Bangkok: Cityscape from my hotel.
I woke up at a normal time. Yes not jet lag. I had heard in one of my books that if you go to Limphini Park in the morning you can see lots of Chinese woman practicing Tai Chi. That sounded interesting so I thought I would check up on the reliability of that. I made my way down Silom from my hotel. I was looking for breakfast too if something caught my eye. Silom is a good urban street with lots of activity. Street vendors and people making their way somewhere. You immediately must learn your street combat skills so you can cross traffic. The first thing you must learn is to be patient. Watch the locals and they can get you across the street. You can see that they have the patience too.
Bangkok: Ladies in Limphini Park doing their morning Tai Chi
The traffic drives on the wrong side of the street so that makes thing a little diferent as well. Sometimes the cars just comeout of nowhere because you are not used to the side of the street they are on. I made it all the way down to across Limphini Park and then there are 3 streets coming together all with high volume traffic and alot of cars turning onto the street I was looking to cross. There are a lot of over the street crossings but not here. Once across and into the park it is a big park that has closed streets like the area was once open to street traffic and they closed it once they decided what to do with the park. There are several large ponds that make nice reflecting pools with the surrounding skyscrapers.
Bangkok: A food stand in a market where I had my first great meal.
I was looking for some street food here but didn't find anything. I had also heard that there are people selling snake blood here too. Didn't see that. What I did see is that there are lots of small groups of Chinese women practicing Tai Chi. They each have a boom box with instructions blaring out what to do. They each seem to have an area they come to each day and that area seems to have a lockable picnic area they can call their own. Their husbands are sometimes there socialising with the other husbands. You can see that they are Chinese by the newspapers they are reading. I wandered around the park for a while. I noticed a couple of large iguana like things swimming in one of the ponds. Pretty scary looking but they run away from you when you try to get closer so that makes them a little less scary.
Bangkok: Ladies preparing food for food stands.
I make my way back towards my hotel on a diferent street. Surawong parallels Silom so I took that. It is less bustling and seems to have shops that open a little later that the ones on Silom. Halfway down I see that there is a side street that looks like it leads to a marketplace of some kind. I go to check it out. It turns out to be a big covered place where there are a lot of food vendors. They all look pretty good but I find one that looks good and point to what I want. The lady knows a fair bit of english and she tells me to sit down at one of the tables and she brings me over my meal. It is breakfast but everyone is eating what the westerners would consider to be a lunch or a dinner type stir fry.
Bangkok: My favorite street market Street. Soi 20 of Silom.
That is fine with me, I love Thai food. After eating I wandered around the market and saw that the other half is occupied with clothing vendors. Sinse it was still early most of them were still not here or just starting to set up for the day. I wandered my way back to my hotel. Stopping along the way to grab 10 baht worth of fried dough (freshly fried) from a street vendor. MMMM good. I also find a whole side steet (Silom 20) That is jam packed with street vendors selling produce, clothes and prepared foods. I will surely come back to this street for breakfast food sinse it is so close to my hotel.
After a short break at the hotel I make my way to the river and get a day Pass for the Chao Praya River Express boats.
Bangkok: My favorite street market Street. Soi 20 of Silom.
It is only 120 baht for the day. The boat I get on is a pretty big boat and is full of pretty much tourists. They give you a tour in English as you make your way along. I get off near the Grand Palace and Wat Pho
. I grab a spring roll from a street vendor just off the pier. Not bad. Once I hit the main street across from Wat Pho and the corner of the Grand Palace a tuk tuk driver comes up to me and wants to give me a tour. He says that the Grand Palace is closed till 2 PM and that I should go on a tour with him till it reopens. This is a typical tout scam but on the River boat the guide had said that the palace was going to be closed and allowing only Thais to go in to give their respects to a member of the royal family who had recently died.
Bangkok: Riverfront real estate.
The guy was pretty persistent and really a pretty nice guy but I was not into changing my plans for the possibility of being scammed. So I eventually I got rid of him and headed for Wat Pho. On my way there another guy, this time in nice clothes started talking to me about what I should do sinse the Grand Palace was closed. He eventually hailed over a tuk tuk for me and I had to walk away from him into the grounds of Wat Pho sinse that was where I was going. I had heard that this area was a hunting grounds for the touts. That was the last of it for today though.
