Tuesday, July 29

Bangkok, Thailand

(see map) - mike: The glaciers of Patagonia and walled cities of Croatia have been replaced by the Wats (temples) of Thailand. On our first day we ran a watathon to see four of Bangkok's 300+. There is so much eye candy at these places it was hard to decide where to point the camera.

Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) at the Grand Palace:

Wat Pho's Reclining Buddha (half a football field long):

Across the river at Wat Aron.

Wat Benchamabophit:

The Thai people love their king. His picture is everywhere (the queen's as well to a lesser extent). The sides of buildings, calendars, inside most restaurants and businesses. Plus, there are stores dedicated to selling royal family paraphernalia. Including life size cardboard cutouts of the king and queen. We've been told the family's role is similar to that of Britain's.

We did fall head first into a notorious tourist trap, the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. Lonely planet suggests arriving early to appreciate it. I interprete early as being ten years ago. It was a gong show. We expected to see Thai people purchasing fruits and veggies from wooden canoes with some tourist watching intently from the sideline. In reality it was a traffic jam of tourist loaded canoes crashing into one another trying to buy souvenirs. We had our camera ready for the occasional fruit and chicken satay boat.

No horses or ox here, the beast of burden is the elephant. Carrying royalty and timber is a thing of the past so they've been retooled for tourism. Once over the fear of falling off, I enjoyed the ride. Trin felt bad for him(her?). Turns out elephant riding is hotly debated due to on how cruelly (some say) the elephants are treated while being trained for the job.

One night we checked out Bangkok's Chinatown, the liveliest one we've visited thus far. The restaurants and food stalls spill out on the sidewalks. A majority of the them advertise bird's nest and shark fin soup. There was even one shop with a jar full of dried sea horses. I was feeling tough and ordered Tom Yum Goong soup "medium spicy." Six slurps later I was sweating profusely. Trin said I managed to look pale and red at the same time.


scang111 said...

I had Pad Thai for lunch today. Where are you guys now? Shaun and I are making the big move this Saturday.

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