arrived safetly in Bangkok. We couldn't be more excited to step out of the airport and instantly start sweating. Ah yes, the 95 degree weather and all the humidity was something we have missed for so long.

Since it was 7am when we arrived we navigated ourselves via public bus to our rather lovely hotel. While paying $60 a night is standard practice back home it is luxury here. We were pampered like no other and spent our first day there catching up on much needed sleep, drinking cocktails out of hollowed out pineapples while sitting poolside and indulging ourselves with Thai massages. We didn't really leave the confines of our hotel and found ourselves ordering room service and watching english television most of the day.

As our only full day in Bangkok we woke up early and became express tourists, seeing all we could in one day. If we learned anything on our first day it was when traveling in Thailand it's best to look remotely Asian or maybe speak a bit of Thai. Of course neither are the case with Molly and me and within the first five minutes of being in the Thailand heat we were approached by at least 15 taxi drivers trying to cut a deal with transportation. Funny thing was, though, when we made it to the main road to hail our own taxi we were denied twice. Go figure.

Our first stop was the Grand Palace to see the emerald buddha and see how royalty once lived. It was pretty impressive and Molly and I only wish someone would go through all the trouble just to make us a place to live (hint hint). We saw all we could see and since we weren't sure if it was appropriate to pray along with all the others laying on the floor we headed on to tourist stop number 2.

The second lesson we learned concerning tourism in Thailand is NEVER open a map or, even worse, a Lonely Planet in public. You're just asking for the enitre Thai population to rush over and sell you some item or service...or to recommend you to their brother, granmother, cousin, or even just a friend. We thought we were safe sitting in a park and looking through our bright blue tour book but, turns out, we didn't even need to open that before we were approached. Tom, a "nineteen year old student", introduced himself and after mild chit-chat he asked to sit down and recommend how we should spend our afternoon. He made us a list and hand drawn map and as he was explaining transportation, all of a sudden a tuk-tuk driver appeared. Although it wasn't a government run tuk-tuk, Tom struck a deal and we were off. First stop was a fifty meter high buddha and second was a 700 year old buddha. As we sat in our tuk-tuk at the temple of the 700 year old buddha, while our driver used the bathroom we met a government official who was surprised we were in a "local" tuk-tuk and look slightly concerned for our wallets. We decided to cut our tour short but before we could depart, the driver made us stop at a silk tailor. We had no desire to have suits made but turns out he got a coupon for gas for taking us there so we did our part. At the end of our little journey we paid our 40 baht. For being taken for a "ride" we got an hour and a half tuk-tuk ride for only a dollar. Not bad for being taken advantage of.

We parted ways with our tuk-tuk only to be approached by a Thai solider who was quite excited to meet Americans. Through him we learned that the Thai people don't understand "United States"...you have to say "America." No wonder our taxi driver had no idea where I was from. But he was excited to meet us not because he wanted to yell at us about our government or swindle us out of money...he was excited because we might have known his favorite actors: "Win Weesal, Wheel Smifh, and Wohn Twavota" (aka vin diesal, will smith, and john travolta). When we did not he pointed us to the river.

We spent the rest of our afternoon walking along food stalls and enjoying the local thai food. And in the spirit of caberet shows, spent our evening watching Calypso Caberet, consisting of thirty or so drag queens/transvestites. It was a rather entertaining show and we were shocked how great all the men looked as women. However, at the end we found ourselves surrounded by the whole lot of them as the posed for pictures. We got a little intimiated and got out of there as quickly as we could.
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