Wat Pho is the temple that has the Reclining Buddha. The Reclining Buddha is pretty amazing. It is a HUGE gold covered Buddha jammed into a building that barely fits it.
Bangkok: The Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho.
They make you take off your shoes before entering any inner temple area and there was a queue through a shoe storage rack before you go into the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. There were a lot of people here, possibly sinse the Grand Palace was partially closed. It was especially crowded towards the feet where everybody was trying to pose in front of the Buddha. It is such a huge Buddha that is dificult to get an all, inclusive picture. My camera has a wide angle lens on it so I was able to get a fairly good shot but it was tough. The grounds outside are very nice too with lots of pointed top Chedi. They are everywhere and that makes it very impressive. There are a couple of temples to pray in on the grounds as well.
Bangkok: Wat Phra Kaew. Temple.
From here I thought I would wander over towards the Grand Palace and see where I would be able to go to once it reopened. I found that Wat Phra Kaew was open and letting people in. That is the Wat on the grounds of the Grand Palace. I made my way through the queue and onto the grounds. The queue was to make sure that everyone was appropriately dressed. No shorts for anyone or revealing shirts for women. If you didn't pass the test they said you could borrow some clothes over at a place off to the side. Once inside it was a very impressive display of extravagant architecture. Gold chedis and fancy tile covered ornamentations. There were huge guardlike statues standing at the entrances to places.
Bangkok: Wat Phra Kaew.
The grounds are crammed with lots of stuff to look at. The Temple of the Emerald Buddha is here and you are not allowed to take pictures of that. The Buddha is rather small but it is dressed in golden clothes that they change for diferent seasons. Lots of things to look at here and be impressed.
Once outside I checked out the streets and markets up along the river. I wandered into the back alleyways and found people selling Buddhist amulets. There were lots of people looking at them pretty seriously with magnifying glasses. The market building was really old and dingy but it was packed with activity in the narrow aisles. Back out on the main steet it was busy too with stop and go walking past all the street vendors on the sidewalks.
Bangkok: Streets near the Grand Palace.
I wandered into a food area and got a grilled sausage and then found a stall in the market with some tables and got a nice late lunch. They don't have a lot of tables and you usually have to share a table with someone.
Once I was back to where the River Express pier was I was taking a picture and a guy said I could come over and sit with him. It was a young guy whose job it ws to make sure that taxis did not queue up along the sidewalk. He had a little shaded sitting area and sinse his job was slow and boring he liked to talk to tourists to practice and learn English. It was fun talking to him. He said he only earns 250 baht a day (less tham $7) but sinse he still lives with his mother he doesn't have to pay any rent.
Bangkok: Streets near the Grand Palace
He was a nice young guy and it was interesting talking to him. I helped him learn a few new words of English.
I got back on the river boat and made my way back down the river. The boat was a lot more crowded this time and it was more of a local crowd with no tourist interpretation along the way. There were some monks standing along the rail in the area designated an area reserved for monks. I got off the boat a couple of stops before my hotel just to explore a new area. It ended up being a pretty quiet street heading back to the main steet leading back to the hotel. There were antique dealers on this street with some pretty impressive oriental furniture and some nice beautiful armoirs in one place that had to be really expensive.
Bangkok: The Chao Phraya River. River in the city.
After I took a break in my hotel I head out and check out the Patpong Night Market which is a 15 minute walk up Silom from my hotel. Night markets are very popular in Thailand and just about every city has at least one. Patpong is also known for being a red light district and full of stripper bars with shows. As I was approaching Patpong a guy comes up and tries to convince me to come into his club and meet some of his girls. He was a little pushy and I had trouble getting rid of him. I ended up diving into a watch salesmans booth to get rid of him. The watch salesman was a lot easier to get rid of than the pimp. The watch salesman kept dropping the price but I really didn't need a new watch even if it was only $40.
Bangkok: Patpong Night Market.
The night market is packed with vendors set up in stalls in the center of the street. They sell lots of tourist things like t-shirts, sunglasses, DVD's and watches. The buildings on the side have the bars and girlie bars. Outside the girlie bars are people beckoning you to come in. If you look in you can see women dancing in bikinis on top of the bars. I had heard these are a great place to lose your wallet.
After experiencing enough of the night market scene I made my way back to my hotel so I could get a good nights sleep for another day in Bangkok.