Where am I?

Bangkok? Check.

February 28, 2007 at 09:41 PM | categories: Thailand, travel | View Comments

Have I mentioned how much I despise checklists? The visitor checklist for Bangkok starts with the Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew, and Wat Pho. While Shelly and Roland slept in, John and I (and a visitor) had breakfast. In a fit of tourism, we decided to see the first two attractions.

breakfast visitor Dilmah Again?

We went by boat, from Tha Thewes. Along the way, we visited Thewet's fish market on one side of the canal (khlong) and an open-air Home Depot on the other. The boat ride was pleasant, with a cool and welcome breeze off the Chao Praya. We left all that at the dock, though, and returned to the mid-morning heat of Bangkok.

The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew are spectacular, and the entrance is beset with licensed guides who will happily tell you exactly what you're looking at.

Wat Phra Kaew courtyard Porn schools John temple bells

As we were about to step over the threshold of Wat Phra Kaew, John's phone rang. Shelly and Roland were up, and wondered where we'd wandered off to? We arranged to meet at the gate, and then went in to see the Emerald Buddha.

This was our second wat, so we knew how to behave. The guides at the gate had already asked me to cover my knees. I suspect this was a ploy to immobilize us, while Porn sold us on a tour, but it didn't take long to zip my legs onto my shorts. I looked about as fashionable as Alfred E. Neumann, but travel demands its own peculiar tribute. Anyway, we already knew that we'd have to remove our shoes for the wat, and I wasn't surprised when photos were forbidden.

John and I managed to gawk at the jade, gold, and silver inside without pointing our feet or climbing on the statues. The contrast between the jewel-like wats and the ramshackle commercial and residential Thai buildings continued to amaze me, but a modern visitor to Elizabethan London would probably say something similar.

Our English guide, yesterday, gave us a good tip: don't leave without visiting the museum of medals and awards, next to the ticket booth. You've already paid for it, and the air-conditioned displays make a perfect end to the swelter of the Emerald Buddha's environs. This was sage advice.

Shelly called again during our air-conditioned respite, to say that they were at the gate. We hurried over, and decided to walk back to the docks for lunch. This was our first real dip into a Thai food market: I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did. I ended up with some strawberries, a coke, a styrofoam dish of gaprao gai, and a tiny dose of nam plaa phrik. We shared around, but I don't remember what else I ate.

Then we decided to visit Wat Pho together. Shelly and Roland could see the Emerald Buddha later on.

It seemed to take all afternoon to walk to Wat Pho and its featured attraction, a reclining Buddha. It's worth the trip, though.

The reclining Buddha of Wat Pho

John was thinking about a massage at the Wat's massage school, but there was a long line of tourists. So we decided to leave Shelly and Roland at the Grand Palace, and head back to the guest-host. Something was said about a mid-day shower, and possibly a beer. The Thai girls at the dock encouraged that idea.

thai angels

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