I have my Bangkok pictures online. Here are the links to the full collections and a few representative shots as well.
Day 1: Night time arrival on Khao San Road
the chaos of vendors, tourists and locals
Day 2: Golden Buddha, Gold Mount and various wats
the Golden Buddha (see the picture on the right for size contrast)
Gold Mount, first the bells on the walk up and view from the roof
yours truly on top of Gold Mount and the canal near by
Day 3: The Grand Palace (Wat Phra Kaew)
beautiful skies and beautiful artwork and buildings
Lastly, while we were there the celebration of the King’s Jubilee was about a week away so the colors and celebration were in full swing. People everywhere were wearing yellow shirts and signs and pictures of the King were plastered through the city.
people in yellow shirts, portraits of the King, and the party booths in the Royal park
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.
I made it to Bangkok last night and met up with Matt at the Buddy Lodge on Khaosan Road. This area is a mad house. It’s a pedestrian street filled with guest houses, resturants, clubs, bars teeming with both locals and backpackers. It reminds me a lot of Pham Ngu Lao from Saigon. Overall impression of Bangkok is very positive. It lacks the colonial charm of Saigon but has a vibrant feel of its own.
Last night we had dinner (the best pad thai I’ve ever had) and then started on a bar crawl of the area. We ended up at a couple places where we were the only non-Thais there, which was pretty cool but we ended up the night at a place that had dancing plus a good mix of people from all backgrounds. Oddly enough, the bars close almos exactly at 1:00am, which is part of the crackdown they’ve had on the nightlife in Bangkok over the last few years. We ended up hanging out on the street talking to some locals we’d met in the bar until 4 or so in the morning. While hanging out on the street we saw plenty of “ladyboys” (as the locals told us they’re called) that had I not been warned what to look for could have easily passed for a women. It’s hard to believe.
After not sleeping much at all, we got breakfast from a cafe on Kahosan Road and hired a tuk-tuk driver to take us to a couple of sites. Here in Bangkok, a tuk-tuk most resembles a auto-ricksha from India rather than the tuk-tuks that I saw in Vietnam and Cambodia. For 30 bhat each our driver took us around for about 3 hours all across various temples and palaces. Matt didn’t have long pants on so we were denied admission to a couple of the more famous wats (temples), which we’re going to try for tomorrow. I don’t recall exactly what things we saw, but off the top of my head we saw the Golden Buddha, the temple that’s on top of a very big hill, the Democracy Monument, a Vishnu Mandir, and a couple of smaller wats.
We made it back to Khaosan Road around 3pm and had lunch. I took off to get a Thai massage. And before you let your mind go in to the gutter, it was a proper professional massage which was quie a bit better than any I’ve had in China. The Thai really do have it down to a science.
I’m heading back to Shanghai tomorrow evening, but not until 6pm so we’ll be seeing a bunch of the other Bangkok sights tomorrow as well and we’re planning on going out a club tonight as well.