Awake early today . . .even though I took a Tylenol PM. :-(. Oh well . . .
90 some percent of all Thai people are Buddhist. There are huge billboard signs up along the roads telling the tourists that the “Buddhists are for respect – not for advertisement!” Apparently, getting a Buddha tattoo has become popular among younger tourists and the locals do not approve! The Thai people are extremely friendly and so welcoming! They always want to know where you are from and they often put their hands together and bow to you as a welcome . . . They are always ready to help. Sometimes this is a bit disconcerting as we are so accostomed to people seeming to want to help but really only working for your business . .. There is very little drinking over here and as much poverty as there is in the city of Bangkok, one rarely sees a drunk or a homeless person.
There is a king who supposedly rules over Bangkok but we’re told he doesn’t even live here. Maybe in Berlin. 😀. The current king is in his sixties and is on his 4th marriage – this time to a 30 year old flight attendant! Trying to stay young. Our tour guide, Mahat, says that folks aren’t sure if they’ll like him or not as he has only recently been installed as king. One thing they do know is that they must not talk unkindly about their king in public or they might end up in jail! Funny . .. this seems like such a peaceful country . . .
OMG! What a day we had yesterday! It’s currently 6:30 AM on Monday. We’re in the airport waiting for our plane to UdanThani. Heading north out of the 90 degrees weather into something more reasonable . . Mid 70s. Yeah! Hard to know where to start with discounting yesterday’s adventures! I was awake at 4:00 . . Couldn’t get back to sleep so I grabbed my iPad, played a little wwf, read my email, checked social media – then just rested until 7:00. 😀Breakfast – tours all day long – a couple of hours late in the day to shower off the days heat and humidity – and then off for Chinatown and the most amazing scene you can imagine . . Not back to the hotel until after 10:00. Had to pack and get organized. Bed around 11:00! Do you think 74 is too old for this schedule!?! 😏
So – I’ve decided to start with Chinatown. Not sure I can even explain what this scene is all about . . . Crazy busy. Tons of neon lights. People, cars, motorbikes, tuktuks looking for business – and the smells literally everywhere. So this was a foodie tour and Tajma wanted us to sample everything that shouted Thai cuisine! We began with Pad Thai. I watched this woman make our portions in this huge wok – throwing in spices and oil and bean sprouts – raw eggs and veggies. All served up on these little plastic plates. We shared 3 plates.
We were going to sample crispy pork but the line for that shop stretched for a very long ways . . No time to wait in line! Next on the agenda was dumplings Tajma ordered for us and in hardly any time, they appeared! More like sushi. With seafood and pork fillings. Mostly, I wasn’t sure what I was eating – only that it was really tasty! 😀. Most of the eating in this area happened right along the street – you sit around these small round tables on little plastic stools right in the middle of all the craziness This place featured indoor dining! Good to get out of the fray for awhile . . .
But Tajma was insistent that we get more seafood . . So off we went to this very very busy place People eating on both sides of the street and inside as well The kitchen was right on the street! Hot works Huge prawns Whole fish cooking in foil Snails. One fellow was slicing onions (tons of onions) on this board – so fast you could hardly believe it – and he was just looking around watching the scene go by! If you got seated upstairs in this restaurant, they pass your order down to the kitchen from the outside deck on this little string The kitchen grabs the order and adds it to their queue. Funny. We stood there waiting for a good half an hour – just mesmerized by the scene Finally they called us and upstairs we went – up these creaky, narrow stairs, around the corner and then you had to duck down under the eaves to enter our room Three large tables – one sits on the floor – after, of course, removing your shoes!
One we got all settled, figured out where to put our feet, we ordered a much needed beer! We started with huge prawns, grilled – delicious. Then it was fried rice, grilled squid, and this very interesting and spicy crab dish! So cool was this spot!
Tajma bought us some mangostean, this interesting fruit that tastes something like a tangerine but has a rubbery outside skin. She was intent that we try this very healthy fruit and bought us a bag for our travels! She was special! We just couldn’t do dessert! Lots of eating after a day of eating. She wanted us to try sticky rice with mango but we just could not do it! 😀. Some of us had coconut milk straight from a fresh coconut. Jojo could not even do That!
And then – our night was not over! Tajma commandeered two tuktuks to deliver us to this amazing flower market! So this market, which stretches over several blocks, is open 24 hours a day. You just would not believe the flowers! Orchids, lotus blossoms, marigold blossoms stuffed into cellophane bags by the hundreds, greenery, beautiful arrangements. Just everything you could imagine! Booths and shops lining both sides of the street! I went crazy taking pictures. I do love my flowers! 😀. Tajma brought us to this market in the evening because it sells out by morning. Nothing left! Hard to believe! The flowers were being sold – for weddings and celebrations and for the hotels. Even the airport has beautiful flower arrangements!
