Southeast Asia 2016

Day 9-10 Bangkok

Day 9: Sunday, November 27

No such luck. We were both up before 7am this morning, but neither of us wanted to get out of bed. Alex finally had to cave at about 7:30am when she finished her book. At least that meant we were up and at breakfast by 8:45. A last breakfast at the restaurant around the corner from our hotel that we've been frequenting for the past 3 mornings. Alex's last meal there was so good she had the same thing this morning, and Chad decided to test it out as well - wonton and pork noodle soup. Delicious! We also tried a few more of the fresh juices. Yesterday Alex tried chrysanthemum, which had a lot of honey in it and was very yummy. Today she opted for lemongrass - equally sweet, and pretty good, but she liked the chrysanthemum better. Chad tried the guava juice, and liked it.

Then we had enough time, and Alex's cold (which she's had since Singapore) had improved enough that she wasn't sniffling, so we decided to go get massages. There is a program advertised in our lonely planet guidebook where massages are given at the women's prison, and it is vocational training for inmates who are soon to be released. Unfortunately they did not have enough time for us, but they directed us to one of the locations where ex-inmates work post-release at a separate massage company. This place did have space available, and we had just enough time to squeeze in a 1 hour massage.

The massages are done clothed in loose shirts and pants they give you to wear, in a room with multiple beds where several people are getting massages at once. It looks like there is a set pattern that the masseuses follow for each massage. Lots of bending and stretching! There were multiple points where the masseuse would be holding your foot or arm while using her feet against your leg or back for leverage and pulling. We both feel nice and stretched out by the end of an hour! If all massages cost 200 baht ($8) for one hour, I would get them all the time. Apparently the 2 hour full body day massage is really the best. I guess they do more upper body work as this mostly focused on legs and hips. We'll have to see if we can try it in Bangkok.

We checked out of our hotel, and when we asked how much they thought a tuk-tuk to the airport should cost they said 100-150 baht. So it turns out we didn't over pay on the way here. :) We had barely made it to the Main Street before we hailed a tuk-tuk, and got told it would be 150 to the airport. Sounded good to us! Chad had wanted to ride in one of the little open air tuk-tuks, so this worked out perfectly. We got one last look at the old city walls on our way out.

Our flight was uneventful, other than a long line to get our boarding passes and drop off our bag. We ended up chatting with an older gentleman from Geneva, so Alex got to practice her French. Upon arriving in Bangkok, we were going to try to share a cab with this gentleman, but he decided the cabs were too expensive and to take public transit. We debated the public transit, but then were shown where the metered taxis were and were told it would cost under 700 baht. In the end, it only cost 400, so we're glad we went with that option. Our hotel is on a Soi (connecting road between two bigger roads) and not directly on that, so it's debateable if we would have found it on foot.

The hotel is very nice, our room is actually a suite, with a kitchen, fridge, stove, rice cooker. It's so big compared to what we've been staying in everywhere else we joked we couldn't find each other in the room. Going home may be an adjustment!

We checked out the pool, fitness room, tennis courts, and library then decided to get our laundry done tonight rather than using a day to do it. We were both basically out of clothes, so we didn't have much leeway. This didn't go quite as planned... The washing cycle took 30 minutes longer than anticipated, and when Chad opened it upon finishing, it was full of water which spilled onto the floor. So we flooded the laundry room, and had to wring out our clothes. Needless to say, the dryer was not fully successful in drying such wet clothes, and we ended up hanging them all over our room to dry. Would have looked entertaining to anyone who walked in.

For dinner, we went to an open air restaurant that we initially thought was a food court it was so big. Alex ordered green curry, which here seems to be more of a soup, with fruits/veggies that we've never seen before, and whatever meat you want. Chad ordered pad thai, which was very good. It's a different flavour than what he makes at home. We both got coconuts for the juice. So delicious. This was our latest night on the trip, so hopefully we wake up well rested to explore Bangkok tomorrow!

