Day 3: Bangkok
Bangkok Travel Blog› entry 5 of 7 › view all entries
August 27th, 2006 – by: janeroehrig
On Sunday, we took the hotel boat to the sky train to go to the famous weekend market. This market has over 8,000 stalls. You can buy everything and anything here, from used dentures and partial plates (wonder where the funeral parlors send those used dentures?), wrapping paper, portable sewing machines, clothing, t-shirts, and even fried bugs! We say fried grasshoppers, cockroaches, scorpions, ants...and even some kind of fried larvae. We opted for egg rolls instead. Guess we are just not that adventurous.
I had a 30 minute foot massage for about $4. Chuck decided to pass on the foot massage (have you ever seen his feet?) because he was afraid of infecting the entire country with his foot disease.
Sidenote: Massage parlors and spas are almost as prolific here as Wats.
Hey, did we mention that the weather here is stifeling? It was soooo hot and humid and PACKED with people at the market that we had to leave. I think that half the people in Bangkok go to the weekend market. We saw stalls with people cooking food right beside vendors hawking their jewelry and silk. We did buy a few souvenirs here.
In an attempt to find something "cool" to do, as in "not so hot and humid," we rented a long boat and driver for an hour. It costs only 600 Baht ($15) for a one-hour ride up the khlongs in a long boat, which is like a big, long canoe (about 50 ft long) with a huge motor sitting right on top of the boat. The klongs are a series of canals and creeks that wonder through the city.
Later, we took the boat from our hotel across the river for another Thai meal at the Peninsula Hotel.
The Land of Smiling Faces
The Thai people are amazingly kind and warm and wonderful. They greet each other and us with folded hands (as if they are praying) and bowed heads.
Did I mention that it is virtually impossible to cross any street in this city? Seriously, you risk your life even trying to cross at a crosswalk. I guess it's because Buddhists believe in reincarnation so running each other down must not be a big deal.
Bangkok is a filthy dirty city. I think that the residents of Bangkok can single-handedly be responsible for the demise of the ozone layer. I have never seen so much smog and pollution! Cars, motorbikes and busses spew out oil, fumes and black dirt everywhere. Many people wear masks to cover their mouths and noses and we have seen several who sniff inhalers to help cope with the chocking fumes and pollution. It is such a contrast to see so many poor people and yet so many cars and motorbikes and so many people smoking.
But the people remain kind and gracious and always smiling.
If it's Monday and everyone is wearing a yellow shirt, you must be in Thailand! We are not sure why this is, but it seems that every Monday most Thais wear bright, canary yellow polo shirts with some kind of logo on the front pocket. Thais are very loyal to their king, whose picture is everywhere! The king, Rama IX, has been king for 60 years now but you would never know it by the pictures of him that grace everything from hotel lobbies to tall office buildings.
We read that 95% of Thais are Buddhists which could explain why there are so many Wats. We have observed that many Thais are very devout and enter the Wats to pray and to burn incense or lay flowers at the alter (or Wat-ever it's called).
The language here is difficult to understand (okay, it's actually impossible) and the alphabet consists of many different characters all with curly-cues. You can't even begin to write down any of the words and so we are always having to point to maps or show business cards to taxi drivers. Anyway, since these Wats are beginning to seem very similar to us and since we can't figure out the name of one Wat from the next, we had a few drinks and came up with some Wat names of our own:
Mewareee (Alfred E. Newman Wat)
SamatterwitU (Italian Wat)
Ever (L.A. Wat)
Usee...Uget (2 Wats, side by side)
So give it a try and send us your favorite Wat names!
Sidenote: Buddhist monks are all over the place, Every male in this country will enter the "monkhood?" for at least 3 months. Monks can be seen riding up and down the river on the river busses. They can be seen wondering around the Wats, walking in the streets, shopping, etc. They are easy to spot because they all wear long saffron-colored robes. Monks come in all shapes, sizes and ages. We've seen little monks that look about 8 years old and we've seen some very old monks. You know you're in a Buddhist country when you see so many monks among us.
Why I could never be a Buddhist monk:
In spite of the fact that I love to "meditate" (maybe it's an excuse to take a snooze every afternoon), I could never be a Buddhist monk for the following reasons:
- Monks are not allowed to drink (image me without my daily glass(es) of wine
- Monks have to be women (well, that's rather sexist, don't you think?)
- but the main reason I could never be a monk is because I look totally crappy in orange!
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