Bangkok: Day 2

As was so accurately pointed out to me, I did not explain why I am in Bangkok. I have set out on a two week holiday in Southeast Asia. Ill be spending most of my time in Thailand, followed by a few days in Malaysia and ending the trip in Singapore. I decided on SE Asia because originally I had hoped of doing Vietnam with my dad, but that wasn’t going to be a reality this year, so I decided to check out other options and heard great things about Thailand. I added Malaysia and Singapore because of the close proximity to Thailand.

As was so accurately pointed out to me, I did not explain why I am in Bangkok. I have set out on a two week holiday in Southeast Asia. Ill be spending most of my time in Thailand, followed by a few days in Malaysia and ending the trip in Singapore. I decided on SE Asia because originally I had hoped of doing Vietnam with my dad, but that wasn’t going to be a reality this year, so I decided to check out other options and heard great things about Thailand. I added Malaysia and Singapore because of the close proximity to Thailand.

So far Bangkok has not disappointed. Everything is covered in gold. Ok, maybe not everything, but everything important. From the temples to Budha to the palace to roof tiles. The city glistens. It also is very dirty and depressing with the thousands of shanty like houses to run down apartment buildings. And you can’t not see these things. Unlike other big cities that attempt to hide their low income areas, this city does not. And I appreciate that.

I decided to walk from my hotel to the Golden Mount. It was about a 3 mile walk, in 90* heat. Doing this allowed me to see so much more of the city than a vehicle would have. I passed by the hospital, a dozen temples (they really are everywhere), ended up walking down tiny little alley ways where I was not only the only white person, but at some points the only person in the alley.

And then, boom there it was. The Golden peak of the temple. I managed to find a back entrance because of Google maps, and it was super neat to walk through the monk’s quarters. Women are absolutely not allowed to touch the Monk. You cannot even brush up next to them. If a monk wants to hand a woman something they set it down and the woman picks it up. I stay clear of bumping into the Monks I see, don’t want to cause any unnecessary disrepsect.

I made the 344 stair climb to the top of the Golden Mount and had a beautiful 360 degree view of the city. I took my time (as advised by many other travel blogs) and managed to enjoy the climb even in the heat. There are bells and gongs you can ring and beautiful views to stop and take in. I was following these two girls  from China (crazy enough I can somewhat distinguish the Chinese and Japanese from other Asian countries, I just  can’t tell those two apart!) Anyway, all of a sudden I realized they wanted to take a picture with me. So one by one they took a picture with me. I laughed and held up a peace sign. They were so excited.  Once I took in the views, Bangkok has some pretty cool architecture (modern) that puts Salesforce tower in SF to shame (tallest building I’ve worked on). I decided to treat myself to a frozen treat and drink. Sadly they had no water on top!! I couldn’t believe it. So I settled for a lemon lime/cola frozen treat and a Sprite. All for less than $1.50!

After Golden Mount I headed to the see some smaller sites on my way to the Emerald Budha. I saw two more temples. The first one was a temple that held 52 of something. For the life of me I can’t remember the word, essentially they were Golden worshippers all facing Budha.

The second temple was in honor of a famous Thai poet. It was actually a pretty boring temple as far as gaudiness on the inside, but it had stairs to walk up to the rooftop and get another 360 degree view of the city. At that height you were about some of the peaks on the temple and could really see the detail that has been put into making and keeping things colorful.

I realized I should probably stop and eat something so I ventured to where Google highly recommended. Apparently many people had my idea though. I waited about 15 minutes for a seat, and once I ordered I waited about 30 minutes for my food. But I was not complaining at all!! I had a glass of ice water, air conditioning and my Kindle (Heidi, this is seriously like my most used gift ever!!). I ordered crab stir fry and it came with some rice. It was super yummy!! I figured it would be a more expensive meal, and it was even cheaper than dinner!! Ringing up to around $6.50. I had read before I came that they give you a spoon and fork to eat with. And that you should use the fork to put food on the spoon and eat with the spoon. I am a firm believer in spoons being for ice cream, yogurt and cereal….but when in Thailand…

Well fed, rehydrated and slathered with sun screen I continued my now very hot walk to the Emerald Budha. There was little shade on my route, but I did manage to find some under an awning when I was taking a picture of the giant swing. (apparently Thai boys used to ceremoniously swing on this swing and try to reach for a pot of gild, stand remains actual swing is gone).

The Thai tourist industry in Bangkok revolves around getting you on a long boat for a tour. This Thai lady noticed I was a tourist and asked where I was going while waiting to cross the street. I told her and she insisted that it was closed today and that I should take a boat tour. I told her I already had and immediately she walked away. I was sad to hear it was closed, but to my very happy surprise it was not!! The Emerald Budha is at the Grand palace grounds. As I was entering a lady (Cindy) came up and offered me a tour for 1000 baht. Roughly $35, for a one hour tour of the grounds. This didn’t include the 500 baht entrance fee. (everywhere else had been 50 baht, about $1.75). I decided since I didn’t know anything about what I have been seeing and the translations haven’t been good, I would pay Cindy and hope to learn something. She gave me a wrap to put around my waist as this is the most strict temple as far as dress code. Normally my shorts are long enough but not the case here. She wrapped me up and on our way we went. She walked with authority, didn’t care if she walked in front of someone’s picture, if she hit them in the head with her umbrella or talked too loud. I learned a lot about the temple, the palace and the Grand Palace (yes two palaces). I also learned that Clinton and Bush have stayed in the palace and that the current king lives in neither one.

At the end of the tour Cindy tried to get me on a damn long boat again. But she was super respectful of the fact I’d already been on one and encouraged me to save time and money by taking the water taxi back to my hotel. She guided me on how to get there and we parted ways.

I took a tuk tuk to the dock and hopped on a river crossing boat to get to my water taxi. I spent less than $0.10 to cross the river and $0.50 for my 20 minute water taxi back to the bridge near my hotel.

I walked the 10 minutes back to my hotel and was so happy to sit in air conditioning again, I just sat in the lobby for like 20 minutes before I grabbed my taxi to the airport. My taxi driver wanted to take my picture – I must be an odd looking white girl, since I’ve had my picture taken like I’m an attraction today!!

I got to the airport and realized I’d be arriving to my hotel after I’d be comfortable walking around so I had dinner at the airport. My meal was 60 baht ($2) and my water was $0.30, but I also wanted something sweet so I got a blueberry muffin. The muffin was $3!! More than my meal and water. But it was like a blueberry pound cake with the blueberry compote in the middle, good investment I say.

My one hour and 15 minute flight was tight. The rows are so close together. But crazy enough the seats are wider here. They also won’t let you use electronics during take off and landing, super annoying. I didn’t even make it through a 40 minute show. I saw a lightening storm from the sky, that was pretty spectacular.

I landed grabbed my bag and headed to catch my ride to the hotel.  Cute little hotel. Hard bed, which I like, and some much needed rest.

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