Travel/Work Thailand: Weekend in Bangkok Day 1

*extremely picture-heavy post

On my last few days in Thailand, Mon arrived on an AirAsia flight to spend the weekend in Bangkok. We did not bother transferring to a new place as we got a good rate from the hotel. *winks* However, it was only a breakfast for one person, so we had to eat outside.

Our morning started early, based on the research we did the night before on how to reach the temple complex. We took the BTS until the last station of Saphan Taksin, where we found a long queue of people for the ferry.

By the second week that I arrived in Thailand, I felt really uncomfortable with my hair. I normally get a haircut once a week to trim the sides, but I could not muster the courage to go to a barber shop. I then had to brave the weather again, hoping not to suffer another near heat exhaustion.

Aboard the ferry from Saphan Taksin

It was a very delightful ride. The first thing that I have observed was how the waters, lookswise, of Chao Phraya were not too different from the Pasig River. However, I can see a couple of big fish occasionally swimming to the surface and I did not smell a hint of stinky odor. How I wish our Pasig River was as developed as this. It would have been an excellent alternative in braving the Metro Manila traffic.

Passing by Wat Arun

From the ferry ride, we were already able to see a couple of Bangkok tourist sites. To the left bank were Wat Arun (with scaffolding, apparently under renovation) and the Wat Kalayanamit.

When we arrived at the pier, there were already a lot of people in the area. Most of them were donning black or a somber color due to the king’s death. It was the official final day of the mourning period when we visited the temple complex and the area was extra-packed with Thai citizens, security detail and tourists. You can easily tell who the tourists are by the way they are dressed. I have seen a couple of Caucasian tourists wearing tank tops, shorts and sandals in the sea of people wearing black.

Another Chao Phraya River gem: Wat Kalayanamit

We managed to get these mourning pins handed to us by a couple of grade school students, which we attached to out shirt. But the pin was the icing on the cake, everywhere we turned, people were handing us bottles of water, bread, Yakult, and even a kilo of ‘lanzones’. One cannot help but marvel at this showing of solidarity.

But as the country was still mourning, we were not able to go inside. From the gate outside, I saw a large crowd had gathered inside. I would not want to stick out like a sore thumb with my white and blue polka dot shirt.

Somber Grand Palace with thousands of mourners inside

Musicians paying respect to the king

Would it be wrong to say that it was a feast to the senses? While I generally dislike crowded places, I could not help but feel fortunate that we were there at a time as significant in Thailand’s history. Of all weeks in the year that we were there, we had witnessed firsthand a celebration as grand of King Bhumibol’s life.

A mural of a young King Bhumibol showing his love of photography

Heavily secured Grand Palace

With our map on hand, we walked the perimeter of the Grand Palace to proceed to Wat Pho’s area. By this time, I was already sweating like a pig. I thought I was about to faint again. Fortunately, Mon was already with me, as we took turns carrying the bag of lanzones with us. (Gotta hang on to the free fruit!)

At Wat Pho, the atmosphere has shifted. It was as touristy as I expected to be, with large groups of guided tourists. I could not remember how much we had to pay to go inside, but it took me a moment before finally going inside where the Reclining Buddha was. As a student of ASEAN Studies, I was very busy taking photos that might come in handy for future school projects. LOL

About to enter Wat Pho

Ginormous is the correct word for this sculpture

Before going inside, we had to remove out footwear and put them inside plastic bags. There were not a lot of space to move that small area near the Reclining Buddha. But, of course, Mon and I had to take a photos before going to the other side.

I actually took more videos because of this travel video I had in mind. The photo before was a screencap of a video clip, which you can see to the right (desktop) or towards the end of the page (mobile). [The music used for the video was Spiller’s Groovejet, which features my beloved Sophie Ellis-Bextor! Incidentally, the music video was also shot in Bangkok, thus the inspiration.]

