Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Thailand (Bangkok): Day 2

Whereas Cambodia wasn't really as hot as it was humid, Thailand is both. The mornings seem to be easier to handle than Cambodian mornings, but once the afternoon hits, it's time for hot and dying. Thankfully, I have an awesome tour guide to make everything worth it.

Last night I started feeling the beginnings of what I call "travel sickness." By this I mean anytime I go somewhere else, I always seem to start getting sick after a few days. It's happened with every trip (the only difference was it happened immediately after coming back from Tokyo). I woke up about 6:30 this morning, and I was feeling a bit better (and didn't feel sick at all during my trip around Bangkok).

Anyway, I get a knock on my door around 7:40 from a staff member telling me someone was waiting for me down in the lobby. My tour guide was like 20 minutes early! Fortunately I was just about ready to go anyway, so I finish getting my stuff together a bit faster and rush down to meet him (I later learned during my scurry, I completely forgot my Passport--luckily I didn't need it). So I get down and meet my tour guide, the one and only Mr. Pepsi (yes, a nickname). He's a young (maybe younger than me), tiny guy with a ponytail and sunglasses. And he would turn out to be one of the best tour guides I've ever had.

And I don't mean this because he's the most knowledgable and can tell you every little detail. I mean, I'm sure he can--he certainly knew his stuff. I mean that he is probably the most personable guide (and maybe person) I've ever met. He treats you more like a good friend, and not in a demeaning way. But like you're just a couple buddies hanging out around the city. He's the kind of person that everybody knows and likes (and almost literally... every single place we went... he seemed to know everybody and everybody loved him). If he were on a TV show, he'd be the fan favorite because he just has that kind of personality. He even got me to openly talk to him frequently throughout the day, which is not an easy task--especially if I just met you. So Pepsi took me out to the car and introduced me to the driver before heading off.

Our first stop was to Wat Traimit to see the great Golden Buddha, the world's largest solid gold statue (about 9.8 ft tall and weighs 5.5 tonnes). Pretty cool, but not the most impressive Buddha I'd see that day.

From there we went to China Town and walked down the long Chinese markets. Really interesting mixes of foods and spices and smells.

There was one more open-spaced on the other side.
Next was Wat Pho (pronounced Po, not fo). This is probably the place with the most impressive Buddha I saw all day. It's the Reclining Buddha is 49 feet high and 141 feet long (and it's only the third largest reclining Buddha). The thing is seriously massive. Wat Pho is also the origin of the Thai massage.

We had to put our shoes in a bag and take them with us.

Just one angle.
Up next was Wat Arun (aka the Temple of Dawn). It's one of best known landmarks of Thailand, though it has a very Cambodian/Khmer style to it. I went about halfway up the tower, but it was too steep and scary, so I didn't want to go all the way up. But it was a pretty cool place.

Next was one of the most interesting parts of the day--a long tail boat ride down some canals in Bangkok. Imagine something similar to the Tonle Sap Lake houses in Siem Reap, but toned down a bit and put in the middle of a city. This was a long ride, too... about an hour or so. We had to stop a couple times to wait for the flood gates to open to let the boats through. And at one point, we got some bread and fed a bunch of catfish. It was all pretty interesting.

At one point we stopped to get some Thai Tea (which is actually pretty good and different than most tea. It's thicker and super icy and almost has a chocolatey taste to it, though it isn't chocolate). Very sweet, too.

I'd already finished it by this point.
Finally, it was time for the Grand Palace itself. And as Pepsi said, if you come to Bangkok and don't visit the Grand Palace, you didn't visit Bangkok. The place is massive and pretty stunning. It took us something like 90 minutes to 2 hours to get through the whole place (and this is when the heat really started coming down hard). There was a lot of "shiny" here, either from the hand-crafted buildings (wherein every minuscule piece was placed one at a time--it's insane) or the gold, diamond, or sapphire-infused statues, murals, and thrones. This is also home to the world's largest wall mural. The architecture was all mixed, too, as King Rama V was fascinated by western culture and infused a lot of different styles together.

There was also an interesting incident where in the temple for the Emerald Buddha, you're not allowed to take any pictures or video inside. But this middle aged dude sits right up front, directly in front of one of the "no pictures" signs and slips out his camera to take a picture. The idiot even uses a flash. Of course the guard sees and confiscates his camera, and the guy has the gall to be upset by this. He argues with the guy for a while and finally persuades him to give the camera back as long as he deletes the picture from the camera in front of the guard.

The gold on the mural becomes luminescent in photography.

After this, we went to go to a boat restaurant and have lunch, which was pretty good. Then we moved on to something not on the list, but just a place Pepsi wanted to show me--Khao San Road. If you've been to Seoul, just imagine it's like a small-scale mix of Itaewon and Insadong. It's a giant street market lined with shopping tents, tattoo parlors, and restaurants, mainly flooded with foreigners. Interesting place.

But after that, we were done, and it was time to take me back to my apartment before we both died from heat stroke. After a long wait due to traffic (Bangkok traffic is like in a near-constant state of jammed), we finally get in the car and head off. But then something happens. We're stuck in a major traffic jam--worse than normal. People on the sidewalks are looking into the distance at something we can't see. And there are police in the distance, as well. We never do see what's causing it, as the jam turned down a road we didn't go, but I can only imagine it had something to do with the protests.

But all is good as we reach the alley by my guest house. I get in and almost immediately take a shower as this constant sweating is something fierce. My travel sickness has come back a bit, as well, but nothing too bad outside a stuffy nose. Otherwise, I have nothing major planned for the rest of the day. Just some dinner later. So, again, I'll post this earlier than usual and update if anything crazy happens!

No comments:

Post a Comment