getting ready to switch
I think my active couple of days in Cambodia carried over to Bangkok, because I actually got up at 8 and left the apartment before 9 to do things today. It was great, I was motivated! I have a list of things to do here before I leave, and at the top of it was to see the Grand Palace and Wat Pho. Everybody else saw them on like the first couple days, and I have no idea where I was then but I didn't go. Another thing on my list was to take the MRT, which is the new subway system (well, the only subway system- it's just one line right now but it just opened in the past couple years). So I took the BTS to the interchange station (total tangent side note: when you arrive at an interchange station on the BTS the girl says about 25 words in Thai, then translates it all as "interchange with MRT.
" If you've seen the movie Lost In Translation that will seem even funnier to you) and muddled my way through buying a ticket and finding the right spot. It's not hard, I'm just not used to it and had to go down 2 escalators, get a token from a machine, scan the token at the entrance gate, and then go down another escalator onto the right track. During this whole process I am the only person in the station, which is huuuuge and spotless. At the bottom are walls of glass with sliding doors, so when the train arrives and it's doors open, so do the glass ones of the station so literally the only place you can walk is onto the train. When I arrived at the end of the line I was on a busy street and needed to take a taxi to the palace, but there were only tuk-tuks to be found.
off to patrol
That was ok, I like tuk-tuks better but I know I paid at least double! I arrived at the palace with about oh, 300 other tourists, but sunday is the only day I can go so I had to suck it up. I was confused about where to go to get a ticket and ended up walking down a road of the palace that had a bunch of people on it, and was confused as to why people were walking so slowly and why there were drums beating somewhere. I soon realized when the crowd parted some that I was walking behind the procession of the guards! So I followed them along for a ways and slowly the number of people trickled down to less and less, and I found myself in front of the main palace entrance watching the changing of the guards. So anyone who has been to Buckingham Palace might say oh whatever.
when these guys change the guy that was just relieved adjusts the new guys uniform for him
.. where are the fancy uniforms and the band and the horses? And I say, where are the crowds? I was just at the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace, along with several thousand other tourists, and I couldn't see a thing! Here I stood right next to these guys! It was cool to see them all moving their guns and clicking their heels in unison. I even got the obligatory tourist photo with the guard that has to stay as still and emotionless as possible. So eventually I found the right area and got my ticket and went in to the temple area, I guess you could call it. I knew that I was supposed to go see this, but I didn't know what the attractions were and hadn't seen any pictures. So it was a bit of a surprise when I walked into this totally different world.
yup, I'm a tourist
It was crazy! There were temples clustered in groups close together, which is fairly normal, but they were covered from top to bottom with itty bitty little tiles! And the gold! It was almost blinding! The statues were so cool! It was mesmerizing. But then as I would just be admiring something, a tourist would bump into me or I would realize that I was obstructing 5 different family photos. So a lot of time was spent ducking under camera level and trying not to bump into people. It was quite overcast while I was there, which was good for my attire (long pants and a long shirt), but not for my pictures. They definitely would have been prettier with a brighter sun. But it was just as well, otherwise I could have spent hours trying to get artistic shots of every single angle of every statue.
don't know what these are called, but they're cool
I walked around the palace grounds for a bit more, then exited the same way I came only to find that Wat Pho was on the other side. So I made the trek (and when I say trek I am slightly exaggerating, but the palace is a lot bigger than I thought!) around the whole palace and made my way into the Wat Pho area. I knew beforehand that the thing to see there is the reclining Buddha, a huge gold plated/colored statue that is a couple hundred feet tall and wide. But that seemed pretty crowded so I decided to walk around a bit before going in. The pathways kept going and going! I started in a really busy area, half religious experience/half circus food court (there was a monk on a microphone who seemed to be doing more stand up comedy than preaching, as he kept cracking himself up when he was talking) and ended up seeing some cool statues and temples that had no tourists.
this was really, really golden
After a while I made my way back to the main area and got in line to see the Buddha. It definitely was an impressive site, absolutely huge and very, very bright. After getting some postcards I got a tuk-tuk back to the MRT station and had a nice ride back to the BTS. There I saw probably the coolest thing EVER, this totally made my day: a dog going down the escalator!!!! It was a golden retriever on duty with a BTS guard, and they both walked up the escalator nonchalantly and got on. I didn't have enough time to get my camera out, and was too flustered to go after them, so I realize I didn't see the dog actually going down, I just saw him get on and they disappeared down. Did he have one set of paws on a lower step and one set on a higher one? Was he sitting sideways on the step? I'm so bummed now I didn't ride down after them! It was just sooo cute to see.
Completely normal for the dog. After a quick pit stop at the apartment I decided I couldn't let my newfound energy go to waste, so I crossed another thing off my list- the Siam Ocean World Aquarium. The mall that it's in is the largest in Thailand and has a movie theater, bowling alley, the largest food court, and a couple hundred stores. All the guys had already been and said it was cool, and Boomer and Kevin even paid to go diving in the tank with the sharks. I'm normally not huge on fish in tanks but they said there was other stuff. It turned out to be pretty cool. I skipped most of the tanks and headed straight to the otters and seals and sharks. The otters and seals are so cute!!! The otters were being pretty playful, running around and swimming and cleaning themselves.
I felt really bad for the seals though, they were in a really small enclosure and only had enough room to swim single file in. So they spend their days doing laps in their pool, pushing off the end with their tail and rolling over or doing a flip and then heading back to the other end. But they were soooo cute! The sharks were pretty cool, but everyone was there watching some scuba divers so I couldn't see much. There were a bunch of smaller ones swimming everywhere and a big one whose shadow I saw eerily at a bunch of points but never the real thing. Boomer and Kevin said it was really cool to swim with them and sometimes the little ones would bump into them on purpose, to check them out. After the aquarium I did some shopping at Emporium and now I'm back on another break, I have my one day BTS pass and need to go more places to use it up!