Thailand – Bangkok, Wat Po and The Grand Palace

21st August 2016

6.30am – Bangkok time.

I should probably be in bed right now, but my body clock has already woken me and there is no chance to fall asleep again. So, I have made myself a coffee, opened the curtain a little, sat on the sofa and slowly got my brain working while reading a magazine and writing on my journal.

Yesterday, we had another full on day and when we returned to the hotel I was too tired to even think of things like writing or reading. Both Gavin and I crushed on the bed and were asleep within a few minutes.
Let’s start from the beginning:

Before we got up yesterday morning, falling asleep had been rather impossible. I kept turning around in bed until 3.30am. I then eventually fell asleep, but getting up at 9am was very painful. I wished I could have slept for longer.

We had breakfast at the hotel. I fell in love with iSanook’s pancakes, I had a double round of them.

It was “Temple Day”: we visited Wat Pho, the Grand Palace, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Wat Arun was on our schedule, too, but eventually we didn’t go.

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After our breakfast, we walked all the way up to the Old Town, which took us approximately an hour and a half. In order to do so, we had to go through China Town (again) and that is a part of the city that I didn’t particularly enjoy. I think that China Town is unbearably “in your face”. The footpaths are really small, yet highly populated by street vendors. Between a stand and the other, lays a very narrow path where you are likely to find a person who walks at snail’s pace right in front of you. I do not normally tolerate this in London, let alone here where the tropical heat goes as far as giving me boob-sweat.

When we finally made it to Wat Pho, we were exhausted by the long walk. Wat Pho was quite nice. Asian architecture is different from European, their buildings are incredibly colourful. Their statues are very beautiful, too. I was stunned by the amount of golden Buddhas in Wat Pho and the amount of people that prayed in front of them. In order to enter a temple and stand in front of a Buddha, you have to, first of all, take your shoes off, your shoulders must be covered and, if you are wearing a hat this must be taken off, too.
Also, when entering a temple, in a sign of respect, you must not step on the threshold.

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The Reclining Buddha was gigantic. So big that we couldn’t even fit it into a photo. The only thing I have been able to take a picture of was its face. Its feet, too, are incredibly massive.

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By the time we arrived to the Grand Palace, despite the amount of water we drank throughout the day, we were exhausted and dehydrated. I do not think that either of us enjoyed the Grand Palace as much as we did Wat Pho. This may not be a fair comment, but unfortunately the heat and the exhaustion had a huge impact on our moods. After only a little while we decided to make our way back to the hotel.

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I also think that we were a bit put off by the amount of people who tried to scam us, already since the night before. By the time we got back to the hotel I could count 4 attempted scams: on the first night, as we strolled in China Town, a fat looking man started to talk to us wanting to know where we came from. Naively, we answered saying that we are from London. He, then, stated that the side of China Town that we were about to enter in the attempt of getting to the river was closed due to some Thai holiday. He asked us to show him our map and pointed a market area where they would celebrate the Thai festivity by shooting fireworks at midnight. He offered us a ride on his Tuk Tuk to take us there for 80 baht (which we obviously declined). I can’t believe that he also stated that he was an “English teacher” (English teacher my ass!). Yesterday, something similar happened: on our way to the Grand Palace, we stopped to take a look at a street map so that we could find out where the entrance to the Palace was. In that moment, another “way-too-polite” man approached us with two usual scam questions: “Where do you come from? First time in Thailand?”. He stated that the Grand Palace was going to be closed until 2pm. Instead, he suggested us to visit other attractions on his Tuk Tuk for 40 baht promising that we would be back in hour, just in time for the Grand Palace’s opening. This happened far from the Gran Palace’s main gates, like that we could not notice other tourists enter the attraction nor hear the message on the speaker that informs every one of the Palace’s real opening times. Thankfully, we were alert enough to decline promptly. A few minutes later, while walking around the Palace, we heard a speaker saying in English that people ought not to believe that the Grand Palace is closed for any given reason. It wasn’t 10 minutes since we had heard the announcement that Gavin noticed a guy slowly following us. When we stopped, he slowed down. When we eventually turned towards him, he walked past us only to start following the couple in front of us. I looked at the way he walked so closely and attentively around them. Once he understood that they were very well packed and there was no chance he could have nicked something, he went past them, too.
The heat, the exhaustion, the chaos of China Town and these scam attempts left me very disappointed and a couple of times I wondered whether we had chosen the right destination for our holiday.
After we had a shower and had a coffee, we decided to dine on the river. I tried a very peculiar Thai pizza which tasted… well, different from what I am normally used to. It was full of nice flavour, but unfortunately didn’t make the same score that the food at Eighty Twenty had done the night before.

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This morning, we are going to Chatuchak Market. I really hope that by exploring a different area of Bangkok, my opinion of it will change. I can’t yet decide whether I like this city or not.

I hope that today, a “twist” will do a miracle and will help me to be a bit more positive about it.

 

Salva

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