Friday, December 4, 2009

Sights and sounds of Bangkok

We headed to Bangkok from Hua Hin by road yet again. We left early morning and reached our hotel (Shangri-La, see review) by 11.00 AM. A quick shower and we were out of the hotel in a jiffy to cruise down the Chao-Pharya and see the wonders of Bangkok.

Chao Pharya Cruise: The Chao-Pharya river cuts Bangkok into two and is dotted by large hotels on both sides. We started from the Boat Pier 1 (right next to the hotel) where we purchased a tourist cruise day pass for 150 bht (about Rs 200). This pass allows you to take any of the tourist boats for the day. You can hop on and off as you please and comes with a river map which makes a nice souvenir. Our plan was to stop at 2 piers (Wat Arun and Grand Palace) and then simply sit in the boat and view the city as we cruised forth.

Wat Arun: Even though our visit was in December, the weather was hot and sultry and we kept drinking lots of water. Our first stop was Wat Arun, Temple of Dawn (Wat=temple, Arun=sun). It is about 80 m high and the climb is pretty steep if you decide to go to the second level. The temple is decorated with mosaics and sculpture. The area also has a number of kiosks selling cane bags, wood carvings, masks and other knick-knacks.
Grand Palace: Our next stop was the Grand Palace. Since we were in shorts and half sleeves we were unable to go in but could only see the structure from outside. Though there are clothes for hire, the line is long and the procedure cumbersome. Remember to wear clothes till your ankles and palms, however, hot it might be! The Palace has was construction post 1750 and has been the home of the Thai King since. It is an enormous complex but then thats what royalty is all about !

If alive, its possibly edible: After these 2 stops and 3 hours, believe it or not, the Bangkok heat and smell had tired us for the day. The steets are lined with dried fish, frogs and intestines of god knows what. It appeared to me that if something lived it could be eaten. Overpowered by all this we decided to keep sitting on the cruise boat after Grand Palace and simply watched the world go by till about Boat Pier No. 15. What I had fun doing was throwing out bits of bread to fishes in the river. A fistful of bread crumbs quickly attracts fishes almost 12 inches in length. They will hurry towards the food and you will see a whole bunch of fishes splashing about for a treat!

Other tourist must stops in Bangkok are the Emrald Buddha, Jim Thomson’s House and the Crocodile Farm. Recommended one day de-tours if you are in the mood are the Ancient City (if you like history) or Pattaya (for Beach).

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