Bangkok Big City Life

Trip Start Sep 19, 2012
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Trip End Jul 22, 2014


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Saturday, September 28, 2013

After leaving Alan's house and catching the bus into Kuala Lumpur it was great to be back in civilisation. To just walk down the street and eat anything I wanted was a treat. Bought some fresh bread and a small round of Brie.... heaven. Flights are booked and its off to Thailand and meeting Kate. Happy days I am so excited.

To ease her into life in Asia I booked a reasonable hotel in the city centre. Give her a few days to acclimatise and also time for us to catch up. Got to the airport hours too early but guess I just couldn't wait.  I was pacing up and down searching all the arrivals even though I could see that her plane had not even landed. What a moment. We just hugged and laughed. I was so happy. Back to the hotel and ready to plan our adventure.

We have decided to spend a few days in Bangkok and then head up north. That night we went out for dinner and I introduced Kate to market style street food. Very impressed with how adventurous she was. The next morning with a combination of Skytrain, river boat and Tuk Tuk we arrived at the Grand Palace. The boat trip was a local ferry that stops off along the river. The Chao Praya river is a busy fast flowing river with all kinds of boats from big barges and pleasure boats down to little long tail motor boats. What was amazing that when passed by watching the river banks we would one minute be looking at huge fancy 5 star hotels and right next to them would be shanty style wooden houses on stilts.
 
I  have been to many such places on my travels but this Palace was impressive. The style of architecture and the details and craftsmanship was amazing. There were masses of tourists about but even this did not distract from the beauty of the buildings. We spent  a few hours wandering around in the heat and the crowds and decided to head of to one of the nearby temples. After buying some lovely fresh water melon from a street vendor it was off by Tuk Tuk to see the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. Yet another interesting and impressive sight. Some very ornate sculptures at all of the gates and then to see this massive gold plated Buddha (about 34 m if I remember correctly) was breathtaking. Again after wandering around and chatting to a monk we decided that we had had enough culture for one day it was off to the Amulet market

Another short Tuk Tuk ride and we were soon exploring down some narrow dark alleys of the market. Obviously these amulets are important to the Thais but did not find them that interesting. Apparently they can spend hours inspecting various pieces with a jewelers eye glass and they can also be very expensive. After Kate had bought a few rings we had a late lunch where I introduced her to the wonderful Roti. Different to what we get back home. Here, the roti is rolled and then flipped like a pizza til it is paper thin. Then a filling is added before it is folded into a square and then cooked on a flat hotplate which makes it nice and crispy. Fillings vary from savory like chicken curry, cheese or eggs to sweet fillings like banana and condensed milk and Nutella. A great tasty quick and cheap snack available in most of S E Asia.

From here we headed back to the river front where we found a great spot over looking the river where we could watch the sun set behind the temples. Sipping fancy cocktails and watching the sun set was the perfect end to a great day sight seeing with Kate. Tomorrow has been designated a shopping day so we will hit the huge fancy malls of central Bangkok.

A short trip by Skytrain and we soon in the heart of any shoppers paradise. The Skytrain is like an underground metro except that it is about 4 stories above ground so you get a great view of the city and it is quick, clean and cheap. The first mall we went to was massive and each floor is themed as a different city from around the world. For example San Francisco had a miniature bridge and London had double decker buses. Even the toilets were themed. About the toilets ...I had my first experience on a Japanese style loo. With all the buttons and bum wash sprays and dryers. Quite an experience. Most Malls have food courts where an entire floor is dedicated just to food outlets. The choice is mind boggling and you can literally eat anything you want. what is weird is that every dish on the menu is displayed as a precast painted plastic mold. Some of these are very realistic but at least you can see what you are ordering. most of the day was spent exploring these huge amazing malls and Kate found them impressive. 

That night I took Kate out to Soi Cowboy, which was the original Red Light area of Bangkok. It is one long street lined on both sides with bars. There are also lots of street traders selling souvenirs and watches etc and of course lots of beggars and hustlers. All the bars are offering various specials and discounted drinks as they try to attract your attention. What really attracts your attention is the scantily clad girls ( and some lady boys) beckoning you into the bars. After sitting on the street side watching all the strange sights and people we decided to go into the bar to see the show. The bar was packed with mostly men around a raised dance floor. On the dance floor were about 20 girls slowly moving from foot to foot with the most disinterested expressions. They were so tightly packed there was no where for them to move. Very boring and not a least entertaining. We finished our drinks and Kate decide that we go and suss out the Lady Boy Club called Cockatoo....what else???. As we entered all the Lady boys flocked around Kate making a fuss as they lead her to a table. She just made a bee line for the bar with me chasing after her. We ordered some drinks and sat at a table. Down the middle of this narrow room was a raised dance area where once again the dancers wiggled the bits right in front of our faces. Lady Boys are scary as some of them are very attractive and you cant really tell. The best clue is to check out the feet and you see these size 10s stuffed into amazing high heel shoes. Both of us found it a bit strange but also a bit funny, so after one drink we left.

We have decided to catch the train to Chiang Mai and explore a bit of the north of Thailand. The next day we arrived at the station only to be told that the train is not running as due to the high amount of accidents they have decided to carry out some repairs to the track. We managed to buy bus tickets on the overnight bus only to find out later that we had been ripped off for more than double the usual price. As we had a few hours to wait we took a walk around the nearby China Town. Not much to see but did go into one Temple and found an impressive solid gold stature of Buddha. Apparently during some early invasion, to protect and disguise the stature it was covered in plaster. Only many years later when it was being moved it was damaged and they discovered that it was solid gold.

The hours dragged by while we waited for the bus and Kate went to Dunkin donuts for some refreshments. We had seen Charcoal Donuts advertised all around the city so she bought a couple. The most disgusting thing I have ever eaten... a doughnut covered in a black, burnt tasting BBQ sauce. Why would anyone do this?
 
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Comments

simon storey on

Hi Gus,

good to hear you & Kate all well.

keep on "trucking" keep safe as well.

cheers
simon

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