World Trek 2004/2005
Amanda and Josh travel the world in 2004 & 2005!
* Delhi Belly, Peekin' at Bikaner, Agra-vated
* Tai-wan, Tai-pei, and Thai-Lads (I Think)
* Fine China
* Its Chinese to Me!!
* Up the Coast in Vietnam
* Phnom Pehn to Ho Chi Minh
* Angkor Wat? Angkor Whoa!!
* Wowed in Laos
* Know UNESCO?
* Slow Boat on the Mighty Mekong
* Chiang Mai Pad Thai
* Jungle Juice
* Banged Up in Bangkok
* Tied up in Thailand
* To Tha Highlands Laddies!!
* Malaysian Sensation
* Singapore - NOT a bore!
* Bye Bye Bali!
* To the Gilis!!!
* North, East, South - We circle East Bali!
October 08, 2004
Banged Up in Bangkok
After our hellacious train journey to Bangkok all we wanted to do was find a nice guesthouse and hit the sack. The train stopped at Hualongpong station and we ran to the SkyTrain as quick as we could. Bangkok is known as much for its smog as it is for its jaw dropping "sexy show" and the SkyTrain is an attempt to alleviate some of the road traffic that is gridlocked from dawn till dusk in some places. We chose to avoid the backpacker's area of town and try to find a cheap place near the city center. Little did we know that hotels in this area are normally very expensive. On our trek out there we just happened to walk next to a Thai gentleman who spoke English, a rarity. He told us to visit a nearby travel agent who could give us a "washer" for a hotel. A "washer"??! Well I guess his English wasn't that good. The manager of the travel agent worked out a deal for us to stay in the hotel next door and gave us a "voucher " for the stay! I know this is all very boring to you but after 6 months of cold showers and foam mattresses we were in heaven to have air-con and hot water! We didn't want to leave. It was nice to get some decent shut eye after that uuuhhhhhggg [shiver]train ride.
Next day we weer up and at 'em again. Since it was a Sunday we decided to hit the Chatuchak market, the world's largest open air market spread out over 35 acres. I even read that there are something like 10,000 different stalls. It was a mind numbing experience. All those vendors are packed into every square in of that place and at times you can't even see the sunlight. It was hot and stagnant but if you wanted something it was there. You just had to find it and that was a job in itself. After about 6 hours of looking for Thai fisherman pants that Thai Fisherman don't even wear and I'd had enough. Plus we were still tired and a bit cranky from the night before.
We happened to meet a friend from Koh Samui at the market and decided to meet up the next day at the Grand Palace for some sightseeing. Instead of the SkyTrain we opted for an expereince with Thailand's famous Tuk-Tuks, a three wheeled flirtation with death! These motorcycle hybrids, if you can use that word, race all over town adding significantly to the smog and noise. They're thrilling if you like black smog boogers and a lousy view. They're relatively cheap and get you where you want to go fast though that does not always translate to comfortable. We showed up at the Grand Palace Complex and headed inside for some royal views. The complex is a huge melange of old temples, stupas, artwork, Buddhas, and the former Royal Residence. Everything started to blend togethe after a while so forgive me for not knowing the actual names of each building. It was just a wee bit sweltering and names were not on my priority list. There were a few big attractions other than the buildings themselves. The Temple of the Emerald Buddha houses a venerable image of the Buddha that is actualy carved from Jade and not Emerald. That little statue is a big deal here and even gets his golden outfit changed 3 times a year according to the season. They didn't let cameras inside so I snagged a shot of this photo showing all 3 costumes. From there we toured the grounds and checked out this golden stupa. Apparently the whole place was getting a face lift because it was either covered in scaffolding or had Thai artisans adding some finishing touches to work already completed. Still there was alot to be seen most of which we only saw from a distance or had no idea how to find. There was alot that just seemed to stick up out of the ground but couldn't be located. A large section of the outer wall has huge murals about Buddhism or the history of Thailand. I won't bore you with the pics since there was only a few shots to which I could relate.
From the Grand palace we moved across the street to Wat Po, the home of Thai massage. Other than just worshipping here you can take Thai massage classes and get an official certification to rub all over Thailand though Thai massage has little to do with rubbing and more with stretching. The real draw for Wat Po isn't the massage but is a 46 meter (approx. 150 foot) long statue of the reclining Buddha. Everything about this Buddha was enormous from his head all the way down to his mother of pearl inlaid feet! Check out these soles! Just in case anyone is looking for a cool wallpaper you can use these from the Buddhas head. Any Buddhists using your computer will be impressed.
From the temple we called it a day for the sightseeing though we did catch a glimpse of the Chao Praya river that hems in Bangkok's western side. The water taxi down the river was a journey in itself. Amidst the confusion of people jumping on or off the boat in the five seconds it stops at the pier we were able to snap a few shots. Monks hold a high position in Thai society despite renouncing all material possesions. They are the few poor who get a free ride in Thailand. The back of the boat and any bus is reserved solely for them as they get to their destinations wai-ing at every temple they pass. The wai is that hands together bow you saw old Ronnie McDonald doing in the last blog. I wonder if they are offended by McDonald's? The taste alone offends me! Just before we got off the boat we saw the Temple of Dawn and a traditional long tailed fishing boat.
Since it was our friend's last night before heading back to England we took a tuk-tuk over to backpacker haven of Khao San Road where the party is on till late and the people swarm in the streets. Next time we'll have to stay here just for a bit more action after the sun goes down. Now we're currently in Chiang Mai northern Thailand getting ready for a 3 day jungle trek. Our guide informed us today that our group will be visiting some of the local hill tribes and riding elephants part of the way so I'll have to keep you posted on that one!
Remember to check out the Roughguides site for a few differnt pics. Amanda is now in charge of that one and we're trying to keep it varied whenever possible.
Posted by Josh on October 8, 2004 05:08 PM
Category: Where are we?
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