Visiting Bangkok as a tourist again

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July 31st 2007
Published: August 26th 2007
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So the day after Kris's birthday we rose feeling relatively fine, perhaps due to consuming 5%!r(MISSING)eal ale the night before rather than our usual 6.4%!C(MISSING)hang. We spent the morning chilling by the hotel pool with Mum and Dad while we decided how to spend our next four days in Bangkok. They obviously had to see the 'must sees' of Bangkok: the Grand Palace, Wat Po, Wat Arun....but we also wanted to see some stuff that we hadn't seen yet. Sometimes when you live in a place you forget about the cool tourist stuff there is to do.

"Rinky dink dink dink"

The first night we went on a dinner cruise on the Chayopraya river. The river runs right through Bangkok and alot of the big temples and palaces, including the Grand Palace, are on its banks. At night they are all lit up and the dinner cruise boats go up and down the river. We pilled onto a big boat, the Chayopraya Princess 3 (there are 3 of these boats, its big business, river cruising) for a buffet meal and entertainment. The city looks lovely at night so that was cool. The entertainment took it from being an interesting night in Bangkok to strangely bizarre. It was the Asia cup and this seemed to mean there were alot of tourists from Iraq there. It seems alittle odd that people from a war zone should be on a jolly holiday in Thailand following the football, but Iraq did win the Asia cup. Perhaps I was mistaken and it was Iran. I don't know. Anyway, the singer on the boat was making her set abit international and doing numbers from all the countries that had representatives on the boat. However, the Iraq contingent were the only ones really joining in and having a good dance, so by the end we were hearing a medley of hits from Iraq. While sailing down a river in Thailand. So quiet weird. At the end she kept singing this one song, where the chorus went "Rinky, dink, dink dink" and everyone threw their arms in the air and shouted "IRAQ!". By the end we were joining in. Iraqy pop songs are quite catchy!

We took Mum and Dad to see the Grand Palace, Wat Arun and Wat Po, the huge shopping centres around Siam square and Khao San Road. The Buddhist holiday that meant we got 2 days holiday also turned out to mean there was no alcohol served on Sunday and Monday. Well, alledgedly, it just meant all alcohol was served officially in real beer bottles and glasses. Instead we drank from mugs and plastic cups. which was quirky.

Jabba the hut and the Mamasan on the Country Road

One night after dropping Mum and Dad at the hotel for bed we ventured out again into the night to try and find somewhere around the hotel that was serving alcohol. We wandered into a bar called "Country Road", where there was a band playing rock and country covers. As we looked around we noticed that all the men there were western, and all the women were Thai. And wearing the same black outfits....and wearing name tags....and, oh, it was that type of bar. That would be why the man who looked like Jaba the hut in the corner had three tiny Thai girls fawning all over him. Nice. Ah well, the staff were friendly and I had a good dance with the 'mamasan'. We went back the next night too!

The legend of Jim Thompson

On the Monday we went to Jim Thompson's house, somewhere we hadn't yet been to in Bangkok. Jim Thompson was an American who came to Thailand during the Vietnam war, and stayed. He thought the Thai silks that were made traditionally in the rural areas were beautiful and perfect for the international market so he formed the Thai silk trade that we see today. He built his own house in Bangkok out of 6 traditional wooden Thai houses and he filled it with lots of beautiful artifacts and antiques. Then when he was in his 60s he went out walking in the Taman Negara national park in Malaysia and disapeared. No body was ever recovered and noone knows what happened to him.

Anyway, the house is great. You get off the Sky Train and walk down this Soi and suddenly you are in these beautiful gardens and it doesnt seem like you are even in Bangkok anymore. We did an organised tour of his house given by a girl called Pla, which means 'fish' who bowed alot, but told us lots of interesting stuff about the things he collected.

Along the Klongs

After Jim Thompson's house we went to the Chayopraya river for another tour. This time we went in a longtail boat, which is like a long row boat but with a huge engine at the back with a long propeller (hence the name long-tail) round the canals of Bangkok (known as Klongs). Bangkok is known as the Venice of the East (I'm not sure who by, its not much like Venice really) because its built on a network of canals. That used to be the way everyone got around and people built their houses with the front doors opening onto the canals. Apparantly its only recently that people moved their postboxes to the road side of the houses. They have the right idea really, the traffic in this city is mental, the canal must be one of the quickest ways to get around. This boat took us round lots of the canals where you can see life carrying on beside the canal. Children are playing, women are doing their washing, people are fishing, there are big green areas with palm trees and big areas of morning glory (its a vegetable that grows in the water, really, you eat it!- gives quite a dull other meaning to the Oasis song). There are canal side temples and shops and boats drive up and down selling fruit and noodle soup and ice cream. The boat took us to the Royal Barge Museum, where the King keeps some of his Royal Barges. We've seen it advertised in tourist magazines as the Royal Barge Shed....which doesnt really sound that appealing, but it was actually quite good. Those tourist people should work on their PR. The Kings of Thailand have had traditional processions of their fleet of Royal Barges throughout history, since the 13th century. Previously it was a battle thing, to intimidate the enemy. Some of these boats are huge and carry lots of crew and guns. Now they are used for ceremony for big celebrations. There are about 30 in total and they all process in formation. The King has his own boat he rides in, the Buddha image has a boat. They are very impressive and it must be really cool to see the procession. Unfortunatly its very rare, the last one was in 2002 and there isnt another one planned. Which is a shame.

On Tuesday morning Mum and Dad got a flight to Ko Samui where they were spending the next 10 days of their holiday. We had to return to our flat ready for school on Wednesday. Not too bad though, a three day week and then our own flight down to Ko Samui!

Additional photos below
Photos: 11, Displayed: 11


At the Royal Barges MuseumAt the Royal Barges Museum
At the Royal Barges Museum

or Shed, as it's also known
Around the world in 80 British pubs #9Around the world in 80 British pubs #9
Around the world in 80 British pubs #9

the Pickled Liver, Sukhumvit, Bangkok. Kris doesn't look that impressed.

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