The worst thing about Bangkok, unequivocally, is the traffic. The second worst thing: lengthy traffic lights. For example, the other day, it took 20 minutes to get onto the elevated highway that is probably about 8 blocks from our hotel, but you can’t take a direct route. No, you can’t. Instead, you have to drive in a large U and encounter at least two stops in intersections. I haven’t actually timed the lights but I judge that it takes about 5 minutes sitting still for me to get to the for-the-love-of-gawd stage, then add another 2-3 minutes on top of that. Meanwhile, on the sidewalk, you could walk that distance in less time. Skytrain, by comparison, is ridiculously fast and luckily for us, there is a stop right outside our hotel. Sadly, it doesn’t go to most golf courses.
Geoff wrote about our golf day, Ria, not me. My score is not for public consumption. Not good.
Fun things, though! We took the ferry bus to see several more Buddhas. The Reclining Buddha is amazing, huge and installed in a tall building built around it. You can’t see the whole thing at once unless you stand at either end and look the length of the image.
The nicest face, I think, and the feet are inlaid with ornate mother-of-pearl decorations.
The grounds are lovely, filled with intricately decorated tombs, small gardens and many sculptures, including many little stone animals. Quite wonderful and not as overwhelming as the Grand Palace but right next door. Next we walked to Chinatown (and beat the traffic) to see the Golden Buddha. This one is 5.5 tons of solid gold and was created 700 years ago. To hide it from an invading enemy, at some point in time, it was covered in plaster and installed in the main temple building. The temple eventually went out of use and the Buddha was stored. It wasn’t until 1955, when it was being moved to another location, that the plaster was chipped (I can imagine the poor buggers who tried to pick it up!) and they realized what they had. Its current value is around $285 million. Quite impressive.
A fellow on the boat told us about a market experience worth having further along the river, so after a long walk, we found our way to the ferry pier and jumped aboard. I love these boats and could ride half the day–so much to see with people watching, homes on stilts next to highrise hotels, river traffic and of course the loading and unloading process which in itself is worth the price of the ticket, which is virtually nothing. This market took us to a seedier, older part of town and the market was only just getting underway, so it was not very interesting. A quick turn around several blocks then back on the boat and home. (Ed. note: This guy really pissed me off. We are standing on the ferry, right where he is. He gets on, moves in, shoves me out of the way and wraps his arm around the post. So much for peaceful Buddhist monks!)
We had to buy another suitcase for the additional 18 pieces of clothing we bought, plus T-shirts and souvenirs, and golf shoes. Had another fabulous meal for $11 with beer at our new favorite pavement restaurant, two blocks from our hotel at the corner of Slilom and Thanon Charoen Krung. If you are in the area and are hungry between the hours of 6:30pm and 3:30 am (not a typo) you must eat here. It is fabulous. Now we are getting packed up and ready for the next leg of our journey–Chiang Mai.
(Ed. note: Typical conversation here and in China: Them – “Where are you from?” Us – “Canada” Them – “Toronto? Montreal?” Us – “No, Vancouver.” Them – “Oh, Vancouver”. One more of these and I may have to kill someone!)