In loving memory of my dear friend Gill who died this week - a blessed release for her
06.06.2010 - 13.06.2010 34 °C
Bangkok is definitely NOT just Kao San Road and 'ladyboys'. The Skytrain is brilliant for getting down to the Taksin bridge from where you can take the public ferry (less than 20p) and travel for miles up the Chao Phraya river, seeing all the temples and palaces on the way - what an introduction to the city.
Evidence of the 'demonstrations' is seen in burnt out shopping malls and there is a weird public video on the transport system which is like a 'Feed the world' song. I did the tourist bit with an American pilot and visited the Grand Palace, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, the solid gold (50 tons) Buddha and the Reclining Buddha - just to mention a few! King Rama IX is revered by all - I saw taxis with the slogan 'Long live the King' and at first thought they meant Elvis! Unfortunately, the tour guides are obliged to take all customers to the Gem Gallery where they give you a really hard sell - never mind. The traffic is quite horrendous but amusing as long as you don't need to be anywhere in a hurry. I have found a Thai Massage place where all the masseurs (male) are blind - what an experience. It was so good, I went back a second time for two hours the next day.
I'm very sorry to report that, everywhere you look, you will find sad, old, ugly Western men, touting their Thai brides about - well I don't suppose they're sad! It looks so incongruous and yes - sad in my book.
I've tried Thai wine - I can't say that France has too much to worry about just yet! The Brisbane Geology professor in my hotel gave me the end of his bottle - generous! I had soft-shelled crab curry at Jim Thompson's house - he was an American silk merchant who loved Bangkok so much, he stayed after the war. He became famous for providing all the beautiful silks for 'The King and I'. Also visited the Royal Barges Museum in the back streets across the river - strange.
Out to the Floating Market, Snake Farm and Thai Village today after a lazy day yesterday with my cousin who was just on a stopover on her way to Perth. The Floating Market was very commercial but you could imagine how it must have been some time ago when everyone brought their produce for exchange. The little canals (Klongs) reminded me slightly of Venice - same principal being the lifeline of the old community. The fishtail boats charge up and down just like the Venetian gondoliers.
Off to Chiang Mai tomorrow after this sad and hectic week here in Bangkok.