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December 02, 2003

Thwarted Grand Palace Invasion

We're leaving Bangkok tomorrow, though I'd rather invade the palace first.

It's been a cool past few days, but today has been a horrid funk for me. Last night I was trying to sort out where else Claudia and I can go during my 5 weeks here. Thailand's much smaller than India, but it's a dense country. We could go just about anywhere, and probably find enough to keep us occupied for days.

This morning I ran some ideas past Claudia, and we worked them around and around for a while. She's much better at figuring this stuff out than I am. Planning is also really difficult right now, as we're on the cusp of 2 national holidays: Dec. 5 (Friday) is the King's birthday, so the whole of Thailand has a huge 3-day weekend coming up. Then, Dec. 10 (Wednesday) is Consitution Day, commemorating the kingdom's change from an absolute to a constitutional monarchy in 1932.

Usually when I plan, I just feel like I'm beating my head against a wall. I'd rather have a rough idea, and just take off. Trying to plan around 2 big holidays doesn't help!

Yet Claudia makes it all come together somehow. So we're planning to leave tomorrow and head straight to Sukhothai and then Chiang Mai. On the way back to Bangkok we'll probably catch Ayutthaya.

In the meantime, we've still managed to get up to a bit of mischief... with the exception of my attempts to invade the Grand Palace.

  • Taken in by schoolkids at Vimanmek Palace. My second day in BKK, I toured the king's all-teak mansion, built in styles both traditional Thai and late 19th-century European. At the ticket counter, a group of 20-year-old students from the Siam Business College suddenly adopted me for the tour. I'd also thought about seeing the Grand Palace (invasion attempt #1) this same day, but I made too late a start. Claudia is still laughing at the mental image of a bunch of uniformed college girls showing me around the mansion...

  • Cruising up and down the Chao Praya River. The CP flows north-south. Main Bangkok is on the east side; Thonburi, the "original" Bangkok village is on the west. The cruises are like a bus system for the water, making regular stops and going to the northernmost and southernmost reaches of the city. Fares ranges from 6-25 baht — so for less than a buck, you can take a river cruise. These boats also make it easy to hit the main tourist areas, from the Grand Palace to the Khao San Road.

  • Khao San Road. I wanted to check the place out again, at least to know that I'd walked all up and down it. Originally I'd meant to go to the Grand Palace (attempt #2), but I left the camera at the flat. Claudia did some shopping in the area, and I went out to just gawk, and snicker at the cheap (as in quality) swords and switchblades for sale all over the place. We also checked every book shop we saw, trying to find Sarah McDonald's Holy Cow, so I can read it, but no luck.

  • Barbecued chicken at Victory Monument. Last night at the nearby night market, for just over 100 baht (about $2.50US) both Claudia and I gorged on some of the best BBQ chicken we've had, and a will-make-you-breath-fire noodle, veg and shrimp salad. There was also live entertainment: a dance (and possibly drag?) show, including a pot-bellied guy(?) in tons of makeup, dancing like (s)he was expecting everyone to start pulling out 50-baht notes, if you know what I mean.

    Today I meant to go to the Grand Palace after seeing Jim Thompson's house (attempt #3), but that didn't pan out either — I'm lost in a paper bag, and just can't get around without getting myself lost for half the day. Bloody hell. When we come back through to Bangkok though, and as soon as I find my way out of this damn paper bag, I am going to see that damn palace!

    Posted by Ant on December 2, 2003 06:42 AM
    Category: Thailand
  • Comments

    If you're coming through Australia you'll be able to find Holy Cow -everywhere-. Even at newsagencies.

    Posted by: Kat on December 2, 2003 07:41 PM

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