Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Exploring Bangkok


When we awoke on a quiet New Years Day we were excited to not feel jet lagged anymore and energized to explore the city. We headed out to take the river ferry up and down the river Chao Phraya which runs through Bangkok. The town has set up ferries you can ride for about 50 cents US Dollars and you get a nice ride along the river. Of course their are entrepreneurs right next to the ferry trying to get more money from you for a private ride which could be a nice option too but we enjoy using public transportation. The ferry boats aren't anything fancy but I thought the hotel ferries were pretty cute. Here's a picture of one (from the Hilton I think). 
Riding along the river was a nice way to escape the heat since you get a good breeze off the water. But also, I was fascinated with the super fancy five star hotels right next to slums. It was quite a sight. I kept thinking about how in the US waterfront property is the most expensive. This must not be the case in Thailand since a lot of the riverfront is slums. Regardless, it was still a really nice ride!
When we exited the ferry we found ourselves in a market where we admired all of the yummy food but didn't purchase anything quite yet. It all looked great but we weren't quite ready to make the plunge. What can I say, we are spoiled Americans!
Next we did a walking tour of 'downtown' Bangkok. Bangkok is massive but luckily most of the things tourists want to see are in one area. Unluckily, that area is of course full of tourists and people catering to tourists so it can be a bit of a zoo. Of course their are tuk tuks everywhere, but I think it's fun to spot the tuk tuks!
I most of all enjoyed taking in the Siam culture, like this giant sculpture in the main round about with fancy pink elephants! 
Wat Rakhang (wat means temple in Thai) was also in the area and it's very beautiful and I enjoyed spotting it as we walked around. The temple was built during the Ayutthaya period (from 1350 to 1767) and rests nicely along the waterfront.
Later that evening we went to a Muay Thai boxing match. I'm not big on fighting and the such but we had heard these are fun and Dale really wanted to see it. So, off we went. The fighters all looked really young and I felt pain just watching them beat on each other. They kick and punch and knock each other around much more than is legal in the USA.  

When we were buying tickets to the match they wouldn't not sell us foreigners tickets to the 2nd or 3rd class seating areas. They said this was because things can get quite rowdy and a lot of gambling goes down. Maybe our match didn't have very popular people or something but it did not seem like 2nd or 3rd class were out of hand at all, in fact they weren't even that full. But of course, as foreigners we were only allowed to buy 1st class seats rink side. These tickets were many more times what the locals were paying but I guess that is part of being a tourist. The plus is we were rink side so we got to see every punch and kick very well! Even though we were 'only allowed' to buy the expensive tickets, I still think it was a fun and unique experience so I'm glad we went! Here's a picture of Dale in front of the boxing stadium in Bangkok.
Afterwards I guess we were feeling a little brave from all that fighting because we finally tried the street food. Here's Dale a little timid before the meal.
 We opted for some sort of noodles and broth with vegetables and chicken. At least, that's what we could best decipher it to be. And it was delicious! Probably one of the top meals of the trip! Here's a look at the 'restaurant' where we bought and ate, a street food cart with plastic tables and chairs in the middle of the street. Love it! Love it! Love it!
Love Always,

Thursday, February 2, 2012

New Years Eve Bangkok


I'm back in the home of the free, land of the brave. It took me a bit to get rid of the jet lag and adjust back to USA life but I'm finally feeling like blogging again so here begins the story of Thailand!

Dale and I were lucky enough to redeem miles for our trip to Thailand and even doing that we managed to get a direct flight to Bangkok from Stockholm. This meant a 6 am landing in Bangkok, but we were even luckier and our hotel let us check in that early and we took a quick nap before heading out to explore Bangkok. First stop was Lumphini Park, a nice big park in the middle of Bangkok where we took a nice walk and saw the King Rama VI statue.
And we sat and watched the monitor lizards swim in the water and crawl onto land. They are pretty cool but the girlie girl in me was a bit creeped out by them.
As we were leaving the park I spotted this beautiful tree and I just had to snap a picture of it. I'm not certain why this tree is decorated but I just loved all the bright colors and 'fanta offerings' at the base!
Next we hopped in a tuk tuk to go back towards our hotel but alas we fell victim to the age old scam of being driven where the driver wanted to go, not where we asked. The good news is, we were taken to a tailor and we were hesitant at first since the tuk tuk had taken us there. But everything in the shop seemed legit. We got to see the fabric, see where the suits were being made, all the stops. So, despite our tuk tuk hesitance, Dale took the leap and ordered not one but two tailored suits. We left the store not confident he would ever receive the suits which we were supposed to pick up on our way out of Bangkok three weeks later. At the very worst, we figured we would have a good story! You'll have to tune in later to see what happened when we returned to the shop to pick up the suits! Now the tuk tuk driver was satisfied and returned us to our hotel. Bangkok puts on a big firework show for New Years but we were already feeling jet lagged and overwhelmed processing all things Bangkok/Thai. So, we opted to celebrate New Years in our hotel neighborhood of Sukhumvit Soi 11. Here's a picture of the neighborhood.
And another view from the subway ramp looking down at all the electrical wires. It's amazing how much the city changes so drastically from one block to another. Sometimes not even in a block! Bangkok has these ridiculously big high end shopping malls that are super fancy and then right outside it's slums. Incredible. But anyway, I digress. All of the wires everywhere fascinated and scared me. As you walk around you can literally hear the buzzing of the wires. Not sure that's so safe.
While walking around the neighborhood we also saw men with caged birds which were for sale for immediate release. I believe they do this to make a wish but I'm not certain. We watched one lady buy and release. I'm skeptical they are trained to fly right back for capture and release again but we didn't see the birds hang around so who knows.
We did find (no shortage of) bars on the street. Literally, cars parked on the street and put tables and chairs out front and served you drinks or, like in the picture below, they became the bar. Dale and I were highly amused by this (which would never be legal in the land of the free) and sat down for a drink. We almost immediately made friends with a British couple living in Bangkok who loved the VW bus bar almost as much as us and we ended up staying there for a while chatting with them. 
We finished the night watching the fireworks from a distance and headed home for some much needed sleep. And that concludes day one of our Thailand adventure. I hope to blog soon with more of the trip!
Love Always,