Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Bangkok - hot and humid

I’m staying in Bangkok for 2 1/2 days before I head down to Phuket to hang out with Rod and Mark Leo. I thought that it would be best to check out the city here before I spent 6 days on the beach. It’s funny how alert the senses are when one travels alone...since I have now idea where I am headed and don’t know a soul, I am left with only my senses...I was full-on from the start: the taxi-broker who negotiated my taxi fare ( from 900 baht to 650 baht)n seemed a little sketchy and then the driver, who spoke no English, had a habit of letting go of the wheel to smack at a mosquito that was buzzing around in the car (a volvo - and they drive on the wrong side of the road here), and then I couldnt help but see that the low gas light was on...and we kept driving and driving - I thought that I would end up on the side of the road begging for another ride. And I couldn’t help but think that he was taking me to a place where I would be robbed of my cash and belongings...but the more he drove the more I realized that that probably wasn’t the case since why would he drive so far when he could have robbed me many miles ago. And keep in mind that this is happening at 2 a.m.

Eventually, I made it to my hotel - and what a swank hotel this thing is: The Legacy in Suhkumvit...this thing is better than my apartment: kingsize bed, flat screen TV mounted on the wall, built in closets, leather couch, cool lighting...and all for $70 a night.
So I woke up on Tuesday morning knowing that I had 2 full days to see all of Bangkok - like that’s going to happen! So I read my Lonely Planet and it said that I should go to the Grand Palace where I can see the Buddha and all the temples in the complex (which is huge - it’s like 4 football fields big!) There are temples everywhere, a wall of paintings depicting the history of Thailand wraps around the sacred part (where you have to wear pants and long-sleeves). After spending about 2 hours at the Grand Palace, I went to another temple, this one with a 100 foot long reclining Buddha inside a 120 foot long building...the reclining Buddha is entering the afterlife.

So then I went back to the hotel, relaxed, got some food, and called it a night. The next morning, I decided I needed some more adventure, so I booked a tour on with the Amazing Bangkok Cyclists who take people on tours around Bangkok and across to the river to the greener area (and poorer). This trek took us through markets that the average tourist would never findm through back alleys where people lived, and then to the boat launch. We took the bikes across the river and into a maze of raised, 4 foot wide concrete pathways with water on both sides as well as houses, mini-farms, stores - it was crazy...sort of like the backwater places I’ve seen in the Everglades. At the end of the day, it got me thinking that I should start a bike tour in DC - it would be a hit! 4 hours biking around the city, seeing parts that most tour guides miss, and get exercise along the way!

Ok, time to book a room in London...nothing quite like waiting until the last minute!

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