Trip Start Jan 03, 2012
163Trip End May 02, 2013
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We then set out for sightseeing via the Chao Praya River. Before highways were built, it was the primary route travelled by people and goods from the Gulf of Thailand to the interior. Although times have changed, in a traffic-congested city like Bangkok is today, the river still provides an efficient means of transport to many points of interest. We booked the tourist boat day pass for 150 Thai Baht (~$5), thinking that we'd take advantage of the unlimited hop-on, hop-off feature. However, after a late start to the day, we arrived at the pier at noon so we only took the boat twice
The ride upriver revealed the city’s diverse riverside living quarters as well as several important sites, including Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn) and glimpses of the Grand Palace. We disembarked and made our way to Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha). Although our guidebook said the entrance fee would be 50 Baht, the tickets were 100, one of many signs that prices, although still relatively cheap, are rapidly rising in Thailand. Once inside, the biggest Buddha of them all was before us, occupying almost the entire temple. After several photo ops at the main attraction, we toured the grounds and saw hundreds more statues of Buddha, including some of the most ornate gold-work we will ever see.
It is extremely easy to get "templed-out" in this city so we needed a break for lunch. Sylvia had her first street-side pad thai experience near the pier, and it went down rather nicely.
Next we decided to walk to the Flower Market. On the way, we passed through a huge fruit and vegetable market / distribution centre where mass quantities of roughage were being bought and sold
Back on the boat, we made our way to Chinatown. The streets were choked with the usual traffic and the sidewalks were unbelievably narrow due to the plethora of merchants selling everything from lobster claws to carabineers, meaning that if someone in front of us stopped to look at something, we were stuck until they either bought it or moved on.
Instead of heading back to the river, we walked to the subway. As mentioned previously, the streets in Bangkok can be very confusing and after consulting our map numerous times, a stranger stepped in to 'help’. In the typical way, he said hello and asked us where we were from. Then he proceeded with his well-practiced presentation of how he could guide us in the right direction, stopping by the ‘number one temple in Bangkok’, then a Thai fashion (tailor) shop and finally a ‘better’ metro station than the one we were headed for, all for the low-low price of 40 Baht. Having read the guidebooks and thus alerted to these con-artists, we politely declined his invitation. He then pointed us in the direction of the station we wanted, which turned out to be the wrong way. We got ourselves back on track and took the subway and skytrain to the Soi 38 night market for dinner.
The market was smaller than we anticipated. Both sides of the street were lined with food vendors touting their dishes. We had delicious tom yum soup with noodles and mango shakes for 200 Baht (~$7) total.
On the way back to the skytrain, we passed an apparently award-winning upscale hair salon that was just about to close. Jason desperately needed a sheep-shearing and the price was right so he treated himself. Despite needing a translator to complete the job, Jason was very happy with the results. As long as there are customers, the Thai people will serve them with a smile.
Back at the hotel, exhausted, we drifted off to sleep, with a flight to Phuket booked for the next day.