The first, the best thing about Bangkok is my friend Bryan lives there! Everyone should have a friend in Bangkok! (Never mind that he doesn't remember meeting me… At his wedding and hasn't seen me since!). Bryan had just accepted a job with the US Embassy and moved to Bangkok a month before I arrived. How lucky for me! My flight from Tokyo arrived at 11pm and because of his Embassy job, Bryan was able to meet me at my gate as I exited the plane! Do you remember the good ol days when you could be accompanied right up to your gate? What a luxury.
I had a rest day to do laundry and eat street food, then Bryan graciously hired Sam to take me around Bangkok in his taxi. Here's what we did the first day.
1- The train track market.
This was 45 minutes outside of Bangkok. The booths must be pulled in 8 times a day as the train wizzes by. Here is a photo of me, on the tracks.
This machine processes coconut into a flour-like substance.
What you will not see is a photo of the train. It wouldn't arrive for 30-45 minutes and Sam was not interested in waiting that long when there was so much else to see. Ok. Moving on
2- Longboat to the floating market
We hired a longboat for the outrageous sum of $55 US to take us to the 'authentic' floating markets, as opposed to the ones set up for the tourists, closer to Bangkok. The ride throught the channels was fun. The longtails are powered by automobile engines and are very loud.
The resort is famous for their Cultural show- so I (re:Bryan) shelled out 600 Baht ($18 us) for an hour long show of history, dancing, music and mui Thai fighting. It was a very interesting show. Here they show dancing through bamboo poles that are whacked and slid together. (Troy and I did the same with a group of Vietnamese people in Sapa!)
The last dance, they ask the audience to join in. Luckily, the dance is easy and mostly involves some hand waving.
4- Giant pagoda
I had been requesting to stop at one of the giant, shiny temples that we were passing along the highway but Sam refused. He would only take me to the BEST temples, the OLDEST temples! Not these showy, new temples that I was seeing. “Is the best OK for you?” he would ask.
Yeah, this was OK. My very first temple! Soon, I drew the attention of the 'Tourist Police' and we had to have our photo taken together.
The temple was the oldest in Bangkok and very interesting. It had many statues of Buddha, in many different positions or 'mudras'. I upset Sam by suggesting that the mudra of Buddha with his hands outstretched and fingers turned down should be called, 'Keyboard Buddha”. (Sorry, no photo- Sam seemed a bit upset by my joke…)
All in all, it was a nice day and I arrived back to Bangkok just before the crush of rush hour traffic. The next day, Bryan and I would both go out to sightsee with Sam!