Are there still scammers in Bangkok?
Our flight from Chiang Mai back to Bangkok, then taxi to the Shangri-La Hotel was seamless. I like it when that happens, it makes up for the times when it doesn't.
We were offered an upgrade right away for the Horizon Club and in a weak moment I took it and it has paid off since. Access to the club with incredible view of the city and river, huge breakfast spread each morning and a happy hour with anything you could ever want. Plus it's like having your own personal concierge to take care of all those little tasks like reservations and excursions. They make the call for you and nothing is lost in translation.
Our first day out we did what all good tourist do in Bangkok, got on the long tail boat headed up the river to the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew. The river boat ride is quite thrilling, especially at the fast paced speed and going up river seeing everything from exquisitely beautiful hotels right on top of tiny stilted houses looking as if they could fall apart at any moment, and seemingly pasted together.
When you get off that ferry boat at Tia Ten your senses are assaulted with everything from sizzling street food, colorful flowers, a zillion different tourist trinkets and a human odor of sweat and excretion. It is hot in Bangkok.
It is very clear where the Grand Palace is -- a huge stuccoed white wall surrounds and thats where all the people are streaming to. Architecture is amazing. Once inside the walls, a kind official pointed out that my shorts were too short and I would need to rent-borrow a skirt. This is the second time on this trip I needed to borrow clothing to be inside a temple -- I really should know better by now -- but I wasn't the only one! Andy was smart, he had on pants. There were throngs of people and a long line to buy a ticket to really get inside. Did I say it was hot? Andy appeared to be melting, his shirt was drenched and so without buying tickets we ditched the Palace in favor of Wat Pho next block down, home to the GIANT golden reclining Buddha. Incredible.
On the walk over, we were in search of some water to rehydrate what was leaking from our pores and evaporating into the ozone, and a very kind Thai gentlemen with an umbrella for shade started speaking with us. Said he spent some time in Chicago, asked us about our trip and where we were going and then suggested a nice little itinerary, even taking the time to draw it out on our map, hailing a tuk-tuk driver, negotiating a fee and an extra benny of stopping by a silk clothing store. He explained that Wat Pho was actually closed right now for a special ceremony for the monks and wouldn't be open to the general public until the afternoon. Hummm, interesting. I was skeptical and rightly so. We shrugged him off and keep walking, away from the shade of that umbrella.
At the next corner was an information booth, where I stopped in to ask about Wat Pho being closed. No.
After a visit to the infamous reclining Buddha, we were still hot. Bangkok's answer to heat? Air-conditioning. Were's the best place for that? Shopping mall. We got a tuk-tuk and were on our way to Siam Square. Ahh, cool air and very crowded. Only purchase? A pair of closed toe shoes for Andy. The only pair of shoes he brought on the trip were a pair of flip-flops and in Bangkok, some restaurants have a dress code.
Outside on the street we perused the food stalls. Andy had been wanting to try them since even before we arrived. We walked up and down eyeing each offering, but there were so many things that you just could not tell exactly what it was. Pass to the skytrain for vegetarian food some place close to our hotel.
The rest of the day continued to unfold with delight for all the senses, it's not hard in Bangkok to be thrilled or awed by every moment -- like the young mother giving her naked 6 year old a bath on the street with hundreds of people walking around taking care of business and in front of our luxury hotel. Would you ever see that in front of the Montage?