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Published: November 23rd 2010
Arrival in Bangkok
Laura practicing her Thai
Bangkok: The Honeymoon
Bangkok is a city unlike anywhere we have ever visited. It is chaotic, colorful, and aromatic. Teeming with temples, transvestites (no joke) and Tuk Tuks, we are never far away from another head-turning discovery.
We started our Bangkok experience rather timidly due to the fact that the city is huge and the language barrier is noticeable. Since we arrived late from Seoul, and Bangkok was the official beginning of our honeymoon, we booked a Mercedes to pick us up at the airport. Laura, with Thai phrasebook in hand, spent the entire 45-minute drive as her personal language class, asking the driver everything from where he’s from to what his birthday is, then flipping around attempting to decipher the answer. Aaron was distracted with the fact that the cars had right-side steering, and he tried to keep his calm as oncoming traffic drove by on the left (although it isn’t uncommon to have motorcycles driving the wrong way straight at you in the wrong lane either). We thankfully arrived at the Chatrium Suites in one piece. As tired as we were, we arrived at our honeymoon suite on the 27th floor overlooking the Chao Phraya River with
View from our room
great excitement. Our room, complete with our own balcony also had sweeping 180-degree river and city views. It was beautiful!
Laura spent the next few days continuing with her Thai. So far we have learned some basic expressions, and while people seem very appreciative of the fact that we are trying, most of the time our efforts are met with confused faces (Thai is very tonal, so pronunciation is a challenge). Aaron’s personal favorite which typically draws the biggest laugh is “pom pen con Thai” which means “I am a Thai person”.
Wednesday morning we began our city exploration. The hotel offered a complimentary boat from the hotel dock to a city dock where we encountered a seemingly endless corridor of street vendors and a Sky Train station. This seemed to be an obvious place to start. We began walking the streets, map in hand, taking in the scents and sights of a culinary city obsessed with the rule of four; sweet, sour, salt and spice. As somewhat self-proclaimed “foodies” we were in food heaven. It seemed like we had fallen into a travel food show where our obligation to the viewers was to try a little of
everything just to make sure. One of the things Thai and American people have in common is that we all love to sample. Therefore, before you buy, often times you can have a little, free of charge. This makes for a nice afternoon snack.
After wandering without direction for a little while, we decided to contact David’s friend Ray who we had been in contact with during the months prior to arriving. Ray and his wife Nok live here in Bangkok, and for us, they really have been the highlight of Thailand so far. Full of information and always equipped for anything, Ray and Nok have singlehandedly made our experience in Thailand unforgettable and have taken the challenge out of traveling. Ray, who is in between the second and third part of his masters’ work and waiting for his dental license, has taken it upon himself to be our personal tour guide around Bangkok. Nok, who supposedly works 7 days a week as a dentist, professor, dean and MBA student, has made a huge effort to spend time with us and show us all the great sweet-eats around town.
Hanging out with Ray you’re always in for a good
At the hotel
time. He comes up with a plan and will surprise you with the destination. Our first stop on the “Tour de Ray” was the Jim Thompson House. American Jim Thompson came to SE Asia with the military pre-WWII and fell in love with Thailand. After his tour of duty, Thompson became a business man and is credited with commercializing the Thai silk industry in the Western world. Here, he has become somewhat famous for his work and his architectural prowess. The tour is focused around his house and vast art collection, a combination of 6 relocated traditional Thai houses joined together as one, giving a visitor a sense of Thai architecture.
Our next adventure was a full day tour of the Grand Palace. The Grand Palace, located in the heart of Bangkok and built in 1782, is the former royal residence of the King and his family, as well as home to the Wat Phra Kaew or Temple of the Emerald Buddha. As we have learned, the Thai monarchy is one of the wealthiest in the world and this is evident in the extensive amounts of gold, gems and intricate designs throughout the Grand Palace. The tour began by
Jim Thompson House
Silk design printing block
getting all of us extra clothing, as being covered in the temples is seen as a sign of respect in Buddhism, as in most religions. We hired a tour guide who taught us quite a bit. While her English was slightly hard to understand, Ray came to the rescue again with his translations. By the end of the tour we had given our respect to the famous Emerald Buddha (actually made of jade), we had admired the various temples infusing both Hindu and Buddhist tradition, and we had learned a brief history of the Kingdom of the “Free Land” (literal translation of Thailand).
As we came to the end of our tour, we were all feeling a bit “hangry” (hungry + angry), so we jumped in a Tuk Tuk and headed to explore the Khao San market. The market was bursting with street eats, cheap clothing, fish spas (the fish literally exfoliate your feet), “custom tailored suits with special price for you”, and tons of locals encouraging us to buy any and everything they had to offer. We gave in on the Pad Thai and cold Singha beer. Of course now we know where to go shopping before we
Ray, Nok and yours truly
fly home. The day came to a close with drinks from a roof top bar that overlooked the river and the awe-inspiring Temple of the Dawn.
On Saturday, we checked out of our personal palace ready for our next adventure. Ray and Nok were nice enough to book us a room in their university housing complex downtown; however, when they came to pick us up the plan had apparently changed…
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