Blogging while traveling across Thailand is hard. It’s not because I’m having any sort of writer’s block. It’s mostly because there is just so much to see and do that it’s hard to find the time to collect my thoughts into sentences worthy of sharing. Lindsay and I spend our days fully and we continuously lose out on sleep every night. It’s ok though. I’m going to try and be better about this. I’m glad to have friends and family holding me accountable. Otherwise life quickly blurs into a collection of amazing wats and casual night-time socializing.
Our introduction into hostel living was quite great. I didn’t live in a dorm while attending college, so I feel like I’m making up for the experience now. It’s pretty much impossible not to meet new and interesting people when staying in such a communal setting. Sure there are drawbacks, like losing your shampoo in the shared shower (I assume they needed the head-and-shoulders more than me). But there are also some really outstanding perks. You get to meet some of the most interesting people from around the world. We all come from different walks of life, but somehow our wanderlust brings us together in a quest for cheap adventure.
We spent our first big day in Bangkok exploring Wat Pho. It is a Buddhist temple complex located directly south of the Grand Palace. According to TripAdvisor it is the #1 most popular thing to see and do in Bangkok. It’s also first on the list of Thailand’s high grade royal temples. Commonly known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, it houses one of the most majestic statues of the Buddha. He is portrayed laying on his side during his last illness. It’s quite the sight since the statue is over 40 meters long and covered in gold plating. People come from all over the world to pay tribute and leave offerings for good luck. This temple is also the birthplace of Thai Massage, which is still taught there today.
At the time of writing the entrance fee was 100 BHT, or about $5 USD. This is a great deal as there is plenty to do within the temple complex. There is so much artwork to enjoy, and you can’t help but feel a little more at peace in such a holy complex. There are monks everywhere! We even became friends with one. Just remember to dress appropriately. It’s considered rude to wear shoes inside of a temple, and you will be refused access if your shirt has no sleeves or your shorts are too short. We saw a few westerners who were quite agitated by this fact. I guess they didn’t get the memo on having respect and acting a little classy in a place of worship.
The next day we went to Jim Thompson’s house. He was a famous American who built a massive silk empire during the 1950s. He also collected some of the most amazing Asian artwork he could get his hands on, and his home is quite astounding to this day. It’s all rich wooden teak. Lindsay and I both were envious of such a beautifully built home in such an interesting part of town. Not a whole lot is known of the man unfortunately. It’s believed that he was an early CIA operative during the second world war. He mysteriously disappeared while on a vacation trip in Malaysia. To this day it’s unclear what happened of the man, but his Thai silks are still world-renowned for their quality and beautiful craftsmanship.
Later that night we went out to a Jazz bar. It was way too fancy for our budget, but Lindsay and I know our way around this. We basically walk in like we own the place, sit down, order drinks, and then proceed to sip on our single cocktails until they kick us out. It’s a great plan since Thai people are far too nice to do such. We get to hang out in swanky bars and clubs for a couple hours and enjoy all the free hors d’oeuvres. Sure, the people sitting next to us might have nice suits on that clash with our shorts and sandals, but I like to think we enjoyed the music just as much. After the show the lead pianist came and sat with us for awhile. Randy Cannon is a very talented musician and he had a very interesting story of how he ended up in Bangkok. As a teenager he caught a ride playing piano on the original Loveboat cruise ship. After a season or two he docked in Thailand and hasn’t been back since.
Walking back from the jazz show was intense! As we crossed an intersection I noticed a guy on a motorcycle begin to run a red light. I casually pointed him out and said “Look at this guy, he’s running a red light.” Immediately after saying this a city bus T-boned him at an incredible speed. The bike exploded into shrapnel as the man was thrown across the street. Luckily he was wearing a helmet and seemed to be moving after the incident. His bike was totaled and I’m certain there were broken bones to account for. However, the city bus just kept on going about its business. I guess what else can you do on one of the busiest streets in the country?
We spent our last day in Bangkok exploring the Chatuchuck weekend market. It’s one of the largest outdoor markets in all of the world and literally just about everything is for sale here. You can buy a Moroccan lamp, some antique Levi jeans, or a giant python snake. Lindsay and I wanted some cheap clothes and we weren’t disappointed. We found some comfy pants to lounge around the hostel in and we even haggled a deal much cheaper than what was listed. Our friends back at the hostel purchased a collection of fried insects to eat. I tried the giant grasshoppers and have to say, they were delicious! Overall they tasted much better than many potato chips I’ve had. I certainly wouldn’t want to eat them raw though.
After a week in Bangkok we packed our bags and said farewell. The city is amazing, but we needed to get out of the smog for awhile. So we purchased train tickets for a two hour ride to Ayutthaya, a small town east of Bangkok that’s now a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its amazing temples and history. We mentioned our plans to a fellow traveler who then spontaneously joined us for the adventure. I mean, why not? The tickets were only 50 cents each. Plus it’s fun traveling with others you get along with.
Our first week in Thailand has been a blast. We’re slowly beginning to realize that this is our new life now. It’s a pretty good one and I feel that coming here was perhaps one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I think Lindsay agrees. We’ve learned so much and it has only just begun. We look forward to an exciting year of travel. I miss my home, but I’m glad to have you all right here with me. Feel free to drop a line if you’re thinking of visiting SE Asia. I’d love to chat with you!
Keep On Wandering !!!