After a short trip back to Saskatchewan to celebrate the life of my grandmother, the most amazing women I have known, we made it to Bangkok after 25 long grueling hours of flight time with another 12 hours of layovers. Crossing the international date line certainly did not help with the jetlag.
It was early in the morning when we arrived in Bangkok and since we couldn’t book into the hotel until the early afternoon we stayed at the airport to have a bit to eat (Subway is always a winner with our family) and signed up for cell service. We paid 400 Bahts for 10 days of cell phone and unlimited internet use. That works out to less than a dollar a day. Bangkok is like many large cities we have stayed in, the airport is so far out of the city. We grabbed a taxi to the hotel and after about 30 minutes we arrived, dripping in sweat from the heat and humidity. We planned on hitting the pool once everyone was settled, but we decided to lay down for a nap. We didn’t wake up until the next day…at around 3am. Damn, that time change. How do you tell your body that you are 13 hours ahead and not tired? Unfortunately, between the heat and the time change it took a few days before we were even interested in doing much. The good thing was that we didn’t have any plans made, so there was no need to rush to see the sights of Bangkok before heading to our next location.
Our hotel was in the Sukhumvit area. Surrounded by small restaurants, shops, 7-11s and McDonalds. We found a little grocery store called “Foodland” that had a little café. After a few days of shopping, we noticed that the little café was always full, so we decided to give it a try. The next morning we were all up really early so we ventured down the street to the little café. Not too many people there at 7am, so we found a seat and ordered our breakfast. For 59 Bahts we had eggs, sausage, toast, juice and coffee. Not bad for $2 each. We decided this would now be our favorite breakfast spot in Bangkok and ate here many times over the next few days.
Our first day out in Bangkok also turned out to be the King’s birthday/Father’s Day and a national holiday. The streets were crowded and everyone was wearing yellow shirts in honor of their king. We decided to have a low key kind of day and thought that Siam Ocean World was the perfect attraction. The indoor aquarium is housed in the Siam Paragon Mall. We spent over 3 hours walking through the aquarium looking at rare frogs, jelly fish, stingrays, watching the penguins play, holding starfish and walking through the underwater tunnel to get the best view of the sharks. The best part of the day was watching the 5D movie. Unfortunately, Aurora was a bit short to get the full effect of the movie, but it was still lots of fun.
On another day we hired the driver from our hotel to drive us around Bangkok, to see the sights. This was one of our more expensive days. We spent about $70 for the driver (Mr. Clean, as he prefers to be called) and admission costs. Most places were free for Aurora, and sometimes Noah too. Overall, we were happy with this cost because chances are we would have only seen a couple of the sights had we taken the metro. The best part of hiring a driver was the valuable information he gave us and the reminder that we should not buy anything because, “it too much”.
Our day started by seeing the flower market and driving through Chinatown and making our way past the Palace of the King, the Golden Mount and around the touristy areas of Bangkok. Most of our stops were important Thai Wats (temples).
Wat Pho is the oldest and largest temple in Bangkok. This temple houses the reclining Buddha, that is 150 feet long. Seeing the reclining Buddha was definitely a highlight of our day.
Long boat canal ride. Although we weren’t planning on doing this, I am so glad we did. Since boating is cheap it remains one of Thai people’s main form of transportation, so it comes as no surprise that Bangkok is made up of many small canals made up of water streets. The hour long boat ride gave us a closer look at how many Thai people of Bangkok live. Most of the houses are on stills, often in great disrepair and most had a small plastic boat or some other small type of boat tied to a stake. Kids were swimming in the murky waters playing on pipes that I am sure carried sewage. People were going about their daily tasks such as cooking, cleaning and hanging clothes out to dry.
It was a somber look at life on the canals. There was little talk in the car when we returned as we were all in our own thoughts. I know Aurora was thinking about the dog that was floating, dead in the water.
Wat Arun is a colorful temple with beautiful ceramic details. We were told that much of the ceramic/porcelain decorations on the prangs were made possible by donations from local families. Chinese Guards guard the entrances to the terrace. This was probably my favorite Wat; it was so colorful and pretty. Loved the Chinese Guards and the detail on the prangs.
By the time we got to Wat Benchamabopht (the White Marble Temple) we had been wat’ed out. We were tired, hot and the Wats all started looking the same. Similar to our visits to other Wats, we took our shoes off, entered the wat, walked around and left. Honestly, at this point we were more interested in sitting quietly, watching the people walk by us as we ate our ice cream cone in the shade.
We were happy with our tour of Bangkok, but were also happy to return to the hotel, to jump in the pool and cool off.
On our last day we took a taxi to the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kareo. Noah and I had to rent cloths to cover ourselves a little more. I would have thought Aurora would have had to as well, but I guess they thought she was still so young that it was not a concern. Noah got beige pants and I got a skirt, which was heavy and hot.
The Grand Palace was the former home of the previous monarchy. Some of the buildings are now used for government offices. The palace grounds are huge, including many halls (some are still used today), pavilions and gardens.
Wat Phra Kaeo contains the Emerald Buddha, one of Thailand’s most sacred Buddha statues. I have to admit, I was expecting a larger Buddha than the small jade Buddha sitting high above the golden alter. Like in most Wats, photography was not permitted so we did not get any pictures showing just how small the Emerald Buddha was on top of the huge golden alter. The altar almost took away from the Buddha. We enjoyed our time wandering around the Grand Palace at our own pace, stopping to admire the buildings and white elephants statues.
This wraps up our time in Bangkok. Off to Ayutthaya next.
A few more sights around Bangkok. This shows you that we don’t remember what Wat is what. We do know that they were all beautiful and we enjoyed comparing the Buddha’s jestures.