Bangkok

5 Jul

Bangkok

Our first couple days in Thailand were naturally in Bangkok, which apparently beat out Paris to be the most visited destination of the year. The morning was spent taking in the Grand Palace with the Emerald Buddha, along with Wat Pho, the reclining Buddha. The excellent concierges at the St. Regis Bangkok helped us plan our day and before we got into a taxi the doormen cautioned us against getting into taxis without a meter running and not to believe anyone that told us the sites were closed. We had no trouble getting into the Grand Palace especially since we were both wearing pants and had covered shoes and shoulders. Being seasoned temple goers from our experience India, we were prepared to take off our shoes, put away our cameras and resist the urge to roll up our pants.The palace was magnificent. Every building had attention to detail. The only place we could not take photos was inside the Emerald Buddha.

Going from the Grand Palace to Wat Pho, the reclining Buddha, required some google mapping, given the high walls of the palace and surrounding side streets, not to mention that everyone we talked to wanted to take us to big buddha or somewhere of their choosing. When we finally made it to the walls of Wat pho, the outside vendors kept pointing in different directions for the entrance and saying it was closed until 4pm. False. The key is to not listen to anyone. We eventually found the entrance and thus the giant reclining gold buddha.

We could have spent all day going from temple to temple and Buddha to Buddha, but it was hot as hell and the infamous chatuchak weekend market was in full swing. We opted for pad Thai and shopping in the afternoon. A cab driver outside wat pho told us there was too much traffic to the chatuchak weekend market so it would be… 500 baht! No way, we told him to run the meter. He countered saying 200baht and we’d make one other stop. Gee I wonder where he was planning to take us? We walked away. The cab drivers definitely do not want to run the meter. The second cab said 200baht “because of the traffic” we agreed. We knew we were probably overpaying a bit, but at 30baht to 1usd we weren’t going to argue, plus this cab driver sang old school American tunes the entire way. What more could we ask for?

Side note: I noticed in the Philippines as well… Asians love to sing. And by sing I mean randomly bust out in song with really good singing voices. I wish this was as socially acceptable in the US as it is in Asia.

The weekend market was huge! After some shrimp pad Thai ($1 usd), we bought silks, spices, t shirts, and leisure pants, which everyone seemed to be wearing at the temples. We could have spend all weekend there. They sold everything from souvenirs to furniture to puppies. Instead of going back to the hotel via taxi, we wanted to experience taking a tuk tuk. We’d taken one before in India, but wanted to see what was different. This tuk tuk was more like a motorcycle with a back seat. After negotiating the fare, we hopped for a high speed ride back to the hotel. Our goal for the evening involved finding a rooftop bar for drinks and pictures. The concierge of course recommended the four seasons restaurant. Apparently our dishelved sweating faces somehow gave the impression that we can afford the best Thai restaurant in the country. Unfortunately one thing we did not count on was the dress code at some of these rooftop bars, especially Vertigo where the hangover II was filmed. Instead we went for thang long, a very cute and reasonably priced Vietnamese restaurant and the rooftop of Hotel Muse called the Speakeasy. Mai Thai’s came in mason jars and the view was exactly what we had hoped for.

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