Finally - after crossing the International Dateline

Bangkok Travel Blog

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Our anniversary cake from the Oriental Hotel.
Our Wonderful Hotel
Wow, what a beautiful place! We are staying at the Oriental Hotel, which is ranked as one of the top 5 hotels in the world. We have a room with a view of the Chao Phraya River. When I booked the hotel, I told them that it was our 30th anniversary. We were greeted with a very welcome and everyone at the front desk congratulated us for being together for so long. (In reality, who in their right mind could put up with either one of us for that long!)

After we checked in to our room, our "butler" arrived with a tray of fruit and a bottle of chilled chardonnay. He also brought us a cute little cake inscribed with best wishes for our anniversary.
Our room is beautiful and the bathroom is amazing. Each day, the maid arranges our toiletries on a linen cloth on the sink, lays out slippers, brings fresh fruit and turns down the bed for us.
This is the Oriental Hotel "shuttle service" to and from other hotels and the skytrain.
(Great hotel for $209/night--it's off-season in Thailand)

Our hotel is one of the oldest in Bangkok and was a former hangout for Joseph Conrad, Somerset Maugham, James Mitchner, Graham Green and Noel Coward. It has a fleet of three pagoda-looking boats to shuttle guests across the river to the hotel spa and health club, but we have yet to make that trip. We have, however, used the shuttle boat to go to the Skytrain, which is very similar to BART. The ticket gates work exactly like those of our own BART train.

Basic Thai Vocabulary
You may want to know these words before reading the rest of this trip report:
khawp khun (pronounced kan-kwan cup) = Thank You
Baht = unit of Thai currency (1 US$ is about 37 Baht)
Wat = Buddhist temple (one on just about every single corner of Bangkok)
Khlong = canal or creek
Alloy Mak Mak (sp?) = Very delicious
Tha = dock
Soi = alley
Thanon = boulevard
Tuk tuk = a 3-wheeled, open-air motorized taxi that is kind of like a small open-air coffin attached to a motor bike.
One of about 5 billion Tuk-tuks that roam the streets of Bangkok looking for chumps like us!
It is covered with a low canopy specifically designed so that you can't see where you are going, where you came from, or where the next collision is going to be.
Rat = a prefix in front of about 10 different places we are trying to find on the map
Bingo = Bingo
Scam = scam

B is for BINGO and T is for Traffic
We got here on Friday around noon and were nicely settled into our hotel room by 2 p.m. After a quick shower, we got a phone call from Mark Wolf. He's a friend/business associate of Chuck's, although they have never met.

Mark and his girlfriend, Amelia, were in the lobby of our hotel waiting to greet us and give us some vital tourist information. We met them in the lobby and went to the Bamboo Bar for a nice, cool mojito! Among Mark's advice were warnings about riding in a tuk-tuk.
Bingo night at Mark's place. Everyone was trying to win the grand prize of 2,000 Baht (about $50 USD)
Mark and Amelia were entertaining a group of Mark's employees on Friday night and invited us to join them.

So, we headed off in the shuttle boat to the sky train. 30 minutes later, we were at Mark's condo in the Asoke neighborhood of Bangkok. Mark and Amelia live in Oregon but Mark owns an internet company here in Bangkok and twice a year, he hosts a dinner for his Thai employees. He is also building a 10,000 square foot house (can we say "compound") on a golf course near the new airport. He is planning to develop the area as a retirement community.

After arriving at his condo, we met "Toon" and "Ek." (As Mark explained later, all Thais have nicknames because their names are so stinkin long and difficult to pronounce.) The six of us got into Mark's car and began our journey to a Japanese restaurant to meet the rest of his "staff."

Sidenote: The traffic in Bangkok is the worst traffic I have ever seen! It makes driving in the Bay Area seem like driving in a village.
Traffic on Sunday morning is very light. Can you imagine what it's like during rush hour?
The smog, noise and pollution are terrible here and many of the traffic police wear face masks. The Thais drive on the opposite side of the road (except when it's convenient to drive anywhere they want to including the sidewalks) and the driver's seat is on the right. Crossing the street is almost like attempting suicide. No one even slows down and it seems as if the drivers are actually trying to run people down!

We crawled along for about another 30-40 minutes and it seemed as if we only went about 2 miles. We had a great dinner at a super-huge buffet that included sushi, tempura, and teriiyaki, all made to order.

After dinner, we drove back to Mark's condo where he had reserved the party room for his annual Bingo Party! The "staff" were so animated and fun to watch as Mark tried to explain the rules. Three hours later, Chuck and I were on our way back to our hotel.
We opted for the cooler river taxi whenever possible. Even the river was heavily travelled with everything from hotel boats to huge barges.
I can't believe we managed to stay awake until midnight the first night. (Chuck, who stood through bingo like a zombe for 3 hours, says he felt as if he was in the movie Night of the Living Dead.)

It was a very interesting and fun introduction to Thai culture and to the Thai people!
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Our anniversary cake from the Orie…
Our anniversary cake from the Ori…
This is the Oriental Hotel shuttl…
This is the Oriental Hotel "shutt…
One of about 5 billion Tuk-tuks th…
One of about 5 billion Tuk-tuks t…
Bingo night at Marks place. Every…
Bingo night at Mark's place. Ever…
Traffic on Sunday morning is very …
Traffic on Sunday morning is very…
We opted for the cooler river taxi…
We opted for the cooler river tax…
The outdoor cafe where we enjoyed …
The outdoor cafe where we enjoyed…
The view from our window.
The view from our window.
photo by: rintjez