Bangkok: Temples, Transvestites & Tuk Tuks

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November 20th 2010
Published: November 23rd 2010
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Seoul to Bangkok

Arrival in BangkokArrival in BangkokArrival 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
Chatrium SuitesChatrium SuitesChatrium Suites

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 hotelAt the hotelAt the hotel

Hanging poolside
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 HouseJim Thompson HouseJim 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
The GangThe GangThe Gang

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…

Additional photos below
Photos: 27, Displayed: 26


Thai foodThai food
Thai food

It got the best of Aaron! We asked for not spicy as well. Apparently this means only one handful of peppers!

Everyone's got one
Grand PalaceGrand Palace
Grand Palace

This statue is of Buddha's physician
Golden MonkeyGolden Monkey
Golden Monkey

These guys were the protectors of the palace from the demons
Detail workDetail work
Detail work

at the Grand Palace
Monkeys carrying the mountainMonkeys carrying the mountain
Monkeys carrying the mountain

Everything that is gold colored is real gold leaf
Grand PalaceGrand Palace
Grand Palace

Intricate detail work inside the compound.

Here we are!
Army guyArmy guy
Army guy

This is our favorite shot!
Grand PalaceGrand Palace
Grand Palace

from outside the compound
Tuk TukTuk Tuk
Tuk Tuk

He wanted to take us to a jewelry store/fabric store. Apparently this is a common scam here
Street foodStreet food
Street food

Yum! (not a posed shot)
Street foodStreet food
Street food

Pork on a stick

23rd November 2010

Your blog is incredible. I think you should preserve this in book form with the pictures. I want to be there too! Love you both S
23rd November 2010

I am so envious of you two. Sounds like you are experiencing a whole new world. I was definitely giggling imagining Laura in the Mercedes talking up the cab driver, THAT is Laura. Sending you two lots of love! besos
23rd November 2010

Wow I'm reliving it all over with you guys! Keep up the pics. You guys look so happy. How bout that streetmeat?! Love from us
23rd November 2010

Thanks, wonderful guys
Hi, you two. I cannot express enough how great your blog two are great writers and I'm so glad you are taking the time to do this. From the beginning I've been impressed and thrilled! For us on the receiving end it is second hand enjoyment...vicarious travel to exotic places...and you will always be glad to have these commentaries and pics as a diary. (Besides, you could have careers in travel writing! The phots are excellent too.) I think I heard that Aaron is the writer and Laura the editor...even the spelling is perfect! Of course, it is great to hear that everywhere so far you've had a firend or two to make the visit really personal, no doubt easier and alot more fun. What history and background,and the local color you've included, make it even more special and professional too. I've been super busy since your parties ended and you flew away. Had to get my regular life back in shape. And the City of Mercer Island projected to wipe away the budget for the Arts Council and I spent weeks working to get it restored...finally got most of it back! Am now receiving many congratulations because this is a rare occurance all around the country. Also now have three close friends who are fighting cancer and am spending time trying to help...essentially be a friend, visit, just be there. It is terrible and for me one of the hardest things to face. Today Seattle...and all around...we are under an Arctic blast. Not a huge amount of snow 3-4 inches where I am, but ice under it and it is well below freezing. So Aaron at least can appreciate how that brings the whole area to a halt, and with loads of accidents. It took some people over 12 hours to get home last night because of so many accidents on the streets, freeways. I got hit with it in Bellingham on Friday so was forewarned here as it didn't hit us until several days later. (Went up to see a friend and an art show, a bridge was out on the Amtrak line, and on the way home the bus broke down in Stanwood. Very, very cold but we had gotten out of the snow and were rescued by an extra bus within an hour and a half. I spent the time talking with a very interesting young woman, Chinese but thrid generation who had grown up in Bellevue, and home on holiday. She now teaches psychology at a university outside Hong Kong, had been in the Peac Corps in Uzbekistan when 9/11 occured, had traveled all over. We had such an interesting time that I didn't suffer too much. Except I hate to be trapped. It was a good lesson in patience and creating one's own experience. Today is gorgeous with snow on the ground and the sun is out...and everyone who can (and even if they can't) is staying home, playing or shoveling the sidewalks and putting down salt and sand! An unexpected holiday. I am spending Thanksgiving at Alan and Patty's house with your family, Aaron. Will probably celebrate your mom's birthday with her after the weekend as she is trying to get to Portland, will stay with Jink and Jack, see cousin Martha Schumann who will be in town. Cole is coming up to stay with Nick in his new apartment, and I will be taking them somewhere we can fit into his quick trip...maybe the Picasso exhibit. Mark and Sally's girls will be home and JC will be taking Crista and Grey to Amsterdam for a few days. We will miss you both tremendously...but thrilled for you that you are in a lovely and exotic place. Do let us know how you celebrate Thanksgiving there! Much love, Gramma Jane
24th November 2010

so wonderful to be able to actually see you all having such fabulous adventures. Have a safe journey and enjoy every moment of your wonderful honeymoon. Love ya both, S&G
24th November 2010

Nice place for a honeymoon you guys.
I remember fondly the two times I visited Bangkok in the late 60's. Jewelry stores were not a scam so much as an opportunity. Gold and jewels were so cheap one couldn't not afford to by something. Also they "plied" us with free Singha, most likely to loosen ones wallet, no? I found the Thai people to be so very friendly as to be able to call them Dee Mok (?sp)
26th November 2010

I remember....
Hi you two, I remember how taken I was by the little corner shrines and the elaborate lights on the trucks in Bankok. I also remember how Karen and David complained about having to cover up when we visited the palace and the Emerald Buddha. One of our other best memories was a trip on the river. One of my most painful memories included a little green pepper that just exploded in my chest to the point I could hardly breath. Watch out for the little green peppers!! So happy you are having a great time! We will be eagerly watching for your next post:) Love, Stevie
26th November 2010

Great photos
I'm loving reading about your adventures. Keep the stories and the photos coming! The photo of Laura with the chicken is a classic. I've seen that look before! :-)
18th December 2010

Beautiful pictures! So glad that you are keeping up with the blogging. You'll love to have these entries to look back on later. I love the part about Laura spending the whole cab ride using the Thai phrasebook to communicate with the driver! It's what makes Laura so special :) Miss you guys and wish wish wish we were along for the adventure too....
10th January 2011

Great Honeymoon story
I've stumbled on your blogs this morning and I am enjoying them. I am going to nominate you for blogger of the week. We used to live in Seattle. Happy Travels, MJ and Dave
16th January 2011

Welcome to TravelBlog!
These are great photos. Nice start for your honeymoon! I am enjoying your blogs. Good to read about other people's perspectives on different places they have visited......and on their honeymoon (wink wink). Enjoy your travels.

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