Chinatown and temples
May 16, 2016
|The bus headed out to our hotel – the Bangkok Royal Orchid Sheraton. Peter gave us general information about the trip during the 45 minutes the ride took. We got to the hotel about 1:30 and quickly got our rooms. We got a nice room on the 18th floor overlooking the Chao Phraya River. It took a while to settle down (and there was a thunder storm) so probably got to sleep about 3:00 AM.
From 9:00 AM on Saturday to 3:00 AM on Monday took only 27 hours, but due to the flight path, 20 hours were in daylight!
We got up around 8:30 and had a very nice breakfast at the hotel, then, after walking a bit in the heat to use the ATM, met up with the tour group in the lobby. Beside the two folks from California the rest of the tour are folks from Mexico, an older couple, their kids and spouses, and two young boys about Alice’s age. Friendly group it seems.
We headed off in the bus through the streets of Bangkok – lots of motorcycles, lots of dirty buildings, lots of electric wires all tangled up. Like many less developed countries it had some issues with infrastructure and traffic (they follow the English custom of driving on the right), but are building a subway system. Also Durian fruit as in season and there were many stalls selling it. Also of note was the many offerings of food and drink left on the sidewalks for the spirits of the ancestors. Sometimes even full meals.
We first stopped in Chinatown – we walked along the streets a while then came to the main temple. It was a day of celebration in the country so there were many statues of Buddha adorned with flowers and other things. I made an offering of incense to the spirits. Then I washed the three small statues if Buddha with water they provided. When I finished the cop on duty was right behind me and said “Very cool!” It was a beautiful temple.
We headed down the street to the Indian (Pahurat) Market and it started to thunder then it opened up! Very heavy rain for a while (and the first in quite some time in Banglok). We took shelter under some awnings (which are over pretty much every street) and waited for the rain to die down. Some interesting shops along the way – many auto part places. One guy was filling two liter cans with axel grease from a 55 gallon drum by hand!
Then we went to the Indian market – not that great a place. It may have been unique at one time, but it seemed to have evolved into a mostly tourist sort of place. We went looking for elephant pants for Alice (as you can’t have short shorts in the temples) but no luck.
We boarded the bus again and headed for Wat Pho – a massive Buddhist temple. Kitty got grabbed by a snake man and posed with a boa – nice neck tie!
The temple was amazing in how intricate everything was. Much was covered in gold leaf and there were many statues of Buddha as well as warriors and elephants and dancers… Highlight was the reclining Buddha – 160 feet long and covered with gold foil. Alice had to wear a robe to go in to see the reclining Buddha as her shorts were too short.
We wandered around the temple marveling at all the work that went into it – then stopped in another temple that was still active (monks pray twice a day there), then out of the complex and waiting for the bus – with the threat of rain and thunder the whole time – but it didn’t rain again.
We drove through what used to be the flower market, but recent regulations had forced it off the street. Still lots of flowers along the road, mostly used for sacrifices to Buddha or the spirits.
Peter, the guide, was talking about tomorrow’s tour and thought that we had not signed up for it. After a few mishaps and some confusion I had to email it to the front desk to get a paper copy, and all was well.
Kitty and I went out for lunch and ate at a small café with a half naked guy sitting on the curb eating, a skinny stray cat wandering around, and the occasional motorcycle zooming by within a couple of feet. Good food though!
Then off on a wander. Down an alley that seemed to specialize in used auto parts – piles of them. Then back to the main street and saw a man making sugar pops – quite intricate and only thirty five cents each. The we found a church near the hotel and while looking a woman asked if we'd like to go inside - so we did. Quite an impressive place - was English then Portuguese – now the Kalawar Church. Outside there was a shrine to the Virgin Mary and a couple turtles in a pond at the base.
Back to the hotel to get Alice and we took her to finally get some elephant pants (and some snacks), then got her some street food from a vendor across from the hotel. We had to borrow a fork from the hotel (sent by room service!).
Kitty and I went out one last time to the mall next to the hotel. Some souvenir shops and some nice places. I got her a silk scarf for her birthday. Then back to the hotel for an early night – lots of sleep to catch up on!