Published: July 8th 2008July 8th 2008
Gardens of Loha Prasat
Wat Ratchanadda is a unique temple to visit in Bangkok
Walking Tour in Rainy Season
Yesterday I did absolutely nothing except go out for a few drinks and a meal at night. I was invited to a disco but declined the offer as I was still tired after my eight day visit to Korat. Every night can be a party night in Bangkok but it will take it's toll on your health eventually.
I decided I would catch the Chao Phrayer Express Boat to the area near the Grand Palace and visit some sites that I had not seen before. As I walked along Silom Road a man approached me and told me he was a doctor on his way to work and asked me where I was going. He told me that I should take a tour of the khlongs (smaller waterways) instead of the main river as it was a Buddhist festival day and that I needed to go before 12.00 pm or I would miss the festival. The alarm bells were ringing as he explained further that the boat tours near the pier hotels are expensive and that a tour should only cosy 2500 baht. I have done the 1.5 hour tour before from the Saphan
Taskin pier and it only cost 1500 baht and I probably paid too much.
When we got to the corner a tuk tuk driver was conviently ready and my new friend the doctor or dentist as he told me bargained the driver from 20 baht to 10 baht to take me to the boat. It is sad that this scam keeps happening and I am sure that many tourists have fallen for his very believable story. I told them I was going to the 7/11 across the road first and I escaped to the Oriental Pier felling annoyed at the tricksters on Silom Road. Beware if a stranger approaches you in the streets in Bangkok, it is nearly always a scam which is a shame because there are some lovely people in this city.
I got off the express boat at Tha Chang Pier and walked through the grounds of Wat Po, The Reclining Buddha which I have seen before. A man pointed at a map at the entrance to the temple saying it was a Buddhist Festival today and that I should take a boat tour - I just ignored him and kept walking walking past Sanam
Luang Park (The Royal Park) where they are building a new temple in remembrance of the Royal Princess who passed away recently. She was a nice lady and loved very much by the people of Thailand. The royal family do a lot of work for the poor and are held in very high regard and loved by everyone in Thailand.
I kept walking around the corner going passed the Democracy Monument till I reached the gardens of the unique Wat Ratchanadda (Loha Prasat). This is a bit different to the other temples I have visited and it actually has about five levels which you reach by climbing a spiral staircase. As I walked in I was followed by a young girl who wanted to be my guide, I don't really call this a scam but it is a way to get some money from the tourists but I do not mind as the kids are very poor and it can be fun when they show you through the caves or temples. My guide showed me to each level and explained that I should kneel and pray at the shrine near the the top.
The views of Bangkok are
Praying in the shrine next to the building which houses the huge golden Reclining Bhuddha
great and I really was suprised at how good it was to wander through this temple. My guide showed me some kittens and there were many of them in the temple which is a nice change from the temple dogs which can be very aggressive at night, no one will ever break into a Temple here with the dogs wandering around the grounds. When I returned to the bottom level the girl had disappeared, there was no hand reaching out for money. She had done the tour for free, just for something to do, in any case I found her and gave her a small tip and thanked her and was rewarded by a big smile from the girl and her mother, nice after my experience with the doctor on Silom Road and the other offer of a boat trip at Wat Po. Yes maybe they conned me too but at least the money went to someone who probably needs it and it was nice having her show me through the temple. If you google for Bangkok scams you will find many examples, tricking people into buying dodgey gems is a speciality in Bangkok besides many others.
Wat Po Reclining Buddha
Looking in from the Thai only entrance
Wat Ratchanadda is the Amulet Market which is very interesting to visit and you will find anything and everything to bring good luck or ward off evil spirits. They were making some head pieces in one of the shops and this market again is very unique and is well worth a look if you are in the area. I then passed through one of the two arched openings in the old city wall extending from the Pom Mahakan Fort and again found something unusual. Inside the fort is a shanty type town with huge caged fighting cocks crowing away and a glimpse of old style living in the centre of the city.
As I was returning to my hotel it poured rain at 2.30 pm for about an hour which it does nearly every day in rainy season, sometimes a bit later in the day and it is actually refreshing and helps wash the streets and clears the air of some of the Bangkok pollution. The weather in rainy season is better than I had expected and there can be a nice cool breeze at night.
Part of the fun here can be finding a disco or nightclub
The new temple for the Princess
This will be an incredible sight when it is completed
that is open late at night. When we arrived at a disco tonight the police made sure that it was closing at 2.00 am so seven of us piled into a taxi and found another disco with no sign posting, obviously off the official radar and it closed at 5.00 am. These clubs can be great fun and I must say that it was the best that I have encountered so far and definitely not on the tourist maps.
Thursday July 10th - update
I had a memorable experience last night when after visiting a Karoake bar in Sathorn we stopped at a restaurant on the side of Rama 1V road between Sathorn and Silom. We had a 12 course Thai style banquet at 4.30 am cooked on the outside bbq while my friends sang karoake out on the pavement with wireless mics and the sound and probable fumes of the already hectic traffic of cars, trucks and tuk tuks flying past on this major raod in Bangkok.
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