The yellow brick road
Bangkok Travel Blog› entry 5 of 19 › view all entries
After leaving the internet cafe on Monday we decided to try again to see the Grand Palace. So we jumped on the train, and on the boat and traveled down river again and walked over to the palace and around the long, long palace walls to get to the entrance....only to be told that the palace closes every day at 3:30. What is so funny is that all of the guards at the palace were not content to just tell us that the palace was closed they also had to add "why did you come so late?" as if they had to understand our motivation. By now, I was a bit fed up with the Grand Palace and ready to write it off.
We left the Grand Palace and decided to head over to Pat Pong for some shopping....and then the monsoons came again...we were completely soaked. We can talk later about why I packed an umbrella in my suitcase but have yet to put it in my purse for the day.
The Pat Pong market went on as planned, despite the rain. The stalls had a plastic awning over them and each piece of plastic was paper clipped to the next and they all funneled the water down to the middle where they fashioned a drain out of another piece of plastic. While walking along the alley you felt the plastic sagging in the middle and were just waiting for the plastic to break or a leak to be found and water to come pouring down.
I don't think I have mentioned that the Thai currency is Bhat and it is about 33 Bhat to $1. This is not easy math for Kim....of course is any math easy for me? :)
I wanted to buy some GENUINE handbags at the Pat Pong market so I needed to choose the ones I loved and then bargain down the price.
On Tuesday we woke up determined to see the Grand Palace....and we finally did. We discovered that the man on Monday who told us to come back at 1:30 was lying...even though he was in a full guard uniform and came from the palace grounds to tell us that. I have never been to a city that tries so hard to discourage tourists from seeing, and paying to see, their largest tourist attraction. Despite the opposition and feeling like the gods were against us.
The palace was beautiful, very ornate, mosaic tiles all over the buildings. There are several temples on the grounds, including an amazing temple that houses the Emerald Buddha. The Emerald Buddha is actually made out of jade and is one of the most revered Buddhas in Thailand. It is about 30 inches high and is adorned with gold. You cannot photograph it so we bought postcards that we will scan in at some point.
We left the palace and crossed the street to Silpakorn University which is a large art institute. They have a gallery and I was hoping to buy some student art...but they did not have any for sale right now.
I had an authentic Thai massage yesterday afternoon that was wonderful. Thai massage is a combination of yoga and massage where the masseuse stretches and contorts your body in order to release the bad chi and heal you. I could not convince Brian to try it....he did not want someone climbing all over him. :) It was wonderful and I feel like a new woman.
Our internet is running out of time, so I will write more later and post some more pics.
We board the ship in 3 hours....my first cruise! :)
After we finally made it down the yellow brick road to the wizard....I mean the Emerald Buddha...we went on a journey to meet up with my cousin Sarah. She is on her way to Africa where she will spend 9 months working with war and AIDS orphans. She is traveling now and we were going to both be in Bangkok at the same time.
Sarah was staying in a hostel so we walked from the river to find her place. This was a walk through true Thailand. We passed many houses, restaurants and other businesses down narrow alleys and saw many people going about their day. One alley seemed to be the auto repair alley as every garage we passed contained huge piles of various car parts. If you need a new/old transmission stop at the first garage, a new axle the second etc.
We made it to Sarah's hostel the Baan Lampung Guesthouse, and it was a welcoming place owned by a man named Ray who spent 20 years living in Tuscaloosa Alabama before returning to Thailand. We waited and waited, but Sarah did not make it. I had made Thai massage appointments for both of us at the Oriental Hotel as a treat. Unfortunately Sarah got delayed and missed her appointment. We left her a note to meet us later.
We took a cab to the Oriental Hotel and we were both a bit nervous about whether we would make it after our tuk tuk experience. The cabbie was great and took us straight there. :)
The Oriental Hotel is amazing...very posh, the staff is extremely friendly and helpful. The spa is across the river from the hotel and the Oriental has its own fleet of ferry boats to take its guests across.
After leaving the Oriental we went to Lumpini Park, think Bangkok's version of Central Park, to try to meet Sarah. We were not feeling very optimistic...it is amazing how reliant we are on cell phones these days and without a phone we could not imagine how to find her. Luckily they were right were we said to meet and we had a happy reunion. We took Sarah and her boyfriend on the Sky Train to the Sukhimvit Road area. Sukhimvit Road is the longest road in Thailand and you can take it all the way to Cambodia. It is like a larger version of Colfax.
We found a great outdoor cafe for dinner and they had a band playing live jazz. I finally had some famous Thai green curry...it was awesome! We had a few beers and caught up on Sarah's travels, she had just visited Hong Kong and Singapore where we are going next so we got a few pointers.
Tomorrow we board the ship!