Day 10: Monday, November 28

Alex at least did need the alarm this morning. Our room was so quiet, we both slept really well. We also attribute some of this to the Thai massages we had yesterday.

After a large breakfast at the hotel's breakfast buffet (a combination of North American and Asian food) we took the hotel's shuttle bus to the BTS (sky train terminal) and headed towards the water. We took one of the tourist ferries along the river to the palace (40 baht per ride). The views along the water were neat to see - some big newer buildings interspersed with old homes. You can see a whole range of incomes, as well as ages of buildings. We also passed very large long boats giving tourists tours of the river.

Our first stop of the day was the palace. The king passed away about 7 weeks ago, so there were huge numbers of Thais here to pay their respects, all in black. Alex felt quite out of place in her bright coral shirt. The road around the palace is all blocked off to motorists, and there were large numbers of police out directing people, and stations for the Thais to get food and water on their way to/from paying their respects. Alex overheard one person tell some other tourists some people would be waiting up to 10 hours.

Getting into the palace, you had to have on long pants or a skirt, and have your shoulders covered. We had planned for this and dressed appropriately. If you didn't have the correct clothing, you could borrow a sarong.

The palace is amazingly opulent in terms of decoration on the outside and inside of buildings. There was glass mosaics in between statues of Buddha and other creatures from legends/stories.

There is a large mural painted all the way around the compound. We got to see a little bit of this, but for the most part this was one of the waiting areas for the mourners. They were lined up almost all the way around the compound walls.

After we left the palace, we headed to the next main attraction in the area - Wat Pho. As Chad says, this will be one of the only temples we easily remember the name of. Some of them are just too long and too similar when you don't know the meanings of the words. Wat Pho was done in the similar style to the palace, with lots of decorations everywhere, and warrior monkeys holding up parts of the buildings. But it was blissfully quiet compared to the crowds at the palace. The main attraction to this temple is the giant Buddha lying on its side. And it really is giant. Its head, from one ear to the other, is significantly larger than one person's height. You walk around the Buddha, and when walking along his back side, you can pay 20 baht to get a bunch of coins to put into 108 cups along the wall, and this is supposed to give you good luck. I think it also gives you something to do while walking along Buddha's back side, but maybe that's just me... We did it, because a little extra luck never hurt.

We'd now left lunch a bit late, so we found a little restaurant off the main square. Alex had possibly one of her favourite meals of the trip so far. Some sort of pork with black bean sauce and basil, with rice and a fried egg (Pad Kra Pao chicken). Apparently the fried egg doesn't always come with the dish, but it added a delicious finishing touch for an extra 10 baht (40 cents). Chad got a pork noodle soup, which was also very good.

Refortified, we headed off to check out the amulet market. There wasn't too much to see here, as most of the stalls were currently selling things related to the late king. So we hopped on another ferry and headed over to Wat Arun.

This temple is all done with porcelain or ceramic (not sure which) tiles. So still extremely ornate, but not as shiny. It's currently undergoing some repairs, which was interesting to see. The scaffolding went all the way to the top, which was fairly high. We didn't see people working up there though.

We caught a taxi back to our hotel. It was rush hour so lots of traffic. We noticed that it really pays to be on a motorbike in heavy traffic as they can weave their way around the stalled cars. At one point our car was stopped at the front for a red light. When we looked behind we could see loads of bikes snake their way towards us until eventually we were totally surrounded by a gang of motorbikes. The car drivers, including our taxi, let the motorbikes drive away first once the light turned green.

After a successful day of sight seeing, we headed back to our hotel for a swim, and to change before going to meet our friends David Beckstead and Sara Phillips (living in Bangkok) for dinner at Mama Dolores Mediterranean restaurant. Delicious pizza, hummus, and good conversation resulted in our second late night of the trip! At least we don't need to make too early a start to Kanchanaburi tomorrow.

Next: Day 11-13: Kanchanaburi

Back to main page