Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Bangkok- Day 3

Ahh...jet lag.  After being up at 12:30am wide awake, we luckily fell asleep again, unfortunately, only till 4:30am.  We wanted to make the best of the day and how awake we were, so we got up, got ready and made at least a morning plan.  Who knew what the rest of the day would look like?  We ended up having a VERY long day, but it was amazing!

We hopped in a taxi at 5, knowing that taxis are REALLY cheap here (I mean, it only cost us 100 BAHT from the airport to our guesthouse- a 45 min ride= $3.25...having come from Toronto, that is unheard of- the metre STARTS at $4!), we just took our travel book (HIGHLY recommend Lonely Planet- Encounter Bangkok, it was $10 on Amazon, was less than 100 pages and fit in either of our pockets or my purse!) and stopped here and there, taking a taxi from point A to B.  It was great!

We started the morning at Lumphini Park.  It was part of the "off the beaten path" recommendation in our book, somewhere that felt less like Bangkok, and more like a peaceful serene park in any other western country...apart from the fact that MONKS walk this park every morning at 5am and it said that 100's of Thai elderly men and women come here to work out before the sun gets too hot!  We couldn't wait to see how accurate this was/how true it is.  Well, we were AMAZED!

We arrived here by a 30 min taxi ride (even at 5am, there is disgusting traffic in Bangkok), and it was dark, but FULL of people!  The sun rose by 6am, and rose in 30 seconds or less, it was crazy!  It also felt like in that same time frame, the temperature rose from 26 to 41, the daily high for today!

There were people of all ages out for a walk or run!  Graham was most amazed by the 70 year olds that were running faster than those half their age!

A typical sight in parks in Asia, elderly men and women (mostly women though), doing Tai Chi.

"Wax on, Wax off" :)

This was SO cool!  Beside the children's park (you know, slides, swings etc), we stumbled upon a "work-out" park.  There were machines that did all the basics like an indoor gym (an eliptical, a stepper, a butterfly machine, weight etc)!  It was crazy, but so cool!

There were women everywhere doing fan dances.  It was fascinating and we had diffiuculty moving on from here.  We could have watched for hours, as it was both relaxing and intriguing.

Graham LOVED this guy!  He was doing this crazy dance/tai chi workout with a sword!

Some scenery from the park.

Graham alongside the gorgeous lake in the middle of the park.

Perfectly content.

We had some breakfast at a street stall outside of the park, a breakfast that we didn't know what any of the items that we were eating were.  We tried to play, guess the breakfast snacks, but neither of us could figure it out!  It was yummy, but a bit greasy, and the SWEET chili sauce was SO SPICY, so we ate only a small amount to tie us over till we went back to eat the breakfast at our guesthouse.  We did have the most DELICIOUS guava juice (tastes like a mix between grape and canteloupe juice) that was fresh squeezed and bottled right in front of us!  Our breakfast snack was a whopping- $1!  Fresh squeezed juice at home, is usually a disgusting $4 or more, let alone something to eat alongside that as well!

Before leaving, I had my first experience of having to pay for a toilet AND toilet paper! Toilets at the park were literally holes in the floor and you can't flush ANY TOILET PAPER.  I couldn't comprehend why you had to pay for that service, but "whatever", at least it only cost 5 BAHT= 15 cents.

We went back to the hotel to regroup, have breakfast and figure out what we wanted to do next.  Breakfast was interesting, but mostly delicious!

Always LOADS of fresh fruit!

This is my " I tried papaya, but it's about to be spit out" face!  Note: it tastes like tomato, but is much more "mushy".

We then took the ferry from Pier 13, the pier right next to our guesthouse.  It goes all along the river, stopping at various ports that are either tourist spots, or work stops for locals.  There was an entire boat full of monks, which was the start of how REAL Thailand was starting to feel.  It was amazing that the ferry was 16 BAHT (50 cents) and you could go as many stop as you wanted!

We got off the ferry and walked into walked straight into a market on the way to the Grand Palace.  The food and culture of it looked amazing!  While walking to the Grand Palace, we were hustled by a tuk tuk driver (something we knew would happen alot), who told us that we can't go into the temple until 11:30, and that we were wearing disrespectful clothing.  We figured we'd take our chances and see how much truth there was to this.

