Posts Tagged ‘Reclining Buddha’

My One Night in Bangkok (Okay, Actually Five Nights!)

I’m done!!!

I don’t plan on making any more international trips with flights of more than ten hours!

My recent trip to Bangkok, Thailand involved three flights:  Duluth, Minnesota to Chicago (less than two hours), Chicago to Tokyo, Japan (over thirteen hours), and then Tokyo to Bangkok (over seven hours).

From my door to the hotel room, with early arrival at the airport and sit time between each flight, it was 33 hours!  Once you add in a 12-hour time change, it was 45 hours — early Tuesday morning Duluth time when I left and early Thursday morning Bangkok time when I arrived.

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As soon as I got the hotel room, I showered and relished in the fact that I’d get to stretch out in a comfortable bed and sleep. Minutes turned into hours…

Finally, five hours later, I couldn’t fall asleep and started thinking of all the world’s problems!  That, along with Facebook not working (which would be my only way to have instant communication with my sister), I had a minor melt down.

At that point, the sun was up and I decided to forego trying to fall sleep.  I showered, ate breakfast, and walked around Bangkok in the heat and humidity.

When I left Duluth, it was in the 20s with more than two feet of snow on the ground.  In Bangkok, highs were in the mid-90s with a heat index of 105°!

Once out of the hotel room, even without sleep, all was good in my world again and I was ready to see Bangkok!

In a city of 8.5 million, a New York in Thailand, there’s so much to see and with limited time, you have to pick and choose.

My first evening, I took a sightseeing dinner tour on the muddy Chao Phraya River.

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Bangkok was absolutely stunning all aglow in lights!

The top left photo above is “Wat Arun Ratchawararam Ratchawaramahawihan” (try saying that!), also known as the “Temple of Dawn”, and in the bottom left is Iconsiam, a $1.5 billion mixed-use complex including a high end shopping mall, hotels and residences.

The food on the cruise was amazing and I think I held up rather well being awake for two days!

After the cruise, I was confident I’d fall asleep after the exhaustive trip and a full day of sightseeing!  No way!  I dozed off and thirty minutes later, wide awake again!

On my second full day in Bangkok, I visited three temples — Wat Traimit (“Golden Buddha”), Wat Pho (“Reclining Buddha”), and Wat Benchamabophit (“Marble Temple”).

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The “Golden Buddha” (top left) is a 10-foot tall, 12,000 pound statue.  In 1955, while being moved, it was chipped.  That’s when they discovered that it was made of solid gold and worth $250 million!!!

“Wat Pho” was my favorite temple that I saw.  It’s the oldest and largest temple in Bangkok and is probably the most famous in all of Thailand.  The “Reclining Buddha” is almost 151 feet long and stands 49 feet high!!!

As you know, I love koi and I miss my fish pond back in Illinois.  I hit the jackpot at Wat Pho and this is my favorite picture I took in Bangkok!

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On my second night in town, I attended the Siam Niramit Show, a 90-minute production covering Thailand’s 700 years of captivating culture, customs and traditions.  The show features about 100 performers, lavish costumes and stunning set designs!

While the first act was historical, the second act was very dark!  It was more like a horror show acting out the punishments for drinking alcohol (!), committing adultery and talking back to your parents!

I’m not sure if it God or the devil working, but after that bleak act, there was a technical glitch and the show was delayed.  During the interruption, many left and those that stayed saw a cheery, happy final act.  Blah!

Overall, the highlight of the evening was the scary second act of the production, the great dinner buffet,

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and this beautiful sweetheart!

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That night, I got a little bit more sleep and walked around the next day.

While I saw expensive high rises and condos and the economic center of Bangkok (and Thailand), I also got to see how many people actually lived.

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Clearly, the building codes are more relaxed there!

Houses 1

Those don’t even look safe!  But, it’s home for many.

On my third night in town, I attended the Calypso Cabaret, Bangkok’s famous “lady boy” show.  (Yes, boys entertaining as ladies!)

