November 1, 2006:
Bangkok
Got up around 7:30 am. I had breakfast at the club room on the 27th floor. Today I wanted to do
the
temple tour, so I was eager to get going. I left the hotel and promptly went the wrong way, i.e.
left instead of right. I wanted to go down to the river and take the water taxi to the Grand Palace,
but I took the wrong turn. Sometimes it helps to look at maps, I guess! Anyway, once I was at the
sky train, I knew I went the wrong way, so I went up the stairs to the station and then took the train
down to the river. I got off the train at Saphan Taksin Station and went down to the Chao Phraya
River.
I bought a day ticket for the river boats, 100 baht. At the boat pier I met a lady from
Germany. She went the wrong way all the way from Chinatown (which is a long walk!). As she
wanted to go to the Grand Palace as well, we decided to take the boat together.
The boat ride was cool. There is quite a strong current in the river, the Chao Phraya River. Lots of
boats and ferries. After quite a few stops we arrived at the Grand Palace (Royal Palace). We entered
the grounds. It is very nice, but in my eyes it all looks fake. The temples are covered by colored
pieces of glass and gold plated tiles, nice, but not too impressive. The Grand Palace complex houses
the Wat Phra Kaeo, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.
After seeing everything there was to see, we walked to the temple of the Reclining Buddha, the Wat
Pho. The reclining buddha is like 46 meters long and 16 meters high, quite impressive. The main
temple is housed in a complex with lots of other interesting temples.
After finishing at Wat Pho, we walked down to the river and took the ferry across the Chao Phraya
to the temple complex of Wat Arun. I had really looked forward to visiting this complex. It looks
impressive from far away, but once you are close, it is quite rundown and in need of lots of repairs.
However, the backside of Wat Arun has several smaller temples and lots of buddha statues in all
sizes.
After a few hours rest I decided to go to the famous Patpong area. Here of course you have the
Night Market plus other interesting establishments. There was stall after stall after stall of all kinds
of stuff to buy. I specifically was shopping for a few Lacoste shirts (which of course are fake) for my
boys. I bought a few of them, some movies and also a couple of Michael Ballack Chelsea shirts. I
enjoyed the haggling for prices and while I was successful in getting the prices down, I was sure I
still paid way to much. But a few bucks for a (fake) Lacoste or Polo Shirt is not that bad. Of course,
during my entire "shopping spree" at Patpong I was approached every few minutes whether I was
interested in massages, special shows etc. etc. I actually peeked into one of those upstairs show
parlors, but nobody else was in there and so I decided to keep going. I kept venturing around
Patpong for a little longer and all of a sudden I was in an alley where the lack of women was
apparant to me after a little while. Well...needless to say, I didn't bother to tie my shoe laces but
rather left that street in a hurry :))
Back at the hotel, I had dinner at the Mediterranean Restaurant. I ate so much off the buffet, the
waiters must have thought I was starving. Well, I was...sort of. I am sure I gained a few pounds that
night! After dinner I had a nightcap at the 37th floor bar.
After visiting Wat Arun, we crossed the river again and then took the river taxi to the pier closest to
Chinatown. We exited the boat and started walking through Chinatown towards Wat Traimit, the
Temple of the Golden Buddha. We went through the heart of Chinatown, small back alleys with lots
of shops, smells and people. Very interesting. We finally got to the Wat Traimit. After visiting this
temple, I said good-bye to the German lady as her hotel was close to this temple. I went back
through Chinatown and caught a boat back towards the direction of my hotel. I exited at the
Oriental Hotel and from there walked back to my hotel.