Back to the hotel and some much needed sleep! Wow. What a day
And now – I must tell you about the rest of our day . . . 😀. Tajma picked us up at 8:30 and we headed off for a day of temples! I knew there would be some temples to admire in Bangkok! ;-). We started at Wat Phu, home of the reclining Buddha. Also home to many monks, who chant twice a day. It is pretty amazing to listen to these men, all ages, chanting constantly for half an hour. It a very solemn place. Everyone must remove their shoes and stay down in a crouched position. No standing. Once we got our morning religion, we went off to view the reclining Buddha. Pretty amazing. This guys is literally on his side, reclining. 148 feet long. Many visitors here, taking pictures, praying, placing coins in the cans along the sides, kneeling at the small shrines, which were located here and there . . Lots of selfie sticks with folks smiling away in front of Reclining Buddha! :-).
Then it was off to the Grand Palace! A long walk from the parking area. It was getting very hot and very humid. Tons of people. It was Sunday and this is winter in Thailand – prime tourist time! We were starting to melt . . . And then we had to go through security and pass by the clothing police! One must wear long pants and have their shoulders covered. Nothing sexy allowed! 😀. The girls who wore tights or shorts were given a cloth skirt to cover themselves with . . Pretty funny . . . This place was pretty amazing. Loads of different temples and stupas (where the remains of important people are housed). Lots of glitter! You’ll see from the pictures!
So the king of Bangkok (The 10th king – all named Rama) is not so very well liked by the average citizen. His father governed in a democratic fashion. This guy is more of an autocrat. He wants everything for himself. He is actually the richest king in the world, according to Forbes Magazine. Tajma sort of whispers when she is speaking about the king in a derogatory fashion. Not wanting to go to jail. 😳 Everyone must celebrate him even if they don’t even like him. When the king dies, there is intense mourning that happens at the site of the royal palace. They even hire ladies with good voices to come and mourn! 😀
And then Tajma was worried about the heat, so she ushered us into this little cafe for a cold drink. Awesome. Much needed! I had lime juice with honey over ice! Tasty. Then she took us to a Michelin rated one star noodle place! Apparently Michelin is now recognizing street food places, realizing that most of the people in the world cannot afford fancy five star restaurants. 😀. Hard to believe this place is Michelin rated anything . . . It’s a tiny place on the Main Street. The cook is an older woman who runs the show – completely! They brought us out little plastic stools as we waited for a table. Perhaps we look old. 😳. Pretty funny – the six of us sitting on the sidewalk waiting for our table. This soup was amazing! So good. Beef broth with bean sprouts and veggies. Spice it as you like at your table! So good! I felt like I was with Anthony Bourdain, eating the local food. This is just the kind of place he would find and cover for the world to see how good the local food is!
Next on the agenda was a visit to the Emerald Buddha! Actually, the Buddha is made from Jade (one piece) and he is pretty small. You can only visit him from a distance . .
And then, it was off for a Long Tailed boat ride down the canal. Wonderful to be out on the water with a cooling breeze. So fun to watch the life along the canal and river. We stopped to feed the catfish with some bread bought from a lady along the side. Also bought some beer from another lady ( this one had lots of missing teeth . .) who pulled up along side our boat. Fun river adventures!
So Tajma decided that we certainly must have duck for lunch. Meanwhile it’s 3:00 and we knew we had this Chinatown extravaganza coming up and we were all thinking about how the heck were we going to eat an entire duck. But this place was Michelin one star and there was no way we were going to negate this experience. 😀. Yikes. How are we going to eat all this food? We were taken upstairs and it was literally freezing up there. Goose bumps freezing! Tajma finally informed us that we would order a plate of duck – actually two plates of duck. Not an entire animal per person. Also crispy pork. Meanwhile, Dave, needed to use the restroom. He really needed to. So he took off back downstairs while we ordered our food and shivered in the cold. Mind you, it was 90 degrees outside! 😜. After a very long while, Dave reappeared. He had found the bathroom – but decided not to use it! Through the kitchen – right by the fellow washing dishes. There was a urinal standing there (unfortunately that wouldn’t work in this situation). So he waited and waited at the entrance to the one bathroom – a tiny door -no knob. Telephone booth size. Finally it was free. A lovely hole in the floor. No toilet paper. No water for flushing. D decided he really didn’t have the need to use the restroom any more. Later maybe. . . . Did I tell you this was a Michelin one star rated place?
And that’s about it for yesterday! Lots of pictures will really tell the story . . Skip them if you get bored . . . 😏.
It’s now 9:30 AM and we’ve landed in UdonThani, had breakfast at a local restaurant (Congi which is rice soup with veggies and meat or eggs in a pan – fried eggs with different kinds of sausage served in the pan in which they were cooked). Much quieter here. Much slower pace. Bangkok was a happening place! Very fast paced. Very busy.