Chinatown Stroll


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March 12th 2008
Published: March 13th 2008
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With nothing to organise this morning we were able to have a sleep in till the late hour of 7.00 am, such luxury.

After breakfast we decided to go out for a little walk to Chinatown. Jim has wanted to come to this part of Bangkok since our last visit when we were rushed for time and got to see prescious little of the city.

Chinatown is one of the older parts of the city near to the river and is a rabbit warren of streets and lanes and alleys where you can find street after street of shops that specialise in one product, we found barrel makers, water pumps, hardware heck you name it and you can probably find it somewhere here. As is so common in Chinatowns the world over the streets are alive and full of life with people rushing from place to place all intent on making a dollar. So it was nice to stumble accross an old Wat that was under restoration where we were able to just wander around undisturbed. And what a little treasure of a place this was. Inside the main temple where the restoration work was under way we were given a private lesson in the art of gold leafing lacquer. Who would have ever thought of applying ochre into the desired design before completely covering the surface with the gold leaf then washing the whole thing down with a fine mist of water. As the water is applied the design underneath in slowly revealed as the gold washes away where the ochre has been painted. This work is painfully slow, there are 18 more doors and windows to complete with an estimated 12 months left to go. But then again if the job is worth doing it is worth doing well. The team doing the work comprises 1 artist and 4 other support people all of whom have taken up residence in the Wat.

Feeling much more relaxed we head back out into the mania that is Chinatown and jump a cab to take us to Siam Square district of Bangkok. It is here that you find the biggest and glittziest shopping malls Bangkok has to offer. With the weather hot and steamy we decided that a few more pairs of shorts were a good idea so we went into a Gant outlet store and bought 2 pairs each of new shorts for the exorbitant price of $8 a pair.

After all this walking and retail therapy some food and drink seems like a good idea so we head to the food court at MBK. WOW who would have thought that a food court could be this good and so well organised. Food from around the world yes even an Aussie pie and BBq outlet. The whole setup was mighty schmick.

Fed and watered it is time to head off again for another leg of our walk around Bangkok. Lucky for us it just happens to be peak hour in Bangkok so a scene of complete and utter chaos greets us out on the street. At this time of day traffic in Bangkok is remarkably easy to deal with as it comes to a complete stop as far as the eye can see. We walked past miles of shopping malls and past the bangkok Police Headquarters. Nothing much changes around the world inside the grounds there was an aerobics class going on - all women - and men being men, all the policemen decided it was much better to watch rather than participate. Mind you in this heat watching seems like a much more sensible option to us.

We eventually reached the Erawan Shrine on the corner of Tha Ratchadamri and Tha Ploenchit. This remarkably crowded shrine is dedicated to Brahama who is renowned for granting wishes. It was getting late by this time so we decided to head back to the hotel with a short stop for a few beers along the way.

Back at the hotel a long shower was the perfect end to the day followed by an early night in bed, as our feet are well and truely sore now.

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