Oops, that key wasnt important was it?

Bangkok Travel Blog

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The Golden Mount

So, we have now been in Bangkok for just over a week.

 

When our two days of living in the lap of luxury were up we packed our bags and caught the skytrain down to Siam Square which is half way between the two places we had stayed previously.We found a place to stay which was fairly reasonable, 600Baht a night. It is right opposite a huge shopping centre called MBK, we took a walk round it to see wht it was like and got lost several times.

Wat Saket
It is set over 6 floors and each  floor is dedicated to something different; there is a whole floor which has hundreds of stalls selling mobiles phones, cameras, elctronics, and the ubiquitous dodgy DVDs. They also have two food courts, one on the top floor which is cheap and most of its clients are locals (Rachel wasnt impressed by the beef tendon meal on offer) while most of the tourists dine at the food court one floor down which is a bit pricier but you see everything cooked fresh in front of you and there is wide selection of different types of food to choose from.

 

On Wednesday we decided to try out the river taxi. We had heard that they are much cheaper than a taxi or a tuk tuk and gets you there much quicker as they dont have to sit in traffic.

Kittens Hidding under Buddha statue
it turned out there was a stop just round the corner from our guest house so we wandered down, not really sure how it worked. We saw a group of people standing on a platform and a sign with arrows pointing both ways so we figured this meant the boats travelled in both directions but couldnt work out which direction we wanted to go as nothing was written in English. We didnt wait long before a boat came along, we asked one of the people that worked on the boat if it was going where we wanted, they gave a blank stare and nodded so we got on. Now 'getting on' sounds simple but in reality it is a bit of a mission. It involves stepping onto a thin plank on the side of the boat, stepping over a tarpaulin that is rigged along the length of the boat, finding your footing on the bottom of the boat that is a good two foot below and then getting youe other foot to follow, all while the boat is bobbing about all over the show, if not already leaving.
Loha Prasact
Needless to say, me being little miss clumsy, I managed to get my trailing foot taggled in the tarpaulin, hopped about for a couple of seconds, then landed in an undignified heap on some poor startled Thai man's lap *goes bright red and hangs head in shame*. Rachel helped by killing herself laughing. I apologised (a lot), heaved myself off him and went and sat down in disgrace. The eboat journey itself was fairly uneventfull after that, though we understood fully why there was tarpaulin strapped to it. It was on pulleys that you yanked on to lift it up to cover the gap between the side of the boat and the roof to stop water kicking up and soaking you, which is a good thing as the water most likely contains enough nasties to make you very, very ill.

 

We only went three stops before our boat terminated, then had a bit of a job trying to work out where we were as it wasnt where we thought we were going to end up.

I knew they were dodgy!
We eventually worked it out and headed down to the Khao San road. We headed down a soi (small alley that is littered with guest houses and market stalls) to find somewhere to eat lunch, settling on a place more because a thunderstorm was brewing than because it looked better than anywhere else. Sure enough, not two minutes after we sat down it started pouring down with rain,  it was quite amusing watching all the backpackers traipse through in their shorts and vest tops getting soaked just like we did a few days ago. The place we picked was amusing due to the fact that there were hand written signs on the wall saying 'Beware Fake Monks', I always knew they were a dodgy lot! Once the rain had stopped we headed out to the Khao san road agin as Rachel needed to buy a top. To visit the temples here you must be covered up, this means sleeves to at least elbows and trousers up to knees, We wandered along, trying out our bartering skills, managing in the end to get two shirts at a reduced rate, one for Rachel and one for me.
Tuk Tuk driver
  

 

The next day we again caught the river boat down to town (this time without me making a complete idiot of myself). Armed with appropriate tops we visited our first temple, Wat Saket. Within the grounds is a huge gold leaf covered pagoda, which sits atop a man made hill. We had to climb a lot of stairs up a winding route to reach the summit and remove our shoes before entering. In the building there was many statues of Buddha, some gold, some stone some wood. There was also an area where people were lighting incense and praying. We climbed a few more stairs and come out on to the roof, where the Golden mount sits. The view is a strange one, tumbledown shacks and grotty apartments are everywhere, while inbetween there are the roof tops of temples peeking out, which are so lavish and obviously expensive that it is almost laughable.

