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Published: November 14th 2007
My first thought in writing this blog is....I can't wait to come back! Thailand has truly exceeded expectations, and I have to thank Paul and Emma (that I met in Maldives) for their insight and inspiration to extending my time here! I was scheduled for a quick 3 day stop in Bangkok, but am now at the close of 9 exhilirating, action-packed, when-do-i-get-to-come-back-here days! I landed in Bangkok after another exhausting, 24-hour, why the heck did the airline cancel my reservation for no reason travel day. I had a guide book for southeast asia (very helpful in so many ways!) and knew exactly where I wanted to go and how to get there. Quite a change from the last few cities! I took a public taxi to Khoa San Road (after being asked 75 times by private tour operators if I needed a taxi or hotel - obviously tourism is a HUGE business here!) and was instantly at ease and thrilled when I arrived!
It's interesting what perspective provides ... all I had read and heard about this city prepared me to be overwhelmed by the masses of people, the crazy vendors, and just sheer chaos. But after India?!? I
felt that this was a clean, calm, organized meeting place of all world travelers! I was instantly relieved to be back with other travellers and in a place that was welcoming (i.e. no staring) and familiar (i.e. meat + options of food other than Indian as well as western music blaring from street vendors!) I know for a fact I would have had a completely different impression if arriving off a flight from LA....as I said....perspective is an interesting thing!
One of my learning tidbits in traveling is that I prefer location to cost, so I bunked up at a hotel right on the main strip, Khao San Road. (Still a bargain deal of about $35USD) There were people everywhere buying t-shirts, jewelry, used books, and drinking the local beers. I finally saw many other people travelling by themselves, and was in awe of the sheer numbers of tourists! My first stop was a great Thai meal (my first of many sweet and spicy thai dishes...pork, chicken, noodle, veggie, I really loved the spicy everything, until I ate a whole chili on accident! yikes!) and then splurged on a one hour Thai massage at one of the fancy spas
my new ATW BFFs
Johnny and Mark! See you in Singapore! and Oz! And Vegas!
for a whole $7 USD. It was like partner yoga! So crazy! But I loved every minute of it, and was enamored by the culture already. It seemed that every local person was wearing a yellow shirt that day, and I asked my massage lady about it = Monday is the day to wear yellow in honor of their King! He is sooooo popular in this country, it is awesome! He has reigned for 61 years (the longest reining monarch in the world) and every Monday (actually pretty much every DAY) the people wear yellow shirts with the monarch logo and "long live our beloved king" stitched on the back! There are also commemorative pictures of him all around town on billboards and these crazy shrines encrusted in jewels and gold. When I say all around town, I'm talking like every other BLOCK! And the pictures are from when he was a teenager to the present! My first day in town, every shop you went in, the locals were GLUED to the TV watching the procession of the King's Birthday Barge down the river, starting the celebrations that will presume for his 80th birthday on December 5th. I can't believe
I will be missing it! The party of the century in this country!
Anyways, I had been up all night, so thought I'd stop and have a quick dinner and head to bed, but then to my surprise ended up meeting my new ATW BFFs, Mark and Johnny from Brighton, England! They were at a table next to me in the restaurant and discussing their upcoming visit to Hollywood and what they were expecting to encounter there. I had to chime in, starting talking to them, and they were on week ONE of their around the world tour! We ended up spending the next three days totally touring around, partying, and planning our future adventures together! (We coincide in Singapore, Christmas in Sydney, and they arrive in LA the same week I go home! Not to mention that Johnny LOVES daft punk too, so hopefully we'll be catching that show together!) We had a crazy first night with Johnny's cousin (who is a local) and super enjoyed the local scene as well as eating some spicy street food!
The next day we set out to the Grand Palace - a must must see for anyone visiting this town.
