Posted by: Talie Morrison | November 4, 2008

Bangkok

Bangkok

Market Day

Market Day

Wow what a culture shock!   From spending months with only 125 people to going to a city of 11 million!  Oofta!   It has been wild! There are people everywhere, but what has impressed me the most is the amount of “shopping” going on out here!  I have never seen so many markets!   I have been to quite a few markets in this crazy world, but never have I see the likes of the markets here!   But then let me back up and give you a chronological view of our time in Bankock…

We got here last Friday – October 31st.   We arrived about 9:30 pm – collected our baggage and got a taxi to our hotel.  The taxi ride was about 30 minutes and cost us 300 Bhat (the Thai currency) – that’s only about $9!  Very cheap by US standards! Dianne did an excellent job of finding us an awesome hotel – The Plazza.   We are not in the center of the town (which is ok by me) but we are a short walk from the subway – so everything is accessible.  We have a very comfortable room – with air conditioning (it doesn’t get cold, but it takes a bit of the heat out).   It took us a day to figure out the lights and AC – because they are controlled by the bedside clock!  Who would have guessed?

We spend the day on Saturday exploring and getting our bearings.   That’s when the “shopping” hit me!   We went to a mall because we wanted to shop for new eye glasses.  And of course, there were lots of stores, and tons of selections, and so much “stuff” – my mind was reeling!   But we narrowed it down, found a lovely shop that checked our eyes, and measured our eyes,
and we both ordered new glasses.   Unfortunately they won’t be ready till after we leave Bangkok, but we are planning to pick them up when we return on our way home.   It’s probably a good thing that they will be fresh and new rather than already beat up from traveling!    We went to this mall’s version of the “food court” and got some awesome Thai food very inexpensive and it was delicious.   That was when we realized that we had not seen another tourist all morning!  I guess we found the locals
hang out!  

Since it was Saturday, and we were on a “roll” – we took the subway to the “outdoor market.   WOW, WOW, WOW!   I’ve been to some markets in the world, but never one like this!   But I guess for 11 million people you have to have a “MARKET”!   I have never seen so much stuff for sale – it was really mind blowing!   Everything from clothes, to shoes, to household decor, to puppies and kittens,
to food (even fried grasshoppers and other pretty scarey fried bugs), to acquarium fish in bags, hats, toys, snakes, bunnies, squirrels, etc… – it went on and on and on! 

Fried Bugs!

Fried Bugs!

  Yikes, take me back to McMurdo!  And the “heat” (but I’ll get to that later…).   I guess this was a survival experience for me!  🙂  My little brain
was on overload!  But we spent the whole day not seeing many tourists at all – so I think we succeeded in seeing a bit of the “real Bangkok”.   At least it was real enough for me! 

Sunday, we booked a tour.   Ok, so we definitely were with “tourists” all day then!  Our tour was listed as going to the Bridge over the River Kwai and then to the Tiger Temple.   We got so much more we were impressed!   We were the first ones picked
up at 6:10 am.   Then we got a tour of driving around the city picking up 11 more people to fill our van.  Then we headed North for about 2 hours.   First stop was a cemetary where the soldiers who died building the “Railway of Death” during World War II were buried.   There are several cemetaries
like this one but this one is the largest with 6982 graves. 

Graveyard

Graveyard

 

 From there it was a short drive to a museum about the prison camps from the war and the hardships and suffering the prisoners went through.  Very moving!  Next stop was the bridge.   The actual bridge that was built by the prisoners was bombed, but this steel bridge is just a short distance from that original bridge. 

Bridge over River Kwai

Bridge over River Kwai

Back when the war was happening, there was nothing there; but, as you can imagine, it is now all built up with touristy things everywhere.   Then they took us to a train station, and we got to ride on a section of the railway that went through a beautiful gorge. 

That took us to a lovely little spot in a village where we had an awesome lunch!   I am loving all this Thai food and especially the fresh fruits and selections of vegetables!   Delicious! 

Then Dianne and I and 2 other of our group (they were Kiwis too) split off from our original group and we joined another group who were going to the Tiger Temple.   I have pretty mixed feelings about this part of the trip.   The monks have tamed some tigers and they allow the tourists to have their pictures taken with them.   Oh, we are definitely in the “Tourist zone” now!!!   So you wait in line, and then you get 2 guides – one takes your camera and the other holds your hand.   They place you next to the tigers to get your photo taken.  

 It was so touristy, I am embarrassed that I did it.   But the tigers were beautiful and to be able to touch such a beautiful animal was awesome. 

 (ok… so I am a tourist…).  I didn’t feel that the tigers were mistreated or anything – but it was very “un-natural”.    As we were wandering around after that, a Monk invited us up to the actual
temple so we could make prayers to the Buddah.   The temple (which was still outdoors) was beautiful.  From the tiger temple it was a 3 hour van ride getting back to Bangkok (totally through the Sunday evening traffic coming back into town)!

Monday, yesterday, our adventure was to get Talie a visa to enter Vietnam in about a month.   So we took the subway again and then a long walk till we found the Vietnam Embassy.   We stopped lots of people and asked directions a lot, but finally found it.   I felt a bit nervous to leave my passport with them for the day, but “Oh, well….”.   So from there we took a boat ride on the river – and climbed up the Temple of Dawn and went to a floating market (yikes, more markets!!).  Too Funny!   Leaving the
river, a taxi driver said he would take us for only 20 Bhat if we would go to see his sponsors.   Next thing we knew we were sitting in the high priced shops looking at evening dresses, suits, and designer clothes along with the cloth to choose to make them.   A bit out of our price range even at a discount!   And then it was the “jewelry factory” – beautiful but way out of our
class!   I think they thought they had a couple of “hot prospects” – NOT!   From there we ended up in the center city mall – Yikes 6 stories of mall shops!   Even the food court was huge – it was international and there were square “kitchens” where the chefs were preparing delicious Thai, Indian, Italian, Turkish, etc. foods.   Pretty different from a food court in the US which consists of McDonalds, Wendys, and Burger King.   And there were 6 stories of escellators going up.   Amazing!   Ok – so I have had ENOUGH shopping! 

So the “heat” – yup – it’s really hot here!   I am dripping before I even go anywhere!   There are times I feel I almost can’t breath because of the heat – and this isn’t even the hottest time of year.   So from taking a shower every other day (or even every 3rd day), now I am taking 2 showers a day!   I feel a little bad using that much water, so I try to make them short! 

Today, Dianne and I are going to the ancient city of Ayutthaya.   We will be packing up and spending the night up there, and then the next day will take the night train to Chang Mai.

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Responses

  1. Awesome Talie! Say hi to Dianne for me 🙂 You two are the best!

  2. hi talie!
    wow! what an amazing adventure! i reread your post twice to absorb it all. you are amazing!
    love
    melissa

  3. WOW! Petting a Tiger!!! How COOOOOOL!!!!


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