We did our best to have a photo with the Reclining Buddha

If you have a small camera (I have only been using this iPod Touch for all photos and videos during this trip), you can squeeze the lens in between the grills to take this unobstructed view of the Reclining Buddha.

Squeezed my iPod’s lens at the metal grill for this

When we had our share of photos and videos inside, we went outside to see more Buddha, statues and temples. Not a lot of photos outside as I was conserving my iPod’s memory for the important video project. LOL

Although I might be colorblind, but I was deeply in love with the photos taken by this iPod! Very compact and handy but did the job exceptionally.

Mightily looking up

Look at the details

After this, we had to go back to the pier to take another ferry to Wat Arun. I was afraid that it would rain while crossing the river, but fortunately, the raindrops did not fall not until we have reached the tallest spire.

The stairs leading up to that part was quite steep. I was torn between taking videos and holding my umbrella. The drizzle wasn’t for long, though, as it was only for around 10 minutes.

Rain about to fall at Wat Arun

People were doing their best to throw coins here

What I loved the most about the Wat Arun complex was the cats! There were a lot of stray cats, especially near the riverbank. We did not miss the chance petting them, while resting and enjoying the remaining minutes before crossing the river again.

You can also rent traditional Thai costumes for photos, but it was too costly for us.LOL There were a couple of tourists who tried wearing the headdresses. But, alas, I’d rather eat food than get our photos taken with that.

Haggardness!

Would have been perfect if not for the men in the middle

Waiting for the ferry going to the other side

When we got to the other side, there were stalls of food for sale near the market place. Given that I was already tired from all the walking of the day, not to mention the hair situation, I had to eat ice cream. Served inside an empty coconut, the ice cream also had coconut meat and chocolate syrup. Mon only took some spoonful before handing it over to me. =D

Get that coconut ice cream

Before sunset, I was thinking that maybe we could wait for Wat Arun to look like those travel photos. It was not easy to get a spot not without paying, so I ended up eating pad thai again.  ‘Any moment from now’, and so I thought but Wat Arun was still dark.

After an hour, and prolonging consumption of my food, nada. Wat Arun was not lit up. Time to scoot back to the hotel!

Dusk over Wat Arun

On the queue to the ferry back to Saphan Taksin, there was this American girl flirting with a French guy in front of us. I overheard her talking in her coy voice about how she took French back in high school. You know, the typical /zhe vood-raaay/ with the long vowels. When the line moved, I was hysterical when the couple next to us then spoke rapidly in French. They must be judging the girl all throughout those 15 minutes of her being cute.

The Love of Siam (Center… sorry we just had to do it! It was already there!)

After the accumulated grime of the day, we decided to first go back to Swissotel to shower and change clothes. I also thought of bringing Mon to this ‘dampa’ place a couple of minutes away from the hotel.

We did not have anything in mind for the evening after dinner, so while eating, I was looking online for a night market. A quick Google search pointed us to the Silom Night Market at Silom Road. We only went around to windowshop, as we had reserved the following day for Chatuchak.

Dinner at our favorite “dampa”

Going to Silom

Silom Night Market was, what’s the word, uneventful. Not unless you count the countless times we were offered to watch a ‘ping pong show’ by the clubs along the area.

So we got out of the market and walked for several minutes. We had no idea where we were headed. All I knew was I wanted something nice to drink. We eventually ended up near a Tom N Toms near the BTS station, and also ordered the same honey toast we enjoyed when in Seoul.

At Tom N Toms somewhere in Silom

Our favorite! (with a side of alcohol)

While resting, I finally managed to get wind of what exactly a ‘ping pong show’ was. Funny at first, but it was quite sad thinking about what it was. We also just got the news that Kylie Versoza won Miss International 2016, and watched videos of her during the competition.LOL

No coffee before bedtime (just sweets)

We went back to the hotel at around 10:30 PM. We still have one whole day remaining, which mostly involved what I hated doing the most: shopping.

bryologue

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