Day 03 - Saturday, Oct 25, 2003

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- Bangkok -

11:16 AM 11:19 AM

More Bangkok Pictures

- Grand Palace -

11:26 AM 11:30 AM 11:30 AM 11:35 AM 11:46 AM 11:50 AM 11:51 AM
11:52 AM 11:54 AM 11:54 AM 11:56 AM 12:01 PM Model of Angkor Wat 12:13 PM
12:14 PM Buddah Covered with Gold Leaf 12:39 PM 12:51 PM 1:00 PM 1:02 PM 1:11 PM
1:13 PM

More Grand Palace Pictures

- Wat Pho -

2:11 PM 2:11 PM 2:12 PM 2:16 PM 2:16 PM 2:18 PM 2:18 PM
2:22 PM 2:29 PM 2:30 PM 2:31 PM 2:48 PM 2:53 PM
2:56 PM 2:58 PM 3:00 PM

More Wat Pho Pictures

Up 8:15 (Dan could not sleep at all). Ruth lazing/bimbling on her own. Dan, Dodo and Claire had an American-style breakfast near the hotel, then took a taxi to the Grand Palace. It's quite a complex set of buildings, with large and small wats, and statuary ranging from delicate to enormous (and quite fanciful - from fierce demons and garudas to animals that look like they were designed by Maurice Sendak and top-hatted gents straight out of Lewis Carroll). It's customary to cover bare legs and shoulders in all the Buddhist temples (and remove one's shoes); at the Grand Palace there was also the more unusual stricture that no open shoes (bare toes) were allowed in the courtyard. Various tourists were borrowing sarongs to cover their shorts, and Dan had to put on socks with his sport sandals. It was a brutally hot day. We saw the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Wat Phra Keo, many whimsical statues and topiary gardens, and a miniature replica of Angkor Wat. We had a lovely pad thai (jai) lunch nearby, and visited Wat Pho with its giant golden reclining Buddha.
As our guidebook had predicted, when we were walking along the sidewalk outside the palace (going around the block to reach Wat Pho), a man approached us and tried to convince us that the palace was closed for a holiday. He was unpersuasive, as we'd just been there. (This ruse supposedly leads to an offer to show off the other sights of Bangkok, including whichever shops and bars give him a commission. We brushed him off and kept walking, developing our expertise at rejecting the offers of the endless tuk-tuk drivers who can't believe tourists would be walking by choice.)

- Chao Phraya River -

4:05 PM 4:12 PM 4:18 PM 4:46 PM Walking to Barge Museum Walking to Barge Museum Walking to Barge Museum
The Water Taxi
At the river, we waited on rocking docks as several water express buses stopped to pick up passengers going the other way; then we caught one going upstream, a scenic view of Bangkok from the river for about 15 cents. We were aiming for the Royal Barge Museum, but by the time we had oriented ourselves at the express stop, walked past the bus depot and under a highway, and followed the Barge Museum signs all through a mazelike series of tiny pedestrian streets, it was closed. The neighborhoods on that side of the river were totally unlike the rest of Bangkok: low corrugated-metal houses with open fronts, kids inside watching TV; sidewalks and canals weaving between the houses; dogs and chickens wandering the narrow walkways; tangled vines growing over the concrete walls.
Dusk at the closed Barge Museum - we stood awhile on the pier and watched a couple young men fishing, then a water taxi happened along and we waved. We asked him to take us to Kho San Road, because it was an easily recognizable destination and we hadn't been there yet.

More Chao Phraya River Pictures

- Kho San Road -

Kho San Road, back on the Bangkok side of the river, was also unlike anything else we'd seen in Bangkok. It was backpacker central, bustling with tourists, a double row of cheap guest houses and restaurants with an endless series of vendors' stalls in front selling jewelry and clothing and souvenirs. Everything had a seedy, headshop quality about it. We sat at a sidewalk bar and watched dreadlocked white kids staggering to and fro with their massive rucksacks.
Then back to the hotel without buying anything - it was all too overwhelming, and too many of the stalls had seemingly identical wares. Ruth was still out shopping, so we picked an Indian restaurant out of the guidebook and left her a note. The restaurant no longer existed, so we ended up in a different curry place a block away, peering out now and then in case Ruth was wandering the streets looking for us (she wasn't). We met up with her after dinner and had drinks together at the hotel. She'd taken the elevated train to various parts of town and had bought enough double-tied Thai trousers to keep her chic and safety-pinned for the whole trip.

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