Bangkok, Thailand

Written by on November 21, 2013 in Asia, General with 0 Comments

I woke up in Labuan Bajo, Indonesia, spent the day in Bali watching a surf contest at Uluatu, and flew into Bangkok that evening.  I hadn’t been to Bangkok since 2002, so happily added on a 2 day stopover to my round-the-world ticket so I could re-acquaint myself with the city.  Despite Khao San Road’s horrible reputation, I was excited to return there as I knew it would be a great base for me to re-visit the Grand Palace and surrounding area.

I took it easy that first night, enjoying a $4 massage, a few Chang beers, and some pretty good people watching.  I wasn’t really feeling like meeting people since I was only going to be in town for a couple nights, so I retired pretty early to enjoy my fantastic air-conditioned room and make plans for my next few legs.

Early to bed and early to rise.  It was so strange being up so early and walking down Khao San, which was a complete ghost town except for a few people cleaning up from the night before.  I was actually up so early, that I got to the Grand Palace before it opened.  Now that was a first!!!  I found a coffee shop with wifi and made friends with an American couple who’d also shown up early.

We were the first ones in, which was fantastic.  It was still cool, and the grounds were empty.  The Grand Palace and surrounding grounds were as impressive as I remembered.  Built in 1782, the Palace was the residence of the King of Siam for 150 years, although now it’s only used for ceremonial purposes.

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The architecture is fantastic and almost all of the complex is covered in gold and jewels, giving the feeling that someone has gone crazy with a bedazzler.

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I’ve been to dozens…maybe hundreds of temples and palaces, and I’ve gotta say that this one still stands out as one of THE most impressive.  Or maybe I just like gold and shiny/sparkly places?!?

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I’m glad I took my friend’s advice to make a b-line over to Wat Phra Kaow to check out the Emerald Buddha as soon as I entered, as I completely beat the crowds.

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I wasn’t supposed to take pictures, but snuck a few from outside employing my monster zoom.

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I wandered around the complex for another hour or so, but the grounds were now swarming with tourists and guides with umbrellas, which was my clue that it was time for me to leave.

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I felt lucky to stumble across the changing of the guard on my way out, which was cool to see.  So were these funky trees that looked like they came straight out of a Dr. Seuss book.

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The rest of the day I spent shopping and getting massages and eating yummy food…spending very little money for simple pleasures at Thai prices.   I randomly bumped into my new American friends from the coffee shop at this restaurant, where I couldn’t resist having them take my picture in his (or her?) lap. Hilarious.

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We made a plan to meet for dinner at a place across the river that had this fabulous view of Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn.  Unfortunately, it was pouring rain, which made any sort of bar hopping out of the question without getting soaked.  I opted for going back to enjoy the A/C and comfy bed.

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I can’t believe I had such a quiet night on my last night in Southeast Asia! But, similar to my last post when I mentioned that I knew I was “done” with diving, I definitely felt like I was ready to move on.  Back to the first world.  And the home stretch of my trip where I planned to visit as many friends as possible over the coming months before heading home.

 

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