14 Nov 2005
After 26 odd hours of traveling we arrived in Bangkok and checked into the Rambuttri Village Hotel near the backpacker Mecca of Khao San Road. It is a sort of clean hotel with a decent pool on the roof top--not too bad for 480 Bhat ($11 Canadian) per night.
On our first morning we decided to just wander around. We ended up at the zoo where we saw some sad looking monkeys and beautiful vegetation. I especially love the wild orchids. What truly caught us by surprise was the "African Masai Boy Exhibit". You guessed it--They had "real live" African boys at the zoo!?! Good God. Not to sure how to comment on that one.
We also began our experience eating street vendor food; all in all-- not that bad. Brandon and I ate all three meals at street vendors at a grand total of 150 Bhat or approximately $5.00 Canadian. You do have to pick carefully, but we have hadsome better meals at vendors than restaurants.
Our first day in Bangkok also happened to be the Ly Krathong Festival. It took us a while to figure out what was going on and after asking many, many people we still hadn’t a clue. Our trusty guide book ended up having the best info. The festival is to honor water spirits and to celebrate the end of the rainy season. All around the city people were selling banana leaf baskets filled with different arrangements of flowers and candles. The idea is to place you wishes in dreams in the basket and send it off into the Choa Phraya river or Thonburi Canals.
Bandon’s height has proved to be a great conversation starter. People will try to measure themselves against Brandon, always coming somewhere below his chest. Thus far, every conversation we have had with a Thai person ends in them being very concerned we enjoy our stay in Thailand. One gentleman was so concerned we take part in the festivities of the Ly Krathong Festival he pulled over a tuk tuk driver and gave him a list of places to take us. He especially wanted me to go and pray at the Black Buddha, a shrine that during the festival is open only to women to pray for fertility. I didn’t end up going for a plethora of reasons including the time of day, my lack of appropriate clothing, Brandon was not allowed in and I’m not really interested in being extra fertile at the moment.
On our second day in Bangkok we made our way to the Grand Palace. The Palace grounds are huge though only a small portion are open the public. Foreigners pay a fee of 250 Bhat to enter. For an important monument, the construction of the buildings is unusual to me. To my Western eyes, some areas of the structures look like they were either shoddily constructed or poorly repaired. I really did love the bright metallic accents.
The Wat Phra Kaeo is the only original structure dating back to 1792. The Bot in the Wat houses a tiny emerald Buddha that is an important mystic icon to many Thai Buddhists. The costume of he Buddha is changed to coincide with the summer, winter and the rainy season. As our visit fell on the day after the end of the rainy season, the King or Crown Prince would be changing the Buddha’s garments that afternoon. While we wandered about the grounds workers were rolling out the red carpet— literally—for the King’s arrival. To illustrate the importance of this occasion there is hardly a shop, restaurant, cab or tuk tuk about Bangkok without a least one image of the Royal Family.
Locations Visited: Bangkok Metropolis