So after a short late evening flight and a bit of a delay at the airport – we were mobbed by hoards of teenagers, waiting for a boy band from South Korea rather than us, we arrived at our hotel at 01:15 Friday morning, and despite this were up early, if not bright, and out on the streets of Bangkok with our guide at 08:00
What a complete contrast to Vietnam, even Ho Chi Minh City. This city is huge and very westernised, but retains an eastern flavour. The roads are grid locked with cars, colourful taxis and tuk tuks. But they are silent by comparison to Vietnam! There is a very efficient and air conditioned Sky Train. I thought the English were renowned for queuing – not so, the Thai queue in an orderly fashion for this, even in the rush hour. London transport look and learn.
The water taxi is completely different. There is queuing to get on, but once on it’s a cacophony of shouting, grinding gears, chatter and whistling. The grinding gears are the thrusts into reverse to dock, and the whistling is how they communicate directions to the whoever is steering. They shout to tell you to move down the boat and then to get on and off quickly. There are numerous safety notices and details how to report an overcrowded boat – FYI, Steven counted six life jackets and it was standing room only with over a hundred passengers. The boat docks for seconds for passengers to jump on and off. Like in Vietnam, the river is the life blood of the city – it’s almost as congested as the roads, some consolation if the boat sinks as there will be someone to rescue you in seconds! The river bears the brunt of the metropolis with plenty of litter caught up in the floating vegetation. However we saw as many boats of river cleaners as we did passenger boats. Despite all of this, it was a great experience and it was somewhat surreal seeing fish jumping all around the boats. I guess they’re nosey and want to see what all the noise is about.
So we did the sights – The Golden Mountain, Wat Pho and The Reclining Buddha, and The Grand Palace. Same religion but completely different style to Vietnam – bling is in, but it’s tasteful bling. So much gold and colour – you have to admire the craftsmanship as these intricate designs are made up of millions of mosaics. Tip to spot the difference between the Guardian demons and Guardian monkeys – monkeys don’t wear shoes, apparently demons do!
Tuk tuks may be bright, but they ain’t so comfortable if you are tall! They can certainly zip though, and as they’re open there is a breeze – the speedier the breezier and in this heat, that means that speed is good. It’s so hot we bought a pair of their colourful fire pants to walk around in #embarrassingparents #goodjobthekidscan’tseeus 🤣
We didn’t arrive back to our hotel until 14:30 and despite really really really looking forward to a non-vegan/non-vegetarian meal with Friday night dinner at Chabad Bangkok, we were so hot and exhausted we slept for 12 hours solid. Better luck in Singapore next week
Shabbat was restful and we walked to the city centre. Air conditioned malls were wonderful-we must have been the only people in there for a couple of hours that didn’t spend a baht! The hotel has a great rooftop swimming pool and bar, and even library with comfy outdoor seating. With views across parts of the city, and as there are more “Happy” hours than “unhappy” ones, it’s a great place to spend the end of the day
Hopefully Tarzan will do a guest blog on Sunday