After an absence of 5.5 years I was back in Thailand and it couldn’t have got off to a more un-cultured start! We met up with colleague and friend Mostyn mid-afternoon and after a spot of late-lunch the plan was for Mostyn and I (my girlfriend wanted to return to the hotel to relax for a bit longer) to go to Jim Thompson’s House (a famous attraction in Bangkok) but in the end we plumped for the Penis Shrine!!
This is a small garden full of carved stone and wooden cocks surrounding a shrine at the back of the Nai Lert Park Hotel which is a short walk from Phloen Chit BTS station. Its not exactly easy to find and, despite having been there twice now, I still can’t pinpoint its location exactly. Its basically next to the river!
We saw Mostyn again that evening (Boxing Day) along with friend and ex-colleague John (below), who has been living in Thailand for a few months now, for a night out on the lash (celebrating our big news as mentioned in Pt V) which started on Soi 4 and continued on to some other unknown places of ill repute in the Silom area. It was great to all be together again and good to catch up with John in such an exciting place and the fantastic mix of champagne, beer and yellow curry could certainly be felt the following morning!!
William was the next colleague to be met the morning after the night before. Both of our hotels were very close to each other in Silom and we briefly met for a catch-up. We’d only worked together six days earlier but it was good to share our experiences of Thailand and so on whilst sitting amid the relative calmness of Lumpini Park which is so close to the madness of Silom but felt so much further away!
After a quick lunch stop (above) at one of the city’s many cheap restaurants (approximately $1 for noodles!) we bid farewell to each other. He was returning to Japan later that night and my girlfriend and I were on our way to Wat Phra Kaew & Grand Palace, though more out of a felt obligation rather than a real desire to go there. I’d been there before but thought that she should see at least one or two of the famous temples in that same area as you surely can’t go to Bangkok and not view a few of its majestic temples can you?!!
This may have been my third time to visit this Thai mega-city but it was the first time that I really took responsibility for where we went. On my previous visits I mostly just followed Ethan (2008) and the group of people (2001) I was with on the programme stopping off en-route to Australia. Stop 9 on the Chao Phraya Express boat took us to Wat Phra Kaew (below) and the adjoining Grand Palace albeit in a rather long winded way! The boat was fine but after disembarking we must have missed the one entrance by a whisker meaning that we ended up circling the whole place before finally going in. I think the same happened in 2008 which resulted in Ethan and I inadvertently ending up in Wat Po next door which is a huge attraction in itself.
It cost 500THB ($15) to enter and to be honest I wasn’t really feeling it due to the alcohol intake the night before and having done a huge temple complex only two days before in Myanmar. Wat Phra Kaew is Thailand’s most famous temple and though its main attraction; the Emerald Buddha, was very impressive I wasn’t too bothered about the rest of the place. Of course I took a few pictures though to include in this piece!
Luckily our time in Bangkok coincided with the Chatuchak Weekend Market in the north of Bangkok which is a huge monstrous market selling just about everything under the sun. Ethan and I actually went here back in 2008 and we both enjoyed it despite not liking shopping! This time my girlfriend and I bought some stuff for our place and had a caricature done (below) which was exciting although I think the illustrator was maybe a bit too kind to us as our faces are not as thin as in the picture!
Kao San Road (below) is probably the most famous backpackers hideout in the world and where we stayed last time. I wasn’t really planning on going there this time but when it came up in conversation a few days before my girlfriend seemed interested in seeing what it was all about and I thought it might be nice to see another side of Bangkok! It was quite strange being on this road, which is not too far from all the political demonstrations, and seeing absolutely everything displayed in English for the hundreds and hundreds of travellers who congregate in this area.
Street food (above) was a staple part of our daily food intake and we had some great stuff at ridiculously low prices but we decided to splash out a bit more one night at a very popular restaurant in Silom. Now, I’m more than happy to just eat hawker food most of the time but its got to be said that the restaurant food we tried was absolutely lovely. I just wish we had communicated a bit more beforehand as we both chose some very spicy red curry dishes (below) to share along with a couple of other dishes.
Next: Seeing in the New Year in Chiang Mai (Thailand)