Exploring the Grand Palace and Meeting up with Newtampo!

Bangkok Travel Blog

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In a square near Wat Pra Kaew
After breakfast, I set out by foot to find the Grand Palace which was within walking distance of my hotel. I had a map so I just headed in the general direction of the palace and hoped I would come across it eventually. I wandered through some untouristy neighborhoods and it was nice to not be approached by so many tuk tuk drivers. After walking in the wrong direction a bit and braving some crazy intersections, I saw a lot of white and gold, which seemed like it had to be the temple and palace. As I was walking, some guy approached me and said the Palace was closed. I remembered reading about this- it's not true and they'll try to lead you into some jewelry scam. So I ignored him and headed to the entrance.

I was wearing bermuda shorts which I thought would be fine but I was told they weren't, and someone pointed in the direction of building where I could rent a sarong.
The room was packed and I must have looked a little bit lost when some guy explained that I had to put down a deposit (about 100 baht I think. Or you can also leave ID, but I'd rather leave a few dollars instead of my passport or license!) and get reciept to rent a sarong. You have to hold on to the reciept and when you return it you get your money back. Thankfully the woman gave me a sarong that matched the top I had on ;) I changed and headed towards the entrance ready to explore... except I somehow missed the ticket office. The ticket taker laughed at me and sent me back to buy a ticket.

When I entered, I was thoroughly impressed with the shiny magnificence of the Palace. I didn't know what anything was or where to begin so I just walked around.
I love these gaurds!
I saw the guy who explained the sarong rental process to me and he asked me to take a picture. I thought he wanted me to take a picture of him and then he said no, he wanted to take a picture with me. What? Okay. He was from the Phillipines and had been teaching English in Thailand for four years. He had two friends with him- a girl, also from the Phillipines who had been teaching English for two years and guy they had met from South Korea who was also just traveling. They turned out to be a nice group so I hung out with them for the rest of my time at the Palace. The guy who had been in Thailand for four years had been to the temple and palace before so he turned out to be a great tour guide and helped explain some of the details to us.
After roaming for a long time in the heat, we had seen everything and decided to head out. They were going on a boat trip and invited me along, but I had made plans to meet up with New and I wouldn't have time. So we said bye and went our seperate ways.

I once again started walking aimlessly and found a market nearby. There were all sorts of interesting looking foods, but I couldn't resist trying some Pad Thai. After a delicious lunch, I headed back to the hotel. I made it back quickly and I was proud of myself for navigating even the tiniest bit of Bangkok. When I got back to the hotel, I made an (expensive!) call home and when I was done, I found New waiting outside! She imagined I was taller than I am... I thought she would be taller too! We went back down the way I had come a little bit and took a boat across the river to another temple.
It was much more calm on the other side of the river and much less touristy. At the temple, several people were ringing bells for good luck and leaving offerings.

After crossing the river again, we headed to the MBK shopping center. Or at least I think that's where we went. I was curious to see the MBK everyone talked about and I was also thinking about buying a CD player because the old MP3 player that I had dug up specificially for the trip crapped out somewhere over the Pacific Ocean. I had never used it before then and didn't have the information for it so I figured it was a lost cause. I am always behind with technology which is okay with me, but the thought of not having music for a month was scary. You can easily buy cheap copies of CDs in Bangkok.
The RIAA would probably go nuts there. But finding just a CD player is more difficult, all of them seem to be DVD-CD-MP3 combos. I didn't really want to add all the extra wires and whatnot to my luggage and didn't want to throw them away. I was also thinking about the benefits of having one less technological thing to deal with. So after some indecisiveness (sorry New!) I decided against it and decided to brave the trip without my a personal music collection.

After we left the shopping center we went to get some ice cream around the corner. I ordered what New ordered which was a big cup of ice cream with strawberries and I think sweetened condensed milk and "ice". It was really good and refreshing in the Bangkok heat. The heat took a toll on my ice cream though and it was melting on my hands and New kept offering me napkins.
We talked about traveling, living and working abroad, and politics in our countries. We had a great conversation- it's always so much fun to talk with people who love to travel and learn about the world!

I got back to my hotel about 15 minutes before our group meeting. I went up to my room and my roommate, Somita, was there. Apparently she had also gotten there a day early and slept in a double room. The hotel receptions basically said the same thing to us: "Your roommate is here. No she's not. Yeah, she's here. She's coming tomorrow so I'll give you a double room and she'll move in there tomorrow." I guess she had just been around the hotel more that day so they eventually had her move into my room. She was the same age as me and had definitely caught the travel bug.
She was Indian, born in England and had been raised mostly in England but had also spent a few years living in India. We instantly bonded over our mixed backgrounds and our similar wacky senses of humor.

We went down to the meeting to meet our group. It was a mix of ages from Canada, England and the United States. The youngest were a guy and girl from England, 19 year olds who were traveling together on a six month round the world journey and this was the beginning of their trip. They were doing small parts of the trip with groups, but most of it on their own. I know I am not too much older, but I thought it was so cute. My roommate and started calling them "The Kids" and the nickname stuck with the group. Our leader called herself "Cat" although her real name was a much longer Thai name.
She had been leading tours in South East Asia for a few years, but this was going to be her first time leading that particular trip.

After the meeting my roommate and I were hungry and headed to Khao San Road. It was dark, but the atmosphere was completely different from the night before. It was the night before an election so all alcohol was banned. There were still hoardes of people on the road, but it definitely lacked the lawless feeling of the night before. We saw a women with a cart selling the infamous smelly durian fruit. We knew we had to give it a try. It really wasn't bad at all! It's not something I would eat daily, but I wouldn't mind eating it again. I still can't figure out why Andrew Zimmern (Bizarre Foods host) of all people can't stand it.
Had to do a cheesy tourist pic!
After that we headed for dinner at Hippie de Bar. The only thing to do after that was check out the vendors. Niether of did much shopping, it was too early in the trip to buy anything significant other than things that would be useful to have on the trip. We were both using backpacks for the first time and had already packed too much! We went back early to rest for a long journey to Siem Reap the next day!
m_mspr says:
Thank you for these blog posts. I've only read a few so far, but going on trip to south east asia next summer, so I'm getting a lot of good inspiration from you! :o)
Posted on: Nov 19, 2009
arlene0725 says:
The best durian are the durian chips (like potato chip) - just heavenly. But durian ice cream is the bomb! They have it in Pilipino/Asian grocery stores.
Posted on: Apr 22, 2008
Eric says:
Great blog so far, looking forward to the rest! Cool that you got to meetup with another TravBuddy!
Posted on: Apr 19, 2008
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In a square near Wat Pra Kaew
In a square near Wat Pra Kaew
I love these gaurds!
I love these gaurds!
Had to do a cheesy tourist pic!
Had to do a cheesy tourist pic!
Soldiers marching through the pala…
Soldiers marching through the pal…
Pad Thai... tasted better than it …
Pad Thai... tasted better than it…
Bells at the temple
Bells at the temple
Feeding fish is supposed to bring …
Feeding fish is supposed to bring…
View from across the river
View from across the river
Me and New!
Me and New!
Trying durian for the first time!
Trying durian for the first time!
Bangkok
photo by: Deats