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My favorite dishes in Bangkok were definitely the curry ones!

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Thailand and Bangkok have made tremendous strides in reducing poverty over the past few decades and it’s easy to see how hard people have to work to survive.

I know Thai people (well, in Bangkok, where I was) are used to the heat and humidity, but it really made me think when I saw elderly women manning shops and food carts all afternoon.  I really hope when I’m elderly, I’ll work by choice and not necessity.  And, maybe they are?

On the next to last day of my trip, I developed an intestinal virus.  While I still explored the city, it slowed me down and prevented me from trying deep-fried insects, which I was so looking forward to!

By the way, these are the deep-fried insects that I didn’t get to sample and not a look at the intestinal virus. 🙂

Silkworms

Maybe on another international excursion!!!

Also, that night, I was very close to trying the famous street food of Bangkok.  Some of it appeared sketchy, yet much of it looked incredible!

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I walked through a popular, busy alley (many food vendors just sit up in alleys, sidewalks, and storefronts and you choose the ones that locals are eating at) and finally made the decision on where to have Pad Thai.

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As I was ready to hand the menu over and say “one” for a makeshift table, a friendly rat casually walked by my feet on its way past the food vendor!

I know that the food would have been great (and safe), but since I wasn’t feeling 100% anyways, I passed and ate the snacks I had in my room! 🙂

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While I don’t know what caused my intestinal virus, I’d venture to say that it was from the water.  While I drank bottled water, you have to consider that food is prepped and cooked with water that may be potable, then there’s shower water getting in your ears and brushing your teeth, etc.

In America, we’re pretty much guaranteed safe drinking water (sorry Flint that Michigan and the U.S. government failed you) and it’s very easy to take for granted.

However, outside of the U.S., Canada, Greenland, western Europe, and Australia, many countries and continents don’t have safe drinking water.

This includes all of Africa, much of Asia (including Thailand and China), eastern Europe, Russia, Mexico, and all of South America!

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Another Bangkok observation, I’ll never complain about Chicago (or for that matter, Los Angeles or New York City) traffic ever again!

Thai drivers have to the best drivers in the world!

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The traffic was insane, bumper to bumper, with countless motor scooters zipping in and out between cars with very little breathing room.  I’m so shocked I didn’t see any accidents!

Where most Americans drive, take public transportation, Lyft, Uber, or taxis, in Bangkok, people just jump of the back of motor scooters (with and without helmets).  I’d never do that, especially after I saw the traffic!

On my last day in Bangkok, I had to check out of the hotel at noon.  But, my flight wasn’t until eleven hours later.

So, I visited a “Snake Farm”, which was a 30-minute walk from the hotel.

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And, with that slithery visit, I very well could have been saving lives there and across Thailand!  The facility, operated by the Thai Red Cross, extracts venom from cobras and other poisonous snakes to make anti-venom serums!

In the presentation, I learned that poisonous snakes are found throughout all of Thailand (including in the city of Bangkok).  And, we got to be see just how large poisonous snakes are caught by hand!

Snake Charmer

FYI — snakes have poor eyesight and they don’t have ears, so they can’t hear you.  If you encounter one, let it crawl on by — or slowly move away and once you’re out of striking distance, run!  That’s not my advice.  That’s what we were told to do!

At the show’s conclusion, not only did we get to see an Albino Burmese Python, which is white with patterns in butterscotch yellow or burnt orange (most are dark colored), we also got to channel pop princess Britney Spears!

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Okay, Britney wore it better at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards!  And, no I didn’t start lip-syncing “I’m A Slave 4 U”! 🙂

On a humorous side note, we were told not to worry about the snake being hungry since “it had a small child yesterday”! 🙂

So, that’s my trip to Bangkok!  For those that read the blog and looked at all of the pictures, thank you for taking the trip with me!

And, yes, Murray Head, I may not be “a tourist whose every move’s among the purest”, but I did “get my kicks above the waistline, sunshine” on this trip — even though there were many Thai boys offering their services (I mean, company)!

Anthony