Published: September 13th 2010September 13th 2010
September 8, 2010
The original schedule for this day was to visit a food market (Thewet Market), then the Vinanmek Teak Mansion, have a Thai Massage, second fitting at the tailor and finally Jerry’s Birthday Dinner Cruise. Three of these actually happened. A WALK TO TEAK
After a larger than normal breakfast, intentionally done as we were skipping lunch today as I knew dinner was going to contain a lot of food. We headed for the Sky Train to get to the Teak Mansion. The night before we had determined that the best way to get there was take the Sky Train to the Victory Monument (World War II Monument) then walk straight down the road to the Teak Mansion. The Mansion (actually a former palace to King Rama V) is located in the area of Bangkok known as Dusit. Dusit is just north of the Old City and is not blessed with any mass transit except busses. A bus trip in Bangkok is not an experience you want to have. No air condition, and takes for ever because of the traffic.
We got off at the correct stop and thus began our walk. Now on the
map it looked like maybe half a mile, oh not so, more like 2 miles. We walked through the major medical district, every type of medical center and hospital you need, including the center for tropical diseases. We continued on, past more hospitals over the train tracks and finally arrived at the current palace of the king. I knew that the Mansion was right after the palace. Well it was almost after the palace, which was about ½ a mile long, then by the zoo and finally to the area of the Teak Mansion. The sign pointed us down a street and we followed the directions. There were no helpful tuk tuk drivers here, in fact there were hardly any tuk tuk drivers at all, perhaps the king banded them from this area. This was also the area of the parliament building. We finally found the entrance and then proceeded to walk another ½ mile inside the complex to the mansion. We stopped to half some water and rest my feet. A stop not well timed. As we were drinking our water, a thousand school children passed by on their way to the mansion. When we arrived the line was
long, but fortunately we were ushered ahead.
Since the Mansion is a former palace, rules require that your legs be covered. The first day I decide to wear shorts and I have to then wear a wrap around me to hide my legs. We also had to remove our shows, which I thought was only for Wats. In any event, we next had to rent locker as we were not allowed anything in the mansion, especially our camera. It was a guided tour so we did get a good explanation. Of the Mansion, the Kings and the historical reference. It was interesting, but if you only have so much time to spend in Bangkok, this should be low on your list of things to see. If for no other reason other than it is hard to get to. It is part of your admission to the Grand Palace, so if you see one you should see both since you have already paid for it.
There are no pictures here of the mansion as they were not allowed. Historical Context
The Vinanmek Teak Mansion was originally built for King Rama V on an Island, he later had
it disassembled and rebuild in its present location. He only lived there for 6 years. King Victoria stayed in the Mansion, then palace on a visit to Thailand in the earlier part of her rein. King Rama V is the King who replaced King Rama IV. We all know who King Rama IV was, don’t you, sure you do. He is the King of “The King and I Fame”. The Thai will make no reference to this film ever. They hated it, in fact it was actually banned in the country as they believed it portrayed the king in a bad light. It is actually against the law to speak ill of the king. This would not work in the US, can you imagine not be able to speak ill of former president Bush or even Obama for that matter.
In any event we will learn later that the Thai, while not being revisionists with their history, will leave certain parts that they don’t like out of their history books. (More on this later) The Best 100 Bahts Spent
After the tour we headed for the street and actually sought out a tuk tuk, the walk back
Not a day over 40
I had to take him out of the country for his 45th Birthday.
(2 miles) was just not going to happen, my feet would just stop working. We found one tuk tuk driver. The price started at 200, then down to 100, then back to 150. I said no only 100, the man on the street approaches me measures my stomach says no 150 three people not two. You can imagine this did not make me happy, Jerry smiled, I said we will pay nothing in that case. Finally the price got back to 100 bahts. Interestingly enough the tuk tuk driver was not any smaller than I am, so I am really not sure why the reference was needed. In any event, the ride saved my feet and got us back to the Sky Train quickly. Another Fitting
When we arrived back at the hotel the table was set for what looked like a snack. Now I knew what this was for, but Jerry did not. When I booked the hotel, I told them it was going to be his Birthday while we were there, they said they would arrange something nice. When we checked in, the clerk pulled me aside and said that a cake would arrive on his
birthday. So when we walked in the room, Jerry thought perhaps a snack was on its way. I went to the refrigerator and pulled out his birthday cake, perfect size for two. WE saved it for later that night. The hotel did this for no charge.
