Today we decided to skip the included tour to the floating market and instead spent the day on our own. After another wonderful breakfast in the hotel, we went walking to Lumpini Park. Crossing streets in Bangkok is rather terrifying but once in the park it was tranquil and lovely. We ran into some fellow travelers and took photos of the kodo dragon lizards under the bridges along the canals.
We walked from the park to Siloam Road and boarded the sky train to ride to all four end points. It was a fascinating trip and a great way to get a view of the city and how really big it is. The train was clean, quiet, and fast, and the people were very polite (of course!) and not loud or pushy. The girls were modestly dressed and sat properly, in their working high heels and proper skirts and blouses.
Home in the afternoon for a rest and a swim in the pool. There were a lot of people around but it was still nice.
Dinner at the hotel in the coffee shop was the International Buffet and one more time I had all sorts of amazing things. Best was the pumpkin-crab fritter with some kind of sweet sauce and the veggie springrolls. After dinner we went to the Internet café to wrote a long letter and then home to bed. I'll include the letter here since it talks about about the "feeling" of Thailand for me.
I am in Bangkok tonight, and after five days am ready to head for the mountains. It has been amazing, of course, but did you expect any differently? Tonight it is hot, it is always hot, but in that great way that tropical places are hot, with all the smells and humidity that go with it. This place, Planet Out Internet Cafe, is right on the main red light district in this part of the world, and it is safe and crazy, in spite of the wretched trade that goes on here. It's a tourist thing at the moment, and if you don't pay attention, you may not have a clue what it actually is. There are night stalls full of "stuff", but all hasn't been just these two streets in Bangkok, where our hotel is nearby. Today I thought of you Jeanne, and you Stacy, because I had food that I hadn't a clue what it was, in a really nice streetside restaurant that served vegan food and "smoothies". I had mango spring rolls and a mango and "jelly" smoothie, at least that's what I thought I was getting, but it had all sorts of crazy lumps in it and flavors I couldn't begin t figure out. Fun. and really really good! Yesterday I had papaya salad, and I suppose anyone who has been to a lot of Thai restaurants would know what that is, but I didn't. It was incredible as well.
Food has been wonderful here, a real adventure. Even the flight wasn't as bad as I imagined it might be, with 12 hours to Tokyo and then another 8 hours to bangkok after waiting around a tokyo for a bit. The plane was an airbus 330 with actual leg room and best of all, video solitaire at your seat. I played till my eyes bugged out. so much for knitting! Arriving in bangkok after midnight on very early Wednesday am and we started right in on Wednesday looking at temples. Ok. so maybe I'm just a provincial wuss from the western side of the US, but I was bedazzled. melody? you want to talk about racoon? you have never, and I mean NEVER seen such sparkles in your life. The prangs and chidras all go up, way up, and they are all covered in gold and jewels and mosaics and mirrors in ways that make them sparkle in the sunlight as if they were lit up electronically. It's a wonder to watch. The Grand Palace was the most amazing, I guess, and the Buddhas. The reclining Buddha is 150 feet long and 50 feet high and all gold, and the golden buddha is made of 5.5 tons of gold.
There is so much food here as well. As usual for these kinds of tours, we went to the market. I guess it's a given when you are traveling to go to the market, but I certainly can see why. Imagine bushel baskets of cilantro, and buckets of ginger and huge bags of garlic and hot peppers in big bins and on and on. the smells were incredible. and jasmine. Jasmine chains that I thought were bracelets and I bought one for 30 cents or something and found out later that they are actually offerings for the Buddhas.
Best part so far was actually a really touristy thing, the evening boat ride on the Chang Praya river on some kind of open boat with tables and candles. We floated down the river past the temples and then all those mirrors really DID look like Christmas lights. We ate things that had no names, and I really loved the curry that was all limey and coconutty and hot. Poor Mo isn't so sure about that stuff, but she's doing great and enjoying the food as well. As we floated down the river, the moon came out over the Wat Arun, a major temple along the river. the moon was partially covered by clouds and looked as though a dragon was eating it. I don't think I have ever been quite so enthralled as I was at that moment. Mo said, gee, it feels like were on a Disneyland ride or something, only out of the imagination could come such really magical stuff.
There are lots more things, lots of amazing sights, but we are now heading for dinner. Tonight will be simple, dining in at the hotel, and then up early in the morning for the buffet breakfast which is actually wonderful. I am addicted to Thai pancakes and Thai fruit. oh my gosh, the fruit!!!! the watermelon is dense and red and always sweet and dark. The pineapple is so sweet and fresh, and then of course there are all the others with names I can't remember, and dragonfruit and mango and who knows what else. and sticky rice and hot chili oil and Thai omelletes with more rice and hot chilis. gee I am talking about food again. guess you can see that I am not worrying much about my diet. LOL where was I.
oh yes, back to Lumpini park. today we walked there, and believe me, walking in Bangkok is a major undertaking. Getting across the streets is on the same level and Jeanne's kayak stories!! But in Lumpini park things were tranquil, a huge oasis in the midst of the frenetic city, and we got pictures of huge kodo dragon lizards lying around in the water under the bridges. Later we boarded the skytrain for riding all over the city. It was a big surprise, since our hotel is in one section, and we have been driven around by buses to some of the others. Until we got elevated, we had no clue that this city was so huge and full of really big big skyscrapers, and lots of them. Funny thing is that they are everywhere, not just in a district as we are used to seeing in the US.
I have taken more than 400 photos so far. Good thing there is an internet cafe so I can download them to the flash and take more! Ok. time to head back for dinner. Hope you are all doing fine. Send emails to this gmail address. i'll be checking in soon. Thanks for the text messages as well, Melody and Deanna. Good connection to home.
Love to all