Wat a Day in Bangkok

Last night we continued our search for night life between temples. We made our way over to a part of town that’s known for its go-go bars, shows and dance clubs (Patpong for those who’ve heard of it) since we’d heard there were good resturants in the area. Peppered between all the various sketchy establishments in the area, indeed there were some great looking resturants and cafes. We stopped in to one (turned out it was a British pub) and had dinner there and made our way to the mad-house scene on Silom Road, Patpong Soi 1 (I really don’t understand Thai street names). It’s funny: facing the resturant we had to the left a massage parlor and to the right a bunch of women catcalling in evening gowns, and none of this seemed out of place or abnormal given the surroundings. It was just that this way of doing business was the defacto, normal way of operating and the resturant was totally legit with families, locals and foreigners alike eating.

Back to Silom Road/Patpong Soi. The scene on the street puts Xiangyang Market in Shanghai to shame. In al corners were people hawking fake everything, from pens to jeans (7 For All Mankind, Replay, Rock & Republic) to watches (IWC to Vacherons) to DVDs of all selections (including lots that I havn’t been able to find in Shanghai) to music CDs (of course including all of the popular Western music). The street goes down for a while and the chaos is actually on the street since it’s totally pedestrian. On the side, where the shops are, are nice loungey bars as well as go-go bars and places to see “shows.” We ducked in to one of the proper bars that had outside seating on to the street and watched the madness over a drink. After some time there, we made our way back to Kosan Road and ended the night at the same bar (Gullivers Travlers Tavern) we landed at on Friday.

In the morning and thru today it was a day full of the Wats we didn’t see yesterday. We ended up walking quite a bit even though it’s been by far our hottest day here and made it to the Royal Palace. It was just stunning. Beautiful guilded temples, in greens, reds and mirrors everywhere. The gold leafing and the frescos in the walkways were breathtaking. It was one of the most beautiful and inspiring Royal grounds I’ve ever been on in a very different way than anything European. The iconography and art was so unique yet so simular in style from things I know from India and have seen throughout southeast Asia. Of course in the palace complex we saw the Emerald Buddha and walked through. We were lucky since it was one of the few days of the year (??) that Sunday services are held in the hall of the Emerald Buddha so we got to witness people chanting and praying in the chamber.

After touring the temples and the residence we had some refreshments in a cafe on the grounds then made our way back since we’re both heading out soon. I have to leave for the airport in 30 minutes and Matt is heading via overnight train to Koh Somoi (sic) in 2 hours. I did some shopping for gifts and I’m about to leave.

Bangkok is quite a city and I wish I could continue and see the rest of Thailand while I’m down here but alas work calls for tomorrow. The Thai people are very hospitable and there’s so much that I didn’t see even in Bangkok. The temples were at a different level of ornate than anything I’ve seen before and so well kept. I can only imagine what the other parts of the country are like, but that will have to be saved for another day.