Today was for visiting the more random sites that I had yet to see. Basically this is my last day to do any real sightseeing in Bangkok as tomorrow I will try to get on the boat to Ko Kred island and Monday is my cooking class. I actually had a message in my room tonight confirming my pick up time for said cooking class. Getting there sounds like an adventure onto its own. Cannot wait.
I took the Skytrain (I have already made my way through my 20 trip pass!) to the Chong Nonsi station with the objective of walking down Silom Road. The only real attraction was the hindu temple Sri Maha Mariamman. As with many of the shrines, you actually smell the incense before actually seeing the site. The other give away were throngs of stalls selling garlands for offerings. I cannot even describe this temple. It is ornate in that it has very colourful carvings of all of these Hindu figures. There were tons of people there worshipping including women in saris and men in the more traditional robes. There was a sort of bellfry and there was a constant ringing of this bell.
From there, I walked to find the Assumption Church. There are actually a couple of beautiful churches in Bangkok. I have been trying to get to the Santa Cruz Church but the pier that I need to get to to do that is not operational on weekends. On the way to the Assumption Church, I see what looked like a very small temple. Tourists were pretty much ignoring it but I decided to go in anyways. It was actually a store and it had beautiful wicker baskets, sepak takraw balls, hats, khon masks, mother of pearl accessories.
As I approached the Church, I met Mr. Antok. Mr. Antok was born in Kanchanaburi and his niece lived in Alberta (this reminds me so much of Cuba where everybody has a relative somewhere in Canada). We chatted for about 30 minutes ... very nice man. His english was very good and at one point he says something to the effect that there weren't a lot of Thai people who spoke English fluently and that that must make it hard for us to communicate ... mmmm a bit of an understatement but part of the experience. The Assumption Church was beautiful although I was a bit distracted by the sounds from the neighbouring construction site and the music of Abba's Dancing Queen.
Then I walked over to the Oriental Hotel which I believe is said to be one of the finest hotels in the world. It was indeed beautiful but I never understood people's fascination with visiting hotels. It was just a nice break from the humidity outside.
So I hop on the Chao Phraya River Boat with the intention of getting off at the Marine Department pier (some of these piers I have come to know have two or three names which makes it a little bit challenging to plan ahead but there are really good maps at each of the piers) which is pier number 4 and I was at pier number 3. No sweat. Off we go and I see number four come and then oops go ... I ask the girl whether this boat stops at number 4 to which she answers "yes we just stop at number 4" ... Let's just say that it was more like a rolling stop and that I should have made more of a motion of throwing myself in the water to make it obvious that I wanted to get off. Okay no problem pier number 5 cannot be that far ... oh but it is. No problem, let's just change the itinerary around and do it backwards. I whip out the guidebook which only means that you then are fighting off the tuk-tuk drivers but I could see the church I wanted to go to so it was easy to get them off my back.
The Holy Rosary Church was another little hidden gem and this is fun because I pretty much had the place to myself.
Then came my favorite part of the day ... Pak Khlong Talad ... the flower market!! With hundreds and thousands of garlands being used in offerings at temples, shrines and the like there has to be a huge flower market. I loved it and I could have spent hours and hours there. There were these two women making garlands and they saw me taking photos so they posed for me. They of course wanted to see it and one of them wanted me to erase it because she thought she looked fat. Vanity is universal I guess.
I wanted to make into Chinatown and walk the main street but I got lost. This is such a confusing part of the city and there were throngs of people that it made trying to figure out where you were really difficult. I know that at one point I was more in Little India because I saw this huge mosque and a man dressed in a white traditional muslim robe (almost like a guru) saw me and said "young woman you are in a very lucky place right now". Well I agreed with him, gave him a little bow and was on my way to, well, nowhere seeing that I had no idea where I was. So after a very nice man helped me find my way back to the river (I latched on to him trying to cross the street ... I must not be subtle because they always figure it out!).
I decided that I was going to actually go and set foot in a shopping centre. I went to the Siam Paragon for all of 10 minutes after seeing that the stores were things like Marc Jacob, Balenciaga, Pucci, Gucci, Burberry ... oh so out of my league. I then moved on to the Central World Plaza. I wanted to go there anyways because there were some cool signs that I wanted to take photos of.
I walked around a bit but my heart was just not into shopping. Seems kind of out of place after spending some much time seeing beautiful temples, ruins and the like. So I decided that maybe I just need a bit of refueling so I stopped for a mango banana smoothie. I sat down and I could hear that there was a band playing ... oh I know that song, what is that ... oh wait ... obladi, oblada life gooooes ooooon now la la la la la life goes on ... all together now!!!
So from there I went back to Amarin Plaza for the last little souvenirs and fell on the idea of another thai massage. For $ 10 an hour you just cannot beat that. So I was a Cirque du Soleil contortionist once again (did I mention that you are fully clothed but they of course have you change into the most hideous of shirt and what I can only think to call a pantaloon ... mine had a lotus flower pattern on it). At the end, they give you a small cup of green tea and of course sawadee kha's and bowing all around. I had learnt how to say thank you which sent them into fits of giggles ... I'm guessing that my accent is not quite on the ball.
By this time it is about 5 pm and I need to eat. I am perpetually hungry here. I stopped for sushi and realized when I walked in that it was one of those restaurants where you have this conveyor belt of plates passing you by and you just grab whatever you want. A little parade of sushi if you will. You also have pot of broth in front of you and you can cook differents meats ... so a mix of sushi and fondue. You can eat yourself into oblivion ... well actually you have a 1 hour and 15 minute window to eat yourself silly or otherwise it's extra. I was well within my time limit though because right when I was about to board the Skytrain ... the National Anthem (oh I guess it's 6 pm).
So now off to relax and read a little ... I always buy a book on each trip and I found a great one (and there's still some rhum in my bottle, can't let it go to waste).
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