Day 3: When we almost got ripped off...
Bangkok Travel Blog› entry 3 of 4 › view all entries
Friday morning at 7am, I wake up and look out the window of my hotel room to see it rain! But I was pretty optimistic that the sun would come out soon.
I wake Joann after I've showered and change to get ready for a tour of some of the more popular temples in Bangkok. We paid for a tour of Wat Arun (across the Chao Phraya river), Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) and Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha) plus the Royal Palace, or so we thought.
Forty five minutes later, we're downstairs just in time for breakfast but it's still raining. Fifteen minutes later, the guy from the tour office asked if we were the duo who paid for the temple tour.
The first wat we were taken to was the temple of the Standing Buddha. When we were dropped off, it was wet enough to warrant the use of umbrellas but of all people, being possibly the biggest one there, I had to be given the tiniest brolly in the world to barely cover my head and shoulders!! It was a little girl's umbrella - evident from the blue frills and a picture of Minnie Mouse - but not really caring at this point that I looked like the biggest little girl there, I braved the elements and opened up that umbrella and followed our guide inside the grounds of the temple.
It was a magnificent structure of Buddha standing. The crap shot that I took of it with my busted cam didn't do justice to the gleaming gold beauty of that grand statue. After 10 minutes of picture-taking opportunities by the other folks, we headed back to our van and by this time I was half soaking wet. Then it was onward to Wat Arun, across the Chao Phraya river... in the gloomy Bangkok weather. Barely a two minute ride across, and we reached the Temple of The Dawn.
Wat Arun's beautiful architecture dates back to early 19th century. Its prangs - or towers - are a combination of Khmer and Thai styles. Up close, one can see the fading beauty of Chinese porcelain tiles used to cover the temple.
We spent about 20 minutes exploring the temple.
We headed back out to the boat to go back across the river and head next to the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. This statue of Buddha is 46 meters long and the temple is the oldest and largest one in Bangkok, so one website claims. At this temple, we put some money in the donation box and picked up a bowl of what looked like chinese coins. There were 100 pieces of these coins which we emptied into a row of 100 bowls the length of the Buddha facing Him. With each coin dropped into each bowl, one makes a wish, so that's 100 wishes, wow!! :P
I was more intrigued by how relaxing it was to empty those coins in all those containers.
So we were done with three temples and were on our way to the Wat Phra Kaew or Temple of the Emerald Buddha. But when we got there, we realised that we were the only ones dropped off at the temple grounds, to add to the dramatic effect, our guide on this tour said, "ok bye- bye!" and drove off with the others. Our initial shock was replaced with anger and we immediately called the tour agency to explain this "abandonment"! Having explained to myself to the wrong branch manager, I was given the contact number for the office located in our hotel and having explained what happened, I demanded that we be taken on a proper tour of the temple and palace grounds and so we crossed the street, hailed a cab and went back to our hotel to confront the tour agent on duty.
Wet and cold, we arrived back at our hotel and went straight to the tour office and complained to the agent on duty about what happened. We then explained that since we paid for the Grand Palace tour as well, we'd like to go back there and take guided tour. While waiting for the agent to make his phone calls and make good on our "agreement" I go back to my room to change into dry clothes and come back to the news that a guide has been arranged to take us on this tour. After waiting for what seemed like an eternity, our guide walks and explains that he will take us by cab to the Grand Palace.
All our frustration at the initial mess-up was replaced by awe at the sight of the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Unfortunately, we were a little too late to enter into the temple grounds where the emerald Buddha was housed as arrangements were being made to welcome the Thai King to perform the change of outfit of the Buddha for the rainy season.
The Grand Palace truly deserved its accolades. The buildings were covered in gold and gleamed in all its shiny splendor! Even the gloomy wet weather could not take away its brilliance. The Grand Palace is no longer home to the Thai monarchy, and is only use for official formal events.
We could have hung around for ever, in pure admiration, but had to leave after about one and a half hours around the grounds.
We went back to the hotel, thanked our guide (with a monetary token of our appreciation) and had a bit of a rest before getting ready for our River Dinner Cruise.
Two hours later, at 630pm, we were dressed and ready to be picked up and taken to the jetty at the river for a dinner cruise.
It seemed the dinner cruise appealed to the locals as well, as we noticed a number of Thais waiting with us at the jetty. Finally, our boat arrived, looking quite festive with lights all around it. As we boarded, I noticed that the tourists were being led up the upper level of the boat while the locals were placed at the lower deck.
I then realised that apart from the buffet dinner, tourists were entertained with a 3-piece cover band and the wait staff even handed out party favors like noisemakers and glowsticks for what was to be a party atmosphere as the night wore on as dinner was ending. And to think I used to make fun of similar gimmicks when they happened in KL! GEEZ!!
The buffet dinner was pretty good, but the view was even better! My busted up cam managed to capture pics better at night, and the Temple of Dawn looked splendid, strategically lit up at night! We could even see the GRand Palace, a Catholic church and some government buildings located near the riverbank, all nicely lit up for this purpose, I suppose.
For two hours the boat went up and down a short stretch of the Chao Phraya and then it was time to say goodnight and meet our driver to take us back to our hotel.
It was an interesting day and I couldn't believe that we were leaving the next day. Somehow it was too short a trip to Bangkok, but then again, it's always too short a holiday when you're having fun!