Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Day 2 in Bangkok - our day as tourists

We crammed a lot in to today, so forgive the long blog post.

Stop one was the flower markets, going past … a squirrel!

Or a squirrel-like creature.

The flower markets stretched out over many blocks, all of them crowded over with stalls selling piles of marigolds, orchids, roses and ferns. I tried my best at hip photography but didn't do so great.

To be honest, I probably didn't have to be all sneaky with my photos, but it was day 1 and I was nervous and I didn't want any scary Thai ladies to yell at me about taking photos.

After the markets we got culture and headed for Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn, a beautiful Buddhist temple dating from the early 19th Century.

We noticed yesterday and again today going in to Wat Arun that though outside is all noise and car horns and people, people, people, as soon as one steps inside a temple complex, the walls act as a mystical buffer between you and the outside world; the noises ceases and everything is peaceful and calm. It's a wonderful relief for the weary traveller.

Arriving at Wat Arun bright and early we had the pleasure of being some of the only tourists in the complex, always a pleasure when you can walk around freely and get a sense of space. The main temple is a central spire or 'prang' which one can climb but not enter. We only got halfway up – the rest of the stairs looked rather too vertiginous for me. Still, even from the mid-way point the view out over the river and around Bangkok was gorgeous.

Photo courtesy of Jane.

There were even some monks!

We left around 10 o'clock and paid the princely sum of 3THB each to cross the river on a rickety ferry to Wat Pho, or the Reclining Buddha Temple. One of the oldest and largest temple complexes in Bangkok, Wat Pho is supposedly the home of Thai massage and to this day is a working temple complex and houses a school for traditional medicine and massage. However, people flock here to see the reclining Buddha itself, a 46m long golden statue representing Buddha as he ascends to Nirvana. Which accounts for the smug expression on his face.

Buddha looked smug and happy, not the guy in front. Though he looks pretty chuffed too.

Aside from the House of the Buddha, the complex itself is extensive with a number of smaller temples and all of it gorgeously decorative, covered in tiles and with teams of Buddhas lining the passageways.

A mighty familiar-looking parrot. Part of the intricate tile decorations at Wat Pho.

The top of one of the many towers or 'prangs'.

Once we'd finished at Wat Pho, our next intended stop was the Jade Buddha Temple. However the queue to get in was just too much to cope with, what with the annoying tourists and al, so instead we settled on a quite afternoon break in our hostel with beers.

Later in the afternoon we went out to the Jatujuk Weekend Markets, apparently the largest outdoor markets in South East Asia, which is a pretty big claim. But they were indeed vast. Or rather, I imagine they were vast. We were so scared we'd get lost that we decided to stick to one very small area, constantly checking on ourselves that we knew where the road was so we wouldn't get trapped in a Bangkok-market-labyrinth and emerge in two days with strange tattoos, ugly patterned and highly flammable skirts and with strange stories of what happens when it all falls quiet. So we stuck to souvenirs and clothing. I was on the look out for a new bag – my current one was quite literally falling apart – and Jane needed new shoes. Only one of us succeeded, and Jane was super excited about her new comfortable thongs. I bought an umbrella. It's blue.

Bangkok at dusk.

To round out a long and very full day, we headed to Rambuttri Road. Tucked behind Khao San Road, Rambuttri is the still touristy but plesant version of the same. At Jane's request, we dined at the Macaroni Club, enjoying stir fry and noodles while being waited on by a hostess in a mini dress from The Nanny. We drank, we met a charming Belgian man, we forgot to ask his name and we went home.

Margarita on the left, Pina Colada on the right.

Puffer fish lights in the Macaroni Club.

Tomorrow: Saigon!

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