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From Masala to Bollywood and everything in between! Catch up with me and my time around South Asia

Bangkok--Take 2!

THAILAND | Tuesday, 20 November 2007 | Views [1003]

After 2 days of our beach romp and relaxation we headed back to Bangkok to go exploring. We arrived at the bus station and were met by a guide we had hired. He took us to the Grand Palace--one of the most famous spots in Bangkok, and this is equivalent to the white house, except the King doesn't live there. Before we could enter Sam and Jamie had to buy some new clothes because basically no skin can be showing. So we had a compulsory shopping spree for some Thai skirts and cotton shirts!

The Palace temples were so overwhelmingly beautiful...in every direction you turned there was another temple, or shrine to feast your eyes on. I was overcome with the tourist syndrome of photoitis (taking a picture every 30 seconds), but was completely satisfied by the experience. When you think about Thailand you probably either think of the food, the movie The King and I or the images of the Grand Palace. I really wish that the place had not been so crowded, but that's what we get for going to a temple on a Sunday afternoon during high season. I most enjoyed sitting in the temple courtyard and watching the Buddhist worshippers bring their offerings and praying with incense before Buddha--it was a beautiful scene.                                               We toured around more of the city, and had our driver take us to a nice spot for lunch...we were serenaded with Thai opera while eating some Tom Yum soup, Pad Thai, Tofu in brown sauce, and more green curry! Then in the afternoon we headed to the main shopping district where we all bargained through our teeth for good deals. I found that it's much easier to bargain with Indian merchants than the Thai...they won't really budge in Thailand and I was more intimidated. Gigi, Sam, Jamie and I all made out well though and paid considerably less than any prices we'd pay in the States.                                                       Jamie unfortunately had to depart late Sunday night to go back to Osaka, so after we checked into our hotel (was in a great location for the open air markets--Prathunam). Jamie, Sam and I went exploring a bit to collect a meal from the street vendors. We stumbled upon a little man sitting in front of his cart....with some curious objects on it. We realized we were looking at friend bugs and frogs--a delicacy here I'm sure! Sam dared me to eat some, and I happily took on her challenge, with the secret intention to make sure Sam and Jamie also ate some too. See the photos for proof...but we bought a bag of half grasshoppers and half frogs!! and I probably had about 2 whole frogs and 1 grasshopper! Didn't taste like anything really...just a bit salty and crunchy, but the after taste and the occasional extra leg pieces i found in my mouth weren't so pleasant. Worst-case scenario I could survive in the wild or make it on Fear Factor! Oh Bangkok, you've proved to me I have a caste iron stomach. So after this we went and got some real food--chicken satay, egg friend rice, Chinese broccoli and mushrooms in brown sauce, and mango and sticky rice for desert/breakfast the next morn.                                 We saw Jamie off to the airport bittersweetly; we had all grown attached to the convenience of hanging out with one another--company we really enjoyed! Sam, Gigi and I turned in early preparing for another busy day ahead. Gigi got up and left early the next morning as her plane was departing that day. Sam and I had a room shift in the morning...and there must have been something wrong with the room--the rest of the day when we passed that room there was major maintenance going on, so glad they put us in a broken room. So once we were shifted down the hall we pointed out to the room maintenance guy that our toilet seat was dirty...simply put we just wanted the maid to come and spray and wipe it down again. Within 15 minutes they came back and removed the original toilet seat and put on a brand new one!!! Sam and I were impressed with the service...but slightly surprised by the outcome.                     We arranged to visit the Floating market...some 150 km outside Bangkok City, the next day and be back in time for us to have lunch and then get me to the airport. In the evening we attempted to go for a swim on the 20th floor of the Baiyoke Sky hotel--the largest building in Bangkok, which was shared by our hotel company so we had access to the pool, restaurant and fitness center. It was chilly though so we didn't get any further in than our knees...it was a nice view of the city though!                                                                 We woke up the next morning, finished packing, made use of the buffet, and were picked up by the tour bus---all by 7am. Can you believe it?!?! I know, I was stunned when we were there waiting for the bus instead of them waiting for us. So we had an hour and a half to nap, Sam and I took turns sleeping on each other's shoulder, and we finally arrived in Rajburi, where the floating market takes place each morning.   We started in a motorized Gondola-like boat that took us to the main market waterway. It was a nice preview of the streets of water, as I'll refer to them. The locals all live there on these streets of water and in the mornings they go in their boats to buy, sell and barter for the days vegetables, fruits. It's a beautiful scene, and as a tourist you can buy anything you'd like while seated in your boat amidst the boat traffic jam of mercantilism! So we had an interesting adventure trying to get back to Bangkok---just to shake things up and because no trip is complete without a little more confusion to leave you wondering if you'll make your flight! Our driver got us lost in the rice and banana fields; I assume he was trying to take a short cut, but who really knows. Then once we were finally back in Bangkok we got stuck in some traffic jams--stuck behind broken down trucks on one way back streets, and then when we were finally out of traffic our bus driver was pulled over and given a ticket for one thing or another.                                               Now at this point Sam and I could see the Baiyoke Sky Hotel (next to ours) so we were thinking we'd just get out and walk back...so we lost our patience waiting for the driver and did exactly that! We took a couple of wrong turns on our own, but finally found a through street!   We grabbed lunch and caught a cab for Sam's hotel for the next night and then I would continue to the airport. This was also some production, as our cab driver refused to use the taximeter at first and was mad at us for demanding he do so. He was giving us so much attitude, and being quite rude. So I decided I would get out altogether at Sam's hotel and catch another taxi to the airport. He waited around for some time and tried to convince Sam's hotel concierge that I should go with him...but I refused telling them how rude he had been to us and was trying to rip us off by at least 200 Bhat extra--the meter read 81 Bhat and he wanted some 300 Bhat more to the airport, when I knew it only cost 150 from Sam's hotel to the airport! So he gave up and went away...Finally!!                                                       Sam and I were sad to say goodbye, but knew we'd be seeing each other after only another month or so! It had been some 6 months previously since I'd seen her and when we found each other in the airport we both shed a little tear of glee!                           Interestingly enough, on my flight "home" I was seated next to an Indian woman who is doing her graduate studies at Virginia Tech...so that was cool! I returned to the dusty, dirty Bangalore and couldn't help but miss  relatively clean Southeastern Asia a bit. I can't wait to return to Thailand someday, and I also have a new interest in seeing more of East Asia...Jamie tells me Japan is lovely. We'll see where my next adventures lead me. For now I'm enjoying the last of my weeks here in South India.

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