We had about an hour before the tailor arrived, yes this time he came to us for the fitting, so we headed to the pool to cool off before trying on the clothes. After our quick yet refreshing pool-thirty, we went back to the room and the tailor arrived shortly there after. We tried on everything. Jerry’s all looked and fit great. I only need a minor adjustment on my pants and a change of buttons on the shirts. All of these fitting, transportation to the tailor and back are included in the price. To recap, I am getting two suits, both made of a wool silk blend, two cotton shirts with French cuffs, two casual linen pants. Jerry is getting a jacket, slacks, shirt and Asian style shirt. So all of the transportation, coming to us, the material and the labor costs $890. There is no way you could touch this for less than $4,000+++ back home. THE BIRTHDAY DINNER CRUISE
Now typically, we are not ones for doing things that only tourists do. However, I wanted to do something special for Jerry’s birthday so I arranged a dinner cruise. Two reasons, it was on a rice barge at night and included authentic Thai dancing. It would be are one and only opportunity to see the city at night. The Wats are all lit so it is quite a beautiful sight. The cruise was operated by a man who had retired here from England. He spent his life as a business consultant and traveled the world. He spoke at least three languages that I heard, Thai, English and Spanish. So yes, the cruise was full of tourists from around the world; German, Spain, Australia, England and us the lone Americans. In fact, outside of the cooking school, where there was one other American, there have not been very many Americans here at all.
The food was traditional Thai; chicken satay with peanut sauce, shrimp spring rolls, various vegetables and one thing I was surprised to see, Pork Rinds. After the appetizers, we had soup no Tom Kah Gai, but Jerry had a vegetable soup (no spice) and I had a Spicy Prawn Soup. When I booked the cruise I made sure to specify that I was allergic to clams and mussels. We were suppose to have one traditional meat Thai dinner (six items) and one traditional seafood Thai dinner (six items), this in fact was the recomendation of the cruise line. They were so concerned about my allergies, that we got no seafood what so ever, no prawns (other than the soup) no calamari, no sea bass. Not that we didn’t get enough to eat and not that I don’t appreciate their concern, but really it was only clams and mussels I told them I was allergic to.
During dinner there was traditional Thai music and Dancing. As nice as it was, it did appear the Thai dancers seemed to be pretty much over it. Not like in Jerez where the flamingo dancers enjoy what they are doing, even if it is for tourists. In any event, it was a good chance to see the city at night and the food was good. It was Jerry’s birthday so it was worth the money. Would I recommend it, only if you are having a special occasion while in Bangkok.
The service on the cruise was excellent and very attentive, if we only knew what was to come. During dinner we ordered our first wine, it did cost as much as one dinner, but it is a birthday. So part way through dinner I, in my normal fashion am talking with my hands, well my fork caught my wine class just right, and over it went, and on to my semi white shirt. The waiter ran to the table, ushered me to the bathroom and proceeded to clean my shirt. He ended up taking it and washing it for me during the cruise. I spent the rest of dinner wearing a table cloth, Scarlete O'hara has nothing on me.
After dinner we were returned to our hotel. We had already packed as this was out last night in the City. The next day we were beginning the next phase of our trip a two night three day cruise to Ayutthaya, the ancient capital of Thailand. A Birthday Note
Not only did the hotel arrange a birthday cake for Jerry, but while we were getting ready for dinner they arrived at the door with a card and yellow rose. No detail was left untouched by the staff. By the way, the cake was excellent
After enjoying the cake we went to bed, when we awoke the cruise would begin. They were picking us up at 9 on Thursday morning.