Our first view of the entrance to the Grand Palace.  How fitting is this photo?

We were allowed in, but we were wearing disrespectful clothing...I ended up having to wear this attractive clothing for the morning!  The sarong was really nice, but the men's shirt, really was unattractive!

Graham was wearing shorts that JUST hit his knee, they were unacceptable, so he had to wear these HUGE pants!

The Palace was overwhelmingly beautiful!  Lots and lots of gold, jewels and bright colours!

The Grand Palace is SO big, it is impossible to get a shot of everything!  We did our best to do as much as we could.

This part is all gold, emeralds, and jewels, it was amazing!

Graham having SO much fun!  He's usually not "touristy", so it was fun to take photos like this of him without asking him!

Up close and personal.

We got this picture just as we heard HUGE thunder and the temperature started to feel like it was cooling down from the 40+ degrees to maybe around 35 or less.  We knew we were in for rain, and when it rains here, it comes quick and it comes hard!

We hid under this temple roof for an hour, hoping it would let up.  It was torrential rain!  Everyone stayed where the were forever.  We ended up deciding to take a run for it to the gift shop to see if we could get ponchos from the gift shop, getting soaked along the way.  By the time we got ponchos, we couldn't have been bothered to take a photo.  Sorry!  It was a hilarious sight though, as the only ones they had were pink!

We went back to the hotel, got changed out of our wet clothes and decided to head to the "mall".  I put it in quotes, as the two "malls" we went to, were like HUGE indoor flea markets.  I was so overwhelmed I didn't really enjoy it, and I was slightly discouraged that I couldn't get to an actual mall to do some shopping...oh well!  Graham ended up getting a haircut and as my hair was disgusting from not having a blow dryer or straightner, and the humidty high, I got a wash and blow dry.

I was SO glad I did this!  I loved it so much!  It only cost $5, so I knew this would be something that would become my every other day "treat" if possible!  It was usually an hour service, with a drink provided, a 15 min head massage, wash, condition and style, so WHY NOT!?!?!?!?? 

After that, we went home, dropped off some of the shopping we did at the  Pratunam market ("mall") (a second battery for our new camera= $15!!!) and then went off to Patpong night market for some culture, food and shopping! 

It was quite the experience, which Graham did warn me about.  I did enjoy the meal, the culture and the crazy amount of knock-offs, but I did NOT enjoy the amount of sex trade that was being offered, and the age of those offering it.  I found the hardest part was walking past "bars" (ping pong bars, where girls literally shoot ping pongs out of their...), trying to find a place to eat and there was a girl, maybe 18/19 years old, in a string bikini (that's how they start "dancing" for the night), maybe 8-9 months pregnant.  She looks so sad, and when she glanced at me out the door, while dancing on her pole, I forgot I was just standing there, staring...almost in tears.  I looked at Graham, and told him how sad it made me, wishing that this didn't have to be their way of life.

Overall, it was a learning experience of how different culture can really be.

Thailand is known as: "The Land of Smiles" and "The Land of Knock-offs".  I did buy an awesome COACH wallet, that whether a knock-off, or after factory hour item, is so cute.  And at $5, whether knock-off or not, I didn't really care...$5 for a wallet is great anywhere!

This picture was taken to show the amount of traffic, even at 11pm, and how pedestrians either wait 10 minutes to cross the street, or run for their lives, like the girl behind the yellow taxi!

The last of the market for the night. 

We finished the night off with dinner.  I had a VERY spicy Thai Basil chicken.  It was delicious, but I could barely eat it.  Graham is the king of spicy food and he couldn't eat it either!  NOTE: NO ONE, and I mean NO ONE, understands "Please, no spice, no chilies", even if they speak English!

We tried to take a taxi from here back to our guesthouse, but after 3 tries and no one speaking English, or understanding the English address on the business card, I was ready to cry.  I was quite exhausted (still not tired though) and walked into what we thought was a store, just to see if someone could help.  We finally got directions from these 3 nice guys, finding out it was a male brothel, and got back home.

We went back to Khao San Rd, where I had the most delicious street pad thai= $1 WITH SHRIMP!  And a mango shake- 50 cents!!!  By the end of the night, we were both ready for some sleep!  


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