We decided to take a tuk-tuk (called the rickshaw in India) for the adventure of it - and I must say! What an adventure! The funny thing is....they don't take you where you want to go - they take you wherever they want! We said Grand palace, and he took us to some giant buddha figure! Then he said, NEXT he would take us to Grand Palace....for more money of course!! We said no thank you, got out, took some pics, and found another tuk tuk to take us to Grand Palace. Except after he agreed to a price, he said no, actually he was going to take us to the Boxing Stadium instead! WHAT!?!?!? NOOOO, that is not where we want to go!! So bizarre. Imagine getting in a taxi and they refuse to take you where you want to go...they will only go to where THEY want to go! Well, we finally found our way there, and when we got to the Palace, they wouldn't let the boys in because they had on shorts, so they had to rent pajama pants with an elephant pattern in order to tour inside! Classic! The Grand Palace was absolutely STUNNING as
you can see from the pictures. It is many buildings tiled in colored mosaic mirrors that go on forever in the most detailed mind-blowing awesomeness you could ever imagine! Then we went INSIDE one of these amazing temples and there was a huge, ornate, bejeweled, gold pyramid honoring Buddha! WHOA!!! Afterwards, we made our way across the street to Wat Pho which houses the largest reclining Buddha in the country - and WOWOWOW is it large! Awesome!! We found our way home via river taxis (after an accidental river taxi that just crossed the river....whoops....still an adventure) and on the way there, encountered the open fish market (Ooooh, the smells...like i was back in India!) We also saw a group of guys playing football with a pack of clear garbage bags rubber banded together! That night was our first night of beer towers! They were super cheap, and very fun, like having your own keg at the table!
The next day we took the 2 1/2 hour trip to the Tiger Temple! (I had to post those pictures right away...aren't they awesome!?!?!) I was soooo in awe the entire time we were there. Their majestic disposition is just awesome!
Not a bad find at the wrong place
these dragons on top of a temple are exquisite!
To be that close to an animal so mysterious and ferocious is truely magical! These were animals that have been raised by the monks since cubs....most lost their mothers to poachers in the wilds in Thailand, and now they are a part of a conservation project that raises them and releases them back to the wild. What a fantastic way to spend a day! Our driver was super fun, and insisted on taking us to a few other places around the country, so we ended up at a waterfall that afternoon, and lunch on a floating barge on the River Kwai! Our driver was TRUELY the happiest person I have ever encountered in my entire life! He spoke great English that he learned simply from driving taxis, and was so insistant that we see as much of his country as possible, and have the best time ever! He giggled at EVERYTHING and half the time I was gut-wrenching laughing just because he was laughing so hard at nothing and it was so contagious! He would point at the corn fields and say "Pop-corn!" and laugh for like 5 minutes! "Baby cows!" giggle giggle giggle "Fruit stands!" giggle giggle giggle....It was
awesome! And on the way home, he stopped at a fruit stand and insisted on buying us this crazy coconut drink (pretty gross, Johnny spent the entire stop trying to figure out how to dump his under the car without anyone noticing) and a really weird looking fruit that actually didn't taste too bad. We did dinner and drinks again and then finally found a fantastic techno dance club (that gave out free glow stick bracelets on the dance floor!!!) We danced our faces off well after the lights came on (the DJ kept playing until about 3a - even though they were closed, no one wanted to leave the dance floor!)
I spent the rest of my time in Bangkok exploring random temples (each of them more ornate and impressive than the one before) and eating lots of noodles and chili dishes! I must say it was most difficult to not purchase anything here - everything was sooo cheap and cool - my favorite thing (and I do wish I bought it) was a T-shirt of Einstein DJ ing on a set of turntables! I did finally have to decide how I was going to spend the rest
of my time in Thailand....reading the fellow bloggers adventures and checking out the postcards at the tourists spots helped me decide to head south next instead of my original plan of elephant riding/trekking up north. (See you next time, Chang Mei!) You will see on the next blog that I absolutely made the right decision....the rest of my life shall be spent living in a glass bubble under the sea! I'm in love! Read on....miss you all!
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