Sunday, October 25, 2009
The final stop on our trip was Bangkok. I had one day to see as much as I could see, and I think I made damn fine work of it. I've always been interested in the Thai culture, and I absolutely LOVE Thai food, so for me this was a great way to end the holiday.
We were accosted at the airport by a gentleman from the Great Bangkok Travel Co. For a nominal fee he arranged a car to take us to our hotel, plus one to pick us up and bring us back in a few days. For 500 Thai baht (or approximately AUD$16) he also booked me on a tour of the Grand Palace and Emerald Buddha temple, with a personal guide, car, and driver the next day.
This place was beautiful. I won't bore you with the tons of pictures I took, but this one is just as you enter the gates to the Grand Palace gardens. The architecture and history of the place is amazing.
I snapped this picture, then noticed something. You can't see it in this one, but near the gazebo on the right-hand side two young slim guards were having a chat, while third, rather portly guard, had a snooze under the gazebo. I can't really blame him - it was so hot, it just sapped your energy!
The temple of the Emerald Buddha is beautiful. I recommend, if you decide to go on these tours, to wear shoes that are incredible comfortable to walk in, and easy to slip on and off, as you have to remove your shoes before entering these temples. Also, in the case of this one, you can take as many pictures from outside as you like, but pictures are strictly forbidden inside the temple. It's a shame - it was beautiful. Every surface inside either gleams with gold or gems, or is covered in murals. Gorgeous.
The rest of the tour was taken up with a trip to a jewellery store, and a stop at a tailor's... I resisted the jewellery, but had to submit at the tailor: I got fitted for a 3-piece suit in charcoal cashmere. That was at about noon. At 5.30pm a car arrived at the hotel to take me back to the tailor to get a final fitting, and the finished garment was delivered to the hotel by 11am the next morning. All for $300. I figure I'm doing my bit to help the Bangkok economy along.
The guide I had for this first tour was brilliant - her english was pretty damn good, she was very knowledgeable, and she had a wicked sense of humour. I've misplaced her card at the moment, but when I find it I'll be sure to post it - I had a blast.
Our accommodation package at the hotel included a tour, which I made use of to go on the Temple and City Tour. Part of the tour included the reclining buddha, all 46m length and 15m height of him.
Instead of the marble temple, which was apparently overrun with tourists (sheesh, bloody tourists.... hehe), we ended up at the standing buddha. While I'd been looking forward to the marble temple, this was still an impressive feat - all 30+m of him.
Similarly this tour also ended at a jewellers. I think the jewellers didn't like me - I didn't spend a cent at them. Well, at the second one I bought a few other bits and pieces, like some silk scarves and things... but yeah, they go no significant dosh out of me.
Considering I had one day to sight see, I think I did well to see as much as I did in Bangkok. That being said, there's still so much more, and so much authentic food, that I want to try. Next time!