On Day 15 of our trip we arrived in Bangkok after a 14 hour overnight train journey. During which we were awoken by women selling all kinds of spicy foods for breakfast at 5am – the second time in less than a week. For the last night of our Colours of Asia tour we stayed near Khao San Road in the west of the city – a haven for backpackers and famous for it’s hippy market. Day 1 in Bangkok, saw us taking a long tail boat down the muddy waters of the Chaopraya River. Along the way we saw the usual sights – people taking a bath in the murky brown waters or washing their dishes and fresh fruit. The houses surrounding the banks were all made of wood and elevated on stilts with steps leading directly into the water or to their pointed wooden rowing boats. After an hour or so, we arrived at Wat Po where our Thai guide showed us around the many sights of the temple, famous for its golden reclining Buddha with mother of pearl feet. This statue is absolutely gigantic – probably the length of a four storey house.
Our last evening with the group was spent eating cross legged on the floor in a very spicy restaurant, before a trip to the hustling Khao San Road market where we were met by persistent women at every turn, dressed in hill tribe gear (black hats and brightly coloured leg warmers) selling wooden frogs – talk about diversification and entrepreneurship – not!
The following day we checked into our next hotel, in the business area, after fond farewells to everybody that we had met on our trip. We were lucky enough to have Nat (Nucharee), one of my best friends, show us around her city and beyond – our own personal tour guide, complete with air-conditioned car. Nat really looked after us, she took us on a commentated boat trip to the Grand Palace (past a local dentist – use your imagination and multiply!) – With a number of highly ornate gold statues and white and porcelain buildings against the brilliant blue sky. It was beautiful. There we also saw the emerald Buddha. This is pretty small in comparison to all of the other statues. It is actually made of jade and sits atop an ornate mountain of crafted shapes and animals including 7 snakes which ‘protect it from the rain’. The Buddha wears different clothes according to the season – these can only be changed by royalty or very important monks and happens four times a year.
Later that day we visited Jim Thompson’s house – a beautiful wooden house on stilts built in the 1900’s, before he disappeared on the 26th march, 1967 in the Cameron Highlands.
In the evening we met Lyndsay, an ex colleague, that has lived in Thailand for 5 years, and his wife Adele. They had lots of fascinating stories to tell us about the hill tribes that we would later visit and they also treated us to a tasty meal which Nat chose for us.
The rest of our time in Bangkok was split over a couple of days (before and after our hill tribe trek). One day was spent at the floating markets, 2 hours out of town. This is basically a traffic jam on water, down the narrow tributaries and canals – women either side in boats sell all manner of fruit – custard apple, lychees, sticky rice in banana leaf, mangosteen, longons, as well as barbequed chicken and fish, fresh from the river and cooked on the tiny boats. All the senses are stimulated along the way and you have to be careful to keep your mouth shut as the boats whiz along at such a speed (between the jams), powered by their adapted car engines, splashing up water and exhaust along the way. The rest of the day was spent feeding the crazy cat fish, elephant riding and having a 2 hour Thai massage (5 pounds).
Please don’t think our trip has been an endless stream of massages – yes, we had another one when we returned from our trek! This time we met Mook, another Thai friend who also lives in Bangkok. She has been having English lessons for just 2 months now, but you wouldn’t think so, her English is fab!
Day 24 we had a Thai cookery course at the Nipa Restaurant. Dishes cooked included Toong Ngern Yuang (deep fried minced pork and prawns wrapped in bean curd pastry), Tom Yum Gung (spicy soup with prawns and lemongrass from the central region), Mussaman Gai (yellow peanut and chicken curry from the south), Pla Dook Tod Grob Phad Phed (pan fried crispy cat fish with chilli paste) and Tab Tim grob (water chestnuts in coconut milk and crushed ice). All the food was delicious, especially the first 3 dishes. As you can imagine we ate so so much! In the afternoon we went camera shopping (where we bought a camera, saving ourselves 100pounds on the UK price, with a 2GB memory stick and case chucked in too!). We then met up with Jutarat Buranasak and Greg Bonnefin from work (TFC). It was great to finally put faces to names after over a year. We had a fun, relaxed evening with them both and they took really good care of us – showing us more of the Thai delicacies like durian fruit and feeding us just about everything there was to eat on the menu!
Overall this was an excellent trip. The people are so friendly here, there is so much to see and do and the food really is scrumptious.
R & D x