This is a roundabout!
Monks, who I assume make some sort of vow of poverty sure do have nice swanky pads to pray in. Within Wat Saket (Wat means temple) there is a huge icon of Buddha which is surrounded in the grounds by tons of smaller gold Buddhas. If all the money that went on building these temples was actually spent on proper sanitation and providing safe drinking water it would be a vastly different place.

 

After leaving Wat Saket we headed across the road to Loha Prasact (Metal Castle). There have only been 3 metal castles made and this is the only remaining one. Because entry is free it seems every school under the sun has day trips here and wouldnt you know it, today was school trip day! Hundreds of school kids were scattered everywhere, and all trooped into the castle just as we were about to go in.

Breaking into the cabinet
We decided to wait a while before going in so sat down outside. As we were waiting we saw plenty of stray cats, and a few dogs wandering about. There was a food stall by the entrance and they were putting down bowls of rice for the cats to eat, and they were gladly eating it, most were very scrawny looking things.

 

Once we had seen a good number of kids come out we ventured in, going up a spiral staircase to the first floor. Here there were lots of intersections, each one leading to a buddha statue. We walked round them, noting that each was slightly different from the previous. We stopped at one of the junctions so a couple of guys could take a picture then carried on, only to discover what they were taking a picture of wasnt a statue but rather the tiny kitten that was sitting beside it. As we bent down we could see that there was a gap between the base of the statue and the plinth it was sitting on, we looked under and there were two more scrawny looking waifs, surely no more than four weeks old and looking rather poorly. There was no sign of mum but there was a bag of rice nearby so someone was obviously looking after them. We left them, reluctantly, and made our way back to the stairs where we climbed what seemed like a million steps to reach the top (my legs have only just recovered). The view was pretty good, with lots of ornate temple roofs in view.

 

Once we left Loha Prasact we sat down outside for a while as it was very hot. While we were sitting down a girl came over and started chatting to us. She was from Norfolk and was over here to volunteer at a resue centre in South Thailand. We chatted a while, glad to find someone that wasnt trying to sell us something/rip us off. She told us how her friend had been scammed by a tuk tuk driver and taken to a tailors shop without asking to be taken there. It was kind of reasurring to know we arnt the only mugs here.

 

Friday we spent the day lazng about, watched Kung-fu Panda on the laptop before getting the river boat down to the Kho San road. As usual we locked all of our valubles in the bedside cabinet and I put the key in my bag. Unfortunately, as I was getting my wallet out on the dock to pay the river boat the key came with it and fell into the murky, muddy, disgusting water of the river before either Rachel or I could react. We kind of looked at each other for a second, then back at the water then laughed nervously, imagining having to pay loads to get another key so we could rescue our things. There was nothing we could do about it then and there so we carried on with our evening, getting dinner at an English style pub called Gullivers and wandering down Khao San with the hoardes of other travellers. We stayed out quite late, by which time the river boats had stopped running. It didnt look that far to walk on the map so we decided to forgo getting a taxi or trying to haggle with a tuk tuk driver and walk back. It seems accurate maps distances are non existant here, just like careful driving and health & safety precautions. We ended up walking about 6 kilometres in all, the nights are just as muggy as the days so we were dripping with sweat by the time we got back.

 

We decided we didnt want to pay for a new key so went about seeing if we could break into the bedside cabinet without leaving a trace. Rachels attempts to pick the lock with a hair grip, McGuiver style, failed so I tried unscrewing the back. Luckily we had our handy multi-tool with us which made it very simple. Once the back was off we managed to pull all our items through the tiny gap between the drawer edge and the top. Thankfully our laptop is an eee pc and ultra thin or we never would of got it out! Once everything was out we screwed the cabinet back together and no one will be any the wiser, we will just say there was never a key in the first place!

 

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The Golden Mount
The Golden Mount
Wat Saket
Wat Saket
Kittens Hidding under Buddha statue
Kittens Hidding under Buddha statue
Loha Prasact
Loha Prasact
I knew they were dodgy!
I knew they were dodgy!
Tuk Tuk driver
Tuk Tuk driver
This is a roundabout!
This is a roundabout!
Breaking into the cabinet
Breaking into the cabinet
Bangkok
photo by: Deats