Monday, December 24, 2012

Unbelievable Bangkok

When we mentioned to people we were going to spend 3 days in Bangkok, there were usually grimaces in response.  "You'll hate it --- it's huge, it's crowded, you'll want to get out of it."   Perhaps our newly adapted slogan c/o a good friend, "aim low...avoid disappointment" has once again tempered our expectations.  Because we've had an amazing day -- and I can't wait to see more.

We started the day off at the Royal Barges National Museum where eight of the barges used in royal processions are housed.  They are works of art and some require more than 60 oarsmen to operate.  They were last used earlier in December to celebrate Thailand's much loved King's 85th birthday.

Gold and glitter encrust these boats

The canon is poking out the middle

We noticed long boats zipping past the museum and thought we should figure out how to get on one, so when an elderly Thai spoke to us offering to arrange a tour, we agreed (after a bit of price haggling).  Our understanding was he was coming with us, but alas, as we stepped on the boat he said the driver would look after us.  Oh well.

We spent the next hour and a half exploring Bangkok's fascinating waterways and locks.  Unfortunately we didn't know what we were seeing but it was still well worth it.
There were some decrepit houses along side some very nice homes

Orchids are everywhere here -- these were hanging off someone's porch

A major waterway

Temples - large and small - are common throughout the city

This was a very busy intersection with large barges, tugs and long boats 

We went through 2 sets of locks and it reminded us when we traveled the Trent-Severn waterway in Ontario several years ago.  In this lock, about 16 longboats were jammed in.

As we jumped off at the dock, a woman came rushing up to us with a landing fee bill for 20 baht (about 65 cents).  Everyone is in business, I guess.

Walking through the markets is a neat experience

There is a loud speaker at the Golden Palace warning tourists of scammers and giving examples of what they will do.  This is a sign at the entrance.

We got a tuk tuk to take us back to a mall near our hotel.  He was all friendly until we turned down his suggestion to go to the store of his sponsor which is a scam I read about.  

The number of motorcycles in the city is just staggering.  At red lights the sound of them revving their motors makes them sound more like racers than commuters.
Bangkok has surprised us in a very good way.  And there is more to come.

"It's a good place when all you have is hope and not expectations."
                                                                                      Danny Boyle

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