Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Bangkok- love it or hate it.

Thailand- the land of smiles, very true. Bangkok- the Venice of the East, yes to a certain extent. A city that I can't grasp my hands on. On one hand, it's a city full of buddhist influences- temples and small places of worship at every corner of the streets. On the other hand, it's one of the sleaziest city in the world- brothels, prostitutes, scammers. I never heard or saw any locals raise their voices the entire time we were there. But mind you, being a tourist in this city, don't be surprised when you're ripped off with a smile. Taxi drivers not using their meters tend to charge twice or thrice as much if you don't bargain. Check your bar bills, chances are you'll find extra charges of 100 or 200 baht more per item than what was printed on their menus. Better pay up as you are in their bar. Any activities you go on, if you don't bargain, it's most certain that you are paying twice as much as the guy next to you.

Ditched this (free hotel breakfast) for that of below (street food) for breakfast the first morning we arrived in Bangkok.
Clockwise from top- roasted pork leg with rice, Vietnamese spring rolls, banana and rice, coconut custard with rice, sweet rambutans, deep fried gizzards and pork with rice, plus very sweet pineapples. All these for less than 100 baht (roughly US$3.33).

              Grilled sour pork sausage for breakfast (10baht a stick)- an acquired taste for me.
                          The most tender pork blood and innards soup- bursting with flavors too.
Not sure what vegetable this was- similar to pumpkin leaves and tasted very good when added to the soup.
Took this tour boat for 40 baht per person one way to get to the Grand Palace and the Emerald Temple on the Chao Phraya river. This boat stops at all the piers leading to the tourist sights. It'd be cheaper if we took the Chao Phraya Express boats (between 15 to 30 baht pp depending on the distance, if I remember correctly). Didn't see their ticketing booth until after we bought the tickets for the tour boat. Oh, well.
On the way back, we took a long boat ride which costed 100 baht pp (total was 500 baht for the 5 of us). Not recommended as it's dangerous. For unexplained reasons, we were told to change boats in the middle of the river with speeding boat traffic around us. Imagine both boats swaying side to side and us trying to climb into the other boat. No life jackets in sight, either. Waves from the other speeding boats could have sent any one of us overboard. Not worth it.

                           The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew (Emerald Temple) grounds.

The Emerald Buddha in gold summer attire- the buddha is clothed according to summer, rainy or cool season attires. We were asked to take off our shoes and hats before entering the temple. No photography was allowed out of respect for the buddha and the temple itself.
Mesmerized by these glittery mosaic tile in bronze patterns on the exterior walls of the temple. Could stare at the patterns for hours if not for the hordes of tourists looming nearby.
The wall of garudas- half man, half bird like- a symbol of Thai sovereignty.
Beautiful palace ground, just too crowded.

The library at the palace- amazing architecture but difficult to take a photo without somebody else's head  sticking out in it.
The Wat Arun at night- picture taken from the Grand Palace's side of the Chao Phraya river. Glad that we went to see the Wat Arun in its tranquil, glowing beauty. With the crowds gone, we had the whole place to ourselves. Of course, the temple itself was closed. Enjoyed the calming effect very much. Costed 2 baht per person for the ferry crossing.
An alley behind the Wat Arun- a different world from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok.  Quiet and peaceful. As soon as we hit the main road to hail down a taxi, the tranquility disappeared instantly.
China town- bird nest soup vendor (100 to 300 baht per bowl). Initially, wanted to see the night market and try its street foods but one of us was not up to it. The foods looked very tempting and must be good, too- judging from the crowds seated in plastic stools enjoying their goodies.
The famous Thai durians- ate a lot of these in Phuket. Prefer the smaller ones. Pungent and sweet. Didn't buy these as the prices were expensive. Bought whole ones off the markets in Phuket for 40 baht each. 

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