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Published: October 6th 2014
Phew, that was a manic few days in Bangkok. Arriving at 8.00am and heading straight into the city centre the first thing that was noticeable was the volume of traffic, the 3 lane highway was in fact just solid and the two other journeys we did on those roads were equally manic. I'm pleased to report that the drivers skills were good (no accidents seen) but their lane discipline was non existent; in any five minute period most cars appeared to have used all three lanes several times.
Our hotel was in the Silom district, quite central, so walking and using tuk tuks, taxis and river ferries got us to where ever we wanted. Like lots of things, the tuk tuks needed a bit of negotiation and firmness to get to a sensible price.
Fortunately we were able to get into our room early, so after a bit of a rest and a shower we were good to go. Friday was about familiarisation and checking out what we could get to over the weekend, not too physical, which was a good thing since were were a bit jaded following the flights. We ended up refuelling in the Masala Mantra,
One massive festival
Directly in front of the hotel.
a curry house near the hotel, for what could possibly be the best Jalfrezi ever.
Saturday had us city bound. First along the river to Wat Arun, a Buddhist temple with origins back to the 17th century, a massive and stunning feature, which by 10.00am was buzzing with visitors from all over the world. The climb up the very steep sets of steps gave amazing views across the whole of the city.
A short river taxi trip got us across to the other bank and Wat Po, the oldest and largest temple complex in the city, which houses the famous reclining Buddha, all 46 metres of him. Near to there was the Grand Palace, which we managed to walk around, Carol was too tight to cough up and go inside. By now we were cultured out so a tuk tuk got us to China Town and a bit of people watching and staring at shops and stalls. Back in Silom after all of that we recovered whilst enjoying more people watching and happy hour; that did the trick! The main man in the Masala Mantra had been genuinely chatty and friendly and had told us about Saturday evening's
Hindu festival - Navarathiri, which was to take place along the road in front of our hotel. Good job we had been forewarned, it was a massive event which we were able to watch firstly from infront of the hotel and then after a while from the rooftop bar. It just wasn't possible to get anywhere for a good three hours with the pavements jammed full of community groups supporting the procession - many thousands of very excited people. When we did break out we ambled across a very vibrant area that had lots of stalls, bars and clubby type places. More Ray Ban's purchased. The clubby bits weren't so cheap, which surprised me since the top of the activities seamed to involve good old ping pong!
Carol's tours had us organised for a 6.30am pick up on Sunday. Firstly to the Floating Market at Damnoan, 70 miles away. After the road trip there, we were put in a long boat that weaved its way along a series of canals on the edge of which were endless stalls, selling all manner of tourist bits and pieces. I suppose historically this would have been a useful local trading point amongst
the flooded coastal lowlands, lots of the structures were very old, but now purely a tourist venue. After that we continued the road trip, stopping off at Kanchanaburi, firstly at the War Graves Cemetary - for those killed during the building of the Burma to Thailand railway during World War Two- highly poignant. Not too much further on was the infamous Bridge over the River Kwai, again fascinating to visit and appreciate. The last leg of the day's trip was further on the the Erawan National Park, a beautiful area, just in the mountains about 130 miles out of Bangkok. Lots of lovely waterfalls, a bit like the Brecon Beacons, but enclosed in dense tropical forest. It being Sunday, the place was really busy but Carol braved the masses, not to mention all the fish, to get into the river below one of the falls.
By the time we got back to the hotel it was a case of food, pack and sleep, ahead of the move to Cambodia in the morning.
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