Published: September 6th 2012September 6th 2012
..for FAST and fun transpo.
Four days in Bagkok without a hitch..Exciting, exhilerating, exhausting, and exotic, but beautiful and vibrant and energetic too.
The weather at this rainy time of year had been our biggest concern...not to worry, Mary!. About 30 -32 daytime, cooler at night..humid but not unbearable....some showers and 2 monsoon variety rains. Perfect!
In three days of intensive sightseeing we traveled by tuk-tuk and boat to visit temples...each more glorious than the last. The Grand Palace with Wat (temple) of the Emerald Buddha, Wat Pho (151' Recliining Buddha), Big Buddha, Lucky Buddha, Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn) and some small ones too. (see photos... these amazing temples and their grounds can not be described in words)
We spent a whole day and evening on the Chao Phraya River using an express boat day pass so that we could on/off at whim...the Orchid Sheraton (beautiful, Casey), the Oriental Mandarin Hotel, Little (are you kidding????) India (OMG the bagains!!!), and Chinatown (ditto), a gorgeous Chinese temple compound and all the other sights of the rivers edge. And contrary to what we had read, the river was not smelly, but yes, it is dirty.
We spent one late evening in Patpong, the
market that makes Tonala look like a 7/11 and the other nights in Khao Sahn, the backpackers haven that was our neighbourhood, for excellent people watching and quite good music and beer. Our hotel, the Rambuttri Village Plaza Inn is modest, clean, centrally located if you like a back-packer versus business ambience. Air conditioning, WiFi, a large, clean and cool pool...all for $27 a night.
To choose the cashmere fabric and have Wally fitted twice for his hand tailored sports jacket and 3 shirts consumed 3 more of our hours. For his final fitting the tailor came to our hotel..what a nice young guy with such amazing skill. He is going to deliver this new wardrobe to our final hotel on our last day in Thailand so we don't have to pack it around. Such service! Wait til you see W in this jacket!
The highlight? Well, that's difficult. The Temples of course because they are just so outrageously ornate, and so different from anything we've seen elsewhere.
But our 15 km night time bike ride was the best 4 hours we spent in Bangkok, for sure. The 8 of us (representing Lebanon, Great Britain, Spain, and
Canada) led by our very speedy female Thai dodged city traffic, wound through the throngs on the pedestrian streets, navigated extremely narrow (1 m.) wide dark alleys with motor scooters on one side and BBQ's on the other in the poorest of Muslin districs before we hustled onto the ferry with our bikes (this is a 30 second window of opportunity), crossed the bridge over the Chao Phraya and stopped at Wat Pho and Wat Arun, richly lit up and devoid of tourists. Our guide explained the history and significance of each stop and neighbourhood. On our bikes again, along an "easy riding" designated bike path beside the river, then over the bridge, through the traffic again to the wholesale flower market....acres of venders selling varieties of cut flowers we had never seen before plus a sea of marigolds (gold for the temples and Buddhas), orchids, and roses (50 bahts ($1.50) for a 3 doz. bunch). Here we had satays, sticky rice and a soda from the street vendors (which in itself was a new experience for some more timid eaters) before finishing our ride heading back to our starting point. AMAZING! And a way to see some areas of
Bangkok that you would never, ever see under normal circumstances and certainly not at night. Grasshopper Tours is to be commended for offering this type of opportunity to tourists.
One memorable event....a 90 minute Thai massage, followed by a herbal massage which was desperately needed to heal the wounds of the Thai massage. I think one of these experiences will suffice! (M) It left us relaxed and aware of muscles we didn't know we had. (W)
So today we left Bangkok on Air Asia, which is a small but extremely efficient, fast and CHEAP way to get from city to city. It can't get much better than Bangkok has been, but we've got 24 more days of this hectic but rewarding schedule and each day will reveal more of the wonders of this hospitable, scenic and ancient country.
There are more photos below