Upon returning to Bangkok we set about achieving two important goals:
1. Have as pleasant a rest as possible in between two big spells of travel (back from Cambodia, on to Malaysia.)
2. Eat as much yummy Thai food as possible during our short stay in the country.
Statuary in the Wat Po Gardens
And Bangkok provided. The Asha Guesthouse is definitely my favourite place I’ve ever stayed in BKK. It’s not as cheap as some of the Khao San Road hovels, but is almost infinitely nicer. A pleasant restaurant, fast free internet, even a swimming pool for heaven’s sakes. Plus it has the added bonus of not being in the middle of the KSR maelstrom. That took care of number 1.
Number 2 took a bit more work on our part, but was still pretty simple to manage. In Bangkok, especially in the evening, it seems like every second business provides food of some kind.
Food stalls outside the Big C (kind of like a cross between a Supermarket/Department store and a shopping mall.) These focussed mostly on quick, pre-made, takeaway items. Highlights included sushi by the piece, 10 Bhat noodles and battered deep fried bananas (YUM!)
Mangosteen (purple, smooth) and Rambutan (red, fuzzy looking) were just two of the innumerable types of fruit available from the architecturally talented fruit sellers
Not that the food we’d eaten in Cambodia was bad (it wasn’t) or that the food we anticipated in Malaysia was either (I can’t imagine it could be) but the Thais really are number one when it comes to variety, quality and all around yumminess of their cuisine.
Meh-kong… This Thai spirit (about $2.25/bottle) was made of rice, flavoured with molasses, and made an tasty and interesting beverage when combined with a coke Slurpee (there are 7-11 stores EVERYWHERE in Bangkok. A walk around makes it clear how 7-11 was at one time the largest chain of retailers in the world.)
In addition to continuing to fatten ourselves up, we also managed a bit of sightseeing in Bangkok.
On our third night in town we attempted to go and see some Muay Thai (Thai kickboxing.) We negotiated the Bangkok bus network without difficulty, and walked to the stadium with similar ease. But we were foiled at the final moment when we discovered that sometime in the previous month or two, a special differential pricing scheme had been put into place. Foreigners now had to pay at least 4 times as much as Thais for their tickets (a minimum of 1000 Bhat, around $33.) After a bit of grumbling, a bit of embarassing the ladies who stood around outside selling tickets to foreigners by asking why I couldn’t buy the 260 Bhat tickets that I saw offered (in Thai) at the ticket windows, and a bit of wandering about in hopes that things would change once the matches started, we eventually gave up. Instead we had a delightful dinner from a cart in a street nearby, and then, defeated, bussed back to our hostel. That whole experience really annoyed me.
By boat is THE way to get around Bangkok. It’s cheap, the breeze makes it comfortable, AND you get to see a bit of town as you go. Though none of the photos I took during our boat trip really turned out that well, I’m quite taken with this one of a huge speedboat engine covered in Hello Kitty stickers.
The huge (46 metres long, 15 metres high) golden reclining Buddha at Wat Po
On a more positive note, day four saw us take a ferry trip on the river, have a lovely wander around Bangkok’s Chinatown (which, despite my awareness of the huge differences between Thai and Chinese people and cultures still felt a bit redundant to me) and a great wander through Wat Po (the large monastery complex near the royal palace.)
The reclining Buddha at Wat Po is plated with real gold (as is probably evident from the lustre in this photo) and has mother-of-pear inlays in his eyes and feet
Piles of new roof tiles surrounded one of the buildings at Wat Po. Each tile had been purchased by an individual donor who then got to write his/her name, message, etc. on the back before it was installed.
A garden of Stupa Spires at Wat Po
Wat Po was just as impressive, and considerably bigger than I remembered, and it easily filled the couple of hours before it came time to wander back to “our” neighbourhood for dinner.
Me and my Tom Yum (delicious spicy Thai lemongrass soup) with Sarah’s dumplings in the foreground. The co-operation between food sellers was great… We purchased the dumplings from one stall, and our drinks from another. The lady at the third, from whom we bought the Tom Yum brought Sarah a plate for her dumplings, and extra ice for our drinks!
Yet more delicious food for sale at the night market near our guesthouse
This was a bit odd… Off a small side street near our guesthouse we spotted this cemetary/car park across from a Buddhist wat
Elephant sculpture near the Royal Palace. The king (or at least his image) is almost as omnipresent in Thailand as Bashir Al Asad was in Syria. But the respect for the Thai king arises from generally more pleasant motives
Sarah makng friends with a Friend Buf