Thailand - Day Twelve

Today we are set up for a day of palaces and temples. We’ve booked a tour to take us around the Grand Palace which was very good as our tour guide was able to explain a lot about the history which we would have missed had we come here on our own. We were taken to the palace by mini bus during rush hour so the guide had a lot of time to tell us about the history of Thailand and Bangkok, this was sort of interesting but we have to admit that half the time we weren’t really sure what he was talking about. At one point he started to explain where the name Bangkok came from but all we could here was him repeating the words Bang and Kok a lot and mixed up with various other words. He then blamed the traffic jams on women doing their makeup then started laughing at his own jokes. Once we got to the palace though he calmed down and really did know his stuff.

We spent a couple of hours walking around, looking inside the many different temples and admiring the architecture but we couldn’t have chosen a worse day to forget to apply suncream.

Even though we were mostly covered up since we were going to be in and out of temples all day it wasn’t enough.

Al spotted the tour guide was wearing an IBM lanyard with all the different software group brands on, just goes to show you never can completely forget about work. I told him we worked for WebSphere which was one of the brands and he explained that his daughter works for IBM Thailand and she had given it to him. If I remember correctly his daughter worked for Tivoli.

Next temple on the list was Wat Pho, otherwise known as the temple of the reclining buddha.

This was another example of a stunning temple and the complex is huge, much more than just the reclining buddha to see.

We also got the 108 mini coins and dropped them into the buckets inside the temple. 108 refers to the 108 positive actions and symbols that helped lead buddha to perfection and so putting a coin in each bucket is supposed to bring you good luck.

We actually enjoyed this temple more than the grand palace, it was practically empty and in some areas we seemed to have the place to ourselves.

Third temple was Wat Arun which was across the river, we had to get on a small boat which cost around 5p to cross.

This is one of the very few temples where they encourage you to actually climb up it and it is crazy steep but there are some lovely views from the top so it is well worth it for the slight worry as you climb up that one wrong step and its game over.

We spent some time looking around the temple and we finally got the chance to hit the large gong as well which I’d been wanting to do for ages.

Our plan was then to get a nice boat ride down to Chinatown but other than the boat to take us back where we had come from we couldn’t see anything else so we headed back over and decide to eat in a nearby cafe since we were quite hungry at this point and all the taxi drivers refused to put on the meter to take us to Chinatown and wanted a hefty fee so we thought we’d walk over instead.

The walk wasn’t too bad, probably about 35 minutes although not the best for someone who is already burning from the sun. Before our final temple of the day we take a break and go into Chinatown. I have no idea how big this place is but I’m sure we only scratched the surface and you could spend an entire day getting lost here. We saw all kinds of sweets being made in a local shopping mall then ended up walking through the electronics section which I can’t imagine anyone buys much from, it certainly wasn’t very touristy and with maybe 30 shops along one street all selling the same things I don’t know how they stay in business.

Even though the damage was done by this point we stopped and bought a pashmina for my badly burnt neck before winding down row after row of random stalls. Every time we saw daylight we’d keep checking the sat nav to make sure we were heading in the direction of the temple.

We finally reached Wat Traimit, this temple doesn’t get much coverage in the tour books but it contains the largest gold statue in the world so is worth it just for that claim to fame. There isn’t actually much else around the area and the complex compared to the others is small but since its near Chinatown which was really interesting I’d definitely recommend people visit it.

We were pretty exhausted having spent most of the day walking in the heat so luckily we weren’t far from the sky train but before heading home we stopped off at a tailor we’d seen recommended on trip advisor to get Al measured up for a couple of shirts. Ideally we’d have got a jacket made as well but at £400 we were just going to stick to the shirts.

When we finally got back to the hotel we couldn’t face going out again so decided to try the in house restaurant. They also had a nice lounge bar serving cocktails so it would have been rude not to try them. The food was rather nice and the drinks pretty reasonable, after our starters a man sat down at the table next to us and offered to take a picture of the two of us asking if this was our honeymoon.

Before even letting us reply (so for all he knows yes we are on honeymoon) he starts telling us everything that is wrong with Thailand and England and how South Africa is the most amazing place ever. Our main meals arrive and we thought this would be a good point where we could break the conversation but no he just kept going, complaining that people don’t speak English (erm well we’ve not had a problem and even if we did we aren’t in an English speaking country). Next he goes on to tell us that he can’t even get a decent bottle of wine, that’s ok we say we don’t drink wine, but I don’t think he heard and he just kept going on and on. Turns out we are both going on the trip to Ayatthaya tomorrow but his is starting much earlier than ours which is good news as we don’t really want to be stuck on a long bus journey with our new friend, who by the way tells us all the things we can’t wear on our trip tomorrow. I’m sure he’s just trying to be helpful but he clearly doesn’t know I’ve done all my planning and I know exactly what I can wear and its not what he is saying, which I try telling him politely but he just carries on regardless. We decide to skip another drink in the bar and escape the strange, slightly racist man.